Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Putting an End to Lots of Software Patents; Patent Microcosm Spins and Distracts From This

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 3:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Still championing patent quality after a dark age of rubberstamping under David Kappos


Summary: Hope for the US patent system as some of the most controversial abstract patents are declared invalid and thrown aside

THE ROLE of the PTAB, the scientific collective responsible for abolishing a lot of software patents by proactive action, is increasing. Things are changing very rapidly, but corporate media isn’t reporting (or misreporting) on it. This is good news for opponents of software patents anywhere in the world.

PTAB has enemies. Its enemies are people who profit from patents on software, notably patent lawyers. They are currently discrediting PTAB using the term/notion of “reverse patent trolls” (invalidating bad patents is trolling?!). MIP has had a decent series about PTAB this past week. The earlier part speaks of “authors of a new white paper [who] believe that almost 75% of pharmaceutical patent settlements at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board meet the criterion for inferring a strong likelihood of reverse payment settlement. The paper also suggests a rule to deter attempts to exploit the Board as a holdup device as well as discussing reverse patent trolls” (meaningful and inappropriate term).

“Things are changing very rapidly, but corporate media isn’t reporting (or misreporting) on it.”Lobbyist for software patents, David Kappos, also pushed out a so-called ‘white paper’ without disclosing who was paying him for all that (it’s pretty ugly and it definitely discredits the USPTO where he was previously a Director, the highest position and equivalent of President at the EPO).

Another installment from MIP then gave a detailed breakdown of law firms that profit from all this chaos of poor patent examination at the Patent Office. We recognise many of these firms. MIP said that “Sterne Kessler has become the first law firm to handle more than 500 AIA proceedings, with a particularly strong showing representing defendants. Fish & Richardson is the top law firm for challengers at the PTAB, breaking the 300 petition mark” (Fish & Richardson was mentioned here many times before.

The part which we didn’t quite appreciate was the one where Michael Loney of MIP was cherry-picking like climate change denialists, making it appear like PTAB was on the decline with the headline “July CBM petition filing slumps to lowest level since February 2013″ (skip to third paragraph for context).

PTAB staff may be taking their summer’s break and as Loney later noted, “PTAB Monthly Data and Analysis: July was the second-busiest month of 2016 for petition filing, but covered business method petitions fell to the lowest level since February 2013. Recent decisions from the Board include cancelling claims on a patent that had been used to sue more than 250 defendants” (CBMs are part of a broader picture).

“This is good news for opponents of software patents anywhere in the world.”To put things in perspective: “The month seems particularly strong when compared with that time of year in previous years. July in 2015 and 2014 was a relatively quiet month with both June and August of those years having at least 50 more petitions filed than the July figure.” Another article took note of 11% litigation decline last month, showing that the system was gradually correcting itself. To quote, “407 cases were filed in US district courts in July, with two new plaintiffs leading the way and entities such as Shipping and Transit, Uniloc, Sportbrain and Guyzar adding to their 2016 totals” (these are mostly patent trolls).

MIP looked more closely at one particular case and said: “The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has invalidated all the claims of a patent owned by storage software company Boxbee in a post-grant review (PGR) proceeding brought by Netsirv and Local Motion. This is the third final written decision in a PGR, all of which have resulted in patents being invalidated.”

It is hardly surprising. PTAB typically demolishes the patents it looks into, leaving patent lawyers rather scared and bashful (in the face of their clients). A software patents lobbying site, for example, got so upset at PTAB that Gene, its founder, tried cursing at it (“impotence”). Here is a new take about PTAB in the “Post-Alice World”. It says: “Only 16% of the Board’s eligibility decisions fully reversed the eligibility rejections, and none of the other 84% of the applications have been allowed despite the effort and the expense of the appeal.”

“PTAB typically demolishes the patents it looks into, leaving patent lawyers rather scared and bashful (in the face of their clients).”Yes, so what? They’re obviously trying to discredit PTAB, a cornerstone of AIA. Here is one patent attorney leaning on Bascom, in spite of the case's old age (they’ll refer to it forever because they’re running low on supportive cases), saying it “turns this on its head by holding that the Patentee must proffer prior art to show 101 validity. Alice shifts burden of proof.” A sponsored “REPORT” (i.e. paid marketing) from IAM repeats this same talking point. They just can’t help it, can they? PTAB combined with Alice is a nightmare to them and all they can do it ridicule Justices, call PTAB “impotent” (low blow), and mislead clients into believing that nothing has changed.

“Lawyers are liars,” my wife told me years ago. She had heard that saying quite a lot. It certainly is the case when it comes to a lot of patent lawyers, at least those who are pushing their agenda into articles (self promotion disguised as ‘analyses’).

The USPTO and Legal System Are Tightening Patent Scope, Which Means Virtually No Software Patents Anymore

Posted in America, Patents at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…Not even if the algorithms are run on some “general purpose computer” (whatever that means!)

Time is tight

Summary: Software patents and lawyers who depend on them are running out of time and running low on spin/cherry-picking/excuses

YESTERDAY we wrote about video streaming patents and a notorious podcasting patent getting invalidated, with admission from the USPTO that it granted in error (prior art, not just Alice). Some software patenting proponents caught up with it and posted a link to the full decision: “Dist. Of DE Kills 2 Video Streaming Patents with Alice/ 101: http://assets.law360news.com/0824000/824998/04313306922.pdf …”

The word “kills” is intended to give this a negative connotation, just like “attacks” and “death squad” (same person uses these words a lot).

This wasn’t a CAFC decision and that’s actually noteworthy because nowadays the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is a lot more likely to invalidate/reject software patents based on Alice. Speaking of CAFC, a new article by Dennis Crouch speaks of scope limitation induced by “consisting of” inside patents. To quote:

Although our attention over the past few years has focused more on eligibility and definiteness issues, claim construction continues to befuddle the courts. In MultiLayer Stretch Cling Film v. Berry Plastics (Fed. Cir. 2016), the Federal Circuit has offered a split interpretation of the patent’s Markush group claim element.

The asserted cling-film claim requires “five identifiable inner layers with each layer being selected from the group consisting of LLDPE, VLDPE, ULDPE, and mLLDPE resins.”

So here we have another example of tightening patent scope, other than what’s related to Alice.

Speaking of Alice and CAFC, Troutman Sanders LLP wrote in the software patenting proponents’ site earlier today, noting that according to CAFC, “Software means plus function claims Indefinite for failure to disclose algorithm,” or in other words software patents are not “function [if you] then disclose a “general purpose computer” as the structure performing that function.”

This is noteworthy because efforts to pass/sneak in software patents in India, Europe and New Zealand have relied on attempts to ascribe physical properties to software by stating in the patent application that it runs on some machine (typically just some ordinary off-the-shelf PC or server). To quote the funnier part from the above: “The Court also affirmed that the this means-plus-function term was indefinite. In the case of computer-implemented functions, the specification must disclose an algorithm for performing the claimed function. The patents-in-suit did not disclose an operative algorithm for the claimed “symbol generator.” The function of generating symbols must be performed by some component of the patents, but the patents did not describe this component.”

So the patent/s did not even describe an algorithm, let alone pseudo-code!

It definitely looks as though patent lawyers are growing nervous, seeing year after year how more and more abstract patents get thrown down the toilet/wastebasket, essentially devaluing the remainder (those not tested in the court or in PTAB, which we shall write about next).

Even Corporate Media Calls BlackBerry a Patent Troll

Posted in America, Patents at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The IP Hawk on BlackBerry

Summary: Transition from production to so-called ‘licensing’ (i.e. patent shakedown), as Microsoft has been doing against Android/Linux/ChromeOS, compared publicly to patent trolling

BlackBerry is gradually becoming more of a patent troll. We warned about this several years ago and now it’s officially happening. We wrote about this earlier in the day yesterday and shortly afterwards we found the article “The New Patent Troll: BlackBerry” (via The IP Hawk, who actually wrote it).

What’s nice to see here is that our prediction was correct. It’s sad to see once-practicing companies resorting to these tactics because their sales or market share are minuscule and products not compelling/competitive anymore.

Yesterday we mentioned Forbes suggesting that it’s possible Nintendo can come under many software patent lawsuits. Some in the patent-centric press are now wondering aloud if Nintendo will use patents for revenue, as means of deriving money from Pokemon GO:

With all due respect, this blogger remains skeptical about these several expressions of seemingly limitless optimism for Nintendo’s IP potential on mobile. He can never forget the valuation of nearly $2.5 billion dollars or more that was coming from the investment community in 2011 regarding the Kodak patent portfolio, here. When the dust settled in the court-managed proceedings, the patent portfolio was sold for only approximately $500 million dollars, here. This blogger has not deviated from the sense that the initial estimate was as much (or more) about hope, prayer, and investment house spin as an indication of genuine market value.

For that reason, when Mr. Fischer suggests that the company can unlock IP licensing revenues—of company patents– ranging from $290 million to $570 million, this blogger needs to ask: What is there in the company’s patent portfolio (separate apart from licensing of the character rights), that supports such an amount? Indeed, how is the value of this estimate range reached?

Well, software patents haven’t a foothold anymore, so suggesting that companies will shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for these is totally disconnected from reality. As for BlackBerry, it is suing in Texas now, perhaps hoping that this defunct and bias ‘legal’ system would favour its patents (which to be fair include quite a few hardware patents, not just software patents).

Links 5/8/2016: ROSA Fresh R8, GNU C Library 2.24

Posted in News Roundup at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Creating affordable solutions with open source tools

    Open source is often the heart of many civic technology solutions because using open source leverages the minds of many. Small web solution providers, in particular, often turn to open source as a way to deliver services without having to reinvent the wheel. I recently found out about Digital Deployment, a civic web solution provider in Sacramento, that leverages open source, and so I asked them to share their story with me. I chatted on the phone with Chief Operating Officer Sloane Dell’Orto and Lead Software Engineer Dennis Stevense.

  • Cogito, Ergo Sumana

    Advice on Starting And Running A New Open Source Project: Recently, a couple of programmers asked me for advice on starting and running a new open source project. So, here are some thoughts, assuming you’re already a programmer, you haven’t led a team before, and you know your new software project is going to be open source.

    I figure there are a few different kinds of best practices in starting and running open source projects.

  • FCC Settlement Requires TP-Link to Support 3rd-Party Firmware

    In a win for the open source community, router maker TP-Link will be required to allow consumers to install third-party firmware on their wireless routers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Monday. The announcement comes on the heels of a settlement requiring TP-Link to pay a $200,000 fine for failing to properly limit their devices’ transmission power on the 2.4GHz band to within regulatory requirements. On its face, new rules about open source firmware don’t seem to have much to do with TP-Link’s compliance problems. But the FCC’s new rule helps fix an unintended consequence of a policy the agency made last year, which had led to open source developers being locked out of wireless routers entirely.

  • Events

    • Why You Should Speak At & Attend LinuxConf Australia

      Monday 1 February 2016 was the longest day of my life, but I don’t mean that in the canonical, figurative, and usually negative sense of that phrase. I mean it literally and in a positive way. I woke up that morning Amsterdam in the Netherlands — having the previous night taken a evening train from Brussels, Belgium with my friend and colleague Tom Marble. Tom and I had just spent the weekend at FOSDEM 2016, where he and I co-organize the Legal and Policy Issues DevRoom (with our mutual friends and colleagues, Richard Fontana and Karen M. Sandler).

      Tom and I headed over to AMS airport around 07:00 local time, found some breakfast and boarded our flights. Tom was homeward bound, but I was about to do the crazy thing that he’d done in the reverse a few years before: I was speaking at FOSDEM and LinuxConf Australia, back-to-back. In fact, because the airline fares were substantially cheaper this way, I didn’t book a “round the world” flight, but instead two back-to-back round-trip tickets. I boarded the plane at AMS at 09:30 that morning (local time), and landed in my (new-ish) hometown of Portland, OR as afternoon there began. I went home, spent the afternoon with my wife, sister-in-law, and dogs, washed my laundry, and repacked my bag. My flight to LAX departed at 19:36 local time, a little after US/Pacific sunset.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 10 reasons you should use LibreOffice and not Microsoft Word

      The Document Foundation just released version 5.2 of its fully open source office suite LibreOffice. This release brings many new features and UI improvements. When I got the press release, I started updating LibreOffice on my MacBook. But here’s the thing: I’m also a user of Microsoft Word.

      That made me pause and consider why I use LibreOffice when I am forking over $99 a year to Microsoft. The flash of introspection surprised me. I’m an unabashed open source and Linux fan, but I am kind of agnostic when it comes to the tools I use. I use what works for me. So I reached out to my followers on Google+ and Facebook to learn about their reasons for using LibreOffice.

      Here are some of the many reasons why people, myself included, love LibreOffice.

    • Finding Alternatives to Microsoft Excel

      For example, if you are looking for software to install on your Windows-, OS X- or Linux-based computer so you can work without an internet connection, consider free, open-source suites like LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice. Along with word-processing and presentation applications, both suites include a spreadsheet program called Calc that uses the .ods format — but can open and save files in Microsoft Excel’s native format.


  • Licensing/Legal

    • Embracing Open Source Software: Advantages and Risks

      Many business and government ­organizations rely on open source software (OSS). One of the most common and widely known ­examples is the Linux operating system. While the use of OSS can provide numerous advantages such as inexpensive and particularly robust software that has been debugged and ­optimized by ­numerous ­programmers, there are also attendant risks. This article explores OSS and its use generally in commercial settings. An ­overview of OSS is provided along with a discussion of its ­popularity with programmers and several associated risks. Additionally, a brief description of ­various OSS licenses is provided. A ­follow-up ­article will provide a strategy for developing a policy to ­manage OSS use.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • European countries awarded for their “star” commitments

      IRM attributes “starred” status to selected commitments included in countries’ National Action Plans (NAP). These commitments “represent exemplary reforms that have potentially transformative impact on citizens in the country of implementation”, OGP said.

    • Open Access/Content

      • The largest Wikipedia gathering in South Asia kicks off

        Wiki Conference India 2016 (WCI), the largest gathering of contributors to Wikipedia and its sister projects in South Asia, will be held during August 5-7 this year in Chandigarh, India.

        The first iteration of this event was five years ago in 2011. The event is focused around South Asian language Wikipedias and Wikimedia projects. Hundreds of participants, including over 100 scholarship holders from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, will participate in this three-day event. A team of volunteers representing several Wikimedia communities across the country and three Wikimedia affiliates—Wikimedia India, Punjabi Wikimedians and Centre for Internet and Society’s Access to Knowledge program—are working together to make this event a success.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • EOMA68: > $60k pledged on crowdsupply.com

        crowdsupply.com has a campaign to fund production of EOMA68 computer cards (and associated peripherals) which recently passed the $60,000 mark.

        If you were at DebConf13 in Switzerland, you may have seen me with some early prototypes that I had been lent to show people.


  • Science

    • CP/M Creator Gary Kildall’s Memoirs Released as Free Download

      The year before his death in 1994, Gary Kildall—inventor of the early microcomputer operating system CP/M—wrote a draft of a memoir, “Computer Connections: People, Places, and Events in the Evolution of the Personal Computer Industry.” He distributed copies to family and friends, but died before realizing his plans to release it as a book.

      This week, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, with the permission of Kildall’s children, released the first portion of that memoir. You can download it here.

      Wrote Scott and Kristin Kildall in an introductory letter: “In this excerpt, you will read how Gary and Dorothy started from modest means as a young married couple, paved a new path for start-up culture, and embraced their idea of success to become leaders in the industry. Our father embodied a definition of success that we can all learn from: one that puts inventions, ideas, and a love of life before profits as the paramount goal.”

    • E-mails show how UK physicists were dumped over Brexit

      UK researchers are suffering because of the country’s vote to leave the European Union — and a British physicist has now gone public with one such tale of woe.

      Paul Crowther, who heads the physics and astronomy department at the University of Sheffield, has shared e-mails from late July that explain why researchers in his department were suddenly dropped from an EU collaboration. The European coordinator for the consortium felt that Brexit put UK-based researchers in a “very awkward position” and that their participation would “compromise the project”.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why the GMO Labeling Bill Obama Just Signed Into Law Is a Sham—and a National Embarrassment

      It is known as the DARK Act—Denying Americans the Right to Know. It was signed by President Obama last Friday in the afterglow of the Democratic National Convention, without fanfare or major media coverage. The bill’s moniker is apt. With a few strokes of his pen Obama scratched out the laws of Vermont, Connecticut and Maine that required the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

      He also nullified the GE seed labeling laws in Vermont and Virginia that allowed farmers to choose what seeds they wanted to buy and plant. And for good measure he preempted Alaska’s law requiring the labeling of any GE fish or fish product, passed to protect the state’s vital fisheries from contamination by recently approved genetically engineered salmon.

    • Rave On: Music, Ecstasy and the Real Tragedy of Corporate Drugs

      Drug use doesn’t begin at raves, it begins when children as young as three are diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and are placed on Ritalin. As of 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey, 5.2 million kids between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. According to the University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center, “Ritalin is a stimulant like cocaine” and “may cause changes in the brain over time.” Further, up to “50% of adolescents in drug treatment centers report abusing Ritalin.” Yet a vague evaluation by a doctor or teacher of too much “squirminess” can lead a youngster to spend an adolescence on meds. The none too subtle message? If you have a problem, pop a pill.

    • The Washington Vaccination Ploy: Puerto Rico and the Zika Quandary

      Should you fear receiving the needle from a stranger? Yes. Should you fear receiving it from a person you know all too well as a historical abuser? Even more so. Empires do it, states do it, and even local agencies do it. Let’s all, as it were, vaccinate for all in this perverted paraphrasing of the Cole Porter song, the assumption that the medical facility cures, and the giver and administrator knows all.

    • Add Russia’s Olympic Doping Scandal to the Rich History of Cheating in Sports

      Of the 387-member Russian team, more than 100 have already been banned, including 67 from the glamour sport of track and field, according to a recent ruling by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

      Not that cheating is necessarily a communist hallmark. Athletes from capitalist countries do it, too.

      In the most celebrated Olympic scandal, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was disqualified after winning the 100-meter dash at the 1988 Seoul Olympics when he was found to have used the steroid stanozolol.

      The most celebrated Olympian who was never quite caught was the United States’ Carl Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals from 1984 to 1996. In 2003, Lewis acknowledged testing positive three times before the 1988 Olympics. He got off with warnings from U.S. officials, although, under the rules, he should have been prevented from competing in Seoul, where he won gold medals in the 100 meters (after Johnson defaulted) and long jump.

      After the scandal, Lewis wasn’t exactly contrite.

      “There were hundreds of people getting off,” Lewis said in 2003. “Everyone was treated the same. … It’s ridiculous. Who cares? I did 18 years of track and field, and I’ve been retired five years, and they’re still talking about me, so I guess I still have it.”

    • Why Florida’s Medical Marijuana System Is Ripe for Corporate Takeover

      In June 2014, the disgraced former CEO of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) signed Florida’s medical marijuana bill into law. It was a fitting beginning to a regulatory process that has been marred by shadowy fraud in the selection of lucrative vertically integrated licenses in what could become one of the largest medical marijuana markets in the country. The state appears poised to double down upon the fraud, and in keeping with Governor Rick Scott’s legacy of putting healthcare profits before people, some of the new law’s provisions could shield corporate revenues at the expense of fragile patients.

      This is the picture painted by Freedom of Information Act requests, Sunshine Law requests and public reports pointing to perjury and fraud on the part of Alpha Foliage and its partner Surterra Therapeutics, one of only five nurseries granted oligopolic power over Florida’s entire medical cannabis market. The corruption may lead all the way to the governor’s office and it seems some of Florida’s powerful agricultural companies have wielded their influence over existing medical marijuana laws to add dangerous provisions in their financial favor.

    • EPA protected Monsanto’s corporate profits by hiding the truth about glyphosate and cancer for decades

      Is it really possible that the EPA – which is supposed to stand for Environmental Protection Agency, by the way – actually hid the truth about the toxicity of one of Monsanto’s top-selling herbicides ?

      According to researcher and consultant, Dr. Anthony Samsel, the answer would be an unequivocal yes. Dr. Samsel claims to have gained possession of EPA documents that reveal the cancer-causing effects of glyphosate. In fact, Samsel states that these documents contain information tying glyphosate to cancer beginning in the 1970s.

      Glyphosate is the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide known as Roundup, which is an extremely popular product that is used across the world in the cultivation of GM crops. Dr. Samsel has been researching the effects of glyphosate for many years, though he notes that much of his work has not been taken seriously and often dismissed.

      Along with fellow researcher, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Dr. Samsel has authored several studies on the potentially negative effects of glyphosate use. Though their work was previously unrecognized, many who initially dismissed their research are now beginning to pay more attention.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Risk From Linux Kernel Hidden in Windows 10 Exposed at Black Hat [Ed: “Alex Ionescu, chief architect at Crowdstrike” – well, enough says. CrowdStrike Microsoft-tied. CrowdStrike are the same chronic liars who recently accused Russia of DNC leaks despite lack of evidence. The corporate press cited them. How can GNU and Linux running under a piece of malware with keyloggers and back doors be the main security concern?]
    • Italian-based Android RAT spies on mobiles in Japan and China, say researchers

      Researchers discover an Italian-based Android RAT designed for spying that is targeting mobile devices using their unique identification codes

    • keysafe

      Have you ever thought about using a gpg key to encrypt something, but didn’t due to worries that you’d eventually lose the secret key? Or maybe you did use a gpg key to encrypt something and lost the key. There are nice tools like paperkey to back up gpg keys, but they require things like printers, and a secure place to store the backups.

      I feel that simple backup and restore of gpg keys (and encryption keys generally) is keeping some users from using gpg. If there was a nice automated solution for that, distributions could come preconfigured to generate encryption keys and use them for backups etc. I know this is a missing peice in the git-annex assistant, which makes it easy to generate a gpg key to encrypt your data, but can’t help you back up the secret key.

      So, I’m thinking about storing secret keys in the cloud. Which seems scary to me, since when I was a Debian Developer, my gpg key could have been used to compromise millions of systems. But this is not about developers, it’s about users, and so trading off some security for some ease of use may be appropriate. Especially since the alternative is no security. I know that some folks back up their gpg keys in the cloud using DropBox.. We can do better.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Colin Powell’s Former Chief of Staff Thinks Hillary Clinton Is Too Eager to Resort to War

      This is a useful conversation that ranges beyond the realm of the lesser-evil cliché, and one that answers these key questions: What exactly is “the playbook,” and why does onetime George W. Bush aide Lawrence Wilkerson say Hillary Clinton comes straight out of it?

      Wilkerson, who served as former Defense Secretary Colin Powell’s chief of staff in the Bush II White House, is the one to whom The Real News Network’s Paul Jay turns, in this TRNN video clip, to gauge Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s approaches to foreign policy issues as well as to potential and actual armed conflicts.

    • Trident in a time warp: party politics vs defence needs

      As Britain and Europe reeled from Brexit Theresa May rushed through the vote on Trident replacement. Was this strong leadership or our human security being sacrificed to expediency?

    • “People’s Tribunal” Launched in Haiti to Commemorate 101 Years of U.S. Occupation

      Thursday, July 28, when Hillary Rodham Clinton took to the stage to accept the Democratic nomination to be the first female candidate of a major political party for president, was also the 101st anniversary of the U.S. military occupation of Haiti that lasted nineteen years.

      Hundreds of people took to the streets and filled a gym named after president Stenio Vincent, who negotiated the departure of the U.S. Marines in 1934, to launch the People’s Tribunal on U.S. Occupation/Domination. The march began at Fort National, of historic significance. Equally significant was the rapprochement of various segments of Haiti’s progressive movements, often fragmented along political lines.

    • Needing an Exit from Afghan Quagmire

      The failure of U.S. policy in Afghanistan has been obvious for years, but neither President Bush nor President Obama wanted the defeat hung on their legacies, so the bloody folly goes on, a test for the next president, says Alon Ben-Meir.

    • Hiroshima: the Crime That Keeps on Paying, But Beware the Reckoning

      The decision to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a political not a military decision. The targets were not military, the effects were not military. The attacks were carried out against the wishes of all major military leaders. Admiral William Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…” General Eisenhower, General MacArthur, even General Hap Arnold, commander of the Air Force, were opposed. Japan was already devastated by fire bombing, facing mass hunger from the US naval blockade, demoralized by the surrender of its German ally, and fearful of an imminent Russian attack. In reality, the war was over. All top U.S. leaders knew that Japan was defeated and was seeking to surrender.

    • The Saudi Role in the 9/11 Attacks

      On 27 November 2002 a bipartisan commission was established by Congress to investigate the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. By the time the commission was created, President George W. Bush had characterised the attacks as “acts of war”, adding that “freedom and democracy are under attack”. It was therefore to be expected that anyone who was actually, or even imagined to be, involved in these attacks was going to be labelled as an enemy.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • What we may expect from recent Wikileaks on Turkish politics

      In his latest book, The Uprising, “Bifo” Berardi (2012) borrows some concepts from one of the most important figures in the study of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, in order to describe the prevailing social impasse: instead of engendering a radical transformation or revolutionary upheaval, systemic disruptions in the social field increasingly consolidate and even give a boost to the power of the dominant paradigm, process, or group.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • California to set power regulations on computers

      California, the state where the personal computer business was born and eventually revolutionized society, is about to be home to another change that figures to have a permanent impact on the computer industry.

      By all indications, by the end of this year the California Energy Commission will adopt energy efficiency guidelines for computers, becoming the first state in the nation to do so.

      The agency estimates it will add about $18 to price of a computer but promises it will save customers and businesses much more in energy savings.

    • To Save Energy Or Not, That Is The Question.

      Unless the state is going to run all IT, this just can’t work. Whatever throttle, limit or setting California requires will either have some means of circumvention or be counter-productive.

    • Are We Looking at a Mass Extinction Event?

      If you or someone you know needs proof that global climate change is real and is happening before our very eyes, you could go to the “State of the Climate Report” put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    • Major Amazon dam opposed by tribes fails to get environmental license

      Brazil’s environmental regulator Ibama decided on Thursday to shelve the environmental license request for a hydroelectric dam on the Tapajós river in the Amazon, a project that had been opposed by indigenous tribes and conservation groups.

      Ibama’s licensing office ruled the dam’s backers had not presented information in time to show its social and environmental viability. They halted the 30bn reals (£7.2bn) project. In April, Ibama had suspended the licensing process that began in 2009 after criticism by Brazil’s indigenous affairs department, Funai.

      With installed capacity of about 6.1 gigawatts, the dam proposed by state-run Eletrobras, Brazil’s largest power utility holding, and a group of other electricity companies, would have been one of Brazil’s biggest.

      But it would have flooded 376 sq km (145 sq miles) of Amazon rainforest that is home to some 12,000 Munduruku Indians, according to Greenpeace.

  • Finance

    • Trade Deals Like the TPP Put Corporate Polluters Above the Law

      The Obama administration’s historic rejection of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline marked the first time a major fossil fuel project was denied over climate change concerns. The decision capped a contentious years-long fight, and helped spark a broader grassroots movement aimed at keeping fossil fuels in the ground, which scientists have increasingly warned is necessary if we hope to limit global temperatures to manageable levels.

      But TransCanada would not take no for an answer. Soon after the rejection, the company announced it would sue the United States government for $15 billion in lost profits under a tribunal system in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). This system, which the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership would dramatically expand, allows foreign investors to bypass U.S. courts and challenge American laws in a corporate-friendly arbitration system. The Keystone XL case shows how the ISDS system puts corporate polluters above the law and threatens global action on climate change.

    • Don’t make crude assumptions about young people’s attitudes to the EU

      It has become a mantra that, as a matter of natural course, younger people are pro-EU and that therefore the future looks bright for the Remain camp. This is not reflected either in the recent history of UK voting or opinion polling, or indeed of current surveys in other EU countries.

      The unmentioned story of the EU referendum is that to win it, the Leave camp had to alienate one surprisingly eurosceptic age group over a very short period. The 18 to 24-year-old voter.

    • IRS Launches Investigation of Clinton Foundation (Video)
    • Why has Britain stopped striking? Workers no longer feel empowered to act

      Striking in Britain has now reached an all-time low. Last year saw the fewest workers go on strike since records began in 1893. Is this a cause for celebration, a victory for partnership between capital and labour? The answer is a firm no.

      Although striking is a last resort for workers on account of the lost wages incurred, the fact that only 170,000 days were lost to strikes in 2015 (compared with 29.5m in 1979) indicates just how weak the vast majority of workers feel they are in today’s labour market. It shows workers perceive themselves as ever more powerless to collectively stand up against the increasingly common employment practices of the likes of Sports Direct, Deliveroo and Hermes. Some companies now require employees to shoulder what were previously employer responsibilities (such as national insurance, pensions and sick pay) and be subject to pernicious performance management targets and monitoring.

    • Mike Pence Loves ALEC and Keeps Pushing Public School Privatization, Despite Lousy Indiana Record With Charters and Vouchers

      Mike Pence is a hardcore right-winger playing the long game, especially when it comes to privatizing public schools.

      It’s not just that the Republican vice-presidential nominee and Indiana governor last weekend told a roomful of deregulation-obsessed executives and lobbyists in Indianapolis, “You are the model for Washington, D.C., after this election. You really are.”

      The nation is “at a fork in the road,” Pence said at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual meeting, referring not only to who would be president for the next four years but who would control the Supreme Court for the “next 40 years.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The Spoiler Myth: Clinton Has More Problems Than Jill Stein and the Bernie or Busters

      Now that Hillary Clinton has wrapped up the Democratic Presidential nomination with the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, her supporters have transitioned to denigrating progressives who affirm they are “Bernie or Bust” by supporting Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein over Clinton. Senator Sanders has affirmed the importance of continuing the political revolution, and many of his supporters are choosing to do that outside of the Democratic Party.

      Critics against Stein cite Ralph Nader and his running mate, Native American activist Winona LaDuke, as the spoilers of the 2000 election, in which he received over 90,000 votes in Florida, the state Gore lost by just over 500 votes. Had Gore won Florida, he would have won the general election, but those who smear Nader as a spoiler are ignoring other contributing factors to that election. Bill Clinton’s impeachment in December 1998 inspired helped inspire over 300,000registered Democrats in Florida to vote for Bush in the general election. According to Florida exit polls, only a small percentage of Nader supporters would have voted for Gore instead of Bush, with most citing they wouldn’t have voted at all. The Supreme Court ruled, controversially, to halt the recount in Florida. A study conducted by the Progressive Review in 2002 analyzed whether Al Gore’s polling prior to the general election inversely changed with Ralph Nader’s and no correlation was found. Voter turnout in Florida for the general election in 2000 was 70 percent, according to the Florida Division of Elections, a few percentage points lower than each general election Florida since then. Across the country in 2000, more than 100 million eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot.

    • Did You Know That AARP Is A Paying Member Of ALEC?

      Here is a real shocker. AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) has been a paying member of the notorious right-wing, Koch-tied lobbying organization American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) since at least 2014.

      Yes, that AARP, once known for protecting the interests of senior citizens and fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. Yes, that ALEC — an organization dedicated to, among so many other things, privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and getting rid of public-employee pensions. AARP apparently joined ALEC even as many corporations were fleeing thanks to exposure of ALEC’s reprehensible actions.

      Just wow.

    • Smearing Stein: Media as Propaganda

      Jill Stein, the Green Party’s nominee for president, has been the sudden target of attacks from all corners of online media since the official end of Bernie Sanders’ campaign at the Democratic National Convention. Outlets like the Washington Post, New York Magazine and Gizmodo have assaulted Stein by using out-of-context quotes to assail her, wrongly, for being anti-vaccination and anti-WiFi, which is a code for being “anti-science.” This allows us a unique opportunity to confirm the structural role of the media as hypothesized by Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in Manufacturing Consent: that the media is a propaganda arm for the elite and powerful, and is used to condition us to accept the bounds of socio-political discourse as set by the ruling class. It also shows us the desperate need we have for an alternative media culture to counteract mainstream discourse.

      The attack on Stein (and not, conveniently, on Gary Johnson), is linked to the need by the elite to de-legitimize A.) critics of neoliberal policies and B.) potential alternatives to the political status-quo. Trump and Clinton have had and will have no discussion about thirty years of neoliberalism and austerity. Sanders gave a voice to those within the Democrats who were willing to question, but since his defeat momentum on the left has shifted to Stein and the Green Party. It is, granted, still early, but the outpouring of support means there is a possibility the left could begin to regroup outside the Democratic Party. Real success for Stein could mean a permanent presence on the national stage for the left, to which a president Clinton or Trump would have to answer and which would be able to build an entirely different ideological discourse in the United States.

      What is the role of the media in this scenario, one that explains the current froth about Stein? Although the public is rarely allowed a glimpse behind the curtain, almost all media in the United States is controlled by just a few large corporations. In the era of mass communication, the media has usurped the role formerly played by the Church as a primary source of information and the bounds of discourse. Private corporations are interested in making a profit, and ensuring the economy continues to produce those profits. Marx once opined that “the ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class,” and in an era of (potential) mass political upheaval, the media plays an active role in silencing dissent to those ideas. Indeed, they are linked to the continued profits generated by the political order. Political candidates and parties that challenge and threaten to upend this are typically subject to vigorous criticism if they threaten to shift the political discourse or take power: witness the barrage of negative stories and editorials on leaders like Hugo Chávez or new political parties like Syriza in Greece or Podemos in Spain.

    • Could Hillary Lose?

      Could Hillary lose? If she were running against a Republican whom the Party’s grandees and the capitalists behind them liked, someone like Mitt Romney, the answer would be Yes.

      After eight years of President Drone, the Republican would have a clear advantage. It wouldn’t even matter if that Republican were to pander, say, to the Ted Cruz element in the GOP base, the way that Romney pandered to the Tea Party. The smart money would still be on him.

    • I Spent the Day with Trump’s Undying Fans in Maine

      Somehow, my press credentialing e-mails from the Trump campaign keep getting blown off the porch of the Intertoobz.

      So, on Thursday, I decided to be just another face in the crowd at an event at the Merrill Auditorium, a lovely old piece of big government memorabilia attached to City Hall here. I applied through the website, and I got my confirmation that I was invited to be a guest at what the website said was going to be a “town hall” with the Republican candidate for President of the United States. Doors would open at 7 a.m. for a 10 a.m. start. No, wait. The doors would open at 11 a.m. for a 2 p.m. start. Hold on. The doors will open at noon for a 3 p.m. start. Technically, you’re not running late if you keep changing the time.

      I assumed that the last e-mail was the final one, so I got to the venue at 9:30 on Thursday morning. There already was a line. People stood in the shadeless plaza, broiling and being heckled from all over the sky by raucous seagulls. (You’d have sworn Tippi Hedren was in line, wearing a God, Guts, and Guns tanktop.) A lot of the people were elderly, and most of them were white and pale. (For the record, I am both.) You’d have thought the campaign would have kicked in a few pallets of Trump Water for the faithful.

    • For Progressives: a Moment of Grief, Pause and Reorientation

      In this frantic rush for “unity,” the DNC is trying to silence dissent and critical thought about where we are now and how we got here. Even PBS’s Washington Week in Review featured guests this week, who referred to Sanders’ convention delegates as “hecklers” because they dared to show support for their candidate at their party’s convention. The mainstream media’s patronizing tone aims to shame Sanders’ supporters, who it now blames for any division within the Democratic Party, accusing progressives of being “in denial” and “being a baby.”

    • Beyond Clinton vs. Trump, Green Party Convention Kicks Off

      The Green Party kicked off its national convention in Houston, Texas on Thursday, where presumptive nominee Jill Stein will present a third-party challenge to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

      The convention will run from August 4-7. The proceedings are expected to include keynote speeches from scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West, who endorsed Stein over Clinton after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, and Philadelphia-based activist YahNé Ndgo. Local Green Party candidates for office will also appear.

      Stein is expected to accept her party’s nomination on August 6.

      On Wednesday, CNN announced it would host a Green Party town hall on August 17—offering the party a rare chance to access the large media platform usually reserved for establishment candidates.

    • 2016 Is the Best and Worst Year to Be Jill Stein

      On a sweaty Sunday afternoon in late July, John Griffin happened upon Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presumptive presidential nominee, in his North Philadelphia neighborhood. Joined by a couple dozen people, Stein was pointing out the economic inequality and environmental degradation in the area, which she referred to as an “open-air prison.” Griffin, 37, who works security and facilities maintenance at a church, had a Bernie Sanders button pinned to his white T-shirt. “I love Bernie,” he told Stein.

      “I love Bernie,” Stein repeated. Then she ticked off areas where she was promising more than Sanders had: guaranteeing a living-wage job to every American who wants one; canceling all student debt; cutting military spending in half. “She’s awesome,” Griffin said afterward. “No one else is in the middle of the ghetto, in the middle of the ’hood, trying to campaign.”

    • We The People Tossed Out of Trump Rally For Unspeakable Crime aka Holding Up Our Country’s Founding Document

      So this happened Thursday in Portland: The orange cretin was lying and blathering on to a rapt audience of whoever these racist, ill-educated, uncomprehending people are when a group of protesters stood and mutely held up, echoing Khizr Khan, pocket versions of the U.S. Constitution. Because this was a Trump rally, the crowd booed, hissed, hollered “U.S.A.!”, tried to rip one book from its owner and screamed, “Traitor!” as the miscreants, reportedly members of the progressive Maine People’s Alliance, were hauled out. The ACLU loved it; they responded on Twitter with, “Glad to see people are standing up for constitutional principles using their ACLU pocket Constitutions!” And what’s not to love: Great visuals, unprecedented levels of irony if anyone there knew the meaning of the word. We think Constitution-waving should definitely become a thing.

    • Donald Trump Will Leave a Lasting Stain on the GOP, Even if He Loses

      To Republicans who hope to emerge from the Donald Trump fiasco with any shred of political viability or self-respect, I offer some unsolicited advice: Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit.

      I’m speaking to you, House Speaker Paul Ryan. And you, Sen. John McCain. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—along with so many other elected Republicans and party stalwarts. You are not fools. You are well aware that the erstwhile Party of Lincoln has nominated for president a man wholly unfit to hold the office.

      I realize that puts you in a tough spot politically. Breaking with the party’s standard-bearer, chosen by voters in primaries and caucuses, would surely mean short-term pain. For some of you it could be politically fatal. But sticking with Trump, as far as I can see, will almost surely be worse—for you, for the party, and potentially, heaven forbid, for the country you have sworn to serve.

    • Talking Lawn Sign

      It’s time to make up your mind
      the primary’s over and so is your sign
      You were feeling the Bern
      Now you know it’s her turn-
      put up a sign for Jill Stein

      Can you forgive the DNC
      Faking neutrality
      And putting in the fix
      For their nominatrix
      In the name of D-mockracy?

    • Europe’s “Bought Journalists”

      One day, historians will wonder how it was that the EU, a wealthy and ostensibly unified polity with a population of over 500 million people and an extremely deep and sophisticated history of indigenous intellectual production, came to have its public discourse dominated by the narrow and often quite parochial concerns of the elites of another country (right down to their absurd and largely unconditional devotion to a small and bellicose apartheid state in the Middle East) located halfway around the globe.

    • Waiting on Putin, The Dream Candidate

      Washington really needs an Arch Enemy, a guy who looks like a Bond villain with nuclear weapons he’ll brandish but never use.


      Americans are already well-prepared by the old Cold War to see Russia as an evil empire, and Putin does look the part. A new Cold War will require America to buy more military hardware, plus discover new places like the Baltic states to garrison. It might even straighten out a NATO confused about its role regarding global terrorism.

      Forget Trump and Clinton; Putin is the political-military-industrial complex dream candidate.

    • Clinton Camp Courts Hackers in Vegas

      n 2016, can Hillary Clinton be the candidate of the hacker crowd?

      That was the question posed at a fundraiser Wednesday at the annual Black Hat security conference, an affair that brings thousands of hackers and deep-pocketed security firms to the Nevada desert to learn about the latest and greatest in computer exploits.

      Amid a program packed with technical presentations on computer security, the fundraiser represented an unusual addition and has had a polarizing effect on some long-time attendees of the conference, who consider the event for Clinton out of step with the conference’s hacker ethos. A conference that begins, for example, with a presentation on “Memory Forensics Using Virtual Machine Introspection for Cloud Computing” really shouldn’t end with a partisan political event, some Black Hat veterans privately groused Wednesday. And for these old-timers, who reminisce about the conference’s heyday in the late 1990s, when glitzy corporate sponsorships and booths didn’t dominate the event as they do now, a Clinton fundraiser seems the final deathknell for the event’s counterculture status.

    • Poll: Clinton up 9 points on Trump nationwide

      The Democratic nominee retains her edge over Trump when the race becomes a four-person contest. There Clinton takes 45 percent to Trump’s 34 percent, leaving the GOP’s presidential nominee still trailing her by 9 points. Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson ranks third with 10 percent, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein nabs 5 percent.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Anurag’s masterclass on censorship

      The festival, which will kick-start on August 11 in Melbourne, will see the participation of the filmmaker and other celebrities like Rishi Kapoor, Fawad Khan, Richa Chadha and Radhika Apte. In a statement, Anurag said, “I can put forth my point of view and talk about how censorship is so pointless in the day and age of the Internet. I am really looking forward to interacting with the students.”

    • Pro-independence candidate to send ‘blank’ election mailouts in protest of censorship

      A pro-independence candidate in the upcoming Legislative Council election has said he will send a “blank” election mailout to voters, after reports that the Electoral Affairs Commission censored other mailings.

      Chan Chak-to of the Kowloon East Community group chose to send out mailings with conspicuous blank spaces and phrases like, “You can ban speeches, you can ban candidacies, but ideas are bulletproof,” and “My political view is [blank].”

      Chan was one of the rare pro-independence candidates who were allowed to run in this election, while most other independence advocates were banned for participating.

      “We believe that, according to reports, the election platforms we have made ready have the ‘sensitive phrases’ listed, and they will not be able to be posted,” he said. “We wanted to give up on sending the mailouts, but after the political screening [of candidates], we wished to present the truth to you.”

    • British woman held after being seen reading book about Syria on plane

      Free-speech groups have condemned the detention of a British Muslim woman after a cabin-crew member reported her for “suspicious behaviour” while reading a book about Syrian culture on a flight to Turkey.

      Faizah Shaheen, a psychotherapist in Leeds, was detained by police at Doncaster airport on 25 July, on her return from her honeymoon in Turkey. A Thomson Airways cabin-crew member had reported Shaheen on her outbound flight two weeks earlier, as she was reading the title Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline.

      Police officers questioned Shaheen for 15 minutes under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, under which the police can detain individuals without grounds for suspicion of involvement in criminal activities, including terrorism.


      Jo Glanville, director of English PEN – which supported the book’s publication with a grant towards translation – said Thomson Airways should be “highly embarrassed about this gross act of misjudgment”.

      “The current culture of anxiety around extremism now means that even our reading material has become grounds for suspicion of terrorist activity,” she said. “The freedom to read any book, no matter the subject, is a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty.” Glanville also called Schedule 7 a “continuing problem” and said it was overdue for reform.

      Zaher Omareen, the co-editor of Syria Speaks, condemned Shaheen’s detention as a “despicable incident”.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Here’s How Your Facebook Feed Is About to Change [Ed: still a propaganda, surveillance and censorship cesspool. What Facebook labels “clickbait” is excuse for even less neutrality so that they can demote views Zuckerberg and friends dislike. So now Facebook can censor useds [sic] for “hate”, “troll”… and finally… “clickbait”… which is so vague that it’s a broad brush.]

      The company has tried to minimize clickbait before, but this time, Facebook says it has gone farther, categorizing phrases often used in clickbait headlines and looking at which websites publish those stories.

    • Comcast wants to sell your Web history to advertisers
    • Comcast wants its broadband users to pay for their privacy
    • Comcast Thinks It’s Totally Chill to Charge For Privacy
    • Comcast supports higher prices for customers who want Web privacy
    • Comcast Wants to Charge for Privacy

      Ars Technica , Gizmodo, ZDNet, and a host of others are reporting that Comcast claims that the FCC has no authority to limit or prohibit the internet provider from distributing web histories to advertisers.

    • This Engineer Started a Tor-Based Internet Provider to Fight Surveillance

      UK lawmakers are currently closing in on their biggest expansion of government surveillance powers since the Snowden revelations—but one network engineer is determined to not let privacy go down without fight.

      The Investigatory Powers bill—championed by former Home Secretary and current UK prime minister Theresa May and sometimes called the “Snooper’s Charter”—would create an expansive new legal regime for government mass surveillance in the UK, effectively legitimizing many of the programs exposed by Snowden. Among other things, it controversially proposes requiring that all internet service providers in the UK keep tabs on their customers’ internet activity, forcing them to retain so-called Internet Connection Records, or ICRs, for 12 months, and hand that data over to the authorities upon request.

      But as the UK’s upper house prepares to vote on final amendments to the bill, engineer Gareth Llewelyn is readying his own technical countermeasures. Earlier this year, Llewelyn started building his own non-profit internet service provider that runs on the Tor anonymity network. His goal: Design a system that will frustrate the new mass-surveillance regime by making it technically impossible to censor content or comply with government requests for subscribers’ internet records.

    • Labour deputy leader calls on PM to halt plans to wipe old Companies House data

      The Labour party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has called on Theresa May to intervene to stop the UK government agency Companies House from deleting information about firms that have been shut down. Without older records on dissolved companies, it will be much harder to spot when criminals try to set up new businesses to defraud the public, or to combat money laundering.

      Currently, the details of dissolved companies are kept for 20 years. Companies House, which holds key data on nearly 4 million UK businesses, is considering reducing that to six years according to The Guardian, even though the associated extra costs are minimal, as the price of digital storage continues to fall.

      The mass deletion is in response to an increasing number of requests from business people demanding the “right to be forgotten,” according to The Times. “Individuals and their reputation management firms have contacted Companies House claiming that its retention of records revealing an association with struck-off companies is personally damaging and a breach of data protection laws.”

    • FBI Releases Secret Spy Plane Footage from Freddie Gray Protests

      In response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request, the FBI has released more than 18 hours of video from surveillance cameras installed on FBI aircraft that flew over Baltimore in the days after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015. The videos, which were released to the ACLU before being posted online by the FBI this week, offer a rare and comprehensive view of the workings of a government surveillance operation. While the release of the footage addresses some questions, it leaves others unanswered.

    • Security Sense: You’re Not as Interesting to the NSA as You Think You Are

      Now having said that, the feds and the cops are not high up the list in my personal “threat model”. There are other people for whom well-resourced state actors are a serious threat. Political dissidents. Free speech proponents in authoritarian countries. Criminal actors. But for these guys, there’s an easy solution: turn off the biometrics, limit login attempts and use a strong PIN or password. There are many other “opsec” steps beyond this they may take too of course, but the point is that these devices can be configured more securely for those who need it by disabling certain usability features.

    • U.S. Cloud Firms ‘Out Innovated’ Competitors in Wake of NSA Leak

      Despite dire predictions of revenue losses in the wake of a leaked U.S. spy agency’s electronic surveillance program three years ago, U.S. cloud providers have instead “out innovated” local competitors to keep a firm grip on the European market, a market watcher says.

      U.S. cloud providers were widely expected to be hurt by local business and regulatory efforts to safeguard European data following the 2013 release of documents linking U.S. tech firms to National Security Agency surveillance programs.

    • Good Ruling In California Protects Anonymity Of Online Critics — Even When The Information Was False

      Over and over again we’ve seen people try to interpret anything someone says about them that they don’t like as defamatory. But just because you don’t like what’s said, that doesn’t make it defamatory — and that can also apply even if the statements actually were false.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • After The Age Of The PC, Welcome To The Age Of The PD — The ‘Personal Drone’

      As that rightly notes, there’s a world of difference between today’s small drones — “consumer” in this context means anything weighing more than 0.5lbs — and traditional aircraft. But in many ways, it’s exactly the same difference between the very first PCs, and the mainframes and minicomputer systems that had existed for decades. In that respect, we can see the 500,000 registered drones as an indication that we are now truly in the age of the PD — the Personal Drone.

      The conference also touched on a key concern raised by Karl Bode last year, who was worried that over-strict regulation of drones might kill off some promising new business models.

    • Sheriff Raids House to Find Anonymous Blogger Who Called Him Corrupt

      After a watchdog blog repeatedly linked him and other local officials to corruption and fraud, the Sheriff of Terrebone Parish in Louisiana on Tuesday sent six deputies to raid a police officer’s home to seize computers and other electronic devices.

      Sheriff Jerry Larpenter’s deputies submitted affidavits alleging criminal defamation against the anonymous author of the ExposeDAT blog, and obtained search warrants to seize evidence in the officer’s house and from Facebook.

      The officer, Wayne Anderson, works for the police department of Houma, the county seat of Terrebone Parish — and according to New Orleans’ WWL-TV, formerly worked as a Terrebone Sheriff’s deputy.

    • Stealing the spectacle

      The new Polish xenophobia cannot be explained only by political economy, but also needs to be understood in terms of political aesthetics.

    • U.S. Human Rights Observers Harshly Interrogated By Israel and Booted For Being Muslim

      Five individuals carrying American passports say they were branded “terrorist” and mistreated by Israeli security, then got no help from their own government.

    • Six books Muslim (and non-Muslim) women should add to their reading list

      These books on faith and feminism will force you to reevaluate your stereotypes of Muslims.

    • What’s Emancipation Day to the Caribbean Working Class?

      On 1 August 1838, enslaved Africans in the British Empire won their emancipation from slavery. Emancipation Day is now commemorated throughout the Anglophone Caribbean as a public holiday or national observance. Emancipation was not a gift from Britain or White abolitionists. It came from the accumulated covert and overt acts of resistance by enslaved Africans.

    • Top 10 Reasons the ACLU Fights for Breastfeeding Rights

      A few weeks ago, a mom named Jessie Maher was breastfeeding her baby in the cafeteria of a Target store in Connecticut when a belligerent man approached and said she was “F*ing disgusting” and “nasty.” Fellow shoppers and Target employees quickly sprang to Maher’s defense, shielding her from the man.

      “You shouldn’t be ashamed of feeding your baby,” one of them said to Maher. “This is a beautiful moment right now. If he doesn’t like it, he can go.”

      Maher posted a video of the incident that quickly went viral, generating more than 8.5 million views and an outpouring of support from fellow nursing mothers.

    • Does DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge Need A Safety Protocol?

      Today, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the R&D arm of the US military) is holding the finals for its Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) competition at DEF CON. We think that this initiative by DARPA is very cool, very innovative, and could have been a little dangerous.

      In this post, we’re going to talk about why the CGC is important and interesting (it’s about building automated systems that can break into computers!); about some of the dangers posed by this line of automated security research; and the sorts of safety precautions that may become appropriate as endeavors in this space become more advanced. We think there may be some real policy concerns down the road about systems that can automate the process of exploiting vulnerabilities. But rather than calling for external policy interventions, we think the best people to address these issues are the people doing the research themselves—and we encourage them to come together now to address these questions explicitly.

    • Door to justice finally opens in El Salvador [Ed: complex history there]

      As the door finally opens for war criminals to face justice in El Salvador, the law can start serving the country’s poor.

    • Anarcha-Feminisms

      Every piece in Perspectives offers material for a feminist and anti-racist anarchism that builds solidarity with revolutionaries, activists, and organizers who do not readily identify with the term “anarchist.” There’s plenty in the issue that can expand anarchism’s horizons. Consider Julia Tanenbaum’s U.S. anarcha-feminist history of the 70s decade and Hillary Lazar’s notion of “interlocking oppression”– inspired by Black feminism. Colleen Hackett offers thought-provoking “psy-ence fiction” lessons from teaching in a women’s prison, and Theresa Warburton thinks through different ways we generally relate anarchism to feminism. Laura Hall develops a comprehensive “Indigenist eco-queer anarcha-feminist” vision, and Zoe Dodd and Alexander McLelland offer an imminently practical horizontal Hep C/HIV treatment model cultivated from health crisis work. Romina Akemi and Bree Busk provoke readers with “sexual dissidence” and a multi-sectoral organizing plan, and Kelsey Cham C. develops an account of developing political consciousness (including language’s power) through addiction. Finally, there are some short and informative book reviews tucked in nicely at the issue’s end.

    • Culture Clash: When Violence Against Women Is Accepted, Lawful And Expected

      Last New Year’s Eve it was reported that 2000 men sexually assaulted 1200 women in Cologne, Germany. Immediately, politicians and pundits jumped to make the connection between the rash of violence against women and the influx of refugees. And each time another incident takes place, the battle between political positions is reignited. One liberal politician in Germany noted that the debate must be centered around “no means no” and not around “whether refugees should be deported” or allowed safe haven in Western countries, and I agree with this completely. This is not a refugee issue. It is a case of incongruent cultural practices. Men from societies that reject women’s rights must reform their attitudes and practices if they wish to exist in Western societies in which women are treated as equals. But more broadly, this sort of antiquated thinking must change.

    • Malaysian man charged with rape escapes jail after marrying 14-year-old victim

      A Malaysian man charged with raping a 14-year-old girl has avoided prison after he married her in a case that has sparked anger from rights groups and calls for a ban on child marriage and justice for victims of sexual violence.

      Ahmad Syukri Yusuf, 22, was charged with statutory rape of the girl late last year and faced up to 30 years in jail and whipping for the offense, but he later married the teenager under Islamic law, according to prosecutor Ahmad Fariz Abdul Hamid.

      The prosecutor said a court in Kuching, in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sarawak ruled there was no need to proceed with the case after Ahmad Syukri submitted a marriage certificate and the girl withdrew the complaint.

    • Video: Black lives matter: shutdown

      “1,562 deaths in police custody in my lifetime. 0 convictions”. As Black Lives Matter protesters set up blockades in London, Birmingham and Nottingham, here’s their video explaining why it’s time for a shutdown.

    • How can we change political discourse?

      The day after the referendum Facebook was full of comments like these, only they were less curious and more angry. This is shameful, they said. Why could so many be so stupid. Some even called for ‘un-friending’ the Leavers. The friendly appeal on my news feed just a week before- ‘could you explain your reasons to me?’- had been replaced by bitterness and recrimination “F**k this. I am ashamed to be British”. It felt as though the country had lost its innocence.

    • The Voting Rights Act, 2.0

      The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on Aug. 6, 1965, helped enfranchise millions of African-Americans over the decades. Speaking before a bipartisan gathering of members of Congress, his Cabinet, civil-rights leaders and the press, Johnson said of African-Americans: “They came in darkness and they came in chains. And today we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds.”

      The Voting Rights Act was renewed and extended several times during the last half-century. Then, in June 2013, a divided U.S. Supreme Court, voting 5-4, gutted the law. Almost immediately, Southern states began passing restrictive voting laws, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of voters. Three years later, however, this new generation of Jim Crow-style laws is facing federal court challenges, and they are being thrown out or significantly weakened, one by one.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T, Comcast Fight Utility Pole Reform To Slow Google Fiber’s Arrival In Nashville

      We’ve talked a few times about how incumbent broadband providers often use their ownership of city utility poles (or their “ownership” of entire city councils and state legislatures) to slow Google Fiber’s arrival in new markets. In California and Texas, AT&T has often been accused of using the process of pole attachment approval to intentionally block or slow down the arrival of competitors. AT&T also recently sued the city of Louisville for streamlining utility pole attachment rules intended to dramatically speed up the time it takes to attach new fiber to poles.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • When its comes to “deadwood”, leave it in the State of South Dakota and out of Trademark Office policy

        Last month, Guest Kat Mike Mireles published a post— “The USPTO Moves to Clear ‘Trademark Deadwood’.” Mike reported on the latest steps intended by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to clean “deadwood” from the trademark registry. For several years, the claim has been expressed (not just in the U.S.) that there are too many unused registered trademarks, with the result that the registry suffers from trademark clutter. Moreover, it is claimed, unless we get control of the deadwood issue, the task of trademark clearance will one day become well-nigh impossible.

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Anti-Piracy Cutbacks Lead to “Bullying” Lawsuit

        The ASA, formerly known as the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, is being sued by its former managing director for discrimination and bullying. A decision by the MPAA to reduce funding to the group led to Mark Day, a former MPA legal counsel, being dismissed while he was on sick leave.

      • Getty Sued Again Over Abusing Copyright Law, Licensing Images It Has No Rights To

        Getty hasn’t been having a very good past few weeks. After getting sued last week by famed photographer Carol Highsmith, after a Getty subsidiary demanded money for her posting her own photographs (which she had donated to the Library of Congress), it’s being sued again by independent press agency/wire service Zuma. Zuma claims that Getty was offering 47,048 images of its images for licensing, despite not actually having a license to do so.

        The full lawsuit is pretty short on details, so it’s difficult to assess the legitimacy of the lawsuit. In fact, the lack of detail in the filing makes me wonder if there’s a lot more to this story. Most of the filing focuses on highlighting how Getty has rapidly been buying up other photo licensing/stock photo sites, and using that fact to make the assertion (without further evidence) that Getty does not do enough due diligence to make sure the photos it offers for license are properly authorized. It may very well be that Getty screwed up here, but it seems like the complaint should include a few more details. Instead, there’s a lot of innuendo.

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