Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 27/8/2018: Microsoft Bribery and Corruption, Many GNU Releases

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Zowe! Bringing the mainframe to the open-source world
    IBM was the first major computer power to embrace Linux. Now, decades later, they along with their partners, CA Technologies and Rocket Software, have announced Zowe, a new open-source software framework that bridges the divide between modern applications and the mainframe, at Open Source Summit in Vancouver, Canada.

    Zowe is meant to provide interoperability and scalability between products. It's also, IBM states, the first z/OS, the IBM mainframe operating system, open-source program.

    Zowe has four components. These are...

  • RedHat And SUSE Announced To Withdraw Support For OpenLDAP
    This month the OpenLDAP project celebrates its twentieth birthday! Its year of birth is 1998 when Kurt Zeilenga and others decided to consolidate patches that had been spread on mailing lists and news groups to improve the original standalone University of Michigan LDAP server code (slapd). After Kurt Zeilenga resigned, Howard Chu took over the role of the chief architect of the project. The OpenLDAP project traditionally follows the Unix design philosophy “one job – one tool”. Under Kurt Zeilenga’s lead, development of OpenLDAP as reference implementation of the “Lightweight Directory Access Protocol” (LDAP) primarily has been driven by Internet Drafts and RFCs. This focus on openness and interoperability turned the project into an important landmark in the landscape of network services, being supported by all major enterprise Linux distributions which offered OpenLDAP as a maintained component of their products.

  • Qiskit: IBM’s open source quantum computing framework

    Researchers, scientists, academics, hobbyists, businesses — all of these groups are represented in the community of Qiskit, the open source framework based on IBM’s quantum computing programme that is opening up access to real quantum computing in the cloud for everyone.

    Quantum Information Science Kit (Qiskit) is just over a year old, and it followed up the IBM Quantum Experience, IBM Q Experience for short, a programme that put quantum computers on the cloud (for the first time) so researchers and developers could tinker with the almost brand-new field of computation.

    Since opening up the Q Experience, hobbyists have created games and composed music using real quantum computers, while scientists and researchers are using qubits to solve problems that were previously too difficult to solve.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Rep of the Month – August 2018
        Please join us in congratulating Abhiram Ravikumar, our Rep of the Month for August 2018!

        Abhiram Ravikumar is an amazing contributor from Bangalore India and a long time Mozillian contributing as a Rep since November 2015. He is the so-called backbone of the Bangalore community keeping activities going in and around the region.

      • Bitslicing with Quine-McCluskey

        Part one gave a short introduction of bitslicing as a concept, talked about its use cases, truth tables, software multiplexers, LUTs, and manual optimization.

        The second covered Karnaugh mapping, a visual method to simplify Boolean algebra expressions that takes advantage of humans’ pattern-recognition capability, but is unfortunately limited to at most four inputs in its original variant.

        Part three will introduce the Quine-McCluskey algorithm, a tabulation method that, in combination with Petrick’s method, can minimize circuits with an arbitrary number of input values. Both are relatively simple to implement in software.

      • TenFourFox FPR9b3 available
        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 9 beta 3 is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). This version has site-specific workarounds for Github's sudden hostility to TenFourFox (fixed using the same workaround we use for Imgur) and pages that use the new version of Cloudflare RocketLoader (by essentially defeating it). I also reduced idle time deferral for a couple rare crashes on the test systems that seemed to be from low memory and added a little tuneup for HTML5 parsing from Firefox 55.

        Of the security patches that landed in this version is a specific one for an issue that affects 10.5, but not 10.4. It's more of an information leak than anything else and wouldn't seem to be very common, but I was able to exploit it on the test network, so now it's worked around. Our implementation is completely different from Mozilla's largely for performance reasons since we only have two operating system flavours to worry about.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenSSH 7.8 released!
      OpenSSH 7.8 base source code was released on August 24, 2018. It includes many new features such as a fix for the username enumeration vulnerability, changes to the default format for the private key file, and many more. Additionally, support for running ssh setuid root has been removed, and a couple of new signature algorithms have been added.


    • Org mode – Life in Plain Text

      Org mode is a mode for the Emacs text editor. It’s designed to keep notes, maintain TODO lists, plan projects, and author documents with a fast and effective plain-text system. It’s particularly strong at scheduling tasks.

      The system includes a lightweight markup language for plain text files allowing lines or sections of plain text to be hierarchically divided, tagged, linked, and so on.

      Org mode is, in fact, a powerful system for organizing projects, tasks and notes in the Emacs editor. Major features include fast outline and table editing, TODO lists, agendas, scheduling and deadlines, cross-references and hyperlinks to arbitrary resources, as well as customisable document publishing in PDF and HTML from simple plain text markup.
    • Mes Becomes An Official GNU Project, Mes 0.17 Released To Bootstrap GNU/Linux Distros
      Mes is the newest project under the GNU umbrella and this package is intended to help bootstrap GNU/Linux distributions like GuixSD.

      GNU Mes 0.17 was released this weekend as the first release as being an official GNU project. Mes consists of a self-hosting Scheme interpreter and a Nyacc-based C compiler written in Scheme. From this Scheme interpreter to build its C compiler, it can then build a (slightly patched) TinyCC compiler and in turn that resulting TinyCC compiler can go on to building GCC 4.7, Glibc 2.2.5, and Binutils 2.20 for getting a toolchain in place to go on to build the rest of the GNU/Linux platform.

    • GNU dico - News: Version 2.6
      New version of GNU dico is available for download. This version introduces support for Guile 2.2 and later, and for Python 3.5 and later. Support for Guile 1.8 has been withdrawn.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 13 new GNU releases!

      For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list:

      To download: nearly all GNU software is available from, or preferably one of its mirrors from You can use the URL to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

  • Programming/Development

    • Golang 1.11 is here with modules and experimental WebAssembly port among other updates
      Golang 1.11 is here with modules and experimental WebAssembly port among other updates

      The Golang team released Golang 1.11 rc1 two weeks back, and now the much awaited Golang 1.11 is here. Golang 1.11, released last Friday, comes with changes and improvements to the toolchain, runtime, libraries, preliminary support for “modules”, and experimental port to WebAssembly.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Dutch Foundation To Address High Medicines Pricing Announces Plan To File Complaint With Competition Authority
      The newly established Dutch Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation has announced its first action to address unreasonably high medicines prices in the Netherlands. The Foundation will request the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets to look into the price hike for the medicine chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA) by the company Leadiant Biosciences Ltd (formerly Sigma-Tau). CDCA is used for the treatment of children and adults with cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX), a rare genetic metabolic disease that affects around 60 people in the Netherlands.


      According to the EMA an “orphan designation” means that it is used to treat life-threatening or chronically debilitating conditions that affect no more than five in 10,000 people in the European Union, or are medicines which, for economic reasons, would be unlikely to be developed without incentives. However, CDCA was already being used for the indication CTX. Considering the small number of patients involved, one can question whether the cost for preparing the registration file to obtain the formal thumbs up by the EMA justifies the monopoly price Leadiant is now asking.

      “We think that Leadiant’s behaviour is socially unacceptable,” said Wilbert Bannenberg, chairman of the Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation. “Leadiant is abusing its dominant market position, and the Foundation will, therefore, submit an enforcement request to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets that can and should counter these abuses.”

  • Security

    • Ubuntu and CentOS Are Undoing a GNOME Security Feature

      Current versions of Ubuntu and CentOS are disabling a security feature that was added to the GNOME desktop environment last year.

      The feature's name is Bubblewrap, which is a sandbox environment that the GNOME Project added to secure GNOME's thumbnail parsers in July 2017, with the release of GNOME 3.26.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 111 - The TLS 1.3 and DNS episode
    • Charter Spectrum Security Flaw Exposes Private Data Of Millions Of Subscribers
      Last year you'll recall that the cable and broadband industry lobbied the government to kill off broadband privacy rules at the FCC. The rules were fairly basic, requiring that ISPs and cable operators clearly disclose what data is being collected and sold, but also provide working opt out tools for users who didn't want to participate. The rules also contained restrictions requiring that consumers opt in to more sensitive data collection (financial), as well as some requirements that ISPs and cable ops adhere to standard security procedures, and quickly inform consumers when their private data was exposed by a hacker.

      In recent months, the cable industry has been showcasing how it's simply not very good at keeping its websites secure. Comcast, for example, has seen three privacy breaches in almost as many months, with security researcher Ryan Stevenson discovering numerous, previously-unreported vulnerabilities that potentially exposed the the partial home addresses and Social Security numbers of more than 26.5 million Comcast customers.

    • What is Code Injection on Windows?
      Code injection is common on Windows. Applications “inject” pieces of their own code into another running process to modify its behavior. This technique can be used for good or evil, but either way it can cause problems.

    • You Should Pay Attention to These Android Manufacturers if You Care About Updates
      The Android update landscape is a disaster that has plagued the OS for years. “Fragmentation” is a common complaint against Android, but some manufacturers are starting to take the necessary steps to correct this years-long problem.

    • Security updates for Monday

    • Is Hyper-Threading a Fundamental Security Risk?
      Ever since Intel introduced Hyper-Threading (known generically as Symmetric Multi-Threading), debates about whether or not to disable the feature have almost entirely revolved around its impact on performance. Back when the feature debuted, it wasn’t unusual for programs to misinterpret what it meant for a system to have a virtual CPU core as opposed to a second physical chip (back then, it was one core to a socket, no exceptions, and programs didn’t differentiate between a physical and a logical CPU core). As software and operating systems were updated, HT settled down and it’s less common today to need to shut it off to preserve performance. But in the wake of Spectre, Meltdown, and Foreshadow, serious concerns have been raised about the security implications of Hyper-Threading.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Iran vs America: history's scars
      At this perilous moment it might help for the historical aspect of this potential clash to be recognised, particularly by European states which share the habit of dwelling on the past. In the UK's search for lost empire, for example, key events of fairly recent vintage, the Dunkirk episode and the aerial Battle of Britain in 1940-41, are endlessly revisited as signposts of greatness and demonstrations of national character.

      That tendency to look beyond the immediate context ought to give British commentators the imagination to grasp the importance of past events in Iran. A prime instance is the downfall of Iran's prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953, orchestrated by Washington and London – a coup which climaxed sixty-five years ago this week (see "The Iran complex: why history matters", 26 January 2012).

      It was done in retaliation for Iranian attempts to take control of their own oil industry, then held by western states, principally Britain. Its success ushered in the quarter-century reign of the autocratic Shah, whose regime Washington viewed as an essential prop in the regional alliance constraining Soviet ambitions at the height of the cold war.

    • Pakistan Should Ditch Washington
      To the despair of State Department professionals (who are very professional indeed), the art and craft of US diplomacy have taken a very nasty knock since the appearance of Donald Trump on the world stage. To be sure, the practice of sending rich political donors to prime ambassadorial posts such as Berlin, Tokyo and London has been the norm for decades, but some of Trump’s appointees have stretched the bubble of amateurism a little too far. The man in Germany, for example, was only in the job for a day, in May this year, before he gave orders that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately,” which début debacle was met with derision by the German people.

      The pompous ass in London, billionaire Woody Johnson, was interviewed by Sky News in June 2018 and cast an intriguing light on his expertise concerning his host country. When he was asked the nature of his relationship with Sadiq Khan he replied “with whom?” The interviewer then told him that Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London, whereupon Woody announced that “My relationship is very good.” Then President Trump informed London’s Sun newspaper that “You have a mayor who has done a terrible job in London. He has done a terrible job.”

      There’s not much joined-up diplomacy in the Trump Administration, but although these examples are mildly amusing and show the people involved to be the fools they are, there is a most serious side to the international diplomatic devastation created by Trump, the man so well described by dismissed White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as “tawdry, cruel, vindictive.”

    • Ahed Tamimi: illegally blond
      The widely circulated images on social and mainstream media of the defiant Ahed Tamimi, a 16 years old girl with blond hair and blue eyes surrounded by heavily armed big dark-skinned Israelis (Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade and later members of the Israeli police force who are usually Mizrahi) is a big blow not only to the Israeli well-oiled propaganda (hasbara) machine but also, and perhaps even more crucially and dangerously, to its self-image or the way it perceives itself and would like to project itself to the so called western public and media.

      Are not the Israelis the fair-skinned enlightened westerners and the Palestinians the dark oriental barbarians? How dare the Palestinians have blond ambition? How do they have the chutzpa to invert the light/dark formula so deeply ingrained in the Israeli psyche as well as in the western public imagination?


      But the Jewish State’s attempt to monopolize blond for its war against the Palestinian people was sabotaged by Ahed Tamimi, a young girl with a blond ambition and a big chutzpa. In today’s world the desire for blondness reflects the balance of world power. The west is associated with blond, and therefore blond is associated with power.

      Ahed Tamimi is a powerful icon of resistance and it is therefore not so surprising (though, obviously, infuriating) that Ben Caspit an Israeli journalist in Maariv, one of Israel’s major newspapers, suggested that “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.

      Yet, as in the famous Banksy’s image of a girl in a pink dress searching an Israeli soldier with a machine gun laying to his side and leaning against the Apartheid Wall the role reversal enacted by the Banksy girl and echoed by the defiant young blond girl Ahed Tamimi invites us to reflect on, or rather to resist, the ongoing failure of Israel to recognize the humanity of others.

    • Why Do Our Heroes Always Let Us Down?
      Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is drawing fire from the antiwar left, and not for the first, second or third time. The same leftist contingent which has been energizing Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign and elevating her to the public spotlight has been voicing increasing concerns about her antiwar platform temporarily vanishing from her campaign website, about her walking back from her position on the Israeli government’s massacring of Palestinian protesters with sniper fire, about her weirdly hawkish criticism of the GOP as being “weak on national security”, and her deference to the establishment Russia narrative.

      And now, as multiple outlets have documented in articles released in the last few hours, many of Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters have been upset with a statement she made praising the recently deceased warmongering psychopath John McCain and his blood-soaked legacy.

      “John McCain’s legacy represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service,” tweeted the candidate upon McCain’s death, which, for anyone who cares about the late Arizona senator’s relentless push to inflict military violence around the world at every opportunity, is incredibly offensive. McCain was easily the single most virulent warmonger on Capitol Hill, so praising him and his legacy as exemplary of human decency necessarily clashes with the “Peace Economy” platform that has had so many of Ocasio-Cortez’s supporters so excited.

    • Drone terrorism is now a reality, and we need a plan to counter the threat
      When two drones, each equipped with a kilogram of powerful plastic explosives, were used on August 4 to attempt to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, it may have ushered in a foreboding new era—terrorism by unmanned aircraft.

      The use of weaponized drones by lone individuals and small groups—some acting as proxies of nation-states—is no longer just a concern for the future, but very much for the present. The proliferation of certain emerging technologies has effectively diffused power and made it available at the lowest levels.

    • I killed Bob Marley, ex-CIA agent confesses
      79-year-old Bill Oxley, ex-agent of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is re-writing the history of the death of reggae legend Bob Marley, claiming he actually killed the legend.

      Marley tragically died aged only 36-years-old, leading music lovers world-wide to grieve as the Jamaican icon’s life and career were cut short following a four-year battle with cancer.

    • I killed Bob Marley – ex-CIA agent Bill Oxley, confesses – Laila’s Blog
      79-year-old Bill Oxley, ex-agent of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has confessed that he killed Bob Marley, the reggae legend.

    • Ex-CIA agent confesses, reveals the gift he gave Bob Marley led to his death
      It is well known that late iconic musician Bob Marley died on May 11, 1981 from complications traced to cancer. In July 1977, Marley was found to have a type of malignant melanoma under the nail of a toe.

      Contrary to urban legend, this lesion was not primarily caused by an injury during a football match that year, but was instead a symptom of the already-existing cancer.

    • The Left’s About Face on the CIA – Truth TV – WATCH NOW
      On Liberty Nation’s Truth TV, join Leesa K. Donner and Joe Schaeffer as they dig deep into why the left now has the hots for the CIA despite years of calling out the Covert State.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Parsing Mueller’s Lies: Why Julian Assange Makes the Perfect Foil
      Mueller would have us believe that his indicted Russians created Guccifer 2.0 to deflect blame for the DNC hack away from themselves by having the online persona claim responsibility but deny being Russian. This plan seems, not to put too fine a point on it, kind of stupid. Since a Russian spy couldn’t be expected to admit his identity, it’s hard to imagine G2’s denials would have had any credibility. And, since G2’s taking credit for the hack would attract more attention to it, it seems just as likely as not that such a plan would have increased speculation that the Russians had hacked the DNC.


      Mueller also accuses his 12 indicted Russians of using the G2 identity to pass documents to WikiLeaks. Yet Mueller somehow neglected to mention that G2 himself boasted of being a WikiLeaks source several times; starting, once again, with his very first blog post.

      Mueller’s silence about G2’s multiple confessions to one of his indictment’s main allegations, though contemptible, is at least understandable. Publicly confessing to being a WikiLeaks source is, after all, the very last thing a Russian spy who secretly was one would do. Mueller couldn’t mention G2’s confessions for the same reason he couldn’t mention all the evidence G2 planted to give the impression that he was a Russian spy. Both are obviously self-refuting and, hence, make a mockery of Mueller’s allegations, which he made knowing he had no power to extradite any of the 12 indicted Russians and, hence, that none of his misrepresentations will be exposed in court.

      The clues G2 left connecting himself to Russian espionage and his repeated shout-outs to Julian Assange are as flagrant and gratuitous as they are self-refuting. And, they are equally inexplicable unless the truth is the exact opposite of what Mueller alleges and G2 was created to poison Assange’s reputation by falsely making him out to be in league with Vladimir Putin.

      But, the other two important items we’ve seen (and about which Mueller remains silent)—G2’s possessing the Trump opposition research file and Assange’s June 12 announcement that Clinton campaign emails were forthcoming—together shed a new and revealing light on the purpose behind that June 14 Washington Post story that first brought the now infamous Russian hack of the DNC to the world’s attention.

    • NSA leaker Reality Winner sentenced to more than five years in prison

      National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Reality Winner, 26, was sentenced last Thursday to five years and three months in federal prison for leaking classified documents to the press which contained allegations of Russian manipulation of the 2016 presidential election.

      Winner is the first person to be tried by the Trump Administration under the Espionage Act and according to her attorneys her punishment will be the longest sentence ever imposed for leaking classified information.

      She pleaded guilty in June at a federal courthouse in Georgia as part of a plea deal to reduce her sentence. Prosecutors from the Justice Department did not seek the maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and instead recommended a 63-month penalty.

    • The Person Advocates Say Trump Should Pardon: NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner
      Winner, who was prosecuted under the Espionage Act, accepted a plea deal that sends her to prison for 63 months for leaking to the press in 2017 information that exposed a Russian cyberattack against U.S. voting systems. It's the longest sentence ever in federal court for leaking government information to the press.

      Seizing upon Trump's characterization of the sentence as "unfair," some of Winner's advocates, including her mother, responded to the president's tweet by saying he should exercise his authority to pardon her.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Shell Took 16 Years to Warn Shareholders of Climate Risks, Despite Knowing in Private All Along
      It took oil company Shell more than 16 years to directly warn its shareholders that climate policy posed a financial risk to the company’s business model despite knowing — in private and for decades — about the relationship between its products and climate change.

      Shell started commissioning confidential work about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the global climate as early as 1981. However, analysis by DeSmog UK and DeSmog found that Shell did not start mentioning the possibility of climate change to shareholders in annual reports before 1991 — 10 years after the company started a research stream to study climate change.

      Analysis of Shell’s annual reports and financial records at the time show the company did not give a clear warning to its shareholders about the financial risks “related to the impact of climate change” and attached to their investments until 2004.

      DeSmog UK and DeSmog have worked through Shell companies’ annual reports submitted to the UK’s Companies House and 10-K’s and 20-F forms filed under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) throughout the 1990s and early 2000s to compare what the company knew in private at the end of the 1980s and what it told its shareholders about the environmental and financial risks attached to their investment during the following decade.

    • Only African Resources, Not Migrants, Are Welcome In Western Countries
      Amidst waves of anti-immigrant populism that have crashed into European politics, the focus of what drives migration demands more attention. In Africa, specifically, the unchecked exploitation of the continent’s natural resources by corporations from outside countries has forced desperate choices upon its citizens. Migrants looking for their own modicum of economic justice have come to the West. But, once they arrive, they discover the extraordinary extents to which they must prove their “worthiness” and acceptance in the same European nations that benefited from taking their homelands’ natural resources for profit.

      Earlier this year, Mamoudou Gassama, 22, who comes from Mali, scaled four floors of a Paris apartment building to save a boy who was hanging from the balcony. For his efforts, he was granted French citizenship. Meanwhile, on a global scale, the French World Cup team won the championship this summer with a diverse team: nearly 80 percent of its members are migrants, with a third of those identifying as Muslim. François Héran, an analyst of French demographics, estimated that one in eight residents in the country is Muslim, as of 2017. Also, according to Héran, at least one-third of the 200,000 migrants who come into France annually are from Africa.

      Recently, the French Parliament adopted legislation that places new restrictions on migrants seeking asylum. It seems that even being seen as twice as “good” as the rest barely qualifies migrants for acceptance into predominantly white societies. At what superhuman level should migrants be expected to operate in order to eliminate the concerns or skepticisms aggravated by nationalistic, nativist sentiments?

    • While Trump Sweats, the West Burns
      Right now, much of the west is affected by wildfires.

      An unlucky minority will have to evacuate their homes, and some will lose their homes altogether — or even their lives. But for millions more across the west, “smoke season” is a real thing.

      Vast swaths of the west can be covered in smoke for extended periods, and inhaling the fine particles in the smoke is deleterious to one’s health.

      This year, fires resulted in the closing of Yosemite National Park and part of Glacier National Park. The Ferguson Fire in Yosemite is just one of many recent fires within the park, including the enormous Rim Fire in 2013, the fifth largest fire in California history.

      As a Californian, fires are a regular part of life.

      The Cedar Fire of 2003 in San Diego was so massive that the smoke interfered with air traffic. I canceled a backpacking trip in 2015 due to the Rough Fire in King’s Canyon National Park.

  • Finance

    • Egotopia

      Imagine Milton Friedman and Robinson Crusoe together, reminiscing about Burning Man, on a remodeled off-shore oil rig. Like the image? Welcome to seasteading. The latest in a long line of libertarian exit strategists, seasteaders aim to create self-governed, private floating platforms on the ocean. In an era of Silicon Valley excess, techno-libertarian optimism, and mainstream political malaise, exit strategies are proliferating. At the 2017 Startup Societies Summit, held without a hint of irony at the City College of San Francisco (attendees were asked for charitable donations), an array of libertarian exit strategies were on offer. Among other options one could, for example, engage in “crowdchoicing,” captured best in the Free State Project which aims to mobilize 20,000 participants to relocate to New Hampshire by 2020 where they will, according to the FSP webpage, “create a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.” Others advocate non-territorial strategies. A younger generation of market libertarians—steeped in a vocabulary of “disruption,” “decentralization,” and “freedom”—are exploring exit strategies that embrace an encrypted existence that escapes the parameters of the state through the use of various digital technologies and encrypted mediations. (Their recent arrival in struggling Puerto Rico may be a sign of what is to come.) Its advocates eschew territorial escape in part because they already see a world in which the mediating structures of government, media, and business are collapsing. At its most optimistic, such a strategy looks toward a future of “social singularity,” a post-political and transhumanist world in which individuals can thrive entirely through decentralized, technological, and cyborgian networks.
    • Slavery and the Origins of Capitalism

      To exploit the riches of the sugar colonies and the slave trade that made it possible, a trading monopoly called (without any irony) the Royal Adventurers of England was formed. As the East India Company was to the plunder of Asia, so was this intended to pick Africa apart like a vulture. Despite the Roundhead “revolution” against the Crown, royalist merchants were eager to rely on Cromwell’s military to dispose of Dutch and Spanish rivals in the Caribbean.

      After Cromwell’s death, the monarchy was restored and fully committed to the mercantile capitalist agenda of the politicians it had once considered mortal enemies. In a partnership with the Royal Adventurers, King Charles II promised thirty acres to any aspiring colonist to help “settle” Barbados and Jamaica—a promise that was never kept to freed slaves in the South two hundred years later. New Englanders flocked to Barbados and Jamaica to take advantage of the offer. Between the two islands, Jamaica was much more attractive since Barbados had been wracked by slave uprisings small and large for decades. Some whites fled Barbados for the more tightly garrisoned Jamaica while others went to the mainland, especially South Carolina.


      I am not exactly sure who Horne is referring to as bamboozled radicals but I will state that if you read The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean, you will be guaranteed to treat the term “bourgeois-democratic revolution” with the skepticism it deserves. As we plunge deeper into the netherworld of capitalism in its death throes, it will become clear that the only genuine revolution in human history will be the one we carry out to end class society and create a new one based on genuine respect for all human beings whatever their skin color, gender, sexual preference or ethnicity. The alternative is ruin.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Maine Clean Election Candidates to Receive Long-Awaited Funds
      Meetings of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices do not usually give way to moments of high drama. But supporters of public financing breathed a deep sigh of relief on Thursday after the bipartisan commission’s four members ruled to release $3.5 million in previously held-up funds to 120 candidates in races for the state House, Senate, and Governor.

      This decision was only the latest chapter in a long-running partisan saga about Maine’s Clean Election Program. First passed in 1996 by citizen initiative, the voluntary program provides public funds to candidates for governor and state Legislature if they raise a threshold amount in $5 donations. In exchange for public financing, participants agree to certain restrictions, including spending limits and a prohibition on using other funds. In addition, qualifying candidates in general elections against privately financed rivals can receive supplemental funding provided they continue to collect small donations.

      Public financing regimes like Maine’s are critical engines for democratic participation in the age of super PACs and dark money. They lower barriers to entry for candidates who may not have access to large pools of money and encourage candidates to spend time courting ordinary citizens instead of behind-closed-doors dialing for dollars from well-heeled special interests.

    • America Is Married to the Mob
      There’s nothing original about this metaphor, which quite likely isn’t even a metaphor. It’s been there all along: Pulitzer-winning reporter David Cay Johnston, who has followed Donald Trump’s career for four decades, has written extensively about Trump’s longtime connections to organized crime, as have numerous other journalists, including Salon's Heather Digby Parton. Those connections clearly go back to Trump’s early days of doing shifty deals in the bottomed-out market of 1970s Manhattan real estate, where the only way to build anything, buy anything or make anything happen was to work with the made men and their allies.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Observer Editorial: On censorship and discourse
      This Editorial Board represents many different political ideologies, none of which will ever dictate the opinions that members of the tri-campus community choose to express through our Viewpoint section. The column in question met our standards of publication in that the author did not use ad hominem attacks or profanity in his writing, and he included citations to his sources. As long as the column remains relevant and continues to adhere to our standards of publication, for us to not run the column would be political censorship, which we do not practice at The Observer.
    • David Horowitz Freedom Center Declares Victory Over Censorship Attempt

      Just as in Alice in Wonderland: the verdict before the trial. The Freedom Center was judged guilty of “hate crimes” without a chance to protest and its online fundraising was blocked. Because on line fundraising is the lifeblood of our organization, this was an existential threat to our future. We were mobilizing for a costly legal proceeding against Mastercard when, on Friday afternoon, four days after the attempt to destroy us, WorldPay and MasterCard backed down and informed us they were restoring our online services and donations.
    • Trump social media 'censorship' claim is fake

      There is little evidence to back up Donald Trump's persistent claim that social media firms "silence" or "censor" conservatives, but the notion has nonetheless gathered widespread acceptance among his considerable following.

      The comments marked the second time in a week Trump has attacked tech platforms over alleged political bias.

      Days earlier, he tweeted that "Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won't let that happen."

      Both Twitter and Facebook deny bias in policing their platforms, and various studies suggest conservatives are thriving on social media.
    • Alphabet widens scope of comeback in China
      Google has faced sharp criticism, including from its own employees, for its efforts to rebuild an internet search presence in China after quitting the country eight years ago over censorship issues.

      But for Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, the opportunities in the world’s largest internet market may be too good to resist. And the full scope of the company’s interest in China now appears to be broader than just internet search.

      The latest hint came from Waymo, the driverless-car company that was spun out of Google in 2016. Chinese media noticed this week that the business had quietly registered a Shanghai subsidiary in May, suggesting that it wants a piece of an industry that the Chinese government has made a priority.
    • Google plays censor
      An internal crisis is unfolding at Google as the tech giant, which once operated with the motto “don’t be evil,” plans to assist China in the state-sponsored suppression of information.

      According to leaked documents reported by the Intercept, Google has created a censored version of its search engine in China that would, among other things, block certain websites and search terms about topics such as human rights, democracy, and freedom of expression.

    • Google's China push outweighs censorship concerns
      A few weeks back, we learned Google was developing something called "Project Dragonfly", a new search engine for the Chinese market that would function in compliance with Beijing's strict rules on censorship.

      In an organisation that talks up transparency, it is ironic that only a handful of the company's 88,000 employees knew about the project. When some of them caught wind of it, they leaked the story to an online news site, The Intercept, which broke the news and put Google's top brass on the spot.

      Google has ventured into China before but eventually left in 2010 because it couldn't live with the censorship rules. There was a time when Google's corporate slogan was '"don't be evil". That altruistic philosophy has since been amended from its code of conduct to "do the right thing".

    • Google plays censor: Tech giant is helping China suppress information

    • Hayward: Google Builds Censored Search Engine for China But Refuses A.I. Work for U.S. Military

    • The Offending Tweets That Got Me Banned for Life from Twitter
      A leaky little “bird” inside Twitter tells me these are the tweets that got me banned for life.

      I have no way of verifying this; official Twitter will not respond to my inquiries. I stand accused of dehumanizing several reporters (“targeted abuse”), using words to offend them into silence. It seems now you can judge for yourself, as it should be.

      This whole series of threads started when Trump accused the press of being “enemies of the people,” followed by Glenn Greenwald reminding us how the media enables America’s wars.

      The tweets about Sulome Anderson’s father, Terry Anderson, were cited as particularly offensive. If you don’t know his story, he was a journalist held hostage in Lebanon in the 1980s by Hezbollah. Sulome was in first grade when he was released.

      It’s hard to avoid editorializing here, but I do want to point out how quickly the offended journalists and their friends tried to shift my words into “picking on women” and similar inaccurate accusations of misogyny. I’ll also point out Twitter allowed the journalists to freely dehumanize and insult me. Note also how these journalists react to a whistleblower confronting them with the admission government officials lie, and that they accept the lies. One of the journalists who attacked me, below, once even used me as a truth-telling source during the Iraq War. Oh well.

    • DLDF Will Raise Censorship Awareness with BANNED TOGETHER Concerts Across the US
      On September 24, Joe's Pub will present Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret- a celebration of songs and scenes from shows that have been censored or challenged on America's stages, created to raise awareness around issues of censorship and free expression in the Theater. The event will feature performances of featured selections from CABARET, CHICAGO, 3C, RENT, INDECENT, and ANGELS IN AMERICA, among other notable works, with contextual commentary by writers John Weidman and JT Rogers.

      In 2018, Banned Together will be performed during Banned Books Week, September 23 - 29, in fifteen cities across the United States, including Chicago, LA, Atlanta, Boston and more. Click here for a full list of cities.

    • Prager U's Allie Stuckey: Facebook Ratcheting Up Its Censorship Of Conservatives

    • Tale of 2 Darcys: Oliver Darcy blames Trump for feeding the Right’s ‘censorship paranoia’, TRIPS over his old tweets

    • Conservative Censorship Hits All-Time High on Popular Social Media Platforms [Ed: No, censorship in general -- including of the left -- is now peaking]

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Your Smart Electricity Meters Can Track Every Activity, Court Ruling Warns
      Nowadays, smart devices have taken the wicked roads, contrary to the original plan of helping the citizens of the world. A few days back, we heard how remotely controlled home devices, doorbells, and thermostats are being used to inculcate fear among domestic abuse victims.

      Now another acute case of smart devices has come to light where a mere modern electricity meter has been found to interfere with home WiFi routers and many other internet devices.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why Russia needs a grassroots campaign against political repression
      In February, details of the “Network case” – in which 11 Russian anarchists and anti-fascists are being investigated on charges of creating a terrorist organisation – became public. This organisation never existed, and even its name is a figment of an FSB officer’s imagination. The number of criminal cases for reposting “extremist” memes online is only growing (OVD-Info reported 170 such cases in 2017), and this practice is developing quicker in the provinces than in the big cities. Recently, in the Siberian town of Barnaul, there have been three cases opened against users of social networks.

      The public campaign in support of people arrested in connection to the “Network case” started well, with several actions in different cities in Russia and across the world. But it has not moved beyond that. It is mainly human rights defenders, leftists and anarchists who are supporting these new political prisoners. Now it is time for a broader campaign against political repressions and fabricated criminal cases in Russia – a campaign that will go beyond individual cases, and that will go beyond solidarity based on personal sympathies towards this or that group of political prisoners.

    • Two-Person Police Department's Million Dollar Military Gear Grab Ends In Arrest Of Police Chief
      A tiny unincorporated town in Michigan continues to draw national heat, thanks to the police department's apparent abuse of the Defense Department's 1033 program. This program allows law enforcement agencies to obtain military surplus -- which can include armored vehicles, aircraft, and weapons -- for next to nothing through its Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO).

      This program has contributed greatly to the militarization of US police forces, allowing officers to dress up like soldiers while waging the War at Home on the constituents they supposedly serve. What happened in Thetford, however, wasn't a sudden ramping up of military gear/tactics. Instead, the Thetford PD -- which boasts two officers -- simply took the 1033 program for an extended ride. Chief Robert Kenny managed to obtain 950 items through the 1033 program, valued at over $1.1 million... at least according to his own, very conservative estimate.

    • Thetford Township police chief arrested amid military equipment investigation
      Thetford Township Police Chief Robert Kenny was arrested this week in connection with an investigation into surplus military equipment his department received.

      Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell scheduled a press conference for Thursday morning to discuss "the arrest and charges" Kenny is facing.

      Court records show Kenny is charged with embezzlement and obstruction of justice dating back to 2012.

      The sheriff's office has been investigating Thetford Township's use of more than $1 million worth of surplus military equipment obtained through the Law Enforcement Supports Office over the past decade.

      Kenny obtained the equipment, including a large forklift down to several used sleeping bags, on behalf of the township's two-person police department.

    • How the Trump Administration Went Easy on Small-Town Police Abuses
      On a chilly morning in December 2016, 12-year-old Bobby Lewis found himself sitting in a little room at the police station in Ville Platte, a town of 7,300 in southern Louisiana. He wasn’t sure exactly how long it had been, but the detective grilling him had been at it for some time. Bobby was a middle school student — a skinny kid with a polite demeanor — and though he got in trouble at school from time to time, he wasn’t used to getting treated like this. He was alone, facing the detective without a parent or a lawyer.

      A blank piece of paper sat on the table in front of Bobby. He and his friends were thieves, the detective insisted. They sold drugs. They trafficked guns. The detective brushed off Bobby’s denials. She knew what he was up to, and if he didn’t write it all down — inform on his friends and confess to his crimes — she’d charge him. She’d confiscate his dog, Cinnamon, she told him. She’d throw his mother in jail. Bobby was nothing but a “B” and an “MF,” as he later relayed the detective’s words to me, sheepish about repeating them. When his mother finally turned up at the station house, it seemed only to enrage the detective further. “Wipe that fucking smile off your face, and sit up in that fucking chair,” Bobby and his mother recall the detective barking at him.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Chinese intellectual property theft: Time for show trials (but get our story straight) [Ed: Nationalist front group of patent zealots does its usual]
      But even these two highly knowledgeable leaders then went on to confuse the US case against Beijing’s “pillaging” by adding a list of military IP thefts, including plans and designs related to the F35 fighter, the Patriot missile system, the Aegis Combat System, thermal imaging cameras, and unmanned underwater vehicles, among others, as examples of Chinese spying operations. The problem and confusion to the reader here is that such military espionage is considered fair game by all nations, including the US. And one hopes that US intelligence agencies have been equally diligent in ferreting out Chinese (and other nations’) advanced military designs and equipment.

    • Huawei transferred hundreds of patents to Qualcomm in months after NDRC settlement
      An analysis making the rounds in Chinese media has identified dozens of former Huawei patents that now appear on Qualcomm’s list of Chinese standard essential patents (SEPs). The two companies, which are still working to resolve in a royalty payment dispute, transacted hundreds of assets in the aftermath of Qualcomm’s settlement with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in 2015, according to USPTO records. On July 30, Qualcomm disclosed its updated version of Chinese cellular essential patent list. The full list includes 2,240 patents under 1,000 families, with 1,600 grants and over 600 applications.

    • WIPO Traditional Knowledge Committee Begins Work On Core Issues; Indigenous Peoples May Be Left Out
      The World Intellectual Property Organization’s committee seeking to find solutions against misappropriation of traditional knowledge opened this morning. While delegates are expected to negotiate wording of a potential treaty, the fund allowing indigenous peoples to participate in the discussions is empty with no foreseeable new donors, described by the chair as a historical situation. The committee is also trying to agree on recommendations for the upcoming WIPO General Assembly next month. On core issues, such as what the protection should cover, who would benefit from it, and under which conditions, delegates still have to find common positions.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirates Could Be Banned From The Internet If Music Industry Wins This Lawsuit
        The music industry has been fighting issues like piracy and copyright infringement for a very long time now.

        After giving up on the pursuit of direct infringers due to bad publicity, and deciding not to target the companies that create software and websites for online file-sharing, the recording industry is now focused on establishing copyright liability that would turn ISPs into copyright police.


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