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11.09.17

Links 9/11/2017: NetworkManager 1.9.90, Ubuntu Wants a New Theme

Posted in News Roundup at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Cloud Foundry: Focusing on Flexibility and Choice for a Cloud-Native World

      For some organizations working outside of technology hubs such as Silicon Valley, there is a vast shortage of developer talent to choose from. As a result, many have taken a proactive learning approach to help bring their developers up-to-speed with the demands of today’s cloud-native software platforms.

      Cloud Foundry is evolving its technology to benefit these users’ goals, explained Cloud Foundry Executive Director Abby Kearns, in this live-streamed episode of The New Stack Makers podcast recorded at Cloud Foundry Summit Europe last month.

    • Kubernetes by the numbers: 10 compelling stats

      How quickly has Kubernetes’ popularity soared? By most accounts, very quickly. Earlier this year, Cloud Native Computing Foundation executive director Dan Kohn penned a blog post that dug into that claim. People regularly tout Kubernetes as one of the highest velocity projects ever in open source history: Does the data back it up?

      As Kohn found, there may not be a single definitive metric, but they all point in the same conclusion: “You can pick your preferred statistic, such as that Kubernetes is in the top 0.00006% of the projects on GitHub,” Kohn wrote. “I prefer to just think of it as one of the fastest moving projects in the history of open source.”

  • Kernel Space

    • The state of the realtime union

      The 2017 Realtime Summit was held October 21 at Czech Technical University in Prague to discuss all manner of topics related to realtime Linux. Nearly two years ago, a collaborative project was formed with the goal of mainlining the realtime patch set. At the summit, project lead Thomas Gleixner reported on the progress that has been made and the plans for the future.

    • The 2017 Kernel and Maintainers Summits

      The 2017 Kernel and Maintainers Summits were held in Prague, Czechia, in late October, co-located with the Open-Source Summit Europe. As usual, LWN was there, and has put together coverage of the topics that were discussed at these meetings.

      The format of the Kernel Summit was changed significantly for this year. The bulk of the schedule has been moved into an completely open set of talks that ran alongside the rest of the OSS tracks; as a result, the attendance at these discussions was larger than in past years and included more people outside of the core kernel community. The invitation-only discussion has been made much smaller (about 30 core maintainers) and turned into a half-day event.

    • Another attempt to address the tracepoint ABI problem

      Tracepoints provide a great deal of visibility into the inner workings of the kernel, which is both a blessing and a curse. The advantages of knowing what the kernel is doing are obvious; the disadvantage is that tracepoints risk becoming a part of the kernel’s ABI if applications start to depend on them. The need to maintain tracepoints could impede the ongoing development of the kernel. Ways of avoiding this problem have been discussed for years; at the 2017 Kernel Summit, Steve Rostedt talked about yet another scheme.

      The risk of creating a new ABI has made some maintainers reluctant to add instrumentation to their parts of the kernel, he said. They might be willing to add new interfaces to provide access to specific information but, in the absence of tools that use this information, it is hard to figure out which information is needed or what a proper interface would be. The solution might be to adopt an approach that is similar to the staging tree, where not-ready-for-prime-time drivers can go until they are brought up to the necessary level of quality.

    • Restartable sequences and ops vectors

      Some technologies find their way into the kernel almost immediately; others need to go through multiple iterations over a number of years first. Restartable sequences, a mechanism for lockless concurrency control in user space, fall into the latter category. At the 2017 Kernel Summit, Mathieu Desnoyers discussed yet another implementation of this concept — but this one may not be the last word either.

      The core idea behind restartable sequences has not changed. An application defines a special region of code that, it is hoped, will run without interruption. This code performs some operation of interest on a per-CPU data structure that can be committed with a single instruction at the end. For example, it may prepare to remove an item from a list, with the final instruction setting a pointer that actually effects this change and makes it visible to other threads running on the same CPU. If the thread is preempted in the middle of this work, it may contend with another thread working on the same data structure. In this case, the kernel will cause the thread to jump to an abort sequence once it runs again; the thread can then clean up and try again (the “restart” part of the name). Most of the time, though, preemption does not happen, and the restartable sequence will implement a per-CPU, atomic operation at high speed.

    • Kernel regression tracking, part 1

      The kernel development community has run for some years without anybody tracking regressions; that changed one year ago when Thorsten Leemhuis stepped up to the task. Two conversations were held on the topic at the 2017 Kernel and Maintainers summits in Prague; this article covers the first of those, held during the open Kernel-Summit track.

      Leemhuis begin by pointing out that he started doing this work even though he does not work for a Linux company; he is, instead, a journalist for the largest computer magazine in Germany. He saw a mention of the gap that was left after Rafael Wysocki stopped tracking regressions, and thought that he might be a good fit for the job. This work is being done in his spare time. When he started, he had thought that the job would be difficult and frustrating; in reality, it turned out to be even worse than he expected.

    • Improving printk()

      When a kernel developer wants to communicate a message to user space, be it for debugging or to report a serious problem with the system, the venerable printk() function is usually the tool of choice. But, as Steve Rostedt (accompanied by Petr Mladek and Sergey Senozhatsky) noted during a brief session at the 2017 Kernel Summit, printk() has not aged well. In particular, it can affect the performance of the system as a whole; the roots of that problem and a possible solution were discussed, but a real solution will have to wait for the appearance of the code.

    • GStreamer: state of the union

      The annual GStreamer conference took place October 21-22 in Prague, (unofficially) co-located with the Embedded Linux Conference Europe. The GStreamer project is a library for connecting media elements such as sources, encoders and decoders, filters, streaming endpoints, and output sinks of all sorts into a fully customizable pipeline. It offers cross-platform support, a large set of plugins, modern streaming and codec formats, and hardware acceleration as some of its features. Kicking off this year’s conference was Tim-Philipp Müller with his report on the last 12 months of development and what we can look forward to next.

    • Using eBPF and XDP in Suricata

      Much software that uses the Linux kernel does so at comparative arms-length: when it needs the kernel, perhaps for a read or write, it performs a system call, then (at least from its point of view) continues operation later, with whatever the kernel chooses to give it in reply. Some software, however, gets pretty intimately involved with the kernel as part of its normal operation, for example by using eBPF for low-level packet processing. Suricata is such a program; Eric Leblond spoke about it at Kernel Recipes 2017 in a talk entitled “eBPF and XDP seen from the eyes of a meerkat”.

    • Mellanox Announces First Major Production Deployment of Linux Kernel-Based Open Ethernet Switch
    • Graphics Stack

    • Benchmarks

      • Some Basic macOS 10.13 vs. Ubuntu 17.10 OpenGL Gaming Tests

        Following last week’s F1 2017 launch for Linux which is making use of the Vulkan graphics API on Linux and Metal API on macOS, originally I set out to compare the macOS vs. Linux performance, but that didn’t go quite as planned due to MacBook Pro woes. But here are some other OpenGL game tests between macOS and Ubuntu 17.10 Linux.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GeckoLinux Beta Does openSuse Better

        GeckoLinux is an ideal option for switching to a new distro experience. I particularly like how the Cinnamon desktop works. Since I favor the Cinnamon environment in Linux Mint, changing over to GeckoLinux came with no difficulties. All the settings and features played out as expected.

        Kudos to the developer for making GeckoLinux such a solid alternative computing platform. I did not expect a developing early beta to be so glitch-free.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Daily Builds Now Available to Download

            Ubuntu 18.04 daily builds are now available to download. Their availability comes as the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS ‘Bionic Beaver’ development cycle gets in to gear.

          • Canonical Wants You to Contribute to the Default Theme for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

            As you probably know, Didier Roche was the one to lead the huge migration task from the Unity 7 user interface to the GNOME Shell one during the development cycle of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark), the current stable release of Ubuntu.

            During Artful cycle, the team lead by Didier Roche only managed to create a fork of the popular Dash-to-Dock extension for the GNOME Shell user interface that they call Ubuntu Dock, as well as some minor modifications to adapt their old Ambiance theme to the GNOME desktop environment.

          • Does Ubuntu Need a New Theme? [Poll]

            Does Ubuntu need a new theme? Ubuntu developers certainly think so. They’ve started a new initiative to try and find a new GTK theme (as well as new GNOME Shell theme and icon set). But is Ambiance really outdated and unfit for purpose?

          • Ubuntu Is Looking for a New Theme

            Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will be the next gold-standard Ubuntu release when it arrives in April 2018 — and it seems it could have a shiny new theme to boot.

            Ubuntu developers are hoping to run an Ubuntu theme contest (or more accurately let the community run one with some oversight and guidance).

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Might End Up Redoing The System Sounds

            The latest in the development of the “Bionic Beaver” is that new system sounds might come to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

            Following a discussion, there appears to be interest in redoing the system sounds for the Beaver release. Though at the moment there is no new sounds already being suggested as the replacement and a shortage of resources by the Ubuntu desktop team itself. The sounds of Ubuntu Touch were also brought up into the discussion.

          • Call for participation: an ubuntu default theme lead by the community?

            As part of our Unity 7 to GNOME Shell transition in 17.10, we had last August a Fit and Finish Sprint at the London office to get the Shell feeling more like Ubuntu and we added some tweaks to our default GTK theme.

          • Mesa 17.2.4 for Ubuntu 16.04 & 17.10

            Hi, the X-SWAT updates PPA has actually shipped Mesa 17.2 for 16.04 for a few weeks now, but it got bumped to the latest stable release yesterday. It’s available for the latest Ubuntu LTS (16.04) plus most recent interim release (17.10) as usual.

          • How to Install Firefox Quantum in Ubuntu Right Now

            Mozilla has an official PPA to test the beta version. You can use the same PPA to install Firefox Quantum.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is the TensorFlow machine intelligence platform?

    TensorFlow is an open source software library for numerical computation using data-flow graphs. It was originally developed by the Google Brain Team within Google’s Machine Intelligence research organization for machine learning and deep neural networks research, but the system is general enough to be applicable in a wide variety of other domains as well. It reached version 1.0 in February 2017, and has continued rapid development, with 21,000+ commits thus far, many from outside contributors. This article introduces TensorFlow, its open source community and ecosystem, and highlights some interesting TensorFlow open sourced models.

    TensorFlow is cross-platform. It runs on nearly everything: GPUs and CPUs—including mobile and embedded platforms—and even tensor processing units (TPUs), which are specialized hardware to do tensor math on. They aren’t widely available yet, but we have recently launched an alpha program.

  • Twitter Introduces Serial: an Open Source Library for Serialization

    UI smoothness in Android is something that gets brought up from time to time as it can be really easy for the average user to notice what is commonly referred to as jank. This is quite often noticed when scrolling through a list of items and Twitter noticed that serializing and deserializing data both to and from the database using the standard Android Externalizable classes took up about 15% of the UI thread time. The team took some time to optimize this issue and today they’ve announced Serial — a new, open source library for serialization.

  • Deloitte Report: Over 26,000 Blockchain Projects Began in 2016

    More than 26,000 new projects related to blockchain were created on code repository GitHub last year, according to data collected by Deloitte.

    For its new report – titled “Evolution of Blockchain Technology: Insights from the GitHub Platform” and published today – the professional services firm drew information from the development platform, which plays home to the code for over 86,000 blockchain initiatives, including major projects like bitcoin.

  • Open-source search provider Elastic acquires Swiftype to grow its reach
  • Elastic acquires search startup Swiftype
  • Elastic Acquires SaaS Site Search Leader Swiftype
  • Deloitte: 26,000 Open-Source Blockchain Projects Introduced in 2016
  • Deloitte Reports More Than 26,000 Blockchain Projects Launched in 2016
  • There were more than 26,000 new blockchain projects last year – only 8% are still active

    It is one of the fastest growing technologies around, but the majority of blockchain projects are abandoned within months, according to researchers.

    More than 26,000 open-source blockchain projects were created on the software collaboration platform GitHub in 2016, research by auditing giant Deloitte has revealed.

  • Barclays Embraces Open Source

    The industry is seeing a convergence of single-dealer platforms into multi-dealer platforms in the open source space, which is just a logical progression, said John Stecher, group managing director at Barclays Investment Bank, during his keynote at the Open Source Strategy Forum in Lower Manhattan.

  • Events

    • Learn Digital Painting with Krita in Bogota, Colombia

      Lina Porras and David Saenz from the Ubuntu Colombia user group wrote to tell us that they will give an introduction to digital painting with Krita starting this Saturday. David will be teaching Krita four Saturday sessions.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • The Definitive OpenStack Map

      When OpenStack launched in 2010, there were only two projects at the time: Nova compute and Swift storage. Over the last seven years, OpenStack has gotten significantly larger and more complicated, with many different projects that are all part of the open-source cloud platform effort.

      In a session at the OpenStack Summit in Sydney, Australia on Nov. 8, Thierry Carrez, VP of Engineering at the OpenStack Foundation, detailed a new effort to help map the OpenStack landscape.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 10.1 Released

      PostgreSQL 10.1 is now available as the first update over the recently released PostgreSQL 10.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.4.3 Office Suite Released with over 50 Bug and Regression Fixes

      LibreOffice 5.4.3 comes about five weeks after the 5.4.2 maintenance update and it’s a minor point release that attempts to fix even more bugs and regressions that have been discovered in the previous version.

      According to the changelogs for the RC1 and RC2 development milestone, a total of 52 issues were addressed in the LibreOffice 5.4.3 release across various of the components of the office suite. Check out each changelog if you’re curious to know what exactly was fixed.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • MINIX’s creator would have liked to know Intel was using it

      When Andrew S. Tanenbaum created the educational, open-source operating system MINIX, he did it to teach operating system principles to his students at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit and to readers of his classic textbook, Operating Systems Design and Implementation. MINIX would become Linux’s forefather. Tanenbaum knew that. What Tanenbaum didn’t know was Intel would take MINIX and embed it within its CPUs for almost a decade.

      As Tanenbaum wrote in an open letter: “Thanks for putting a version of MINIX inside the ME-11 management engine chip used on almost all recent desktop and laptop computers in the world. I guess that makes MINIX the most widely used computer operating system in the world, even more than Windows, Linux, or MacOS. And I didn’t even know until I read a press report about it.”

  • Public Services/Government

    • 32 European ministers call for more Free Software in governmental infrastructure

      On 6 October, 32 European Ministers in charge of eGovernment policy signed the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment that calls for more collaboration, interoperable solutions, and sharing of good practices throughout public administrations and across borders. Amongst other things, the EU ministers recognised the need to make more use of Free Software solutions and Open Standards when (re)building governmental digital systems with EU funds.

      The Tallinn Declaration, lead by the Estonian EU presidency, has been adopted on 6 October 2017. It is a ministerial declaration that marks a new political commitment at European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) level on priorities to ensure user-centric digital public services for both citizens and businesses cross-border. While having no legislative power, the ministerial declaration marks a political commitment to ensure the digital transformation of public administrations through a set of commonly agreed principles and actions.

      The FSFE has previously submitted its input for the aforementioned declaration during the public consultation round, asking for greater inclusion of Free Software in delivering truly inclusive, trustworthy and interoperable digital services to all citizens and businesses across the EU.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • CUPS relicensed to Apache v2

      Apple has let it be known that the CUPS printing system will, as of version 2.3, switch from GPLv2 to the Apache License. This change is possible because Apple requires that contributors sign a contributor agreement [PDF] giving joint ownership of any copyrights to Apple.

  • Programming/Development

    • Why Senior Devs Write Dumb Code and How to Spot a Junior From A Mile Away

      One of my all time favorite quotes is from Brian Goetz, a smart dude in the Java world who is one of the authors of Java Concurrency in Practice, among other things. The quote appears in an interview that Oracle published under the title, “Write Dumb Code”. Goetz was asked how to write code that performs well. Here is what he had to say…

Leftovers

  • Baby monkey passes out for 10 hours from caffeine overdose after stealing tourist’s strong coffee

    The baby long-tailed macaque passed out with a caffeine overdose after slurping down a cup of joe nicked from a tourist.

    The thirsty monkey (Macaca fascicularis) jumped on to the tourist’s motorbike in Thai capital Bangkok’s Bang Khun Thien district and quickly downed the brew.

  • 3 free online resources for music research

    In September I wrote about how much fun I was having perusing the archives of the Great 78 Project. Learning about this great resource inspired me to look for other online music resources, and here are three more that I’d like to share.

  • Science

    • A Dying Boy Gets a New, Gene-Corrected Skin

      At the age of 7, Hassan had already seen more than his fair share of hardship. A week after he was born in Syria, a blister appeared on his back. The doctors there diagnosed him with a genetic disorder called epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, which leaves one’s skin extremely fragile and prone to tearing. There was no cure, they said. When Hassan’s family fled Bashar al-Assad’s regime and moved to Germany as refugees, the doctors there said the same thing. Meanwhile, the blisters were getting bigger.

      In June 2015, Hassan was admitted to the burn unit of a children’s hospital in Bochum, Germany. By that time, around 60 percent of his epidermis—the top layer of his skin—was gone. His back, flanks, and limbs had become a continuous landscape of open wounds, red and raw. Much of it was badly infected. The pain was excruciating. “Why do I have to live this life?” he asked his father.

    • When will the Earth try to kill us again?

      Our planet Earth has extinguished large portions of its inhabitants several times since the dawn of animals. And if science tells us anything, it will surely try to kill us all again. Working in the 19th century, paleontology pioneer Georges Cuvier saw dramatic turnovers of life in the fossil record and likened them to the French Revolution, then still fresh in his memory.

      Today, we refer to such events as “mass extinctions,” incidents in which many species of animals and plants died out in a geological instant. They are so profound and have such global reach that geological time itself is sliced up into periods—Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous—that are often defined by these mass extinctions.

  • Hardware

    • Five big patent talking points raised by Broadcom’s proposed buy-out of Qualcomm

      Broadcom electrified the tech world earlier this week when it made a $130 billion offer for Qualcomm. The advance looks set to be rebuffed by the Qualcomm board, but it seems likely that this is a story that will run for a while yet.

      Given the sectors in which the two companies operate, patents are a crucial part of the asset base of both businesses. Were a merger to occur, the combined portfolio would be vast and immensely powerful – something that regulators across the world would be bound to pay very special attention to.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WIPO Hosts Notably Wide-Ranging Discussion On Vaccine Innovation And Access

      A well-represented set of experts this week held discussions on the current situation of access to vaccines, the market, the role of pharmaceutical companies, and partnerships. Vaccines were not a field much affected by patents in the past, but the situation has changed and new vaccines are now covered by intellectual property, which might constitute a barrier to access, according to speakers.

    • South Centre: Clear Rules Needed On Biosimilars Equivalence To Help Market Entry, Lower Prices

      As soon as 2022, biological drugs made from active protein substances are expected to make up 50 percent of the pharmaceutical market, as they are increasingly used to treat a number of illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and hepatitis. But with the high price of therapeutics and difficulty in producing biologically similar products, and with the originator products now coming off patent, regulation is of high importance, says a new report from the intergovernmental South Centre.

  • Security

    • Vault 8

      Source code and analysis for CIA software projects including those described in the Vault7 series.

      This publication will enable investigative journalists, forensic experts and the general public to better identify and understand covert CIA infrastructure components.

      Source code published in this series contains software designed to run on servers controlled by the CIA. Like WikiLeaks’ earlier Vault7 series, the material published by WikiLeaks does not contain 0-days or similar security vulnerabilities which could be repurposed by others.

    • Marissa Mayer sounds distraught over Yahoo’s massive data breach

      Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer appeared distraught at a US Senate hearing Wednesday (Nov. 8) on the unprecedented data breaches at the company during her tenure.

      “As you know, Yahoo was the victim of criminal, state-sponsored attacks on its systems, resulting in the theft of certain user information,” Mayer said in her opening remarks, rarely looking up from her notes. “As CEO, these thefts occurred during my tenure, and I want to sincerely apologize to each and every one of our users.”

    • What Is ARP Spoofing? — Attacks, Detection, And Prevention

      Spoofing is often defined as imitating (something) while exaggerating its characteristic features for comic effect. Not in the real world but also in the computer networking world, spoofing is a common practice among notorious users to intercept data and traffic meant for a particular user.

    • New Hope for Digital Identity

      For your inconvenience, every organization’s identity system is also a separate and proprietary silo, even if it is built with open-source software and methods. Worse, an organization might have many different silo’d identity systems that know little or nothing about each other. Even an organization as unitary as a university might have completely different identity systems operating within HR, health care, parking, laundry, sports and IT—as well as within its scholastic realm, which also might have any number of different departmental administrative systems, each with its own record of students past and present.

    • Linux has a whole crock of USB vulnerabilities
    • Google Patches KRACK Vulnerability in Android
  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Politics of Sexual Harassment and War

      Yet, while the political careers of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton survived disclosures of their predatory behavior, Weinstein’s movie empire quickly crumbled after a number of women came forward with accounts of how he used his power to gain sexual favors. Several prominent news personalities, from Bill O’Reilly at Fox to Michael Oreskes at NPR, have lost their jobs, too, amid other sexual harassment complaints.

    • America Breaks Down: The Anatomy of a National Psychosis

      With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that terrorizes the public, destabilizes the country’s fragile ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry.

      Take this latest mass shooting that took place at a small church in a small Texas town.

      The lone gunman—a former member of the Air Force—was dressed all in black, wearing body armor, a tactical vest and a mask, and firing an assault rifle. (Note the similarity in uniform and tactics to the nation’s police forces, SWAT teams and military.)

    • This Florida school is selling bulletproof panels for students’ backpacks

      A Miami private school is offering parents an unusual item for sale: bulletproof panels for their kids’ backpacks.

      The Florida Christian School website has a list of items available for purchase. These include winter wear, red school logo T-shirts and ballistic panels.

  • Finance

    • The GOP tax bill could be a disaster for PhD students

      The bill, in its current form, eliminates or consolidates tax credits used by both graduate and undergraduate students — but those pursuing master’s degrees and PhDs will get hit the hardest by the proposed changes.

    • Grad Students Are Freaking Out About the GOP Tax Plan. They Should Be

      For years, PhD candidates have “paid” for their educations almost exclusively through research and teaching—working in labs, TAing courses, hosting office hours. It works like an apprenticeship: Trade five years of your life learning and working in a field that interests you in exchange for a meager, but livable, salary.

    • What Is Chia? — BitTorrent Inventor Announces His “Green” Bitcoin Competitor

      While cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin might be all the rage today, they’re criticised for their heavy consumption of energy. The more energy you use with the help of a powerful hardware, the more cryptocurrency you can mine. Recently, a new hard fork named Bitcoin Gold was facilitated to address similar issues.

      Earlier this year in April, we reported that BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen might launch his own cryptocurrency and Bitcoin-alternative. Just recently, acting well on his promise, Cohen has started a new company called Chia Network.

    • Bitcoin compromise collapses, leaving future growth in doubt

      A group of prominent developers and executives backing a plan to expand the capacity of the Bitcoin network threw in the towel on Wednesday. “It is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize upgrade at this time,” wrote developer Mike Belshe in a Wednesday afternoon e-mail.

    • Why I Think IT Certifications are Overrated

      When it comes out to actual job relevance I found certifications to be largely useless. Experience, on the other hand, can be tremendously valuable. I will take someone who knows the ins and outs of a Networking OS (ie, Cisco IOS) and Linux – over someone who has certification any day of the week.

    • The Wilbur Ross Scandal Isn’t About Russia, It’s About Corruption

      COMMERCE SECRETARY WILBUR Ross recently promoted his own agency ethics official, whose job it is to monitor department-wide conduct for ethical lapses. The promotion came just before Ross received scrutiny about his investment in the shipping company Navigator Holdings, which has business ties to Russian oligarchs and members of the Putin family.

      The story played in the mainstream press as evidence of further Trump administration ties to Russia, but any billionaire with vast holdings and an interest in the energy industry is likely to have rubbed up against a few oligarchs and Putin cronies. More to the point, Ross’s story is one of an unchecked conflict of interest.

    • The Brexiters who put their money offshore

      Many of the most powerful supporters of the Brexit campaign appear in the Paradise Papers because of their offshore interests. There is nothing illegal about their arrangements.

      But many of these same voices have urged a “hard Brexit” – which could see the UK ripping up its economic model and in effect becoming a tax haven on the borders of Europe.

      That might suit Brexiters, many of whom have either made their money, or keep their money, or live, offshore.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Monopoly critics decry ‘Amazon amendment’

      The amendment, Section 801 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would help Amazon establish a tight grip on the lucrative, $53 billion government acquisitions market, experts say.

    • Trump Skirts ‘Great Firewall’ to Tweet About Beijing Trip

      Many Western social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are banned in China. A sophisticated system has been built to deny online users within China access to blocked content.

      That was not an issue for Trump, known for tweeting to his 42.3 million followers at any hour of the day, Wednesday, the day he arrived in Beijing.

    • How Activism Can Lead the Way in the Trump Era

      Our constitutional system depends as much on the work of activists as it does on lawyers. The courts can’t do it alone.

      In his first year in office, Donald Trump has proved to be simultaneously the most dangerous and the most frustrated president in living memory. The danger is clear: He seems unable to control his most basic impulses, and those impulses are shaped more by concern about his image than about the Constitution or the people’s best interests. He has sought to ban Muslims, increase deportations, intimidate the media, repeal Obamacare, bar transgender people from serving the military, and threaten football players taking a knee to oppose racial injustice.

      The threat he poses continues.

      But he has also proved to be one of the nation’s least effectual presidents — even though he enjoys Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. That’s because Americans who care about civil rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, and basic human dignity have stood up to him. And if Americans continue to mobilize in defense of these values, Trump will continue to be stymied. That is our job as citizens — to ensure that a president who tends toward authoritarianism is checked at every juncture. And that is also our job at the ACLU.

    • Trump’s DOJ wants AT&T/Time Warner to sell CNN or DirecTV before merger

      The Trump administration is asking AT&T and Time Warner Inc. to sell off either CNN or DirecTV in order to win government approval of their merger, multiple news outlets reported today.

      AT&T has owned DirecTV since 2015 and is now seeking federal approval to purchase Time Warner Inc., the owner of programming such as HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros.

    • Trump and Democrats Misread Mandates

      The Democrats might have taken away from their defeat the warning that they had forgotten how to speak to the white working class, which had suffered from job losses via “free trade” and felt willfully neglected as Democrats looked toward the “browning of America.”

      The choice of Clinton had compounded this problem because she came across as elitist and uncaring toward this still important voting bloc with her memorable description of half of Trump’s voters as “deplorables,” an insult that stung many lower-income whites and helped deliver Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Trump.

      For more than a decade, some Democratic strategists had promoted the notion that “demography is destiny,” i.e., that the relative growth of Latino, Asian and African-American populations in comparison to whites would ensure a future Democratic majority. That prediction seemed to have been validated by Barack Obama’s winning coalition in 2008 and 2012, but it also had the predictable effect of alienating many whites who felt disrespected and resentful.

      So, while the Democrats and Clinton looked to a multicultural future, Trump used his experience in reality TV to communicate with this overlooked demographic group. Trump sold himself as a populist and treated the white working class with respect. He spoke to their fears about economic decline and gave voice to their grievances. He vowed to put “America First” and pull back from foreign military adventures that often used working-class kids as cannon fodder.

    • HOW TRUMP BROUGHT THE POLITICAL MEDIA CLASS TO ITS KNEES

      It was the sinister genius of Donald Trump to turn the hallowed ritual of the daily briefing into his very own reality show. The press, he learned during his tabloid years in New York, is essentially a sensationalistic enterprise. On the campaign trail, he took advantage of the industry’s most self-serving impulses to inject himself hourly into the national consciousness; later, as his coverage became more negative, Trump turned the media’s outrage into ammunition for his assault on establishment pieties. His shock election seemed to confirm that the nation’s educated reportorial class, cloistered in New York and Washington, D.C., had missed one of the biggest stories of the century. With the briefing room under his control, Trump and his ill-fated stand-in, Sean Spicer, effectively hijacked the network-news cameras, turning them back on the White House press corps, making the once staid question-and-answer sessions into a daily referendum on media bias.

    • More Than A Quarter Of Trump’s Overseas Partners Have Tangled With The Law

      More than a quarter of Donald Trump’s international business deals involve a partner who has been investigated, charged, or convicted of a serious crime, a new analysis by BuzzFeed News shows.

      During the campaign, Trump promised to hire the “best people,” but his international deals show his partners often had tangles with the law. In Dubai, the Trump Organization is building two golf courses and luxury villas with a partner who was convicted and sentenced to prison for collaborating on a deal that would rip off the Egyptian people. In Indonesia, Trump’s company is at work on two resorts with a partner who has been accused of money laundering and threatening the Indonesian attorney general.

    • Exclusive: Lebanon believes Saudi holds Hariri, demands return

      Lebanon believes Saad al-Hariri is held in Saudi Arabia, from where he resigned as prime minister, two top Lebanese government officials said, amid a deepening crisis pushing Lebanon onto the frontlines of a power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Conejo Valley Unified School District Back in Censorship News

      The proposed changes include flagging any text deemed to have any potentially objectionable content with a “mature content” warning. Such preemptive warnings too often tar valuable, complex books with a scarlet “objectionable” label and reduce them to only the words or passages that have caught the attention of the would-be censor. In addition, the proposal requires that parents sign off on syllabi that specifically identify all titles with potentially objectionable content. Going forward, the policy would also require a community review committee made up of non-teachers to review titles suggested for the curriculum. The amendments facing the CVSUD board boil down to two main issues:

    • The ‘Russia’ Excuse for Facebook & Twitter Censorship

      Last week saw a dramatic new phase of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into “Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election” and “possible collusion by members of the Trump team.” Two senior members of the Trump campaign team including former campaign chair Paul Manafort surrendered themselves to federal authorities.

      Some would say that this is it, that Trump is definitely finished. US media reported that the indictments against Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his assistant Rick Gates undoubtedly proved that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election, thus installing Trump as president. But if you tried listening to the supposed evidence, you could hear the special prosecutor claiming that these individuals “did work for Ukraine and were paid by the Ukrainian government.”

    • Conservatives must fight media’s censorship of pro-life content

      Twitter had previously halted advertisements from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, because she spoke about her desire “to stop the sale of body parts” by Planned Parenthood. Twitter later allowed the advertisements, but only after they were criticized for it, proving that if people speak out, change is possible.

    • Senate Committee Approves Sex Trafficking Bill Despite Objections From Tech Advocates

      The United States Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved a bill designed to combat sex trafficking online despite numerous objections from technology firms and privacy advocates.

      The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) has enjoyed bipartisan support since its inception and was passed through committee unanimously but will face significant push back over its concerns the legislation, despite its good intentions, will result in internet censorship.

    • Sex trafficking act would lead to censorship online, not safety

      Changes unveiled last week to the controversial Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) have won the support of the Internet Association, which includes tech giants like Facebook and Twitter. While these minor revisions may have eased the bill’s passage out of committee Wednesday, lawmakers haven’t yet come within hailing distance of addressing SESTA’s underlying problems.

      Shaped by good intentions, SESTA would reduce today’s internet to something more like traditional newspapers or broadcasters, rather than a democratic environment in which everyone’s voice may be heard. It would entrench the internet’s dominant voices as trusted sources, essentially because they’re easier to sue in court.

    • SESTA Approved by Senate Commerce Committee—Still an Awful Bill

      The Senate Commerce Committee just approved a slightly modified version of SESTA, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (S. 1693).

      SESTA was and continues to be a deeply flawed bill. It would weaken 47 U.S.C. § 230, (commonly known as “CDA 230” or simply “Section 230”), one of the most important laws protecting free expression online. Section 230 says that for purposes of enforcing certain laws affecting speech online, an intermediary cannot be held legally responsible for any content created by others.

      It’s not surprising when a trade association endorses a bill that would give its own members a massive competitive advantage.

      SESTA would create an exception to Section 230 for laws related to sex trafficking, thus exposing online platforms to an immense risk of civil and criminal litigation. What that really means is that online platforms would be forced to take drastic measures to censor their users.

    • Will Sheryl Sandberg And Facebook Help Small Websites Threatened By SESTA?

      Sandberg’s support, then, is doubly troubling. SESTA will cause more harm to victims of sex trafficking, while at the same time cementing Facebook’s dominant position, by putting smaller companies at significant risk. The cynical among you may suggest this latter part explains Facebook’s decision here, though I’d argue that’s almost certainly not true. It’s much more likely that with all the criticism Facebook has been receiving lately over supposed Russian interference, it had to “give up” something, and it’s easy to toe the misleading line that all of the politicians are following by saying this bill is about sex trafficking and it will magically help end sex trafficking. The fact that it may harm smaller sites and Facebook’s own users? That’s just gravy.

      Yesterday I asked if the authors of SESTA, Senators Blumenthal and Portman, could explain to smaller sites like ours how to stay on the right side of the law. Now I’d like to make a similar ask of Facebook: considering its support of SESTA is what allowed it to sail through the markup this morning, will Facebook commit to funding the defense of small sites that face legal jeopardy because of SESTA? Will Facebook commit to creating a fund to pay for lawyers to help smaller sites comply with SESTA? Will Facebook commit to funding defense of bogus grandstanding attacks by state AGs using SESTA?

    • Ron Wyden Puts A Hold On SESTA And Warns About Its Dangers

      Those are fighting words — and it’s good to see him come out and directly say that just because big tech companies are for SESTA it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing (now will some people finally stop falsely claiming that Wyden just represents the big tech companies?). Last week’s decision by the Internet Association (which represents the largest internet companies) along with Facebook’s direct support for SESTA remain very troubling. These organizations have experience with intermediary liability laws and know how important they are, and how weakening them gets abused. Wyden knows that too.

      In some ways, this reminds me of a similar situation, almost exactly seven years ago, when Wyden blocked COICA, an alarmist censorship bill pushed by Hollywood, which eventually morphed into SOPA and PIPA. As with SESTA, COICA was seen as an “easy” win for Congress and passed out of Committee with a unanimous vote. Wyden put a public hold on it and forced Senators to go back to the drawing board — and eventually the entire bill was killed.

    • David Boies Accused Of Running Horrifying Spy Operation Against Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers

      David Boies is one of the highest profile lawyers in the country. I first became aware of him when he (as outside counsel) represented the Justice Department in the overreaching antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s. However, I think most people became aware of him when he represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore. Since then, nearly every time he’s popped up in Techdirt, it’s been doing really, really sketchy things. He was the lawyer for SCO in that company’s insane “set open source on fire” lawsuit against IBM over Linux. He represented Oracle in its ridiculous lawsuit against Google over whether APIs are covered by copyright*. He represented Sony Pictures after its email was hacked and threatened lots of journalists — including us! — for publishing stories based on those leaked emails (we told him “go pound sand.”) And, honestly, until earlier this week, I thought the most egregious efforts by Boies had been his connection to Theranos, the disgraced medical devices company, where Boies wasn’t just a lawyer for the company, but on the board, and participated in terrible and far-reaching attempts to punish whistleblowers at the company.

    • The Woman Battling Hate Speech, Censorship, and Extremism Online (and Off)

      Jigsaw is working on projects like letting people in Internet-censored countries access the open Internet via other people’s connections, and using machine learning to ferret out online abuse.

    • Open Hillel Rejects Censorship and Stands with Princeton Students Calling for Open Discourse

      CJL derived these standards from Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership for Israel Activities, which has been applied by Hillel donors and board members countless times to censor students, speakers and events on college campuses across the country. Just as Open Hillel opposes the Standards of Partnership and its censorship of student voices, so do we oppose the censorship of MK Tzipi Hotovely.

    • Hillel president apologizes to Hotovely for Princeton slight

      The head of Hillel International on Tuesday apologized to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, three days after the Princeton University branch of his Jewish campus organization canceled her speech there on short notice following pressure from a progressive Jewish group.

    • Miami City Attorney Tries To Erase Photos Of Fired Firefighters From The Internet

      The images are already out there. Telling the media to unpublish the photos is a ridiculous move. The union plans to sue the city for releasing the photos, but that’s not going to do anything to return the internet to the state it was in prior to the accidental photo dump.

      As for the firefighters inadvertently left unprotected by this “violation” of Florida’s open records law, it would seem the best way to keep your photo from being displayed in stories about racist acts by public servants is refraining from engaging in bigoted acts while employed as public servants. Trying to turn online media sources into self-serving time machines only ensures maximum visibility.

    • Arts: University chooses dialogue, not censorship, for controversial mural

      In May 1917, just a few weeks after the United States entered World War I, a motion picture called “The Spirit of ’76” debuted in Chicago. It was advertised as “a historical romance dealing with the American Revolution and its causes,” and its depiction of the British was particularly negative.

      Because the U.S. was now fighting alongside Great Britain in the war, authorities confiscated the film. Later that year Robert Goldstein, its writer and producer, was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act by disparaging an ally and giving aid and comfort to the enemy: in this case, the Germans. Because in 1915 the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that movies did not have First Amendment protection, a federal appeals court upheld the decision.

      [...]

      This fall, more than 1,600 students at the University of Indiana demanded the administration remove from view a portion of a 1930s-era mural by famed Midwestern regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton entitled “A Social History of Indiana.”

    • Faculty Meeting Briefing: Faculty discusses censorship and diversity

      At their November meeting, the faculty spent a large portion of time in confidential deliberations as a committee of the whole before discussing academic censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • US House panel passes legislation aimed at overhauling certain aspects of NSA’s internet surveillance programme

      A US House panel on Wednesday passed legislation seeking to overhaul some aspects of the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance programme, overcoming criticism from civil liberties advocates that it did not include enough safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy.

    • Sean Parker: We Built Facebook to Exploit You

      Facebook’s founding president Sean Parker — Justin Timberlake in The Social Network, if that’s how you keep track of the platform’s key players — sat down with Axios’s Mike Allen at an event in Philadelphia this week. Parker, who now chairs the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, was there to discuss advances in cancer research — but nevertheless managed to squeeze in a few comments about building Facebook. What he had to say is not going to make Zuck happy.

      Confirming what you basically know, but probably don’t want to think about too closely, Parker explained just how he and the other early Facebookers built the platform to “consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible.” He described the system of users posting content and receiving likes as “a social-validation feedback loop … exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.” “We need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever,” Parker said. “And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.” He also noted that he and Zuckerberg, and later Instagram’s Kevin Systrom, were very much aware of this and “did it anyway.”

    • Can you have secrets online? This unusual pop-up shop will make you think again

      Few are aware of their digital footprint and the extent to which their data is harvested, traded, and sold on a daily basis.

      Most people enjoy apps and social media services without thinking about the control over their own personal data they are handing over to giant corporations. For example, if you don’t alter the right settings, Facebook has the ability to track you across the web — and many of its billion users are none the wiser of any of this.

      And Facebook is just one example: companies are collecting and using more data than ever, while some governments are increasingly pushing to gain more powers over online services in order to access user’s private data.

    • CIA director met with NSA whistleblower at President Trump’s urging to discuss his conspiracy theory that DNC leak was an inside job
    • ‘Zero evidence’ that Russia hacked DNC, says NSA whistleblower (VIDEO)

      NSA whistleblower William Binney spoke to RT about his recent meeting with CIA director Mike Pompeo, where they discussed accusations that Russia meddled in 2016 US presidential election by hacking the Democrats.

      In an interview with RT America host Ed Schultz on Wednesday, Binney said tests have “clearly showed” the DNC was not hacked by Russia before the 2016 presidential election, but that the data was downloaded locally.

    • To prevent revenge porn, Facebook will look at user-submitted nude photos

      Facebook is experimenting with a new way to prevent the posting of so-called revenge porn that involves a highly questionable requirement. Potential victims must send nude pictures of themselves though the social network’s official messenger so the images can be viewed, in full, unedited form, by an employee of the social network.

      A Facebook spokeswoman said the employee would be a member of the company’s community operations team who has been trained to review such photos. If the employee determines the image violates site policies, it will be digitally fingerprinted to prevent it from being published on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram. An article posted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported said the service is still being tested with help from Australian government officials. To use it, potential victims will first complete this online form, and then send the images to themselves over Facebook Messenger.

    • Fappening 3.0 Continues? — Explicit Pictures Of WWE Divas JoJo, Paige, and Maria Kanellis Leaked
    • NSA’s Spying Obsession – How Lawmakers Could Use Mega Security Breaches to Get the Agency More Powers

      Earlier this morning, the US lawmakers sat together to grill current and former executives from Equifax, Yahoo, and Verizon. Today’s hearing, titled Protecting Consumers in the Era of Major Data Breaches, was focused on massive security breaches that the companies faced under these executives. While Yahoo lost data of over 3 billion of its users, Equifax managed to have personal data, including social security numbers of 145 million Americans exposed. Verizon was in the panel because of its recent acquisition of Yahoo.

      Included in the panel were, Paulino do Rego Barros, Interim CEO, Equifax; Richard Smith, the CEO when Equifax suffered the intrusion; Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo (she only appeared before the committee after lawmakers subpoenaed her); Karen Zacharia, the deputy general counsel and chief privacy officer at Verizon; and Todd Wilkinson, President and CEO Entrust Datacard Corp.

    • U.S. House panel advances bill aimed at limiting NSA spying program

      A U.S. House panel on Wednesday passed legislation seeking to overhaul some aspects of the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance program, overcoming criticism from civil liberties advocates that it did not have enough safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy.

    • U.S. House panel advances bill aimed at limiting NSA spying program

      The House bill, known as the USA Liberty Act, partially restricts the FBI’s ability to review American data collected under Section 702 by requiring the agency to obtain a warrant when seeking evidence of crime.

    • Facebook’s “shadow profiles”: the involuntary dossiers of information you never provided, and can’t opt out of

      Facebook is well understood as being a major customer of third-party data-brokers, who compile huge dossiers on people based on their spending, internet and phone usage, employment history and so on. In addition, Facebook encourages users to upload their entire address books to the system to “find your friends,” and users generally don’t appreciate that they may be leaking sensitive information, including nicknames, private numbers, and connections to the system.

    • Facebook asks for users’ nude photos so it can block revenge porn
    • Apple says it immediately contacted FBI about unlocking Texas shooter’s iPhone

      Apple is refuting the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s account of the aftermath of the Texas gunman’s attack this past Sunday, saying it reached out to the bureau “immediately” to offer assistance in getting into the gunman’s iPhone and expedite its response to any legal process. The attack, which left 26 dead and many more injured, was committed by now-deceased Devin P. Kelley, who is confirmed to have been carrying an iPhone that may have crucial information about his activities in the lead up to the shooting.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • TSA fails most tests in latest undercover operation at US airports

      When ABC News asked the source familiar with the report if the failure rate was 80 percent, the response was, “You are in the ballpark.”

    • The ACLU Has Challenged the Trump Administration Since the 2016 Election

      Dresslar tells Teen Vogue that the ACLU plans to hire 100 new employees, mostly litigators, and mostly at state affiliates. So while many feel frustrated at the injustices caused by Trump and his cabinet, we have the ACLU as our defenders.

    • Ashamed to work in Silicon Valley: how techies became the new bankers
    • U.S. Gave Its Torturers a Pass, So International Court Steps In

      For the first time, U.S. officials could face the specter of indictment by the international court.

      After a decade of collecting evidence, the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court announced last week that she will take steps toward a full investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed over the course of the armed conflict in Afghanistan since May 2003. While the process could take years, this development means that, for the first time, U.S. officials could face the specter of indictment by the international court.

      The prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has requested to launch a full investigation into whether a number of actors committed gross violations of international law, including “war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment.” That implicates U.S. military and CIA personnel, as well as private contractors. In a 2016 report, the prosecutor’s office revealed that it had reason to believe that members of the U.S. military “subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity” and members of the CIA “subjected at least 27 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and/or rape.”

    • Ramsey Orta Can’t Breathe

      When we went to a New York state prison to visit Ramsey Orta, the young man who filmed a police officer choking Eric Garner to death on a Staten Island sidewalk in 2014, we didn’t even make it past the metal detectors.

      [...]

      For months, Ramsey had been telling friends that the Fishkill prison guards were targeting him, much like the local Rikers Island guards—who he says tried to kill him with verifiably rat-poisoned food—had back home. He didn’t feel safe at Fishkill, either, he said. In fact, since he’d filmed his friend’s death at the hands of an NYPD detective, he hadn’t felt safe even out in public.

      [...]

      Ramsey’s treatment, along with that of other activists and copwatchers, may be intended as a cautionary tale for anyone who would film police. But for those devoted to the idea that journalism is a sacred institution that protects and strengthens democracy, his case points to the need to challenge the imaginary line separating journalists and the rest of us, which limits those protections.

      This distinction between bona fide journalists and amateurs is one that members of the press themselves reinforce, when their outrage meter bursts at the thought of a credentialed reporter being manhandled or arrested—but not the average person.

    • The 2017 Elections Show Criminal Justice Reform Can Be a Winning Issue

      Smearing candidates as “soft on crime” didn’t work this election cycle.

      On Election Day 2017, candidates in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Virginia, and New York won on platforms that proactively embraced criminal justice reform or rejected fear-mongering attempts by opponents to label them as soft-on-crime.

      Their victories send a strong signal to politicians running in 2018 elections that they do not need to hide from supporting issues like bail and sentencing reform, ending the death penalty, and restoring the rights of people living with a criminal record. They also represent the continuation of a shifting narrative that rejects the old tough-on-crime politics for a new approach that is rooted in civil rights and redefining community safety.

    • Deputy Shoots Family’s Terrier; Complains About Cost Of The Bullet

      In disturbing, but sadly unsurprising news, a law enforcement officer is being accused of killing a family pet — one that very likely did not need to be killed. Kelli Sullivan’s dog was shot by a sheriff’s deputy when the deputy responded to Sullivan’s call about being harassed by a neighbor. Sullivan soon learned why you’re taking the lives of everyone and everything into your own hands by asking for law enforcement assistance.

      [...]

      But that’s not the end of it, although that would probably be more than enough. A deputy unable to handle the “aggressive manner” of a 12-lb. dog is going to have severe difficulties handling aggressive behavior by full-grown humans.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Colorado Voters Shoot Down Comcast’s Shitty, Protectionist State Broadband Law

      For years we’ve noted how large ISPs like Comcast quite literally write and buy protectionist state laws preventing towns and cities from building their own broadband networks (or striking public/private partnerships). These ISPs don’t want to spend money to improve or expand service into lower ROI areas, but they don’t want towns and cities to either — since many of these networks operate on an open access model encouraging a little something known as competition. As such it’s much cheaper to buy a state law and a lawmaker who’ll support it — than to actually try and give a damn.

      And while roughly twenty three states have passed such laws, Colorado’s SB 152, co-crafted by Comcast and Centurylink in 2005, was notably unique in that it let local towns and cities hold local referendums on whether they’d like to ignore it. And over the last few years, an overwhelming number of Colorado towns and cities have voted to do so, preferring to decide local infrastructure issues for themselves instead of having lobbyists for Comcast dictate what they can or can’t do in their own communities, with their own tax dollars.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Taylor Swift Using Dubious Trademark Registrations To Shut Down Sales Of Fan-Made Goods

        Oh, to be a lawyer retained by Taylor Swift™ — free of concerns about your client’s financial health or the nuances of intellectual property law. When not pursuing bogus defamation claims or targeting clear fair use cases, you can always bring the power of Swift® to bear on the unofficial adoration of the probably-not-a-white-supremacist singer’s fanbase.

        Legal threat after legal threat sent following trademark filing after trademark filing in hopes of capturing 100% of all available SwiftDollars™. Why only collect royalties when you can submit individual lyrics from songs to the US Patent and Trademark Office to lock everyone else out of the Swift Merch Machine®?

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Sticks Its Nose Into Australia’s Copyright Business: Warns Against Fair Use And Geo-Blocking Relief

        It’s been no secret that the MPAA has been sticking its nose in the copyright laws and enforcement of Australia for some time now. From pressuring government officials in the country to force ISPs to act as copyright police, to trying to keep Australian law as stuck in antiquity as it possibly could be, to trying to force the country to enforce American intellectual property law except the parts it doesn’t like, the MPAA nearly seems to think of itself as an official branch of the Australian government. Given the group’s nakedly hostile stance towards fair use, it should be no surprise that it doesn’t want to see that sort of law exported to other countries and has worked to actively prevent its installation Down Under.

      • Russia Plans Instant Movie Pirate Site Blockades, Without Court Order

        The Russian Ministry of Culture has tabled a new proposal that will allow filmmakers to have pirate sites blocked within 24 hours, without a court order. Officials say that new measures are needed to better protect the revenues of the local movie industry. Interestingly, the plan applies only to local content so major Hollywood productions are not covered.

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  30. Decline of Skills Level of Staff Like Examiners and Impartiality (Independence) of Judges at the EPO Should Cause Concern, Alarm

    Access to justice is severely compromised at the EPO as staff is led to rely on deficient tools for determining novelty while judges are kept out of the way or ill-chosen for an agenda other than justice


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