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10.31.18

Links 31/10/2018: Linux Lite 4.2 and GNOME 3.30.2 Officially Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 8 creepy commands that haunt the terminal

    It’s that time of year again: The weather gets chilly, the leaves change colors, and kids everywhere transform into tiny ghosts, goblins, and zombies. But did you know that Unix (and Linux) and its various offshoots are also chock-full of creepy crawly things? Let’s take a quick look at some of the spookier aspects of the operating system we all know and love.

  • Server

    • Container-based server platform for Linux device management goes open source

      Resin.io changed its name to balena and released an open source version of its IoT fleet management platform for Linux devices called openBalena. Targets include the Intel NUC, Jetson TX2, Raspberry Pi, and a new RPi CM3 carrier called the balenaFin.

      A lot has happened with Resin.io since we covered its Docker container focused Resin.io cloud IoT platform and open source ResinOS Linux distro two years ago. Resin.io started out with a goal to create a “git push for devices” and develop lightweight Docker containers for Linux devices to enable easy security updates and IoT device management. It has since expanded beyond that to provide a comprehensive, scalable platform for IoT fleet management. Now the company has announced a name-change to balena in conjunction with the release of an open source openBalena version of its software.

    • $34B Red Hat Acquisition Is a Bolt Out of Big Blue
    • Big Blue Puts on a Red Hat: IBM Acquires Red Hat

      When large companies with diverse product portfolios are acquired, the rationale for acquisition tends to reflect that complexity. This is particularly true when the cost of acquisition is high, as the models used to build the case for the move benefit from multiple paths to revenue, synergistic or otherwise.

      In the case of what is likely the largest acquisition in software history, IBM’s addition of Red Hat, this is so much the case that it is difficult to know where to begin taking the deal apart. The number of potential storylines to explore from the combination of one of the industry’s largest and most iconic technology brands and the standard bearer for open source is literally endless, which analyses thankfully cannot be.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Launches with Improved Security

      A day after announcing a $34 billion deal with IBM, it’s business as usual at Linux vendor Red Hat.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Released with Improved Security for Hybrid Clouds
    • IBM’s RTP-based cloud leader talks Red Hat opportunity
    • 3 scary sysadmin stories

      Over my many years as a system administrator, I’ve heard many horror stories about the different ghosts that have haunted new admins due to their inexperience.

      Here are three of the stories that stand out to me the most in helping build my character as a good sysadmin.

    • Unsure why you can’t log into Office 365? So is Microsoft

      Microsoft’s Office 365 has been giving some users cold sweats. No matter how hard they try to log in, they simply can’t access the service and haven’t been able to for hours – others say it has wobbled for days.

      Sporadic reports of unrest began to emerge on Down Detector on Friday (26 October) in the UK and across the pond, stopped over the weekend and started again prior to 0800 GMT today. Office 365′s web woes have still not been resolved at the time of writing.

    • Big Blue’s takeover of Red Hat could produce an über-cloud

      Red Hat is no household name, but in the IT industry the firm is considered one of the biggest success stories of the recent past. Founded in 1993 it grew rapidly and reached $2.9bn in revenue in its most recent fiscal year. And it did so with a business model that many had declared dead-on-arrival because its margins looked likely to be low. Red Hat takes free open-source software, makes some improvements, bundles it with other tools and services such as technical support and quality control, and charges a monthly subscription fee for the package.

    • Mark Shuttleworth Thinks IBM Buying Red Hat is Good News for Ubuntu

      Wondering what Mark Shuttleworth thinks about IBM buying Red Hat? Well, wonder no more.

      The Ubuntu founder has shared his thoughts on IBM’s game-changing purchase in a short but pointed blog post.

      And, few of you will be surprised to learn, the space-faring free-software fan thinks the deal marks a “significant moment in the progression of open source to the mainstream”.

  • Kernel Space

    • GNU Linux-Libre 4.19 Kernel Is Now Available for Those Seeking 100% Freedom

      Based on the recently released Linux 4.19 kernel series, the GNU Linux-libre 4.17-gnu kernel borrows all the new features, including the experimental EROFS (Enhanced Read-Only File System) file system, initial support for the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless protocol, and mitigations for the L1FT and SpectreRSB security flaws.

      While the GNU Linux-Libre 4.19 kernel comes with all these goodies found in the upstream Linux 4.19 kernel, it doesn’t ship with proprietary code. Deblobbed drivers include Aspeed ColdFire FSI Master, MT76x0U and MT76x2U Wi-Fi, MTk Bluetooth UART, as well as Keystone and Qualcomm Hexagon Remoteproc.

    • Cedrus VPU Decoder Driver Being Mainlined With New Linux Media Request API

      The Cedrus VPU driver developed by Bootlin for supporting the Allwinner VPU open-source support via crowdfunding is set to hit the mainline kernel for Linux 4.20~5.0.

      The Cedrus VPU driver is what was developed over six months this year at Bootlin via a crowd-funded internship that raised over thirty-six thousand dollars (USD) for the effort.

    • EXT4 Getting Fixes For A Number Of Ancient Bugs — Back To The Linux 2.6 Days With EXT3

      While investigating EXT4 resize troubles on RHEL6/RHEL7 boxes with OpenVZ kernels, Vasily Averin uncovered several bugs within the EXT4 code. The oldest of which bugs date back to the Linux 2.6.19 kernel in the EXT3 code that was imported when creating the EXT4 file-system.

    • Episode 5: Linux is Personal

      Doc Searls and Katherine Druckman talk to Corbin Champion about Userland, an easy way to run Linux on your Android device, and other new projects.

    • Graphics Stack

      • VC4 & V3D Open-Source Drivers Continue Maturing At Broadcom

        Eric Anholt of Broadcom has provided a status update on his efforts around the VC4 open-source driver stack that most notably works with Raspberry Pi devices and also his efforts on the V3D driver as the next-generation Broadcom graphics driver stack for VideoCore V and later.

      • FFmpeg Re-Enables HEVC Decode For NVIDIA VDPAU

        The FFmpeg multimedia library has restored support for HEVC/H.265 video decoding accelerated on NVIDIA GPUs using VDPAU.

        FFmpeg had disabled HEVC accelerated video decoding for NVIDIA GPUs with the Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix (VDPAU) over driver issues while keeping support for other video formats enabled. As of the current NVIDIA 410 Linux driver series, the HEVC issues have been resolved.

      • Introducing Zink, an OpenGL implementation on top of Vulkan

        For the last month or so, I’ve been playing with a new project during my work at Collabora, and as I’ve already briefly talked about at XDC 2018, it’s about time to talk about it to a wider audience.

      • Zink For OpenGL-Over-Vulkan Currently Supports GL 2.1 But Making Progress

        The Zink Gallium3D driver that is implementing OpenGL over Vulkan and using Mesa’s Gallium3D driver infrastructure is beginning to run more games, work under Wayland, and more. There still is a long road ahead but at least it’s becoming usable for early testers and those wishing to experiment with this project.

        Zink holds a lot of potential for OpenGL over Vulkan by translating Gallium calls to Vulkan and the initial driver was brought up in a matter of weeks by Collabora developer Erik Faye-Lund.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Core i9 9900K Spectre Mitigation Benchmarks

        One of the benefits with the recently launched Core i9 9900K is hardware-based mitigations for Meltdown and L1TF/Foreshadow vulnerabilities. but mitigations are still needed for the other Spectre vulnerabilities. In this article is a look at the performance impact of still needing generic Retpolines via IBPB IBRS firmware for Spectre V2 and Speculative Store Bypass disabling (SSBD) for Spectre V4.

      • The AMD Threadripper ECC DDR4-2666 Testing That Wasn’t

        Recently in our forums there has been a lot of interest in Threadripper 2 builds using ECC DDR4 memory and the impact on performance, especially now with the Threadripper 2 family being rounded out by the 2920X and 2970WX. So I set out to do some DDR4-2666 ECC UDIMM testing with Threadripper 2, but that hasn’t turned out well.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Representing KDE at XDC 2018

        Last month the X.Org Developer?s Conference (XDC) was held in A Coru�a, Spain. I took part as a Plasma/KWin developer. My main goal was to simply get into contact with developers from other projects and companies working on open source technology in order to show them that the KDE community aims at being a reliable partner to them now and in the future.

        Instead of recounting chronologically what went down at the conference let us look at three key groups of attendees, who are relevant to KWin and Plasma: the graphics drivers and kernel developers, upstream userland and colleagues working on other compositor projects.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.30.2 RELEASED

        I’m pleased to announce the release of GNOME 3.30.2, the final planned
        release for the GNOME 3.30 series (sorry for the week delay)

        It includes numerous bugfixes, documentation improvements, and
        translation updates.
        All distributions shipping GNOME 3.30 are strongly encouraged to upgrade.

        Also, for this release I wanted to take advantage of our CI system to
        make the build process publicly available [1]

      • GNOME 3.30.2 Desktop Environment Released as the Last in the Series, Update Now
      • GNOME 3.30.2 Released As Focus Shifts To GNOME 3.32
      • Update from the PipeWire hackfest

        As the third and final day of the PipeWire hackfest draws to a close, I thought I’d summarise some of my thoughts on the goings-on and the future.

        [...]

        One key thing that PulseAudio does right (I know there are people who disagree!) is having a custom configuration that automagically works on a lot of Intel HDA-based systems. We’ve been wondering how to deal with this in PipeWire, and the path we think makes sense is to transition to ALSA UCM configuration. This is note as flexible as we need it to be, but I’d like to extend it for that purpose if possible. This would ideally also help consolidate the various methods of configuration being used by the various Linux userspaces.

        To that end, I’ve started trying to get a UCM setup on my desktop that PulseAudio can use, and be functionally equivalent to what we do with our existing configuration. There are missing bits and bobs, and I’m currently focusing on the ones related to hardware volume control. I’ll write about this in the future as the effort expands out to other hardware.

      • Pipewire Hackfest 2018

        For Pipewire, the policy decisions would be split off from the main daemon. Pipewire, as it gains PulseAudio compatibility layers, will grow a default/example policy engine that will try to replicate PulseAudio’s behaviour. At the very least, that will mean that Pipewire won’t regress compared to PulseAudio, and might even be able to take better decisions in the short term.

        For GNOME, we still wanted to take control of that part of the experience, and make our own policy decisions. It’s very possible that this engine will end up being featureful and generic enough that it will be used by more than just GNOME, or even become the default Pipewire one, but it’s far too early to make that particular decision.

        In the meanwhile, we wanted the GNOME policies to not be written in C, difficult to experiment with for power users, and for edge use cases. We could have started writing a configuration language, but it would have been too specific, and there are plenty of embeddable languages around. It was also a good opportunity for me to finally write the helper library I’ve been meaning to write for years, based on my favourite embedded language, Lua.

  • Distributions

    • Changing Up Your Linux Distro

      It’s common for Linux users to hop between distributions and survey the field, and I recently reached a point where I had to seriously rethink the one I was using most of the time.

      Between hardware compatibility issues with my old standby and some discouraging missteps with other go-to choices, I felt the time had come to reassess my pool of preferred distributions and repopulate it from scratch.

      As my journey progressed, I realized that as often as I’ve discussed the field of Linux-based systems, I had not addressed how to pick one out. To give you an idea of how to approach distribution selection, I wanted to volunteer my recent search as one template. This is certainly not the only or best way to go about it — everyone has their own criteria and priorities — but my intention is to provide some reference points for mapping out your own way.

    • Linux Lite 4.2 Officially Released with Redshift, Based on Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS

      Based on the first point release of Canonical’s latest LTS (Long Term Support) operating system series, Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Linux Lite 4.2 is powered by the Linux 4.15.0-38.41 kernel from upstream, but users can install a custom kernels from the official Linux Lite repositories, from Linux 3.13 to Linux 4.19.

      Linux Lite 4.2 ships with the Mozilla Firefox 63.0 “Quantum” web browser, Mozilla Thunderbird 60.2.1 email and news client, LibreOffice 6.0.6.2 office suite, VLC 3.0.3 media player, and GIMP 2.10.6 image editor, as well as an update Lite Welcome utility, and the Redshift tool for adjusting the color temperature of your screen.

    • Linux Lite 4.2 Final Released

      Linux Lite 4.2 Final is now available for download and installation.

      This release has a number of minor changes. Think of it as ‘refinement’ and not a ‘major upgrade’. There are some new wallpapers thanks to @whateverthing and some minor tweaks here and there.

    • Braiins OS Is The First Fully Open Source, Linux-based Bitcoin Mining System

      Braiins Systems, the company behind the Slush Pool, has announced Braiins OS. The creators of this bitcoin mining software have claimed that it’s the world’s first fully open source system for cryptocurrency embedded devices.

      The initial release of the operating system is based on OpenWrt, which is basically a Linux operating system for embedded devices. You can find its code here.

      Those who know about OpenWrt must be aware of the fact that it’s very versatile. As a result, Braiins OS can also be extended in different applications in future.

      In a Medium post, Braiins Systems has said that different weird cases of non-standard behavior of mining devices cause tons of issues. With this new mining software, the company wishes to make things easier for mining pool operators and miners.

    • Manjaro 18.0 “Illyria” Released — Get This User-friendly Arch Linux Distro Here

      After a series of release candidates pushed over the past weeks, the developers of Manjaro Linux have released the stable Manjaro 18.0 “Illyria.”

      As I’ve said on multiple occasions in the past, I love the overall near-polished desktop experience offered by Manjaro. It goes without saying that it comes with tons of fixes spread all across the system as well as many minor improvements.

      The users will now be able to take advantage of the new theme named Adapta-Maia and other minor visual changes across the system for better user experience.

      Since Manjaro Xfce is the flagship edition, it continues to get the most attention. 18.0 “Illyria” ships with the latest Xfce 4.13 desktop environment.

    • New Releases

      • Kali Linux Ethical Hacking Distro Gets 64-Bit Raspberry Pi 3 Image, WireGuard

        Since there won’t be any new snapshot released in 2018, Kali Linux 2018.4 packs several updated hacking tools, including Binwalk, Burp Suite, Faraday, Fern-Wifi-Cracker, Gobuster, Patator, RSMangler, theHarvester, WPScan, and others, as well as a new tool, namely the well-known, open-source WireGuard secure VPN tunnel.

        “We have only added one new tool to the distribution in this release cycle but it’s a great one,” reads the announcement. “Wireguard is a powerful and easy to configure VPN solution that eliminates many of the headaches one typically encounters setting up VPNs. Check out our Wireguard post for more details on this great addition.”

    • Fedora

      • LVFS Gaining More Recognition For Firmware Updates, Transitioning To A Linux Foundation Project

        LVFS works in-step with Fwupd for open-source firmware updating on Linux systems and more organizations are taking note. Richard Hughes of Red Hat who has led the LVFS/fwupd development noted today that UK’s National Cyber Security Center is now weighing purchasing decisions based upon the hardware’s LVFS compatibility from OEMs/OEDMs. This UK cyber security group is just one of a number of large government organizations and public corporations mandating LVFS firmware update support.

      • Using the LVFS to influence procurement decisions

        The National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ, the UK version of the NSA) wrote a nice article on using the LVFS to influence procurement decisions. It’s probably also worth noting that the two biggest OEMs making consumer hardware also require all their ODMs to also support firmware updates on the LVFS. More and more mega-corporations also have “supports the LVFS” as a requirement for procurement.

      • What’s New in Fedora 29 Workstation

        Fedora 29 Workstation is the latest release of our free, leading-edge operating system. You can download it from the official website here right now. There are several new and noteworthy changes in Fedora Workstation. Read more details below.

      • Upgrading Fedora 28 to Fedora 29
      • Fedora 29 Officially Released, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 Launched, New Version of Linux Lite, Google AI Tracking Humpback Whale Songs, and Resin.io Announces openBalena and a Name Change
      • Fedora 29 Linux OS Officially Released with GNOME 3.30, ZRAM for ARM Devices
      • Fedora Enables ClearType Subpixel Font Rendering Thanks To Microsoft [Ed: Misleading, disappointing headline from Phoronix. For decades Microsoft used software patents to threaten Red Hat over this, so blackmail "no more" deserves no "thanks"...]

        Fedora has finally enabled ClearType sub-pixel rendering in FreeType for providing much nicer font rendering.

        ClearType is Microsoft’s sub-pixel font rendering technology to make fonts appear crisper on LCD displays. ClearType has been around for almost two decades and while upstream FreeType has supported, it hasn’t been turned on in Fedora. Microsoft has at least nine patents covering ClearType as outlined on FreeType.org, which made it a no-go for Fedora to ship.

      • Remote desktop capabilities still missing in Fedora 29 Workstation [Ed: Hopefully IBM can sort out these regressions as things that are newer (Wayland, systemd etc.) break things/features that used to work]

        The release of Fedora 29 marks the second anniversary of the introducing of Wayland as the default display manager for Fedora Workstation. It’s also the forth biannual release of Fedora that doesn’t support remote desktop sessions out of the box.

        There have been a lot of progress towards reintroducing remote desktop capabilities to the default Fedora Workstation setup since I last wrote about it. The Fedora Project wiki lists remote desktop services as a proposed change for Fedora 29, but these plans seem to have been abandoned in July.

        The Fedora 29 repositories now include the gnome-remote-desktop package that includes a screen sharing service and adds user interface for configuring screen sharing to System Settings: Sharing. The package isn’t installed by default as it isn’t working. You can install it and enable the service, but it will crash when you try to connect to it.

      • Fedora 29 Now Generally Available

        The Fedora Project, a Red Hat, Inc. sponsored and community-driven open source collaboration, today announced the general availability of Fedora 29, the latest version of the fully open source Fedora operating system. Fedora 29 delivers three distinct editions each designed to provide a free, Linux-based system tailored to meet specific use cases – Fedora 29 Server, Fedora 29 Workstation and Fedora 29 Atomic Host.

      • Fedora 29 Linux distribution now available for download

        Two days ago, it was announced that IBM will be buying Red Hat. While we don’t know how the marriage between the two companies will work out, I am cautiously optimistic. I mean, look, Red Hat is a solid organization, and if IBM is true to its word about allowing the RHEL-maker to operate independently, it should largely be a non-issue.

        Personally, as a hardcore Fedora user, I can only pray that IBM doesn’t mess with my favorite operating system. The acquisition won’t be closing for a while, however, and today, after a short public beta period, Fedora 29 is released without any input from IBM. The best desktop Linux operating system simply gets better than ever, and it is time to celebrate by downloading it.

      • Fedora 29 has been released just one week before 15-year anniversary

        Fedora 29 is now available for all, coming almost 15 years since Fedora Core 1 was announced. Today’s release includes images for desktop, server, Atomic Host, Cloud, and ARM devices. Additionally, you can find spins with different desktop environments if GNOME isn’t your cup of tea. You can also download updated Labs releases which include software for specific tasks such as astronomy.

        The Fedora Project said the most exciting thing about this release is that it’s the first to include Fedora Modularity. This feature lets users run different versions of packages without having to upgrade other system components.

    • Debian Family

      • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in October 2018

        We intend to maintain changes to these modules under their original open source licenses and applying only free and open fixes and updates. You can find out more at goodformcode.com.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Kernel Security Update for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, 8 Flaws Patched

            The new kernel security update for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) is here to address two flaws (CVE-2015-8539 and CVE-2017-15299) discovered by Dmitry Vyukov and Eric Biggers in Linux kernel’s key management subsystem, which could allow a local attacker to either execute arbitrary code or crash the system via a denial of service.

            It also patches a use-after-free vulnerability (CVE-2016-7913) in the device driver for XCeive xc2028/xc3028 tuners, as well as a race condition (CVE-2017-0794) discovered by Pengfei Ding, Chenfu Bao, and Lenx Wei in the generic SCSI driver (sg), all of which could allow a local attacker to crash the system or execute arbitrary code.

          • Disco Dingo: The development cycle has started!

            The development cycle for the Disco Dingo (which will be the codename for the 19.04 release) has started for the Lubuntu team!

            As of the time of writing, the initial building blocks have been put in place for the archive, and preparations are being made for its opening. Right now, the Ubuntu Foundations Team is working on preparing a transition to Python 3.7 as the default version, as well as some GCC changes and the usual preparation work.

            For Lubuntu, this means we can begin setting up our infrastructure for the Disco Dingo in preparation for when the archive opens. Our full 19.04 release blocker list can be found here. All of these items will be completed before the planned release date of April 18, 2019. We are also working on cleaning up some 18.10 bugs post-release, so you can expect an announcement from us, either as a post here on our official Lubuntu blog or on Twitter/Mastodon.

          • Configure a keyboard shortcut in Lubuntu 18.04 to take a screenshot of a screen region
          • Ubuntu 19.04 Is Dubbed the “Disco Dingo,” Slated for Released on April 18, 2019

            After unwrapping the Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) release, Canonical is now kicking off the development cycle of the next major release, Ubuntu 19.04, due in spring 2019.
            Even though Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth is no longer naming new Ubuntu releases, the development team already codenamed the forthcoming Ubuntu 19.04 release of the Linux-based operating system and published a draft release schedule.

            Ubuntu 19.04 is dubbed the “Disco Dingo,” and it will be released on April 18, 2019. The development cycle was kicked off officially on October 25, 2018, with the toolchain upload. Three “Ubuntu Testing Weeks” are scheduled for January 3, 31, and February 28, 2019.

          • Canonical Adds Spectre V4, SpectreRSB Fixes to New Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Azure Kernel

            After releasing new kernel security updates for the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system series, Canonical published corresponding updates for the Linux kernel for Microsoft Azure cloud systems.

            The new Azure kernel is available for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series and addresses the side-channel attack discovered by Jann Horn and Ken Johnson, known as Spectre Variant 4 (CVE-2018-3639), which could allow a local attacker to expose sensitive information.

          • FSTAB Ubuntu mount NFS Share
          • Restore Running Applications after Hibernation in Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 19.04 is Named ‘Disco Dingo’

            The name of Ubuntu 19.04 has been revealed — and it’s definitely a distinctive decision!

            As listed on Launchpad, the home of Ubuntu development, the Ubuntu 19.04 name is logged as “Disco Dingo”.

            Ubuntu 19.04 will be the next stable Ubuntu release and come backed by 9 months of updates. It’s due for release in April 2019.

            Thus far there’s no alliteratively littered blogpost from Ubuntu’s space-faring founder Mark Shuttleworth, the sort that would cement the new name within our collective consciousness, but in many ways the name speaks for itself…

          • Ubuntu 19.04 is Named “Disco Dingo,” Arriving April 2019

            Are you ready to dance, or at least howl? Good, because Ubuntu 19.04 is named Disco Dingo. It’s just the latest in a series of animal-themed Linux distribution releases from Canonical.

            As OMG! Ubuntu spotted, Ubuntu 19.04 has now been officially dubbed “Disco Dingo.” This version of Ubuntu will be released in April, 2019. This is the next release after Ubuntu 18.10 “Cosmic Cuttlefish,” which was released earlier this month.

          • How to install Rundeck local and remote services controller on Ubuntu 18.04
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Xubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish – Super green?

              Let the distro testing season begin! It’s that time of the year again, and me first volunteer is Xubuntu 18.10, the Xfce flavor of the family. My journey with Xubuntu has been a colorful one. I wasn’t pleased with it for a long time, but then it suddenly soared, becoming really good around 2014-2017. This past year though, there’s been less enthusiasm and innovation in the distro. I don’t know why.

              The previous edition, Bionic Beaver, was sort of average, which isn’t a good result for an LTS, offering the familiar, understated Xfce look and feel but without the extra zest and fun that we had only a year prior. So it shall be most interesting to see how Cosmic behaveth today. The test box will be the eight-boot UEFI/GPT Lenovo G50, with Intel graphics. Let us merrily proceed.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 has been slated for Christmas release

              Clement Lefebvre, has announced that the upcoming Linux Mint 19.1 ‘Tessa’ will be available in time for Christmas this year. In the past, the project has had trouble releasing all of its variants at the same time, however, Clem confirmed that the Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce editions will all be released at the same time. Additionally, upgrade paths will be opened on the same day without the usual delay.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 Will Feature a ‘Modern’ Desktop Layout

              We’re expecting the release of Linux Mint 19.1 to arrive just before the Christmas holidays and, like your nearest and dearest, it’ll be bringing a few surprises with it.

              The Linux 19.1 release will include the Cinnamon 4.0 desktop environment by default and this, Mint’s devs say, will “look more modern” than it does not.

              How? By using a new panel layout.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 ‘Tessa’ coming this Christmas

              December is coming, which means one of my favorite holidays, Christmas, is fairly imminent. While I enjoy spending time with family to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I’d be lying if I said I don’t like getting presents. Heck, I really enjoy giving gifts too.

              Not all Christmas gifts need to be physical — sometimes a Linux distribution can be equally rewarding! Case in point, today, we learn Linux Mint 19.1 — which is named “Tessa” — will be released around Christmastime. In addition, the Mint developers have launched an official Patreon account as a new way to get funding from users. More importantly, there are some significant upcoming improvements to the Cinnamon desktop environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Red Hat Satellite 6.3.5 is now generally available

    Red Hat Satellite 6.3.5 is now generally available. The main driver for the 6.3.5 release is Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 compatibility updates and ongoing performance and stability improvements.

    There are four bugs squashed in this release – the complete list is below. The most notable issue is compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6.

  • Samsung Comments On Open-Source Restructuring

    Over the weekend we reported on the Samsung Open-Source Group reportedly shutting down with many of the former OSG staffers in the US no longer employed by Samsung. We’ve now received comments both from Samsung in the US and Korea on the matter.

  • Apache Subversion 1.11.0 released

    Version 1.11.0 of the Subversion source-code management system is out. Changes include improvements to the shelving feature, better resolution of merge conflicts, an experimental checkpointing feature, and more; see the release notes for details.

  • 8×8 buys Jitsi open source video conferencing from Atlassian

    8×8 has acquired the open source video conferencing company Jitsi from Atlassian in the cloud telephony vendor’s latest move to expand its business communications portfolio.

    Jitsi hosts an open source video conferencing server that developers can use to build WebRTC-based video products. It also runs a free platform for online meetings that developers can embed into their websites or mobile apps using Jitsi’s APIs and SDKs.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome OS 70 Brings Better Tablet Mode to Chromebooks, Here’s What’s New

        2-in-1 Chromebooks have existed for a few years now, and have become more and more popular as Chromebooks gained support for touch-based Android apps. But, using a convertible Chromebook just wasn’t as smooth as using a tablet. Part of this was the fact that you’re still holding a laptop, but the bigger part was the user interface.

        Now, both of those problems are effectively solved. Chrome tablets and detachables are available and with Chrome OS 70, there’s a much more touch-friendly user interface.

    • Mozilla

      • This Week in Rust 258
      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • New Laptop Setup: Stickers

        As I mentioned before, I underwent a hardware refresh and set up a laptop. However, I failed to mention the most important consideration: laptops come with blank canvases waiting for stickers. So let’s dive into what it means to have an empty laptop lid and a drawer full of stickers.

        On :bwinton’s recommendation I acquired a blank Gelaskin. This will in the future allow me to remove and retain all of the stickers when I retire the laptop, or when I just decide to start afresh.

        I was surprised twice by the ‘skin. Firstly, I was expecting it to be clear. Luckily, a white top on the black laptop makes a strong statement that I like so I’m a little glad. Also a surprise: the curved edges. There is a very clear type of laptop this is for (macbooks) and mine is not of that type. These were just minor things. A little trimming of the long edge later, and I was in business.

        With the canvas thus prepared the question became how to fill it. I imagine there are as many schools of thought in this as there are people with laptops, but this is my approach when I have a blank laptop and quite a few stickers stockpiled:

  • Education

    • Open Source as a Model for Global Education

      While education leaders may be appalled by the closed-border policies coming out of Washington, they often indulge in similar protectionist rhetoric, as highlighted by a recent Wilson Center report.
      The language of “national competitiveness” is common in higher education, especially in discussions of China and the U.S. You hear it in contradictory concerns about too many international students (they will take scarce places at elite institutions! They will steal intellectual property!) and too few (our institutions won’t keep up if they stop sending students! We need their tuition to stay afloat!).
      What these worries have in common is the false premise that education is a race and if we don’t hurry others will beat us.
      Whereas education competition borrows from the language of economics, an earlier model of educational transfer drew on culture and politics. Transfer was based on importing and exporting from one education system to another. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, American missionaries established colleges across the Middle East and Asia. Philanthropists established international academic exchanges like the Rhodes Scholarship.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • It’s not okay to pretend your software is open source

      One of my largest complaints with the Commons Clause is that it hijacks language used by open source projects to proliferate nonfree software, and encourages software using it to do the same. Instead of being a new software license, it tries to stick itself onto other respected licences – often the Apache 2.0 license. The name, “Commons Clause”, is also disingenuous, hijacking language used by respected entities like Creative Commons. In truth, the Commons Clause serves to remove software from the commons1. Combining these problems gives you language like “Apache+Commons Clause”, which is easily confused with Apache Commons.

    • No Free Lunches In Software: Understanding Open Source Code Use In Your Business [Ed: We're back to the 1990s? Far too much FUD like this from Forbes about FOSS, now without the paywall/spywall.]
  • BSD

    • Book Review: Absolute FreeBSD (3rd Edition)

      FreeBSD is a free and open source operating system for many different kinds of computers. FreeBSD’s based upon BSD, the version of UNIX developed at the University of California, Berkeley. FreeBSD is an alternative to Linux or Windows-based system. You can run almost all apps written in Perl, Python, PHP and other programming languages. FreeBSD heavily used by Netflix, EMC, IBM, Juniper, NetApp, Apple, Sony, and others. Absolute FreeBSD (3rd ed) book aims to be the complete guide to FreeBSD. Let us see why Michael W. Lucas’ FreeBSD system administration books so favorite among Unix lovers.

    • Introducing the OpenBSD Virtualization FAQ

      Now getting started with OpenBSD virtualization has become even easier: The OpenBSD FAQ has a new Virtualization section, written mainly by Solene Rapenne (solene@) and added to the site in this commit, that offers an introduction to the concepts as well as instructions on how to get started with vmm(4).

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • “Every non-free program is an injustice”: Richard Stallman on the Free Software Movement

      In the September–October 2018 issue of the New Left Review, Rob Lucas interviews software engineer and free-software advocate Richard Stallman, who is best known for spearheading the development of the GNU/Linux operating system in the 1980s. Stallman began his career at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab in the 1970s, which at the time was animated by a spirit of open collaboration and creative exploration. But when the lab began to develop proprietary software and partner with telecommunications companies, Stallman saw the “injustice” of non-free software and struck out on his own.

    • RICHARD STALLMAN TALKING TO THE MAILMAN: Interview by Rob Lucas

      I grew up in Manhattan, born in 1953. I was a behavioural problem—I couldn’t go to a public school without getting in trouble—and started working with computers at an early age. In 1969, during my last year of high school, an IBM lab let me come and use their computers. In 1970 I had a summer job there. They gave me a project to do, implementing a certain algorithm to see how well it would work. I finished that in a few weeks, so they let me spend the rest of the summer being paid to write whatever I felt like. I went to Harvard to study physics, and carried on programming there. Towards the end of my first year I started visiting computer labs to look at their manuals, to see how the computers differed. When I visited the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, they didn’t have much by way of a manual, because they had developed their own time-sharing system. The administrator there decided to hire me more or less straight away. So although I graduated from Harvard in 1974, I had actually been an employee at MIT for three years. Harvard’s computer was a lot better to play with than IBM’s, but it didn’t have a lot of memory, whereas MIT’s computer at the AI Lab had plenty. Not only that, they let me change the time-sharing system; in fact, that was my job—they hired me to work on that system. I added lots of features to lots of different programs—whatever I thought of, or people suggested to me, that seemed like a good idea, I would implement and then people would use it. And this was absolutely delightful—and gratifying to make things that people used and appreciated—so I kept working there. From that point on, I did programming using the machine at MIT.

    • Innovative biography of RMS returns to GNU Press Shop

      In 2002, Sam Williams wrote Free as in Freedom, a biography of Richard M. Stallman. In its epilogue, Williams expressed hope that choosing to distribute his book under the GNU Free Documentation License would enable and encourage others to share corrections and their own perspectives through modifications to his work.

      Free as in Freedom (2.0) is Stallman’s revision of the original biography. While preserving Williams’s viewpoint, it includes factual corrections and extensive new commentary by Stallman, as well as new prefaces by both authors written for the occasion. It is a rare kind of biography, where the reader has the benefit of both the biographer’s original words and the subject’s response.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 8 new GNU releases!

      gama-2.01
      gcc-6.5.0
      gvpe-3.1
      help2man-1.47.8
      mes-0.18
      mtools-4.0.19
      parallel-20181022
      units-2.18

      For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list: https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/info-gnu.

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

    • Normalizing Filenames and Data with [GNU] Bash

      Yeah, that many years. Almost 13 years of writing about shell scripts and lightweight programming within the Linux environment. I’ve covered a lot of ground, but I want to go back to something that’s fairly basic and talk about filenames and the web.

      It used to be that if you had filenames that had spaces in them, bad things would happen: “my mom’s cookies.html” was a recipe for disaster, not good cookies—um, and not those sorts of web cookies either!

      As the web evolved, however, encoding of special characters became the norm, and every Web browser had to be able to manage it, for better or worse. So spaces became either “+” or %20 sequences, and everything else that wasn’t a regular alphanumeric character was replaced by its hex ASCII equivalent.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • How open source hardware increases security

        Hardware hacks are particularly scary because they trump any software security safeguards—for example, they can render all accounts on a server password-less.

        Fortunately, we can benefit from what the software industry has learned from decades of fighting prolific software hackers: Using open source techniques can, perhaps counterintuitively, make a system more secure. Open source hardware and distributed manufacturing can provide protection from future attacks.

      • Nybble open source robotic kitten

        Those of you looking to learn a little more about robotics and electronics in general may be interested in a new open source robotic kit called Nybble. Which allows you to build the “world’s cutest open source robotic kitten”. Watch the demonstration video below to learn more about the robotic kit which can be easily programmed and is now available to back via Indiegogo with early bird pledges available from $200.

  • Programming/Development

    • SDL 2.0.9 Released As The Latest Version For This Cross-Platform Game Library

      SDL 2.0.9 is now available as the latest feature update to this cross-platform, widely-used library to help with abstracting operating system specific bits across operating systems and hardware from mobile devices to gaming PCs. SDL2 continues to be critically important for most Linux games.

    • AMD Publishes Zen 2 Compiler Patch “znver2″ Exposing Some New Instructions

      With GCC 9 feature development ending in November, AMD today sent out their first patch enabling Zen 2 support in the GNU Compiler Collection via the new “znver2″ target.

    • Help test Rust 2018

      Back in July, we talked about “Rust 2018”. In short, we are launching a cycle of long-term milestones called “Editions”. Editions are a way to capture the progress delivered incrementally by our ordinary six-week release cycle – and focus Rust libraries, tooling, and documentation cohesively around it. Editions will be selected roughly every three years: Rust 1.0 was “Rust 2015” and Rust 1.31 will be “Rust 2018”. Each edition has a theme; Rust 2015’s was “stability”, and Rust 2018’s is “productivity.”

      We’ve been testing Rust 2018 for a while already, and things are looking pretty good! We have just under six weeks until Rust 1.31 ships, and so we’d appreciate it if you could give the beta a try.

    • Textile – simple lightweight markup language

      Textile is a lightweight and simple markup language that makes it easy to structure content for articles, blogs, wikis, and documentation. It’s origin traces back to the blogging software Textpattern.

      Textile converts its marked-up text input to valid, well-formed XHTML and also inserts character entity references for apostrophes, opening and closing single and double quotation marks, ellipses and em dashes. This lets users create documents, blogs and web pages without needing to write HTML.

    • 39 No Frills Keyboard Shortcuts every Developer Should Follow

      What used to be 27 is now 39 – Due to all the great comments, I’ve amended the list to add a few more suggestions, thanks to all that contributed.

      Shortcuts are the most productive thing that a developer can add to their repertoire that will aid them through their entire career. Learning how to use your system and tools will improve your productivity and in general make traversing all your windows and apps a breeze. The mouse is a great, tool, but if you can do it quicker, more effectively without your hands leaving your keyboard then you should!

    • What a Coding Dojo taught me about agile

      Of course, we often associate “agile” with specific practices. Let’s take the example of two agile practices that were used together during a Coding Dojo event. A Coding Dojo is a great way of uncovering better ways of developing… I’ll stop there; you know the rest of the sentence by now. A Coding Dojo is a great way to get better at something by practicing with others in a safe and controlled environment.

    • ActiveState Developer Survey Examines Open Source Challenges
    • Report: Developers are not clear on how to get involved in the open-source community

      After 20 years, the open-source community is stronger than ever. However, a recent report found developers while they had more time and know-how to contribute to open-source projects. According the report, respondents don’t quite know where to begin and start to question their skills and time.

      Additionally, developers say they are either too intimidated to contribute, lack the resources, or do not get enough time to contribute from their company.

      DigitalOcean’s CURRENTS A Seasonal Report on Developer Trends in the Cloud: Open Source Edition is based off of more than 4,300 international developers, and focuses specifically on how companies are using open source and why they support the community.

    • Developers: Want fulfilling work? Here are the 10 most satisfying coding languages

      Developers choose a programming language for a project based on a number of factors, including what components that project needs, and what languages they are most comfortable with. However, developers are much more satisfied working in some languages than others, according to a Tuesday report from ActiveState.

      Adding a new programming language to the workplace was ranked as the largest challenge for developers, with 56% ranking this difficult or very difficult, the report found. This was followed by dependencies (24%), environmental configuration (20%), and reproducible builds (18%).

    • The 10 most popular platforms developers use to code projects

      On a typical day, the largest portion of developers (37%) spend only 2-4 hours programming, according to a Tuesday report from ActiveState. Of the 1,400 developers and IT professionals surveyed, 14% said they spend one hour per day programming, 31% spend 5-7 hours, and 19% spend 8+ hours doing coding work daily.

      When starting new software projects, 26% of developers surveyed said they start a new project quarterly, the report found. Another 23% start new projects monthly, while 17% said rarely. Fewer in the field said they begin a new software project twice a year (14%), weekly (12%), annually (7%), or daily (1%), according to the report.

Leftovers

  • Small-town Canada mourns the loss of Greyhound bus service in the West

    Approximately 400 communities will lose service completely. The only western route remaining connects Vancouver with Seattle.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Federal Inspectors Cite St. Luke’s in Houston for Problems in a Heart Transplant

      The federal government has cited Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston for not having working defibrillator paddles in the operating room during a January heart transplant. The transplant ultimately failed, and the patient died two months later.

      During a review this month, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that “there were not sufficient quantities of emergency equipment (internal defibrillator paddles) immediately available during cardiac (open chest) surgery,” according to a copy of the report provided by the agency at the request of ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle.

    • This is how anti-abortion propaganda gets into US cinemas

      A police officer approaches a cupboard in a dark room and opens it, shining a light inside. His face contorts at what he sees. Another officer asks: “Is this normal?” The first answers: “I don’t know, I’ve never been in an abortion clinic before”. This is the opening scene of the trailer for a new film out in cinemas across the US, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.

      At first glance, it looks like many other cop and courtroom dramas. But this film is different. It was made by a pair of conservative pundits, commentators for right-wing outlets like Breitbart and Townhall.com, with a track record of making films attacking “global warming hysteria” and critics of fracking and mining. With their new film, they’ve inserted anti-abortion propaganda into a formula proven to attract moviegoers: the suspenseful, true crime genre.

      This is no accident; Gosnell is aiming at wide audiences, with big ambitions. “This movie will change hearts and minds about abortion”, claims Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List anti-abortion lobby group. It shows “the brutality and inhumanity of abortion”, she said, “and it achieves this in a movie that looks as good as any Hollywood film”.

    • A Fraction of the GOP Tax Cut Could End US’s Water Affordability Crisis

      As a lead organizer with the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, a nonprofit focused on housing in New Orleans, Yasin Frank Southall hears about families having their tap water shut off by the local water utility on a daily basis.

      “The cost of housing has skyrocketed with the cost of water, and you need both to live, so when they collide and become more expensive, people have to choose between one and the other,” Southall told Truthout.

      New Orleans is not alone. Despite a low unemployment rate and the rosy picture some politicians paint about the economy, the US is facing a water affordability crisis, according to a new study by the watchdog group Food and Water Watch. The problem is particularly widespread in Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma and other Southern states, as well as in cities with large populations of low-income people of color.

      After requesting shutoff data from public utilities in cities across the country (private providers refused to share their data), researchers found that the average water utility shut off water service for 1 in 20 households due to unpaid bills in 2016. In 15 cities, shutoff rates reached 10 percent, which means that one in 10 households lost access to tap water for at least part of 2016.

    • Meet the Health Care Industry’s Favorite Democrats

      The private health care industry is hard at work currying favor with key Democrats, especially in the House of Representatives. And with good reason: Its members are increasingly embracing single-payer health care, or Medicare for All.

      This system of health care would cover all Americans using a government-financed, centralized insurance system. It would be more cost-efficient, universal and simple. But it is not good for the for-profit health industry, especially insurance companies, who would face near-extinction under some Medicare proposals.

      This had not been a serious threat to the industry for decades. For years, Democrats largely stayed away from Medicare for All. At the peak of Democratic Party control of the House in 2009, there were 255 Democrats in the House, 87 of whom co-sponsored single-payer (H.R.676) legislation. After Democrats lost in the 2010 midterms, only 77 of the remaining members supported single-payer. The number hit a low of 62 sponsors in the 114th Congress.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Synagogue Shooter Shares His HIAS Obsession With Far-Right Media

      As the facts of the fatal antisemitic attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue unfold, one of shooter Robert Bowers’ motives has come to the forefront: his obsession with his target’s association with HIAS, formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

      Originally founded in the late 1800s to assist Jewish refugees, HIAS today works to resettle refugees of many backgrounds, operating with offices around the globe. Bowers may have acted alone on his fear that the group was helping an “invasion” of non-white newcomers to the United States, but the rhetoric around HIAS that motivated his butchery comes straight from the pages of Breitbart, the Pravda of the alt-right.

      [...]

      HIAS’s ample finances are a recurring theme in Breitbart’s coverage, as if it’s a scandal that an international advocacy group would engage in fundraising to support its operations. Another story, “Soros-Funded Group Schemes to Stop Trump’s Latest Temporary Visa Ban” (3/28/17), ties HIAS to immigrant rights groups funded by George Soros, the Jewish philanthropist, who has become a sort of a bogeyman for the far right, portrayed as a lone Jewish financier whose largesse is responsible for left-wing challenges to traditional power.

      Another constant drumbeat in Breitbart headlines and coverage is that HIAS was also enriched by the liberal Obama administration, as in, “Anti-Trump ‘Jewish Rally for Refugees’ Organizer Funded by Obama Government to Resettle Refugees” (2/13/17). (The force of this critique is somewhat weakened by the fact that HIAS’s founding dates back more than a century.) In a particularly smarmy piece, Breitbart (3/2/18) mocked agencies like HIAS for “whining” that refugee resettlement declined in the first months of the Trump administration. Clearly, the editorial agenda of the website was to tighten borders, and it got what it wanted, but it needed to land another f-u on its political foes in the process.

      [...]

      This is compounded with Breitbart’s and other alt-right outlets’ obsession with Soros, tying the pieces together in an ideologically digestible conspiracy: a foreign Jewish man uses his foreign Jewish money to help other foreign Jews bring in more foreigners, against the will of “regular” Americans.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuador throws out Assange lawsuit

      Ecuador on Monday threw out the lawsuit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange filed charging that Quito violated his “fundamental rights” and limited his access to the outside world while in asylum at its London embassy. Magistrate Karen Martinez ruled that the suit could not move forward, as filed by WikiLeaks’ attorney.

    • Ecuadorian Embassy’s Rules for Assange Designed to Flush Him Out for US DOJ

      A judge in Ecuador found Monday that the rights of journalist Julian Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for more than six years, are not being violated by the embassy requiring a certain code of conduct of him. An activist told Sputnik the ruling is part of an effort to force Assange out so the US can arrest him.

      Assange sued in an Ecuadorian court earlier this month, saying that increasing restrictions on his conduct, such as requirements that he clean up after his cat and that he pay for internet access, constitute violations of his “fundamental rights and freedoms” as an asylum seeker, Sputnik reported. He testified to the court in Ecuador’s capital of Quito via Skype that the restrictions make it harder for him to receive guests and to receive medical attention.

    • Ecuadorian Embassy tires of Julian Assange’s kickabouts and skateboarding

      Hinting to a guest that they’ve outstayed their welcome is always tough, so spare a thought for staff at the Ecuadorian embassy who have to put up with Julian Assange skateboarding and playing football in their London flat.

      [...]

      The 32 rules include paying his own medical and phone bills and cleaning up after his cat. The court was also told that staff had complained about Mr Assange skateboarding, playing football and “behaving aggressively with security personnel”.

    • Judge rejects Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s push back against stricter rules in Ecuadorian embassy hideaway

      A judge has ruled against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, rejecting his request to loosen new requirements that he says are meant to push him into leaving his asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

      Judge Karina Martinez decided that stricter rules recently imposed by the South American nation’s embassy – such as requiring Assange to pay for his internet and clean up after his cat – do not violate his asylum rights because authorities have the right to decide what is allowed inside the building.

      Ecuadorian officials praised the ruling in the latest row between the Australian hacker and the government which has provided him with refuge for six years.

      Relations between Assange and Ecuador have grown increasingly prickly as the years have dragged on with no solution in sight.

    • Assange loses rights case against Ecuador

      WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange has lost a case against Ecuador, in which he had accused the government of violating his fundamental rights and freedoms by imposing conditions that he would have to satisfy if he wished to have his communications with the outside world restored.
      During the hearing, Assange had claimed that Ecuador was moving to end the asylum it has granted him since 2012, telling the court in Quito on Monday that the intention was to hand him over to the United States.

      He told the court that the new rules were a sign that Ecuador had decided to push him out of the London embassy where he has been taking refuge since June 2012.

    • Ecuador throws out WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s mistreatment claim
    • WikiLeaks’ Assange Says Ecuador Seeking to End His Asylum
    • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses case over embassy rules
    • Julian Assange: The house guest who overstayed his welcome?
    • Ecuador tells Julian Assange that cleaning the cat box is not “violating his fundamental rights”
    • Wikileaks Co-Founder Assange Loses Suit Against Ecuador

      The judge said a requirement to pay for Internet use and clean up after his cat did not violate his right to asylum.

      Assange had argued that the conditions violated his fundamental rights and freedoms”, and were intended to force him to leave.

      His lawyers have appealed against the ruling.

    • Protection Action: Ecuadorian Hearing

      Ecuador’s President told AP: “if Mr Assange promises to stop emitting opinions on the politics of friendly nations like Spain or the United States then we have no problem with him going online.”

      On 12 October 2018, the embassy delivered a “protocol” with explicit threats to revoke Mr. Assange’s asylum if Mr. Assange, or any of his guests, breached or were perceived to have breached, any of the 28 “rules” in the protocol. The rules provide that the embassy can seize Mr. Assange’s property or his visitors’ property and hand these to UK police, and report Mr. Assange’s visitors to UK authorities. The protocol requires the IMEI codes and serial numbers of electronic devices used inside the embassy. The private information required of visitors and Mr. Assange’s lawyers by the embassy is shared with undisclosed agencies.

      The “protocol” also forbids Assange from doing journalism and expressing his opinions, under threat of losing his asylum.

      The protocol appears in the context of a strong, supportive ruling by the Interamerican Court on Human Rights, setting out Ecuador’s obligations in relation to Mr. Assange (paras 178 onwards), which was announced amidst reports in the Sunday Times that the UK and Ecuador were reaching a “high level” agreement to breach Assange’s asylum by handing him over to UK police to be arrested.

    • WikiLeaks Assange’s lawsuit over asylum conditions denied by Ecuador

      The judge made the decision following a lengthy hearing held by teleconference. Ecuador will maintain Assange’s asylum as long as he wants to keep it, but he must follow the rules laid out for him by the government, an unnamed government official told Reuters on Monday.

      The , which were leaked earlier this month by an opposition politician, involve a list of restrictions Assange has argued violate his “fundamental rights and freedoms” as well as Ecuadorian and international law. Among them are restrictions on discussing politics and receiving visitors, and demands of Assange to pay for his own food, medical care, laundry and related expenses of living at the embassy starting December 1.

    • Is Ecuador giving up on keeping Wikileaks founder Assange at its embassy?

      Julian Assange, who has recently been rebuked by the Ecuadorian government, might have no other option than to leave the premises of the Ecuador embassy where he has been holed up for the last six years.

      [...]

      Assange has been staying at the embassy since 2012, in order to avoid a possible extradition to Sweden where he has been accused of molestation.

      Sweden later dropped its charges against him, but Britain has indicated that it will still go after Assange because he has violated his bail over the currently-dropped Swedish case.

      Along with leaking a vast amount of classified information concerning US national security, Assange has also been accused of being used by Russians as a pawn against US interests.

    • Wikileaks Co-Founder Assange Loses Suit Against Ecuador
    • Harvard Opens Up Its Massive Caselaw Access Project

      Almost exactly three years ago, we wrote about the launch of an ambitious project by Harvard Law School to scan all federal and state court cases and get them online (for free) in a machine readable format (not just PDFs!), with open APIs for anyone to use. And, earlier this week, case.law officially launched, with 6.4 million cases, some going back as far as 1658. There are still some limitations — some placed on the project by its funding partner, Ravel, which was acquired by LexisNexis last year (though, the structure of the deal will mean some of these restrictions will likely decrease over time).

      Also, the focus right now is really on providing this setup as a tool for others to build on, rather than as a straight up interface for anyone to use. As it stands, you can either access data via the site’s API, or by doing bulk downloads. Of course, the bulk downloads are, unfortunately, part of what’s limited by the Ravel/LexisNexis data. Bulk downloads are available for cases in Illinois and Arkansas, but that’s only because both of those states already make cases available online. Still, even with the Ravel/LexisNexis limitation, individual users can download up to 500 cases per day.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 60 percent of animals massacred by humanity, study says

      Humanity has wiped out 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilization.

      The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.

      According to the “Living Planet” report, the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.

      “We are sleepwalking toward the edge of a cliff,” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF.

      “If there was a 60-percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done,” Barrett explained.

    • The Climate Crisis is Back in the News

      The prospect of drastic climate change is back in the news. But, for all too many people it is just that, a news item. It is like other eye-grabbing stories: a bit scary, but also happening somewhere else and at some other time. Of course, if you happen to be at that other place or approximate to that time (the latest examples would be the Florida Panhandle in mid-October and Mexico’s southwestern coast in late October), things get more immediate, more real. But otherwise it is theory. Examine your own sense of urgency as you read on.

      Back in 2015, when most of the world’s nations were debating a treaty on climate change in Paris, this time-and-place factor played a part in the negotiations. Specifically, it played into defining how to best read the “doomsday thermometer.” According to climatologists, a relatively small upward shift in the world’s average temperature—caused largely by a steady increase in the atmospheric greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2)—over the next few decades could play havoc with civilization worldwide. But, how much of a shift?

      Industrialized societies whose standard of living would take a politically rattling hit from any sizable cut in CO2 wanted to set the target for allowable temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. They thought that sufficient to their time and place. However, this was considered a starkly insufficient goal by those who live in the Maldives, Seychelles, Micronesia, Bangladesh, Marshall Islands, and other such countries. It would also of course be bad news for any number of other low-lying coastal areas (think lower Manhattan). The representatives of these nations insisted on 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. It was believed that that half a degree difference could significantly ameliorate the rise of ocean levels that would inundate much of the island nations of the Pacific. The Paris treaty compromise was more one of rhetoric than of substance. The treaty signatories would seek to hold warming to 2 degrees while “pursuing efforts” to keep within the 1.5 degree limit.

    • How the precariat – and UBI – can stop neoliberalism from destroying the planet

      Historically, every progressive surge has been propelled by the demands of the emerging mass class. Today’s progressive transformation must, therefore, be oriented to the precariat, driven by a strategy that appeals to enough of all its factions to garner adequate strength.

      Unlike the proletariat, which sought labor security, the progressives among the precariat want a future based on existential security, with a high priority placed on ecology – environmental protection, the “landscape,” and the commons. By contrast, when confronted by a policy choice between environmental degradation and “jobs,” the proletariat, labor unions, and their political representatives have given “jobs” priority.

      The precariat is a transformative class partly because, as it is not habituated to stable labor, it is less likely than the proletariat to suffer from false consciousness, a belief that the answer to insecurity is more labor, more jobs. In the twentieth century, mainstream commentators believed that putting more people into jobs and for longer was a progressive strategy—that doing so offered people the best route out of poverty. It was a trap into which many on the left fell.

  • Finance

    • Now There Are Plans for ‘e-Krona’ in Cash-Shy Sweden

      Sweden may “in a few years’ time be in a position where cash is no longer generally accepted by households and retailers,” according to the report.

    • Hospitals keep ER fees secret. We’re uncovering them.

      Facility fees can be big: Reporter Sarah Kliff has seen charges that range from $533 to more than $3,000. But because these fees are kept secret until you receive your bill, we can’t know how high they get — or how much they vary.

    • Here’s why not everyone in fishing is excited about Brexit

      I’m from Cornwall, a county where over 56 per cent of voters in the 2016 referendum opted to leave the European Union. When I’ve asked people why, one of their top reasons is fishing – taking back control of our waters and becoming free of the unfair rules set by bureaucrats in Brussels.

      The pro Leave fishing community has been very visible in the Brexit debate. The dominant narrative says that Brexit presents a “sea of opportunity” for the fishing industry and hope for struggling coastal communities. A poll conducted by the University of Aberdeen just before the referendum found that over 90% of fishers were planning to vote Leave.

      But not everyone in fishing thinks the same. There is an alternative perspective about who is to blame for the difficulties faced by small scale fishers in the under 10 metre fleet, also known as the small scale fleet. In this version, corporate power and some of the UK’s richest individuals have a bigger role to play, as does the neglect of successive UK governments.

    • As Minnesota City Rushes To Approve Amazon Warehouse, Residents Rally Opposition

      Brooklyn Park in Minnesota is set to be one of the newest locations of an Amazon Fulfillment Center. But the proposed four-story, 2.6 million square foot warehouse has incited anger and concern from city residents and neighbors over how the center will transform the environment and atmosphere of the community.

      Across the United States, Amazon warehouses (what the company labels ‘fulfillment centers’) have steadily popped up in rural and suburban areas as the company has grown into the online retail commerce giant it is today. According to data compiled by the supply chain consulting firm MWPVL International, Amazon currently operates at least 128 fulfillment centers in the United States, with 43 new warehouses in development.

      The city of Brooklyn Park consists of around 80,000 people located just 15 minutes upstream from Minneapolis on the Mississippi River. The Brooklyn Park City Planning Commission voted against the proposed warehouse, dubbed Project Hotdish by its developer, Scannell Properties in September 2018, just a few weeks after the project plan was first unveiled.

      At the vote, 31 residents gave testimony over concerns they had with the project. The city council will have final say on whether the project moves forward with a vote planned for November 26. Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeffrey Lunder noted City Council members aren’t legally permitted to reveal their stances on the proposal prior to the vote.

      At the moment, the proposed site is an empty field currently used to harvest pumpkins and a corn maze.

    • Chicago Alderman Proposes Reining in Ticket Penalties That Drove Thousands of Black Motorists Into Debt

      A Chicago alderman has proposed a sweeping overhaul of the way the city punishes drivers who can’t afford to pay tickets, calling for an end to late penalties that double the underlying fines and contribute to thousands of bankruptcies filed here each year.

      The proposed changes would give motorists more time to pay tickets, allow some to perform community service in place of some fines and penalties, and make it easier to get on city payment plans.

      “Our intent shouldn’t be to bankrupt a family that’s trying to live within the city of Chicago,” Alderman Gilbert Villegas, of the Northwest Side’s 36th Ward, said in an interview after filing the legislation in the Chicago City Council on Wednesday. “There has to be a common sense approach and compassion. I mean, this is some people’s modes of transportation for the family, for work, groceries, taking kids to school.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Blitzkrieg Strategy Of Lies and Distractions

      Trump counts on reporters to chase his lies and distractions like dogs chase balls. Too often, they meet his expectations

      [...]

      It’s a numbers game. The more he can get his key terms and images repeated in the media — even as “fact checks” — the more he wins. That’s just how our brains work. The more we hear about something, the more it sticks. Even if it’s not true. When I say “don’t think of an elephant,” it forces you to think of an elephant. Repeating lies, even to debunk them, helps spread and strengthen them. The scientific evidence is clear.

    • Facebook has started banning accounts affiliated with far-right group the Proud Boys

      The removals come in response to an act of violence in New York City earlier this month, in which members of the Proud Boys assaulted anti-fascist protestors outside a Republican club in Manhattan where Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, also an original co-founder of Vice Media, was speaking. Facebook confirmed to The Verge that it was banning Proud Boys members and affiliated groups and pages from both its main social network and from Instagram. McInnes’ personal page is still active, but a number of high-profile groups, pages, and accounts have begun to disappear today.

    • Facebook is banning far-right militia Proud Boys after a violent attack in New York

      Facebook is banning accounts and pages associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group whose members assaulted protesters in New York City earlier in October.

    • Facebook Sketches a Future With a Diminished News Feed
    • Rudy Giuliani’s Mystery Trips to Russia, Armenia and Ukraine — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast

      Rudy Giuliani has had many identities in his time on the public stage. A crusading federal prosecutor who struck terror in mobsters and Wall Street titans alike. A sometimes-cantankerous New York City mayor who became a national hero for his stirring leadership after the 9/11 attacks. And, currently, President Donald Trump’s unpaid attorney in the Russia collusion investigation being led by Robert Mueller.

      In this week’s episode of “Trump, Inc.,” we’re digging into a part of Giuliani’s work that has occurred largely outside of the spotlight: He has often traveled to Russia or other former Soviet states as guests of powerful players there. And since Trump was elected, he appears to have stepped up the frequency of those trips.

      Just last week, for example, Giuliani appeared in the former Soviet republic of Armenia, which has close trade ties with Russia. He was invited, according to local press accounts, by Ara Abramyan, an Armenian businessman who lives in Russia. Abramyan once helped reconstruct the Kremlin and also received a medal for “merit to the fatherland” from President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Giuliani said he was in Armenia as a private citizen, but on a local TV news show, Abramyan implied that he expected Giuliani to carry a message for him to Trump. (The conversation was in Armenian, so it’s not clear whether Giuliani understood what Abramyan was saying.)

    • Blaming ‘Both Sides’ for Hate Plays Into Hands of Right-Wing Media

      Media coverage of tragedies like shootings and bombings is frequently politicized, particularly when jihadism is a factor in perpetrators’ motives. In its coverage of the recent outbreak of conspiracy-fueled far-right wing terrorism, however, many media outlets have rushed to depoliticize such acts, absolving those that stoke the flames of far-right extremism in favor of castigating “both sides” of the political divide.

      A mass shooting by an antisemitic conspiracy theorist on Saturday at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, October 27, left 11 dead. Last Wednesday, October 24, a man in Kentucky shot and killed two elderly African-Americans in an apparent hate crime, after attempting to break into a black church. Beginning last Monday, October 22, a Florida man mailed pipe-bombs to 13 targets around the country, all frequent targets of Trump attacks, including former president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, senators Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer, and the CNN offices in New York.

      The common thread in all of these tragedies is that their perpetrators were all influenced in one way or another by racist conspiracy theories that have been stoked by the likes of Fox News, Breitbart and other far-right media and internet sources, along with the continued racist and conspiratorial rhetoric of President Trump and other Republican politicians.

    • The Foxconn Wisconsin Deal Has Devolved Into A Pile Of Shifting Promises, Buzzwords, And Hype

      Last year, you’ll recall that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed what at the time was treated as a revolutionary deal: the state promised Taiwan-based Foxconn a $3 billion state subsidy if the company invested $10 billion in a Wisconsin plant that created 13,000 jobs. Walker hoped that the deal would finally help cement job growth that he had promised his supporters for years, and the press was quick to hype the plan without really giving it too much thought. Quietly, Wisconsin’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau was busy pointing out that it would take until 2043 for taxpayers to recoup the subsidy, though that obviously took second fiddle to the hype of bringing American jobs back from overseas to focus on cool new tech.

    • Voters complain of intimidation at Dallas, Mesquite polling places

      Conservatives have built a divisive wall — one made of political placards at the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite.

      And at the Lochwood Branch Library in Dallas, Democrats and Republicans are waging war over patches of grass.

      As Dallas County early voting turnout in the 2018 midterms surpasses that of the 2016 presidential election, the two polling places have taken on a circus-like atmosphere.

    • ‘President Hate, Not Welcome in Our State’: Thousands Counter Trump With March for Love and Solidarity in Pittsburgh

      As President Donald Trump arrived in Pittsburgh on Tuesday amid opposition from local officials and activists who argued the man responsible for stirring so much racist hatred should not visit the site of a deadly mass shooting motivated by anti-Semitism, thousands of peaceful demonstrators flooded the streets near the Tree of Life synagogue to condemn Trump’s embrace of white nationalism and demand that he end his assault on immigrants, refugees, and other minority communities.

    • The Pittsburgh Shooting Was an Attack on a Minority, not a Sign of ‘Anti-Religiosity’

      The Trump administration sought to reframe the anti-Semitic tragedy in Pittsburgh to bolster the administration’s policy goals.
      This past weekend’s mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh was unspeakable, but unfortunately not unimaginable. Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States by some counts increased by 57 percent last year, the largest surge in nearly four decades of tracking. The FBI’s most recent reports show that the number of overall hate crimes increased for a second straight year — the first time that has happened in a decade. During this period, hate crimes targeting Muslims doubled.

      Yet, when asked for comment, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway sought to reframe the anti-Semitic tragedy to bolster the administration’s policy goals, claiming that the attack, along with one in a South Carolina church three years earlier, could be attributed to a broader pattern of “anti-religiosity in this country.”

    • Trump’s Love Affair With Violence in the Age of Fascist Nihilism

      Fascism first begins with linguistic violence and then gains momentum as an organizing force for shaping a culture that legitimates indiscriminate violence against entire groups — Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others considered “disposable.” In this vein, Trump portrays his critics as “villains” and “enemies,” describes immigrants as “losers” and “criminals,” and has become a national mouthpiece for violent nationalists and a myriad of extremists who trade in hate and violence. Using a rhetoric of hate as a performance strategy to whip up his base, Trump employs endless rhetorical tropes of hate and demonization that set the tone for real violence.

      Trump appears utterly unconcerned by the accusation that his highly charged rhetoric of racial hatred, xenophobia and virulent nationalism both legitimates and fuels acts of violence. He proceeds without concern about the consequences of lending his voice to conspiracy theorists claiming that George Soros is funding the caravan of migrant workers, calling Maxine Waters a “low IQ person,” or referring to former CIA director John Brennan as a “total lowlife” and a “very bad guy.” Meanwhile, this inflammatory invective promotes violence from the numerous fascist groups that support him.

    • John Oliver Exposes The Sketchiness Of Political Grandstanding State Attorneys General

      Oliver’s piece focuses on state AGs (of both parties) filing partisan lawsuits against the federal government (of the opposing party). But the real “scandal” is in how various corporations have recognized the power of state AGs to effectively create policy (mainly by causing trouble for competitors). We’ve discussed this aspect multiple times in the past, mainly around Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood going after Google at the request of the MPAA. And, of course, it wasn’t just “at their behest,” it was literally Hood more or less rubber stamping a demand letter written by the MPAA’s lawyers and sending it on as his own. The emails from the Sony hack revealed that the plan was literally to have the MPAA lawyers do all the investigative work and prepare many of the documents, and hand them off to “friendly” state AGs to shake down and threaten companies such as Google.

    • Missouri Counties Face Uphill Climb to Prepare for High-Stakes Midterm

      Missouri is rushing to retrain thousands of poll workers just days ahead of the midterm election because of a new court ruling that forced changes to the state’s voter ID law.

      The law, enacted in June 2017, said that voters could provide a non-photo ID at the polls, such as a utility bill or voter registration card, and sign an affidavit in order to vote. But on Oct. 23, just two weeks before Election Day, a decision by Missouri Circuit Judge Richard Callahan prohibited local election authorities from requiring voters to sign an affidavit, effectively making a non-photo ID adequate for voting on a regular ballot.

      Now, election offices statewide are scrambling to retrain poll workers in the new procedures, and officials expressed uncertainty about whether poll workers will grasp the legal changes.

    • 15M’s social and political effects in Spain

      It has been almost a decade since, following a large demonstration organized by the Youth Without a Future collective (Juventud Sin Futuro), on May 15, 2011, a small group of people decided to camp at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid.

      The lack of political alternatives to the impending municipal elections, which would sweep the Popular Party (Partido Popular) to power; the first major social cuts initiated by Zapatero’s socialist government and the devastating effects of an economic crisis that had lasted for 4 years and which painted a grim prospect; were the fundamental reasons for the articulation of a series of mobilizations that would change the Spanish political and social panorama. The facts are well known: almost a month of camping, demonstrations in more than 60 Spanish cities, more than a million people in the streets, more than 500 assemblies around the world and a series of parallel and sister mobilizations, such as the different occupy movements. Traditional policy did not fulfil the aspirations, needs and demands of an important part of the general public and thus 15M was born, internationally known as the Indignados Movement (anti-austerity movement).

    • As Voter Registration Soars, So Does Voter Suppression

      Highly charged midterm elections are just around the corner, and experts are predicting record-highmidterm voter turnout. But millions of U.S. citizens are being systematically inhibited — either blatantly or covertly — from casting votes this November.

      Voter suppression is real, and it’s very likely happening in your state. Your fellow Americans — and maybe you — are being denied the most fundamental right citizens of a democratic republic have: the right to elect those who govern. If that doesn’t have you up in arms, it should.

      One state with a particularly expansive history of voter suppression is Florida, where one out of five African-American adults can’t vote due to disenfranchisement.

      This November, Floridians will vote on whether to restore the right to vote to 1.5 million people affected by permanent felony disenfranchisement. Doing so would send a powerful message to the rest of the country, as Florida accounts for nearly half of the U.S.’s permanently disenfranchised population.

      Meanwhile, a different mechanism of voter suppression threatens the legitimacy of the governor’s race in Georgia, where candidate for governor — and current secretary of state — Brian Kemp is reportedly behind the stalling of 53,000 voter applications. Among those, 70 percent belong to black voters.

      Kemp is being sued by civil rights lawyers for allegedly violating voter protection laws with his “exact match” voter verification method, an excessively strict voter ID requirement that seems to disproportionately disqualify nonwhite voters. And while Kemp claims to be “protecting the integrity of elections,” he’s heard in leaked audio from one of his recent campaign events — obtained by Rolling Stone — fretting that Georgians “exercising their right to vote” could hurt his campaign.

    • Civil rights and voter suppression in the US

      On 27 September 2018, Crystal Mason waved farewell to her three children and surrendered to authorities in Fort Worth, Texas. She entered a federal prison, where she would begin a five-year sentence. Her crime? Attempting to vote in the 2016 US presidential election.

      Mason is one of two people –­ both women of colour – convicted of voting illegally in the city of Fort Worth within the past year. Her case has become a symbol of escalating voter suppression efforts enacted by local and state governments since 2013. Mason’s lawyer, Alison Grinter, emphasized that her client’s case was not unique: “Make no mistake: this is a clarion call to our over-policed and over-prosecuted communities of colour. You are not welcome in the voting booth, and any step out of line will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

    • Financial Press Cheers Election of Fascist in Brazil

      Brazil’s controversial elections pitted far-right Jair Bolsonaro against the center-left Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad. But it was clear which candidate international markets—and therefore the financial press—wanted.

      Bolsonaro was elected with 55.5 percent of the vote in an election that saw former leftist President Lula da Silva, by far the most popular candidate, jailed and barred from running on highly questionable charges. Bolsonaro was an army officer during Brazil’s fascist military dictatorship (1964–85), which he defends, maintaining that its only error was not killing enough people.

    • Last-Minute Tips for Figuring Out Your Ballot and Making Sure You Can Vote

      You might be surprised on Election Day when you see just how much is on your ballot. In addition to federal candidates for the House and Senate, some states have local judicial elections, municipal races, lengthy ballot measures and more. (Some ballots in Florida counties run up to five pages long, double-sided!) Here’s how to get a game plan ready for when you enter the voting booth.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Blasphemy bans are struck out in Ireland and reinforced in Austria

      A couple of days earlier, however, Austria’s remarkably restrictive blasphemy law was reinforced by a verdict from the ECHR. It upheld the 2011 conviction of an Austrian woman who had been fined €480 ($546) because, in a seminar on Islam, she had drawn attention to the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad to the six-year-old Aisha and said that such a thing would be regarded by today’s standards as child molestation.

    • The ECtHR has not created a European blasphemy law but it has produced a lamentable judgment

      By endorsing what is in all but name an Austrian blasphemy law, at a time when such laws have been repealed in most European countries – the Irish one is being swept away by a referendum currently being counted – the Court has given encouragement to religious intolerance, undermined moderates and handed a useful argument to Islamists. “You complain about our blasphemy laws,” say the bloodthirsty bigots in Pakistan, “but even your own top human rights court says blasphemy laws are necessary in a democratic society. Clearly we’re right and you’re wrong.”

    • Khashoggi affair: We call on Saudi Arabia to end its violence against journalists

      We call on you to immediately and unconditionally release the 28 journalists and bloggers held for exercising their right to freedom of information and opinion, including Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, Alaa Brinji, who was sentenced to seven years in prison, and Iman al Nafjan, a female blogger. It is time to end the despicable practices that make you imprison journalists on absurd grounds.

    • While the world focuses on Khashoggi, dozens of journalists and activists in Saudi Arabia are still behind bars

      But while global attention is focused on Khashoggi’s fate, there are dozens of other dissidents, bloggers, and activists languishing behind bars in Saudi Arabia whose plights have been largely forgotten — and some whose whereabouts are unknown.

    • Steam, Proud Adopters Of Hands Off Games Policy, Very Hands On When Banning All Of TorrentFreak

      The calls for internet platforms to actively censor content one group or another doesn’t like has slowly risen to a cacaphony as of late. Even the most well-meaning arguments calling for internet platforms to be more heavy-handed in moderating the sources of content are invariably stupid, showing little understanding of just how hard it is to do this without creating all kinds of collateral damage, how hard it is to properly define for a large subset of humanity what sources are acceptable and what sources aren’t, and a near complete misunderstanding of just how much human error goes into this overall. We have helpfully cited several exmaples of platforms sticking their feet in crap as they try to attempt this.

      But the case studies in how badly this always goes keep rolling in. You may recall that we recently discussed how Comcast’s protected browsing options managed to disallow access to TorrentFreak, a news site. Well, Comcast doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being hands-off when it comes to managing its network. Unlike, say, Valve’s Steam platform, which just made a bunch of news with a new games policy championing its hands-off approach. How Steam handles links shared on its platform are obviously in a different timezone compared with the games its allows, but it’s still a bit odd to see that Steam is apparently very much hands on when it comes to blocking TorrentFreak as well

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • UK sets up yet another costly spy agency

      The UK Min­istry of Defence announced on 21 Septem­ber the estab­lish­ment of yet anoth­er Brit­ish spy agency, an amal­gam of mil­it­ary and secur­ity ser­vice pro­fes­sion­als designed to wage cyber war against ter­ror­ists, Rus­sia and organ­ised crime. The new agency will have upwards of 2000 staff (the size MI5 was when I worked there in the 1990s, so not incon­sid­er­able). I have been asked for a num­ber of inter­views about this and here are my thoughts in long form.

    • Criptext Is A New Encrypted Email Service That Doesn’t Store Your Emails

      Criptext is a fairly new encrypted email service that claims it “doesn’t store any emails in its servers” and instead, “all your emails are stored on your device alone”. The service uses the open source Signal Protocol to encrypt emails from end to end.

      Started in 2014 as an encryption solution for Gmail, Criptext email was launched as a beta service back in August, 2018, and it has a rather interesting origin story, which you can read here if you’re interested.

    • E-evidence – cross-border access to electronic evidence

      To make it easier and faster for law enforcement and judicial authorities to obtain the electronic evidence they need to investigate and eventually prosecute criminals and terrorists, the Commission proposed on 17 April 2018 new rules in the form of a Regulation and a Directive, which will: [...]

    • European Commission rolls out its proposal for a so-called eEvidence law

      Tech companies around the globe will be forced to hand over data to European authorities under the European Union version of the U.S. Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, unveiled April 17.

      After many months of discussion and a public consultation, the European Commission presented its proposal for a “Regulation on cross-border access to and preservation of electronic data held by service providers,” along with a law requiring all service providers to appoint a legal representative within the EU.

      The law would give European police the power to force companies to turn over emails, text messages, photos, videos, etcetera, within 10 days — or as little as six hours when there is “imminent threat to life or physical integrity of a person or to a critical infrastructure” — for investigation of crimes carrying a minimum jail sentence of three years.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Asia Bibi: Pakistan acquits Christian woman on death row

      Chief Justice Saqib Nisarm, who read out the ruling, said Asia Bibi could walk free from jail in Sheikupura, near Lahore, immediately if not wanted in connection with any other case.

    • Why are Pakistan’s Christians targeted?

      But accusations of blasphemy have also often led to mob violence against Christians, while militant Islamists have also targeted the community.

    • No Mr. President, You Can’t Change the Constitution by Executive Order

      The 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is one of the bedrocks of America.
      President Trump said this week that he is preparing an executive order to try to take away the citizenship guarantee in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that people born in the United States are United States citizens. On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham announced that he would introduce legislation with the same aim.

      But the president cannot repeal part of the Constitution by executive order. And Congress cannot repeal it by simply passing a new bill. Amending the Constitution would require a two-thirds vote in both House and Senate, and also ratification by three-quarters of the states. The effort to erase the citizenship guarantee will never clear those hurdles — for very good reasons.

      Birthright citizenship is one of the bedrocks of this country. More than 150 years ago, the 14th Amendment guaranteed to all those born within the United States citizenship, without regard to parentage, skin color or ethnicity. And the Supreme Court ruled, more than 100 years ago, that the citizenship guarantee applies fully to U.S.-born children whose parents have no right to citizenship.

    • Meet Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Trump

      Two years before Donald Trump rode the Tea Party wave into the White House, Larry Hogan captured the Maryland governor’s mansion with the help of this same energy.

      As the Tea Party was gaining strength – born of a distrust of government and media, and white backlash against the first black president – so was Change Maryland, the group Hogan created three years before his improbable 2014 run for governor. Change Maryland is “almost a Tea Party movement in [a] state that really doesn’t seem to be Tea Party friendly,” political scientist Todd Eberly said in 2011. They’re “tapping into the same force.”

    • Memphis Police Department Body Cam Program Being Undercut By Its Body Cam Policies

      The Memphis PD is facing quite a bit of scrutiny right now. In addition to just having lost a lawsuit over unconstitutional surveillance of protesters and activists, and being told to stop creating fake Facebook accounts (by Facebook itself), it’s dealing with the heat of a recent shooting of a Memphis resident by police officers — one that left the victim in critical condition. Body cameras were available but not in use by all officers on the scene. In addition, it appears at least two officers deliberately deactivated their cameras during the pursuit of the suspect, Martavious Banks.

      [...]

      It can be both. There can be a small subset of officers who’ve been caught violating policies or covering up misconduct and larger overall compliance by the rest of the MPD’s staff. But assuming the ones who have been caught violating policy are the only ones violating policy is a mistake.

      Even if it’s exactly what it looks like, the MPD’s refusal to release footage until forced to doesn’t allow anyone outside the department to double-check this math. Director Rallings says the policy on withholding footage relevant to ongoing investigations will remain in place. This will continue to ensure no footage is released when it is of greatest public interest, as internal investigations can be extended to fit the timeframe needed for outrage to die down.

    • Morton County Sheriff, TigerSwan Face Lawsuit For Blocking Water Protectors’ Travel And Assembly During DAPL Construction

      A class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock and others, who resided in the area when police shut down Highway 1806 during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline’s construction.

      On October 24, 2016, Highway 1806 from Fort Rice to Fort Yates was closed. A concrete and concertina wire barricade blocked travel from October 28 to March.

      The lawsuit [PDF] argues the sheriff of Morton County and other local authorities, as well as the private security firm, TigerSwan, were involved in acts that infringed upon the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights of water protectors.

      The right of water protectors to “interstate and intrastate travel” was allegedly violated, and as a result, individuals were “substantially burdened” in “seeking medical care, in purchasing supplies (and in other ways engaging in commerce), in meeting, speaking and being interviewed by media, in gathering and reporting the news, and in in visiting family members.”

      It further contends the “travel limitations” stopped plaintiffs from being able to assemble, speak, and pray in the area that was in question—a “nearly nine-mile stretch of a public road abutting numerous sacred and ceremonial sites, as well as protions of the public road near the pipeline’s parth.” Journalists were “unnecessarily burdened” as the closure obstructed press access to camps and to the Standing Rock reservation.

      The lawsuit seeks to have a class of individuals, which could be as many as 10,000 people, certified so they can challenge how their constitutional rights were allegedly violated.

    • Experts Explore the Consequences of Bad Science on the Justice System

      A panel co-hosted by ProPublica, The New York Times Magazine, Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and Harvard Law’s Criminal Justice Policy Program looked at the use of unreliable forensic science practices and models for reform.

      This year, ProPublica senior reporter Pamela Colloff, also a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine, has been investigating the case of Joe Bryan, a former high school principal in Clifton, Texas. Bryan has been in prison for 32 years over the murder of his wife, Mickey, a crime he says he didn’t commit. Colloff found that Bryan’s conviction rested largely on the testimony of a local police officer who took the stand as an expert in bloodstain-pattern analysis, even though he had only taken a 40-hour class in the technique.

      Colloff’s reporting focused on the questionable use of blood-spatter analysis in the nation’s courtrooms, but it raised broader concerns about other forensic disciplines (including the analysis of hair, bite marks and tire impressions; dog-scent examinations; and handwriting analysis), how they’re being used in the justice system and the devastating consequences they can have for the wrongfully convicted.

    • Foreign Policy in Brazil: a sharp turn to the right

      The scale of the former army captain’s victory caught most pollsters off-guard. He won 55 percent of the popular vote compared to just 45 percent registered by Fernando Haddad, of the Workers’ Party. Bolsonaro’s little known Social Liberal Party, PSL, ballooned to 52 members in Congress while the Workers’ Party managed to hold on to 54 Congressional seats. The election transformed Brazil’s political landscape: several of the traditional parties that have dominated successive governments for the past three decades suffered catastrophic losses.

      With that, Brazil is taking a hard turn to the right after almost a decade and a half of leftist government. Not surprisingly, the focus of the country’s most bitterly contested presidential campaign in history was on domestic priorities. The Bolsonaro team’s scorched earth tactics made global headlines.

      He has said that his political foes should flee overseas or go to jail, that Brazil’s landless workers movement were “terrorists,” and that he would not respect an outcome were he not declared the winner. Along the way, he was compared to US President Donald Trump, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Hungarian president Viktor Orban, and even Joseph Goebbels. While many commentators are concerned that Bolsonaro constitutes an existential threat to democracy, others say the risks are vastly exaggerated.

    • As Bolsonaro Threatens to Criminalize Protests, a New Resistance Movement Is Emerging in Brazil

      Brazil is continuing to reel from the election of far-right leader and President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, the former Army captain who won 55 percent of the vote Sunday, easily defeating Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party. As Bolsonaro prepares to take office in January, many fear Brazil’s young democracy is now at risk. Bolsonaro, who has often praised Brazil’s former military dictatorship that ended just 33 years ago, has promised to appoint many military officers to his Cabinet. We speak with Bruno Torturra, founder and editor of Studio Fluxo, an independent media outlet based in São Paulo, and James Green, professor of Brazilian history and culture at Brown University, about how the election will affect social movements, the environment and democracy across Latin America.

    • Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Is Under Fire Over Reports Alleging Abuse of Children

      Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital is under federal and state investigation over reports that detail sexual assaults and physical abuse of children, including some who were cleared for release but remained hospitalized because child welfare officials couldn’t find more appropriate homes.

    • U.S. Government-Run TV Service Actually Ran a Segment Attacking George Soros as a ‘Multimillionaire Jew’

      The source material for the segment was Judicial Watch, a right-wing oversight group that is best known for filing Freedom of Information Act requests to try to find misconduct by Democratic politicians. Judicial Watch has recently gotten into trouble over its conspiracy theories about Soros; on Sunday, Fox News blacklisted JW research director Chris Farrell after he claimed on Lou Dobbs’ show that the State Department is “Soros-occupied” and that Soros is indirectly paying the Honduran migrant caravan to travel to the U.S.

    • Seventh Circuit Appeals Court Hands Fifth ‘Good Faith’ Win To FBI’s Invalid Playpen Warrant

      It doesn’t appear the Supreme Court will have to resolve a circuit split on the FBI’s malware warrant used in its Playpen child porn investigation. The same day the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court found in favor of the FBI, the Seventh Circuit reached the same conclusion [PDF], bringing the FBI’s “good faith” total to five appellate wins versus zero losses.

      The Seventh’s reasoning echoes that of the other circuits: the warrant may have been invalid (seeing as its jurisdiction limits were immediately violated by the FBI’s malware deployment), but the FBI was correct to rely on the magistrate’s screwup.

      [...]

      The problem with these decisions is they tacitly encourage law enforcement to ask judicial permission for illegal searches because if it’s granted, it’s the magistrate’s fault, not the officers’, and evidence obtained illegally won’t be suppressed. When the FBI asked for permission to engage in extraterritorial searches, the DOJ was pushing for removal of Rule 41 jurisdiction limits. It’s impossible the agent swearing out the warrant was unaware of this fact. It was a bad faith request converted to “good faith” by the magistrate’s approval, whitewashing the FBI’s actions and making the evidence unassailable in court.

    • Mimetic power: how Russia pretends to be a normal member of the international community

      Addressing Russian ambassadors and permanent representatives in July 2012, President Vladimir Putin complained that while Russian diplomats were “well versed in the traditional and familiar methods of international relations”, there was “still much to reflect on” using “‘soft power’ methods”. “Soft power,” as Putin interpreted it, was “about promoting one’s interests and policies through persuasion and creating a positive perception of one’s country, based not just on its material achievements, but also its spiritual and intellectual heritage.”

      For Putin, the problem with using soft power methods was that it was not the Russian authorities who were forming the country’s image abroad, but foreign actors who failed to assess “the real situation” in Russia or appreciate the country’s “contribution to global civilisation, science and culture”. The fault of the Russian authorities (and particularly, as it seemed, the country’s diplomats) was that they failed “to adequately explain” Russia’s position to other nations, implying, as it is often the case, the West.

      Oddly enough, it is this very interpretation of soft power by Putin that, among other things, makes its use so problematic for Russia.

    • Court Tells Cops Playing Hunch Roulette Is No Way To Run An Investigation

      There are many routes law enforcement can take to end up in the promised land of Probable Cause. But the point of departure matters. While a routine (read: pretextual) stop can develop into a situation where a search is justified, the same can’t be said about the search at the center of this recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision. While it’s true probable cause may take time to develop, it needs to be an organic process starting with reasonable suspicion, not a series of guesses being explored until one of them pays off.

      No arrest was effected during this extended/distended process, but officers still keep appellant Fausto Lopez quasi-detained until they could find something to arrest him for. It all started with a questionable tip.

    • Employees Who Have Babies Are Still Getting the Axe

      Forty years ago, working women in the United States won the legal protection to become working mothers. On October 31, 1978, Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, making it illegal for employers to deny a woman a job — or promotion, or higher pay, or any other opportunity — because she is pregnant.

      The statute had an immediate, dramatic impact on women’s ability to fully participate in the workforce. Although on-the-job sex discrimination had been outlawed more than a decade earlier, pregnancy wasn’t legally recognized as a type of sex discrimination. As a result, a pregnancy often resulted in a pink slip. Some employers even imposed formal policies prohibiting pregnancy outright because their female employees were expected to project a certain image — for example, flight attendants, who were expected by airlines to convey sexual availability to their businessman customers, and teachers, who were expected by school districts to project chasteness to their young pupils.

    • Birthright Citizenship Expert: This Is Not a Diversion, Trump Has Pushed Radical Plan for Years

      President Trump claimed that he can rewrite the Constitution and end birthright citizenship in the United States in an interview released Tuesday, sparking widespread outrage. Trump told the news outlet Axios that he planned to sign an executive order ending citizenship for children of noncitizens born on U.S. soil. Civil rights groups, legal experts and politicians on both sides of the aisle are blasting Trump for his comments, including the false claim that the U.S. is the only country with birthright laws. In fact, at least 30 other countries have similar laws, including Canada, Mexico and Cuba. We speak with Martha Jones, author of “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America,” about the history of the 14th Amendment. Martha Jones is the Society of Black Alumni presidential professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University.

    • Teachers Promise a Show of Power at the Polls

      When teachers in Oklahoma went on strike for nine days this spring, the state’s politicians may not have realized that the movement for justice in the classroom was just beginning. Oklahoma’s teachers joined the national wave of walkouts and protests to demand better pay and more funding for public education. The teachers won pay bumps and the first tax increases passed by the state legislature in 28 years.

      Oklahoma’s teachers, like their fellow educators around the country, had spent years watching their state legislature slash taxes as schools suffered. For Alicia Priest, head of the Oklahoma Education Association, the raises they won this spring were to be celebrated. But they weren’t enough. A Republican-dominated legislature, Priest said, wouldn’t consider additional revenue sources to fully fund the teachers’ demands.

      “We got here by electing the wrong people to office,” Priest told the New York Times earlier this year. “We have the opportunity to make our voices heard at the ballot box.”

      The rest of the state seems to agree. This summer, Republican primary voters severely punished a dozen incumbent politicians that went up against the teachers during the legislative battle, ending their chances at reelection. That amount of turnover is “unprecedented,” the Tulsa World said, and could signal major changes for the state legislature.

      The wave in Oklahoma is just part of a greater movement propelling teachers and their allies towards more political power. And they’re not just pushing politicians to adopt their proposed policies — they’re becoming the politicians themselves. Nearly 1,500 current or former educators are running for state office, according to the National Education Association, and thousands more are galvanized as part of a grassroots movement pushing for drastic priority shifts in state politics.

    • San Francisco Grants Non-Citizens Voting Rights in Local Election

      Something special is happening in San Francisco’s school board race — and no, it’s not the two trans candidates on the ballot. It’s who’s allowed to cast a ballot in the first place.

      San Francisco just became the largest U.S. city to allow non-citizens to vote in local races, giving people who live, work, and raise their children in San Francisco an opportunity to weigh in on the school board without requiring citizenship.

      This is a big step, and it’s a long time coming. There’s no real reason non-citizens who are also residents of the United States shouldn’t vote, contrary to all the claims from Republicans screaming about how “illegals” are using voter fraud in vast numbers to participate in elections. Spoiler: They are not.

    • Few Belgian mosques publish their financial accounts

      Of the twenty or so Brussels mosques and religious organizations, 13 have accounts records. The others have produced none, in particular the mosques Al Moutaquine, Attadamoun and Badr de Molenbeek. In respect of the 13 “model pupils”, in many cases, they have no annual accounts on public record.

    • Former CIA Employee Accused Of Leaking To WikiLeaks Describes Inhumane Treatment In Detention

      Josh Schulte, a former CIA employee accused of leaking “Vault 7” files to WikiLeaks, claims the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York has put him in solitary confinement. He says officials will not allow him to contact his attorney or work on his defense.

      He was charged on June 18 with thirteen offenses that included allegedly violating the Espionage Act by stealing classified information from the CIA. It also included a prior charge involving child pornography.

      A handwritten letter [PDF] from Schulte to Judge Paul Crotty was publicly filed on October 29 and then removed.

      “I am writing to you because I have been unable to contact my attorney, review my discovery, or even assist on my case in any capacity for the entire month of October,” Schulte complains. “This is outrageous and clearly unconstitutional so I write to you for relief.”

      According to Schulte, who is in pretrial detention, guards called him down on October 1 for a “legal visit.” He arrived and was informed he would be put in the “box” while officials investigated him for something. They refused to provide details. He was taken in shackles to MCC’s 9-South wing.

      Requests were made to access legal work, discovery materials, or to speak with his attorney. Each were denied.

      He describes how his days consist of “nothing but attempted meditation. My fellow slaves constantly scream, pound, and claw at the cages attempting to get attention for basic needs to be fulfilled. I count myself lucky to be able to eat.”

    • Cop Sued For Bogus Arrest Of Man Who Broke Up The PD’s Distracted Driving Sting

      A cop couldn’t handle someone diverting his revenue stream. So he decided to do something about it. That “something” was getting sued for civil rights violations. How this will improve revenue generation remains to be seen, but for now one officer of the Stamford, Connecticut police department will need to lawyer up. (via Courthouse News Service)

      The plaintiff, Michael Friend, happened to notice a bunch of police officers issuing tickets to drivers for distracted driving. One officer, Richard Gasparino, was hiding behind a telephone pole on the other side of the street looking for drivers using their cellphones and relaying his suspicions to officers further down the road.

      Friend moved south of the Stamford PD sting operation and held up a handwritten sign reading “Cops Ahead.” This didn’t sit well with Officer Gasparino, who swiftly decided he’d like to be sued by Friend and his representation. He began his tour of culpability with the following hilarious assertion.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • You Can’t Mention Pirate Bay & Demonoid in Red Dead Redemption 2

        Multiplayer games like Red Dead Redemption 2 bring out the best in gamers all around the world. They also bring out the worst. That appears to be why developer Rockstar has implemented a word filter in its latest masterpiece, which censors a wide range of insulting vocabulary. Weirdly, The Pirate Bay has also made that list, along with Demonoid and several other long-dead file-sharing sites.

      • Canada Introduces Bill to Ban Piracy Settlement Notices

        A new bill introduced by the Canadian Government proposes to ban the inclusion of settlement demands in the piracy notices ISPs are required to forward to subscribers. This practice is seen as an abuse of the country’s “notice-and-notice” scheme and has been criticized by copyright experts, activists, as well as Internet providers.

10.30.18

Links 30/10/2018: System76 Hardware, Disco Dingo, New Fedora and RHEL

Posted in News Roundup at 3:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • System76 on US Manufacturing and Open Hardware

      We’ve been working on the Thelio design for about three years. The philosophy around Thelio’s design was fourfold. The design should reflect our company character and culture, the design must support the maximum performance of the fastest available components, be easy to service and upgrade, and must represent the open source roots of System76. Early on, there was a lot of testing and experimentation. We engineered prototyping techniques to quickly iterate on ideas, optimize performance and thermal characteristics, and develop a strategy to open source as much functionality as possible.

      Eventually we were ready to move from acrylic prototypes to metal. Then we tried finding factory space in Colorado. That was much harder than expected and it took a full year.

      We moved an eight-person engineering and operations team over in March of this year and the rest of the team a few months later. We began converting the design from prototype to production. At our facility, we take in US-sourced sheet metal, aluminum extrusions, and other raw materials. We use production machinery to cut it, bend it, powder coat, etch, and then assemble the parts together along the way to producing the final product. We use components that we source outside the US, like the motherboard, memory, and drives to assemble orders to the customers’ needs. Technically, Thelio is “Designed and manufactured in the US with domestic and foreign components”.

    • System76 Comments On Their Open-Source Hardware Plans & US Manufacturing

      System76 is finally announcing the Thelio system on Thursday with plans to begin shipping it in December. Ahead of that announcement they’ve clarified a bit around their US manufacturing and open-source hardware plans.

    • System76 shared some more details to clear up some questions about their open hardware manufacturing

      In their recent blog posts titled ‘System76 on US Manufacturing and Open Hardware’ the Linux hardware vendor shared some details and thoughts about what they’re up to.

      For those not up to speed, System76 will soon be putting up their new Thelio desktop computer for pre-order. This will be their first in-house production using a case they made themselves. It’s going to be quite exciting, so it’s good to get some details cleared up before the big reveal on November 1st.

      They’ve been working on the design of the Thelio system for three years, a lot longer than I originally thought. The actual design of the unit is made to offer “the maximum performance of the fastest available components” along with being easy to service and upgrade.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 42 | This Week in Linux

      On this episode we cover the release of Linux 4.19, the Return of Linus Torvalds to the Linux kernel, the BIG news of IBM to Acquire Red Hat, the status update news for Solus, and the latest releases for Firefox, Teamviewer and Feren OS. We also take a look at some interesting new Hardware from System76, Pine64 and more. We haven’t had many gaming news the past couple of episodes so we’re fixing that with some awesome news for various Linux Gaming sales from Fanatical, Humble Bundle and Steam. Later in the show we’ll talk about some unfortunate security news from the X.Org project and we’ll have a follow up for the recent Microsoft Patent news. All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space

    • Pete Zaitcev: Where is Amazon?

      To begin with, as the statistics from the Linux Foundation’s 2016 report demonstrate, you have to be stark raving mad to leave Red Hat. If you do, Intel and AMD look interesting (hello, Alan Cox). IBM is not bad, although since yesterday, you don’t need to quit Red Hat to work for IBM anymore. Even Google, famous for being a black hole that swallows good hackers who are never heard from again, manages to put up a decent showing, Fuchsia or no. Facebook looks unimpressive (no disrespect to DaveJ intended).

      Now, the no-shows. Both of them hail from Seattle, WA: Microsoft and Amazon. Microsoft made an interesting effort to adopt Linux into its public cloud, but their strategy was to make Red Hat do all the work. Well, as expected. Amazon, though, is a problem. I managed to get into an argument with David “dwmw2″ Woodhouse on Facebook about it, where I brought up a somewhat dated article at The Register. The central claim is, the lack of Amazon’s contribution is the result of the policy rolled all the way from the top.

    • The Big Staging Pull Request Submitted With 44k Lines Of New Code, 16k Deletions

      Adding to the big list of changes for Linux 4.20~5.0 is a number of updates within the kernel’s staging area.

    • New /proc/pid/kill Interface Proposed For Killing Linux Processes

      A Google developer has proposed /proc/pid/kill as a new procfs-based kill interface for killing a process on Linux.

      With each process running on the system having their own /proc/PID directory, the patch proposal allows writing to /proc/PID/kill with a signal number to kill that process.

    • ARM Is Very Busy In The Next Kernel With A Lot For NVIDIA Tegra, Snapdragon 835 & More

      The pull requests adding new ARM chip/SoC support and various platforms/boards were merged on Monday evening. For this Linux 4.20 (or 5.0) kernel cycle there is a lot of new hardware support, especially among the popular ARM SBCs. NVIDIA Tegra upstreaming bits is also another big standout for this kernel.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Learn to Work with the Linux Command Line

        Open source software isn’t just proliferating within technology infrastructures around the world, it is also creating profound opportunities for people with relevant skills. Organizations of all sizes have reported widening skills gaps in this area. Linux tops the list as the most in-demand open source skill, according to the 2018 Open Source Jobs Report. With this in mind, In this article series, we are taking a closer look at one of the best new ways to gain open source and Linux fluency: the Introduction to Open Source Software Development, Git and Linux training course from The Linux Foundation.

    • Graphics Stack

      • RADV Vulkan Driver Lands Transform Feedback For Mesa 18.3

        As a big win for Radeon Linux gamers using the RADV and enjoying Steam Play (Proton) or Wine games and making use of the DXVK library, this open-source AMD Vulkan driver has merged support for transform feedback!

        With the latest Mesa 18.3-devel code as of today, the RADV driver now exposes VK_EXT_transform_feedback. This transform feedback extension was introduced recently to Vulkan (v1.1.88) as an unofficial option for wrappers like DXVK and VKD3D to provide Direct3D Stream-Out functionality on top of Vulkan. This transform feedback is similar to the OpenGL functionality so may also help out GL-over-Vulkan efforts too. The NVIDIA Vulkan beta driver for Linux has already supported this extension and RADV patches had been available since the extension debuted while today it was merged to Mesa master.

      • AMD Radeon RX 590 Leak Confirms The Use Of 12nm FinFET Process
      • Wayland’s Weston Gets A Remoting Plugin For Virtual Output Streaming

        While Wayland/Weston development might be lightening up a bit for now with Samsung OSG closing up shop and they being one of the major drivers in recent years to this stack, fortunately, other developers remain. Tomohito Esaki of IGEL endpoint management solutions has introduced a remoting plugin with output streaming for Weston.

      • AMD Raven 2 Support Might Land In Time For Mesa 18.3

        Prolific open-source AMD hacker Marek Olšák has sent out a revised patch enabling support for the yet-to-be-released Raven 2 APUs within the RadeonSI Gallium3D.

        Raven 2 is the new Raven Ridge APU while as previously covered there are also AMD Picasso APUs coming down the pipeline too.

        On the kernel side, the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel has both Raven 2 and Picasso APU support within the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE apps – Any good?

        This is the most important application on the desktop. In this modern age, online connectivity is a must, and Web browsers are a portal into this big, chaotic online world. The default KDE browser is, depending on the interpretation, most likely, either Konqueror or Falkon. However you choose, it’s an nth incarnation of an idea that never quite caught on. Konqueror, rekonq, Qupzilla, Falkon, you name it. At some point in time, you must have seen or used some or all of these, alongside other browsers, and it’s quite likely you went with the more mainstream choice. in fact, KDE neon, Kubuntu, openSUSE and several other KDE desktops all ship Firefox as the default browser.

        Falkon is a reasonable product, but it’s sort of odd. There’s something about it that deters enthusiasm, and of course, it does not have any killer features over Firefox or Chrome. It feels like a mature product from an incomplete idea, or vice versa. It also does not have quite as much versatility as you’d expect from a Plasma product, and it doesn’t integrate as seamlessly into the desktop as either Firefox or Chrome do, both of which are non-native to the environment. Add plugins, extensions, overall speed and performance, plus stability, which was always odd for K browsers, and you get a game of diminishing returns.

      • Nextcloud Founder Frank Kalitschek awarded 20,000 euros — Donates prize to promote inclusiveness

        Frank Karlitschek, the founder of Nextcloud, has won the Reinhard von Koenig award and will be donating the winnings, amounting to € 20,000, to start a fund called “Nextcloud Include”.

        The fund, set up in collaboration with KDE e.V., wants to encourage diversity in open source. It aims to help underrepresented groups participate in the global Nextcloud community and foster an inclusive and diverse space where the community can continue to collaborate and develop world-class software. Mentoring, travel support, and internships are provided as part of the program. The program is ran in collaboration with the KDE community under the umbrella of the KDE e.V.

      • We have OAuth and we’re strong

        It’s been a while since I posted anything related to the Akonadi EWS resource, but that does not mean that the project is abandoned – development is ongoing, albeit a little slow.

        Today’s episode of “what’s going on in the EWS world” is all about authentication.

        From the early days of Akonadi EWS interacting with Microsoft authentication mechanisms was a bit on the hard side. Anybody who is wondering why is invited to look into Samba history & development, which should be a good enough indication of the problems we’re dealing with here. This mostly impacted NTLM authentication, which had to be patched in KIO in order to work properly (NTLM version 2).

      • 3 years with KDE – It’s about time!

        KDE life is responsible for a lot of changes in my life, including my personality. I don’t have enough thanks to this amazing community.

        Today I am part of Atelier, the printer host, where 3DPrinting was the first reason that made me into KDE, and that changed my life in so many ways… I really hope to get back to the project anytime soon… And I am also part of the Fundraising WG…

      • My participation at Krita October Sprint

        A few weeks ago I travelled to the Netherlands to be part of the Krita October Sprint. During this Sprint we decided to focus on bug fixing, my tasks included some simple bugs and a couple of more convoluted bugs. I started fixing the simple ones in order to gain speed: one about modifiers not working on OSX, the bug was simple enough but puzzling as the missing logic shouldn’t make the code work on Linux, but it did. The second bug was related to events logic in the preferences dialog command: My first approach was good but not simple, so talking with the team made me change the solution to something much more simple.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • PipeWire Hackfest

        So we kicked off the PipeWire hackfest in Edinburgh yesterday. We have 15 people attending including Arun Raghavan, Tanu Kaskinen and Colin Guthrie from PulseAudio, PipeWire creator Wim Taymans, Bastien Nocera and Jan Grulich representing GNOME and KDE, Mark Brown from the ALSA kernel team, Olivier Crête,George Kiagiadakis and Nicolas Dufresne was there to represent embedded usecases for PipeWire and finally Thierry Bultel representing automotive.

        The event kicked off with Wim Taymans presenting on current state of PipeWire and outlining the remaining issues and current thoughts on how to resolve them. Most of the first day was spent on a roadtable discussion about what are and should be the goals of PipeWire and what potential tradeoffs there would be going forward. PipeWire is probably a bit closer to Jack than PulseAudio in design, so quite a bit of the discussion went on how that would affect the PulseAudio usecases and what is planned to ensure PipeWire works very well for consumer audio usecases.

        Personally I ended up spending quite some time just testing and running various Jack apps to see what works already and what doesn’t. In terms of handling outputing audio with Jack apps I was positively surprised how many Jack apps I was able to make work (aka output audio) using PipeWire instead of Jack, but of course we still have some gaps to cover before PipeWire is ready as a drop-in Jack replacement, for instance the Jack session management protocol needs to be implemented first.

      • PipeWire Is Still On Track For One Day Being A Drop-In Replacement To PulseAudio

        Various Linux audio stakeholders are in Edinburgh having a PipeWire hackfest following the Linux Foundation events that took place last week.

        While PipeWire is mostly talked about these days on the video side for being part of the technology to allow for Wayland remote desktop handling on KDE Plasma and GNOME Shell desktops as well as being important for Flatpak app sandboxing, part of the longer-term vision at Red Hat is on seeing PipeWire also be a success on the audio front.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Trying To Make Ubuntu 18.10 Run As Fast As Intel’s Clear Linux

            With the recent six-way Linux OS tests on the Core i9 9900K there was once again a number of users questioning the optimizations by Clear Linux out of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center and remarks whether changing the compiler flags, CPU frequency scaling governor, or other settings would allow other distributions to trivially replicate its performance. Here’s a look at some tweaked Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish benchmarks against the latest Intel Clear Linux rolling-release from this i9-9900K 8-core / 16-thread desktop system.

          • Ubuntu 19.04 Is The “Disco Dingo”

            Mark Shuttleworth has yet to come out with his usual blog post at the start of new Ubuntu Linux development cycles to officially unveil the next release’s codename and discuss the overarching theme of the next six months, but the Ubuntu 19.04 codename has come out via Launchpad.

            According to this Launchpad entry, Ubuntu 19.04 is codenamed the Disco Dingo. The Disco Dingo is the six-month non-LTS successor to the Ubuntu 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish. The last time there was a DD codename with marking the entire Ubuntu alphabet was the Ubuntu 6.04/6.06 LTS Dapper Drake release.

          • Canonical Outs Linux Kernel Patch for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS to Fix 4 Security Flaws

            The new Linux kernel security update is available for all users of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series and its derivatives, affecting all those using the original Linux 4.4 kernel. If you upgraded your Ubuntu 16.04 LTS installations to the Linux 4.15 kernel from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), you aren’t affected.

          • Mark Shuttleworth’s Statement on the IBM acquisition of Red Hat

            Over the past two years, many prominent Red Hat customers have selected Ubuntu and engaged Canonical to build leaner, more efficient open source infrastructure and solutions for important new initiatives. Among them we count the world’s leading banks, telcos, governments, universities, airlines, insurance companies, technology giants and media conglomerates. Several have spoken publicly, and with increasing confidence, of their Ubuntu success.

            Public sources of data on Linux trends show this move clearly. From Kubernetes to public cloud to OpenStack to machine learning and AI, from the far edge of IoT through edge-cloud and core data center operations, the momentum for Ubuntu in the enterprise has accelerated as companies unleash their developers to compete in the digital landscape.

            The acquisition of Red Hat by IBM is a significant moment in the progression of open source to the mainstream. We salute Red Hat for the role it played in framing open source as a familiar, shrink-wrapped replacement for traditional UNIX on ‘Wintel’ terms. In that sense, RHEL was a crucial step in the open source movement.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 551
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Monthly News – October 2018

              Before we talk about new features and project news I’d like to send a huge thank you to all the people who support our project. Many thanks to our donors, our sponsors, our patrons and all the people who are helping us. I’d also like to say we’ve had a lot of fun working on developing Linux Mint lately and we’re excited to share the news with you.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Software: 20-Plus Years of Innovation

    Open source led to a new software development and distribution model that offered an alternative to proprietary software. No single event takes the prize for starting the technology revolution. However, Feb. 3, 1998, is one of the more significant dates.

    On that day, Christine Peterson, a futurist and lecturer in the field of nanotechnology, coined the “open source” term at a strategy session in Palo Alto, California, shortly after the release of the Netscape browser source code.

    Later that month, Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens formed the Open Source Initiative, an educational and advocacy organization, to lobby for the open source label. Rapid adoption followed, with support from the Free Software Summit that April.

  • Progress in San Francisco’s Open Source Elections Project

    As many within the OSI community may know, the OSI has been following closely—and supporting—San Francisco’s efforts to develop an open source elections system.

  • California general election

    Again, probably of direct interest only to California residents, and apologies to everyone else since my hand-rolled blog software still doesn’t do cut tags.

  • Emergence of Government-backed Cryptocurrencies Highlights Necessity of Open Source Innovation
  • On Developing Open-Source Drone Software: Q&A with Kevin Sartori

    The drone and autonomous robot industry is rapidly growing. Kevin Sartori talks about Auterion’s mission to extend the reach of open-source technologies to meet enterprise-grade requirements of companies in the commercial drone space.

  • We [Jitsi] have a new home and it won’t impact you

    Today 8×8 announced it has acquired the Jitsi team and our technology from Atlassian. This is a great thing and will only help to keep Jitsi’s momentum with renewed investment. The Jitsi team will remain 100% intact and will continue to be an independent group. Operationally things will work much the same way as they did under Atlassian. Jitsi users and developers won’t see any impact, though we do expect with continued funding and support you will see even more new features and capabilities from the project!

  • Linkerd 2.0: Service ops for you and me

    Linkerd 2.0 is a super useful tool that comes with a minimal footprint and enables service ops to work faster and more effectively.

    I am excited about its possibilities and look forward to seeing what the community behind this CNCF project will deliver on top of what it already offers. I’m confident that support for things like distributed tracing, layer 7 policy enforcement, and traffic shaping (think A/B testing, etc.) are high on the list of things to come. I can’t wait to see Linkerd 2.0 continue to grow sustainably and healthy.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2019 Real-Time Communications Call for Participation

      FOSDEM is one of the world’s premier meetings of free software developers, with over five thousand people attending each year. FOSDEM 2019 takes place 2-3 February 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.

    • Tobias Mueller: Speaking at FIfFKon 18 in Berlin, Germany

      I was invited to be a panellist at this year’s FIfFKon in Berlin, Germany. While I said hi to the people at All Systems Go!, my main objective in Berlin was to attend the annual conference of the FIfF, the association for people in computing caring about peace and social responsibility.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Things Gateway – the Refrigerator and the Samsung Buttons

        Perhaps I’m being overly effusive, but right now, the Samsung SmartThings Button is my Holy Grail of the Internet of Things. Coupled with the Things Gateway from Mozilla and my own Web Thing API rule system, the Samsung Button grants me invincibility at solving some vexing Smart Home automation tasks.

        Consider this problem: my kitchen is in an old decrepit farm house built in 1920. The kitchen has a challenging layout with no good space for any modern appliance. The only wall for the refrigerator is annoyingly narrower than an average refrigerator. Unfortunately, the only switches for the kitchen and pantry lights are on that wall, too. The refrigerator blocks the switches to the point they can only be felt, not seen.

        For twenty years, I’ve been fine slipping my hand into the dusty cobwebs behind the refrigerator to turn on the lights. I can foresee the end of this era. I’m imagining two Samsung Buttons magnetically tacked to a convenient and accessible side of the refrigerator: one for the pantry and one for the kitchen.

        [...]

        This is just a simple finite state machine. The three shop lights are controlled by the list, combinations, referenced by an index. The only trigger is the KitchenButton (again, played by a Samsung Button). If the button is short pressed the index is incremented modulo the number of combinations. If the button is longPressed, the finite state machine is reset to state 0 and all the shop lights turned off.

      • Testing Privacy-Preserving Telemetry with Prio

        Building a browser is hard; building a good browser inevitably requires gathering a lot of data to make sure that things that work in the lab work in the field. But as soon as you gather data, you have to make sure you protect user privacy. We’re always looking at ways to improve the security of our data collection, and lately we’ve been experimenting with a really cool technique called Prio.

        Currently, all the major browsers do more or less the same thing for data reporting: the browser collects a bunch of statistics and sends it back to the browser maker for analysis; in Firefox, we call this system Telemetry. The challenge with building a Telemetry system is that data is sensitive. In order to ensure that we are safeguarding our users’ privacy, Mozilla has built a set of transparent data practices which determine what we can collect and under what conditions. For particularly sensitive categories of data, we ask users to opt-in to the collection and ensure that the data is handled securely.

        [...]

        In recent months, we’ve been experimenting with one such system: Prio, developed by Professor Dan Boneh and PhD student Henry Corrigan-Gibbs of Stanford University’s Computer Science department. The basic insight behind Prio is that for most purposes we don’t need to collect individual data, but rather only aggregates. Prio, which is in the public domain, lets Mozilla collect aggregate data without collecting anyone’s individual data. It does this by having the browser break the data up into two “shares”, each of which is sent to a different server. Individually the shares don’t tell you anything about the data being reported, but together they do. Each server collects the shares from all the clients and adds them up. If the servers then take their sum values and put them together, the result is the sum of all the users’ values. As long as one server is honest, then there’s no way to recover the individual values.

      • This Week In Servo 117

        In the past weeks, we merged 49 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

      • ARCore and Arkit, What is under the hood: SLAM (Part 2)

        These form the basis of our world tracking and environment recognition. But for Mixed Reality, that alone is not enough. We have to be able to calculate the 3d position in the real world. It is often calculated by the spatial distance between itself and multiple keypoints. This is often called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). And this is what is responsible for all the world tracking we see in ARCore/ARKit.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • OpenStack Foundation Says Its Open Source Edge Platform StarlingX Is Ready to Fly
    • OpenStack Summit Berlin

      Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, is headlining the main event of the season, OpenStack Summit Berlin, November 13 – 15, 2018.

      As a founding member, we are are passionate about OpenStack and talking to its users about the latest trends, challenges, and finding ways in which we can help each other.

      Ubuntu is at the heart of the world’s largest OpenStack clouds, in key sectors such as finance, media, retail and telecoms. With Ubuntu the number one platform for OpenStack and public clouds, Canonical is a leader in building and operating multi-clouds.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD18.10 RC3 is Available for testing

      This third release candidate of GhostBSD 18.10 is the third official testing release of GhostBSD with TrueOS under the hood. The official desktop of GhostBSD is MATE. However, in the future, there might be an XFCE community release, but for now, there is no community release yet.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • bison-3.2 released [stable]

      We are very happy to announce the release of Bison 3.2! Massive improvements were brought to the deterministic C++ skeleton, lalr1.cc. When variants are enabled and the compiler supports C++11 or better, move-only types can now be used for semantic values. C++98 support is not deprecated. Please see the NEWS below for more details. Many thanks to Frank Heckenbach for paving the way for this release with his implementation of a skeleton in C++17.

  • Public Services/Government

    • 80% of Barcelona’s IT investment linked to open source

      This year, the city of Barcelona is investing 78.7% of its IT budget on open source. By 2020, Barcelona expects nearly all of its IT investment to be linked to open source projects, says Xavier Roca, director of IT development at the city.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Say ‘Hi’ to Nybble, an open-source robotic kitten

        If you’ve ever wanted to own your own open-source cat, this cute Indiegogo project might be for you. The project, based on something called the Open Cat, is a laser-cut cat that walks and “learns” and can even connect to a Raspberry Pi. Out of the box a complex motion controller allows the kitten to perform lifelike behaviors like balancing, walking and nuzzling.

        “Nybble’s motion is driven by an Arduino compatible micro-controller. It stores instinctive ‘muscle memory’ to move around,” wrote its creator, Rongzhong Li. “An optional AI chip, such as Raspberry Pi can be mounted on top of Nybble’s back, to help Nybble with perception and decision. You can program in your favorite language, and direct Nybble walk around simply by sending short commands, such as ‘walk’ or ‘turn left.’”

  • Programming/Development

    • 55 Percent of Cloud Developers Contribute to Open Source, Says Survey

      In presenting the results of its survey of 4,300 cloud developers, DigitalOcean seemed surprised that only 55 percent of respondents contribute to open source projects. Yet to tech outsiders — or old-timers — it may be more surprising that more than half of developers do contribute. There are relatively few professions in which companies and their employers regularly offer pro bono services for the greater good of the industry.

      DigitalOcean, which provides cloud infrastructure software and services, has timed its “Currents” survey release in conjunction with the conclusion of its fifth annual Hacktoberfest program. Co-hosted with GitHub and twilio, Hacktoberfest invites developers to collaborate during the month of October on a smorgasbord of open source projects.

    • IBM’s Call for Code Prize Goes to a Team with ‘Clusterducks’

      Now Project Owl has won IBM’s first ever Call for Code contest, which challenged developers across the world to build disaster relief technology using IBM and open-source software. More than 100,000 developers from 156 countries participated in the contest. A panel of judges including former President Bill Clinton selected Project Owl from a field of five finalists whose solutions ranged from using AI to speed up the rebuilding process after an earthquake to feeding firefighters live data during wildfires via sensors.

    • A fun optimization trick from rsync

      I was looking at the rsync source code today and I saw a neat trick I’d never seen before. It wants to try to set the mtime on a file, and there are several methods that might work, but it doesn’t know which. So it tries them in sequence, and then it remembers which one worked and uses that method on subsequent calls: [...]

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 10 Reasons Why the Attempt to Commercialize Medicare Is Such a Disaster

      More and more policymakers and Americans are recognizing the value of Medicare for All, a national health insurance program run by the government on behalf of its citizens. But there is still some confusion about the role commercial insurers might play in such a system.

      Some argue that commercial insurance companies could be a part of Medicare for All, in much the same way that commercial “Medicare Advantage” plans function in today’s Medicare. That’s why it is important to understand the difference between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans, and why Medicare Advantage plans will never meet our needs.

    • Fixing Obamacare’s “Family Glitch” Hinges on Outcome of November Elections

      Last Christmas Eve, Justine Bradford-Trent slipped on ice, slamming to the ground. Her elbow swelled. Was it broken? She couldn’t tell.

      Because Bradford-Trent was uninsured, she weighed her options. She could go to the emergency room, the immediate but more costly option. The urgent care center cost less, but it was closed for the holiday. The Idaho resident decided to wait and, once the swelling subsided, she concluded it was just a bad bruise.

      Bradford-Trent, 54, knows she was lucky this time. But, because her family can’t afford health insurance, she worries about the next time something happens.

      “What if … I end up with cancer or [something] like that,” she said. “I don’t want to be faced with a decision of having to make a choice: to live or die? Or do we go into debt so deeply that it’s thousands and thousands of dollars just to save me, and we’re stuck in debt for the rest of our lives?”

      Although the Affordable Care Act is credited with expanding health insurance to about 20 million Americans, a small segment of the population — including Bradford-Trent — has been left behind.

    • The budget offers the NHS scraps – and fails to see off the privatisers

      Yesterday’s budget was a government playing to the gallery, desperately hoping to distract from its role in creating what promises to be the worse winter crisis since records began.

      The Chancellor announced that mental health services would be getting £2bn a year by 2023-24. It’s not ‘extra’, though – it’s part of the £20.5bn already announced by the government in June. An amount that all independent experts agree fails to meet the needs of the health service.

      The Chancellor also announced that the government would be rolling out a new mental health service, providing crisis provision in every A&E. Yet again, a laudable aim. But, also one with limited efficacy. Focusing solely on crisis care won’t reduce demand on those services, nor will it address the root causes of crises. Furthermore, the money has not been ringfenced. So, there is a strong possibility that no new services will materialise irrespective of the announcement.

      We were also informed that local councils will be receiving extra funding for social care – on top of the £240m announced earlier this month – of £650m. Of course, this hardly offsets the overall £7bn cut that social care has sustained since 2010. In short, the Chancellor was laying the terrain for an imminent exercise in blame avoidance.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • After terror comes the media BS: No, lazy pundits, “both sides” don’t do this

      For decades, the Republican Party has attacked the press for an alleged liberal bias. It’s a strategy that has successfully led to a degree of infuriating capitulation among the television news media. Unless a false sense of balance is manufactured by TV news, Republicans will continue to attack the integrity of the press, thus impacting the ratings and, with those ratings, the all-important ad revenue fueling the for-profit television industry.

    • Saudis Reject Turkish Demand to Extradite Khashoggi Murder Suspects

      Saudi Arabia has rejected a call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to extradite suspects accused of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi so they can be tried in Turkey. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saturday that 18 suspects would be tried in Saudi Arabia after a Saudi-led investigation. Turkey says a squad of Saudi hit men lured Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, where they tortured him and cut him to pieces using a bone saw. President Erdogan has demanded that Saudi officials show him where Khashoggi’s body is, and name those responsible for ordering the killing.

    • 2 Sisters Were Found Dead in the River, Duct-Taped Together. Police Have Few Answers.

      By Friday, detectives had learned the women were sisters from Saudi Arabia who lived in Fairfax, Va.

      [...]

      The Arab News, an English paper in Saudi Arabia, reported that Rotana Farea had been living in New York, while her mother and younger sister remained in Virginia. The mother had reported Tala missing two months ago, the newspaper said, but then called off the search when she discovered the girl was visiting her older sister. The sisters were in contact with their mother until about a week ago, the Arab News said.

      But the police in New York said the mother, whom they did not identify, also reported her daughters missing last year. When the local police located the sisters, they asked for protection and were placed in a shelter, the police said.

    • Saudi Killing in an Age of Manufactured Outrage

      The murderous dismemberment of the US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has prompted– after an initial phase of “let’s not presume the Saudi bone-saw killers guilty until proven innocent”— subsequent about-face responses from Donald Trump and Theresa May.

      These responses, like those of the Saudis, are of course attuned in their entirety to the media.

      Neither Trump nor the Maybot have any real convictions beyond self-promotion (which in the case of the hapless May– taken to the cleaners by the Brexiters in her own party and the implacable eurocrats she has to negotiate with—seems more like a last-gasp attempt at self-preservation).

      The responses of the Orange One and the Maybot, both initially supportive of the Saudi tyrants during the early speculation regarding Khashoggi’s murder, edged ever so slowly, as increasingly conclusive evidence came to light of the circumstances of his execution, to the current “those who are guilty, and we now know who they are, must be brought to justice”.

      These responses were an absolute sham from the beginning, since only Ronald Reagan in the long senescence of his presidency, or Dubya Bush in his lifelong imbecility, could possibly have believed that the paunchy Khashoggi was foolhardy enough to get into a fist-fight with a dozen or more “security personnel” half his age belonging to elite military and intelligence units. This of course was the initial official Saudi explanation for Khashoggi’s death.

      This explanation was greeted with universal derision (the scoffers included such redoubtable fans of dictators as Bill Kristol), which led slowly to the Saudi “updating” of their implausible initial narrative, culminating in their most recent admission that “yes, a crime had been committed, and it was premeditated”.

    • Trump Administration Ramps Up Threats Against Iran

      The alleged torture, murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, widely believed to have been carried out on orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, may put a crimp in Donald Trump’s plans to escalate his aggression against Iran.

      Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel are unified in their hatred of Iran, albeit with different motives. Iran has been in the crosshairs of the United States since the 1979 Iranian Revolution overthrew the vicious, US-installed puppet Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi; indeed, in 2002, George W. Bush initiated Iran into his “axis of evil.” Saudi Arabia, home to the two holiest Sunni Muslim sites, sees Shiite Iran as a rival for regional hegemony. And Israel considers Iran an “existential threat.”

      “Trump administration officials and outside experts said that possible repercussions on an elaborate plan to squeeze the Iranians have dominated internal discussions about the fallout over what happened to Mr. Khashoggi,” David Sanger reported in The New York Times.

      The allegations against the Saudi crown prince “have already had an effect” on Israel, “effectively freezing the push to build an international coalition against Iran’s regional influence, the top priority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Ben Hubbard and David Halbfinger, citing “analysts,” wrote in the Times.

      White House officials are worried the mushrooming crisis with Saudi Arabia could “derail a showdown with Iran and jeopardize plans to enlist Saudi help to avoid disrupting the oil market.”

    • Tomgram: Michael Klare, On the Road to World War III?

      Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a warning. As the New York Times described it: “If the United States deploys new intermediate-range missiles in Europe after withdrawing from a nuclear treaty prohibiting these weapons, European nations will be at risk of ‘a possible counterstrike.’” It was the sort of threat that, in the previous century, would have raised the level of everyday nuclear fears in this society, too. I remember them well — from the “duck-and-cover” experiences of schoolchildren huddling under desks that were somehow to protect them from nuclear annihilation to the vivid nightmares of my teen years. (Yes, in a dream at least, I saw and felt an atomic blast.) This was the world of the Cold War in which I grew up.

      I’ve always believed that the last of such Cold War nuclear fears manifested themselves on September 11, 2001, when those towers in lower Manhattan collapsed amid a horrifying cloud of smoke and ash — and the place where it all happened was promptly christened Ground Zero, a term previously reserved for the spot where a nuclear blast had gone off. Somehow, on that day, something was called back to life from those Cold War years in which newspapers regularly drew imagined concentric circles of atomic destruction from fantasy Ground Zeros in American cities, while magazines offered visions of our country as a vaporized wasteland. In the chaos and destruction of that moment, there was perhaps a subliminal feeling that the U.S., the first country to use an atomic weapon, had finally experienced some kind of payback. As Tom Brokaw, chairing NBC’s nonstop news coverage, said that day, it looked “like a nuclear winter in lower Manhattan.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How Capitalism Stokes the Far Right and Climate Catastrophe

      We are living in ominous times. Every week something new: white supremacist murders in Kentucky and Pittsburgh; the continued rise of the far right in Europe; Trump’s attack on transgender rights; the election of aspiring tyrant Jair Bolsonaro to the Brazilian presidency; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that climate catastrophe is likely only about 20 years away. What’s next?

      At a time when we should be uniting globally to reorganize our way of life to stave off climate disaster, many parts of the world are instead veering to the right, rejecting internationalism and demonizing marginalized communities. How did we get here? How can we escape annihilation?

  • Finance

    • Budget 2018: Tech giants face digital services tax

      Technology giants will be forced to pay tax on the sales they generate in the UK, under new plans announced in the Budget.

    • UK to impose digital services tax on tech giants from 2020

      The UK has become the first country to slug big technology firms with a tax based on revenue, with the Chancellor Phillip Hammond introducing a digital services tax from April 2020 onwards.

      [...]

      Australia has wrestled with the tax avoidance practised by big technology companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon for some time.

    • Donnie Maclurcan Wants to Change the Way We Think About Money—He’s Doing That by Giving It Away

      At the same time that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $160 billion, 44 million adults in the U.S. collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. The mass disparity between extravagant wealth and immense debt is, as Donnie Maclurcan calls it, both a fundamental flaw and characteristic of capitalism.

      “Because money is lent into existence where credit and debt are created simultaneously, you actually have a situation where, [when] money concentrates in a capitalist society, the debt has to concentrate elsewhere,” he said. “And as a result of this, that means that certain people, certain small businesses, certain governments around the world, are permanently indebted. And therefore the economy has to grow because those people have to take out more credit to survive.”

      Maclurcan is the co-founder of the Post Growth Institute, an international organization dedicated to evolving into an economy that can thrive within ecological limits. The Post Growth Institute (PGI) primarily focuses on what economic system will come after capitalism and what that system will look like.

      Maclurcan said one of the goals of a post-growth economy is the circulation of money in a way that still takes care of the environment.

    • Trump Tax Cuts at Election Time: Failing on Schedule

      The centerpiece of the tax cut was a huge cut in the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent.

    • Winter Is Coming, and Fuel Costs Will Hit the Poor the Hardest

      “Starting junior year,” recalls Alexis Stewart, a West Virginia-based writer and musician, “my mom said we couldn’t afford heat and I had to ‘suck it up.’ I don’t know if we didn’t qualify for [the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program] those years or if the funding ran out before they got to us. I bought a space heater with money from my part time job, but because of the poor insulation, I’d still wake up to a stiff frozen blanket.”

      Stewart grew up in a low-income household and today still struggles with the cost of heat. While living in one antiquated shared home in Huntington, “the food bank used to see a lot of me between November and March” thanks to high heating bills that were challenging even when split among six people.

    • The ‘Big Four’ and the UK government: too close for comfort

      The ‘Big Four’ accountants – an oligopoly if ever there was one as Bill Michael of KPMG has freely admitted – are charged with lowballing statutory audit services to major companies in the UK in order to gain much more lucrative advisory work. As a result (it is said) the audit work is done poorly and this has contributed to the series of scandals such as Carillion and BHS. What is more, it is also said that the ‘Big Four’ have little incentive to give the sometimes necessary bad news to their client (and therefore the market) for fear of losing the tasty advisory work for which the statutory audit has provided such an unappetising entrée.

      So unattractive is it to be a player in the statutory audit market for FTSE 350 companies that a fringe competitor to the ‘Big Four’ (Grant Thornton) has actually pulled out of it recently citing the impossibility of making it pay. Unsurprisingly in these circumstances the government has now taken action and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will revisit this classic case of market failure for which it failed to come up with any effective remedies but five years ago. With the much criticised Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also carrying out a separate investigation on the regulatory side, it is fair to say the ‘Big Four’ are getting serious attention from regulatory authorities.

    • The Ignominious Death of the United Kingdom

      Most of the budget’s rehashed public spending announcements and tax cuts for the wealthy are not worth analysis. The condemnation of PFI was very welcome, but it has taken 20 years for the political class – Red Tories or Blue Tories – to acknowledge the blindingly obvious, that they have used it as a device massively to abuse public services to rip off the taxpayer to the benefit of the bankers and wealth managers who funded the PFI schemes.

      Hammond made the constantly repeated Tory claim that the income gap between rich and poor in the UK is shrinking. It depends what you are measuring. While it is indeed true that the income gap between the top and bottom deciles is slightly shrinking, the gap between the top centile and the bottom decile – or any other decile, including the between the top centile and the top decile – is expanding very fast. In short, we are taking on the characteristics of a helot society, where distinctions between the upper middle class and working class are reducing, but the gap to the extremely wealthy is growing.

    • The GOP Tax Cuts Are Already Hurting Social Security

      The GOP has been intent on destroying Social Security since 1934 when its creation was first proposed by the Roosevelt administration. This, however, remained always a rather remote possibility … until now. With Trump and Congress transferring even more wealth to the rich and large corporations in the form of tax cuts that will land the country $10 trillion deeper in debt, the party of pseudo-fiscal hawks is campaigning hard for legislation that will lead to sharp cuts in Social Security and other entitlements.

      In this context, the 2018 midterm elections could be the most consequential midterm election in years, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, an internationally known economist on labor and retirement. In this exclusive interview, Ghilarducci — a professor at The New School for Social Research, as well as the author of numerous books including Rescuing Retirement: A Plan to Guarantee Retirement Security for All Americans and When I’m Sixty-Four: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them — shares her analysis of the GOP attack on Social Security.

    • Bitcoin emissions alone could push global warming above 2°C

      Bitcoin is a power-hungry cryptocurrency that is increasingly used as an investment and payment system. Here we show that projected Bitcoin usage, should it follow the rate of adoption of other broadly adopted technologies, could alone produce enough CO2 emissions to push warming above 2 °C within less than three decades.

    • Opposing labour market Uberculosis

      Uber is appealing the ruling that its drivers deserve workers’ rights. Meanwhile its drivers show strike action is possible against ‘platform capitalism’.

      [...]

      The current phase of ‘flexible capitalism’ sees production and employment arrangements being transformed, resulting in growing disruptions to secure and predictable career trajectories, the development of precarious employment, irregular scheduling, the extension of working hours and the erosion of worker rights and benefits. The recent emergence of connective platforms in different sectors – urban transport (Uber, Lyft), housekeeping (Helpling, TaskRabbit), childcare (Bambino, UrbanSitter) or food delivery (Deliveroo, UberEats) – pushes these ‘flexible’ employment arrangements to the extreme. The workers are no longer treated as employees but as ‘independent contractors’, ‘freelancers’ or ‘entrepreneurs’ that these platforms ‘simply connect’ with clients. Because of such categorization, platform workers have no rights and protections usually assigned to employees, such as benefits related to health care, pensions or parenting. Nor do they have any collective bargaining power. They are, to use Guy Standing’s term, members of the ‘precariat’ – a social class formed by people suffering from existence without predictability, security, labour rights or safety nets. Platforms take advantage of this large pool of precarious labourers ready to make themselves available to earn extra money even at the lowest possible wage rates.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The bizarre Justin Bieber burrito incident reminds us not to believe everything online

      Yes Theory brought Bieber’s Instagram influencer doppelgänger, Brad Sousa, to Los Angeles to pose in the shot. They spent the day driving around LA and staging different events that could make for a viral story, but the team put their bets on the weird burrito shot. To make sure it was seen by absolutely everyone on the internet — or at least, by people who would turn it from a random photo into a conversation-starter — they uploaded the photo to Reddit’s r/pics and r/mildlyinfuriating subreddits to boost circulation.

      “Not a single person is questioning whether it’s actually Justin Bieber,” one of the team members says in the video.

    • How the Census Citizenship Question Could Affect Future Elections

      The Trump administration is attempting to dilute the political influence of millions of people.
      On Nov. 6, Americans will head to the polls to exercise their right to vote. The day before, the ACLU will head to trial to try to prevent the Trump administration from diluting the political influence of millions of people for years to come.

      In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that for the first time in 70 years the decennial census questionnaire will ask respondents whether or not they are U.S. citizens. Secretary Ross has admitted that including this citizenship question will result in the census undercounting an estimated 1 percent of the population — more than 3 million people — because, in his own words, there are “folks who may not feel comfortable answering” the citizenship question.

      The folks who won’t want to answer a citizenship question on the census are largely members of immigrant communities of color whom the Trump administration has targeted since it came to power. This includes both non-citizens and U.S. citizens, many of whom may fear that participating will expose their non-citizen family members, neighbors, or loved ones to repercussions.

      The census already has a history of undercounting communities of color. In the 1990 census, Hispanic Americans were undercounted by about 5 percent. In 2010, the census failed to count 1.5 million Latino and Black people. In 2020, the Census Bureau will ask for citizenship information – a move that will dissuade millions from responding and make the undercounting problem far, far worse.

    • ‘Only Salt in Our Wounds’: Reagan Daughter Patti Davis Explains Why We Shouldn’t Look to Trump for Compassion

      Ronald Reagan’s daughter called out President Donald Trump for his inability to perform one of the most essential aspects of his job — offering comfort and compassion in the wake of tragedy.

    • Counterinsurgency On Steroids: Interview With Bernard Harcourt On Trump, Cesar Sayoc, And The Counterrevolution

      Bernard Harcourt, author of “The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went To War Against Its Own Citizens,” joins the “Unauthorized Disclosure” weekly podcast to talk about what he describes as the Counterrevolution and how President Donald Trump’s administration advances this new form of governing in the United States.

      He outlines counterinsurgency and its objectives and how it accelerated after the September 11 attacks.

      Later, he highlights how Trump is counterinsurgency on steroids and addresses the case of Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested for allegedly sending mail-bombs to targets of Trump’s vitriol.

      Listen to the interview by clicking on the above player or go here.

    • We Must Pressure Mainstream Forces to Stop Downplaying the Far Right

      The three perpetrators each came from different parts of the far right and targeted different kinds of victims. Taken together, they illustrate how the far right’s targets include a wide range of people, in terms of age, race, religion and gender. And they illustrate how violence is endemic to different factions of this movement, and not just limited to open white supremacists like neo-Nazis.

      On Saturday, October 27, Robert Bowers allegedly entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and murdered 11 people aged 54 to 97, on their day of worship. He had an account on Gab, a Twitter-like social media network that’s favored by the “alt-right.” There he was a prolific anti-Semitic poster. His account’s banner featured the numbers “1488,” a neo-Nazi alpha-numeric code.

    • Korean translator alleges Harris County election judge hindered voters [Ed: Korean Translators Barred From Texas Polling Place]

      delete

      Dona Kim Murphey said she and roughly 10 other volunteers at the Trini Mendenhall Community Center were instructed to stand in the parking lot Sunday afternoon, beyond the 100-foot markers that draw a boundary for where people can electioneer. Murphey said she thought translators typically were allowed to stay in the polling place to offer help.

    • Georgia election fight shows that black voter suppression, a southern tradition, still flourishes

      Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp has been sued for suppressing minority votes after an Associated Press investigation revealed a month before November’s midterm election that his office has not approved 53,000 voter registrations – most of them filed by African-Americans.

      Kemp, who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, says his actions comply with a 2017 state law that requires voter registration information to match exactly with data from the Department of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration.

      The law disproportionately affects black and Latino voters, say the civil rights groups who brought the lawsuit.

    • Democrats’ Attempt To Trick Progressives When Drafting Obamacare May Help Trump Ruin Law

      President Donald Trump’s administration recently announced they will use a provision of the Affordable Care Act known as the “state innovation waiver” to undermine the law.

      The “state innovation waiver”—which appears in the law as the 1332 provision—is supposed to allow states to waive certain regulations in the law, as long they create a system that is “at least as comprehensive and affordable.” But now the Trump administration has adopted some dubious definitions of words, like “comprehensive” and “affordable,” to undermine the law’s protections and structure.

      It is fittingly ironic that a provision added mainly as a public relations stunt to trick progressives into supporting the ACA would be used to cripple the law.

      The 1332 waiver was originally sold as a way to get “state-level single-payer” — a myth that reporters still echo.

    • Images of bloody fetus sent to Beto O’Rourke supporters in Garland neighborhood

      Residents of a north Garland neighborhood say they received black envelopes in the mail last week with a postcard inside bearing the image of a bloody fetus.

      The residents have at least one thing in common: They all had yard signs showing support for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.

      [...]

      The postcard — first reported in a tip to ProPublica’s Electionland coalition — also bears a web address for the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a California-based anti-abortion organization.

      Calls and emails to the organization were not returned.

      O’Rourke, a U.S. House member from El Paso who supports abortion rights, is locked in a tight battle with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

    • Instant Bull in Istanbul

      Heads will probably roll, but likely not those affixed to the most pertinent bodies. The Trump administration, along with Prince Mohammed bin Salman (or his father) will see to that: It was a completely rogue operation unknown to the little Prince. An impromptu fifteen member debate team hijacked a plane (déjà vu) and with bone saw in hand, piloted themselves to Istanbul in an effort to rein in the impertinent voice of Jamal Khashoggi. The debate, which seemingly lacked a moderator, quickly grew heated. The visibly agitated Khashoggi became a violent threat to the fifteen member team, so his fingers were cut off to keep him from pointing. His still dangerous body was then dismembered to avoid further bloodshed. The team’s quick action cooled Khashoggi’s impertinent rhetoric and ended the debate (he lost).

      It leaves so many unanswered questions, especially to an outsider and one not so familiar with Islam. By all accounts, Saudi Arabia is an Islamic monarchy, strictly governed by Islamic principles. It’s known to be fundamentally zealous, adhering to the most stringent interpretations of Islamic doctrine. The Wahhabi inspired monarchy must surely represent the epitome of Islamic culture, so this whole sordid Khashoggi affair must not be sordid at all, but actually is a faithful testimonial to the glory of Allah. It has to be, right? So why all the obfuscation? Just explain it in Islamic terms and the world will understand.

    • After Win by Brazilian Fascist Jair Bolsonaro, World’s Capitalists Salivate Over ‘New Investment Opportunities’

      While highlighting Bolsonaro’s “homophobic, racist, and misogynist statements,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) gushed that his win over Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad “could mean fresh opportunities for Canadian companies looking to invest in the resource-rich country” thanks to his strong commitment to “open markets.”

      “It could be a good time to be a mining investor in Brazil,” declared Anna Prusa, a former U.S. State Department official who researches Brazil for the Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C.-based firm.

    • Glenn Greenwald on Bolsonaro: Brazil Has Elected “Most Extremist Leader in the Democratic World”

      Far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro has been elected Brazil’s next president, marking the most radical political shift in the country since military rule ended more than 30 years ago. Bolsonaro, a former Army officer, openly supports torture and dictatorships, has a history of making racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments, and has threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents. He defeated Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party with 55 percent of the vote. His ascendance to power is leading many to fear the future of democracy in Brazil is in danger. We speak with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept, in Rio de Janeiro. He says that Bolsonaro is “by far the most extremist leader now elected anywhere in the democratic world.”

    • Here’s How Hyper-Partisan Super PACs Conceal Their Real Intentions from Voters in Facebook Ads

      One ad, taken out by a group called “The Voter Awareness Project,” reopens old wounds between President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, implying that Trump is at odds with Cruz even as the president stumped for the senator last week near the end of Cruz’s surprisingly close re-election bid against Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

      “Trump’s trying to drain the swamp of do-nothing politicians. Trump says Lyin’ Ted Cruz has accomplished nothing for Texas, and he’s right,” the ad reads, referring to a 2016 tweet from when Trump was a candidate.

      But Trump and Cruz have since buried the hatchet. Trump has been endorsing Cruz for re-election since February. He recently said, “He’s not Lyin’ Ted anymore. He’s Beautiful Ted. I call him Texas Ted,” and he held a rally for Cruz last week in Houston.

    • Groups Mask Partisan Attacks Behind Neutral-Sounding Names in Facebook Ads

      Some political groups on the left are borrowing a tactic from disinformation campaigns, placing ads on Facebook that pretend to be impartial information or unbiased news sources, when in fact the ads spread misleading facts about candidates.

      One ad, taken out by a group called “The Voter Awareness Project,” reopens old wounds between President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, implying that Trump is at odds with Cruz even as the president stumped for the senator last week near the end of Cruz’s surprisingly close re-election bid against Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

      “Trump’s trying to drain the swamp of do-nothing politicians. Trump says Lyin’ Ted Cruz has accomplished nothing for Texas, and he’s right,” the ad reads, referring to a 2016 tweet from when Trump was a candidate.

    • What to Tell a Boss Who Won’t Give You Time Off to Vote

      Voting in person on Election Day can be an exhilarating experience, but some voters who work day jobs have trouble getting time off when it’s impossible to get to the polls before or after work. When you’re dealing with a hostile boss, it’s important to know your rights.

      Depending on where you live, you may be entitled to time off to vote, so that you — like former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, pictured above — can play a role in the political process.

      If you think you might need time off to vote, start early — not the day before Election Day. Provide as much advance notice as possible as a courtesy for scheduling. If your workplace doesn’t have a formal “time off to vote” policy, bringing the topic up can trigger an important workplace policy discussion. Your employer may not have thought about this issue before — especially if they’re a small or new company — and asking them to formalize it will benefit everyone.

      Try: “Hey boss, the election is in a couple of weeks and I’m a little worried I won’t have time to cast my ballot before or after work. Does Company have a time off to vote policy? If not it would be great to set one up.”

      Before you approach your boss to ask for time off to vote, double check the hours for polling places, as well as the location of your polling place. Your boss may try to argue that you should vote before or after work, so take a minute to think about the logistics. Would it be possible? If not, why not?

    • Jimmy Carter calls for Brian Kemp’s resignation to ensure “nonbiased” election

      The Republican candidate for governor in Georgia is in charge of overseeing his own election as Secretary of State

    • Poll: Majority of Americans not confident in security of US elections

      A majority of Americans are not confident that the country’s election systems are secure from cyber threats and think that it is likely that a foreign country will try to influence next week’s midterm elections, according to a new poll.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Luongo: The Attack On Gab Proves Speech Was Never Free

      With the recent passing of the EU’s “Link Law” which is designed to shut down opposition voices, the merged corporate/political oligarchy are moving to ensure that all speech is criminalized.

      But to do that they first have to square the circle around that pesky First Amendment in the U.S.

      And that means outsourcing the censorship to the companies who own the internet access points – the app platforms, the social media giants, the hosting firms and payment processors.

      If you can’t build and maintain a business then you can’t oppose their rule.

    • Farrakhan Compares Jews to ‘Termites’ in Anti-Semitic Rant, but Twitter Doing Nothing About It`

      In July, Twitter “unverified” Farrakhan’s account as punishment following his tweet that stated, “Thoroughly and completely unmasking the Satanic Jew and the Synagogue of Satan.”

    • Far-right social network Gab goes offline after GoDaddy tells it to find another domain registrar

      Gab now displays a message claiming it “is under attack” and has been “systematically no-platformed by App Stores, multiple hosting providers, and several payment processors.”

    • Two more platforms have suspended Gab in the wake of Pittsburgh shooting

      Hours after Paypal confirmed that it had suspended social network platform Gab, two additional companies have informed the site that they plan to suspend their services: payment processing site Stripe, and cloud hosting company Joyent.

    • Australian MP Pushes Back Against Expanded Site And Search Blocking Laws

      We’ve been talking for several months now about the amendments to Australian copyright law currently under consideration by the government there. As a refresher, Australia put a site-blocking policy in place several years ago. That policy has been praised by both government and rightsholders as effective, even as those same interests insist that it doesn’t do enough to stop piracy down under. As a result, the government is currently considering amendments to Australian copyright law that would make it easier for extra-judicial blocks of “piracy sites” and their mirrors, and includes demands that search engines like Google participate in this censorship as well, despite the fact that blocking search returns relevant to a user request is the opposite of what Google does. Predictably, the amendments to the law have wide support across political parties in Australia, and pretty much everyone is sure it’s going to pass as is.

      A key aspect of this is that all of the focus is on piracy and how to stop or minimize it, regardless of whatever negative effects that might have on ISPs and a free and open internet. There has been zero focus thus far on whether these legal mechanisms are really the optimal route to addressing this problem. This week, however, one Australian MP decided to grab a microphone and finally take rightsholders to task.

    • NFF President: “The festival faced no censorship obstacles”

      Director of the National Film Festival, Samir Seif, announced the participation of “Al-Masira” by Ali al-Ghazoli, competing in the documentary category in the festival’s 22nd edition, which is set to resume Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 in the Hanager Hall and Civilization Hall in the Cairo Opera House.

      Seif revealed that the film was approved by the National Censorship Department, denying the existence of censorship objections to the film, which revolves around a marsh that emerged during the January 2011 revolution.

      Seif affirmed that the festival did not face any censorship issues.

      On the other hand, Fathi Abdel Wahab, head of the cultural development fund sector, attributed the film’s absence from the festival schedules and publications due to the delay of the film’s exit from censorship.

    • The ‘Men Of Notre Dame’ Demand A Porn Filter That Won’t Work To Keep Them From Watching Porn

      A brief review of the many, many stories we’ve posted on porn filters should leave you with two undeniable conclusions: porn filters are generally terrible at actually keeping dedicated pornography viewers from watching porn and porn filters are generally fantastic at turning the attempt to block porn into an orgy of collateral damage, typically to do with educational sites. This hasn’t stopped many organizations and governments from trying to save all the children and the dignity of all the women by putting these filters in place, of course, but it needs to be repeatedly noted that these attempts are routinely futile.

      Rare, however, is the group that demands the porn filter to stop themselves from seeing sex acts. Rarer still is the group that does so in as insulting and sanctimonious a way possible. To see that kind of rare gemstone of silly, you apparently have to travel to Notre Dame, where “the men of Notre Dame” have demanded a porn filter from the school.

      Read the whole post, if you can stomach it, but the writer kicks the whole thing off with back to back paragraphs that make it clear it’s themselves they want to handcuff here.

    • Journalism Using Blockchain with Dan Kinsley, and a California Scandal with Peter Byrne

      Our first guest, Dan Kinsley, presents a new approach to journalism, based on blockchain technology. His organization, the Civil Media Company, employs blockchain to raise funds for online-journalism enterprises, and also to empower those enterprises to collectively enforce high standards of reporting. In the second half of the program, independent journalist Peter Byrne explains a recently-exposed scandal in which a powerful Democratic political consultant and a US Senator’s son schemed to enrich themselves at the expense of a California Indian tribe.

    • Distributed Dialogues: Political Censorship in China

      Technologies with the power to harm human freedoms are developed and deployed in countries with a strong emphasis on protecting these freedoms, but then they are “exported to other parts of the world where things like the rule of law and privacy rights aren’t very developed, with disastrous consequences.”

      To showcase some of these consequences, this experience with modern China is intercut with the life of Fang Zheng, a promising Chinese athlete who was run over by a tank and lost both of his legs in the Tiananmen Square protests. Ever since then, his desire to represent his country as an international paralympic athlete has been subverted, and the government hounded him with more and more sophisticated methods over the years.

      The episode serves as a documentary on the state organs of Chinese political repression, a well-researched examination into the context and effects of this ossified state power. However, the episode is not entirely bleak, as it also involves a look into how blockchain technology can evade China’s Great Firewall.

      Justin Hunter, the founder of Graphite, talks about his censorship-resistant decentralized information storage, that can allow citizens to keep data without any government holding the ability to subpoena. A small measure at a glance, the very existence of information outside of government control is still a revolutionary act.

    • Facebook Censorship Exposes Campaign Against Free Speech

      Veterans’ rights attorney Benjamin Krause continues his work exposing fraud within the VA, yet Facebook recently banned his article about the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, which he said is “more like the ‘Office of Whistleblower Retaliation’.” He has an idea of Facebook’s real agenda.

      When social media giant Facebook rejected an article written by journalist and veterans’ rights attorney Benjamin Krause that was about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and was critical of President Donald Trump, Krause knew there was a bigger story there than the conventional wisdom of tech companies censoring conservative viewpoints.

      American Free Press sat down with Krause—who spends much of his time helping to expose scandals, fraud, waste, and abuse in the VA through his DisabledVeterans.org website—to discuss what it means to all of us.

    • Frederick Wiseman on Censorship, Small-Town America, and Why He Dislikes the Word “Documentary”

      Well, I wanted to make a film about the new immigrants to America. I mean, new in the sense that my father was an immigrant. He came to America when he was five, in 1890. You know, the accurate cliché is that America is a country of immigrants. I wanted to have a look at the new generation immigrants, and in Jackson Heights, as Danny Dromm, the city councilman from Jackson Heights, says in the film, they speak a hundred and sixty languages.

      There are remnants of the earlier generations who are Irish, Jewish, and Italian immigrants. But now there are people from all over South and Central America and from all over East Asia. It seems, to me, equivalent in some ways to the Lower East Side in 1902.

    • CPJ: Impunity in the murders of journalists emboldens censorship

      A lack of justice in the murders of journalists creates an entrenched climate of censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its Global Impunity Index released today. The eleventh annual report highlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free.

      All 14 of the countries featured this year have appeared multiple times on the index since CPJ began collecting data in 2008, and half have appeared every year. In the past decade, at least 324 journalists have been silenced through murder worldwide and in 85 percent of these cases no perpetrators have been convicted.

    • Japanese Developer Sheds More Light on Sony Censorship Scenario
    • Pirate radio = drug dealing and municipal broadband is anti-competitive censorship
    • Alleged CIA leaker: Manhattan jail is worse than North Korea
    • Accused Vault 7 Leaker Calls Himself a ‘Slave,’ Claims Otto Warmbier Was Treated Better in Bizarre Deleted Jail Letter
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Florida Appeals Court Says Producing Passwords Is Testimonial And Protected By The Fifth Amendment

      The Florida State Appeals Court is bucking the trend on compelled decryption. While most courts have held forcing someone to relinquish the password to a locked device does not raise Fifth Amendment issues, this court has decided that act is testimonial in and of itself. This makes the state’s demand unconstitutional and sends it up the ladder to the state’s highest court. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      The facts of the case may play a role in future deliberations. It involves a drunk driving accident. Phones belonging to the driver and passenger were were taken from the crashed car. The search of the driver’s phone didn’t go far, thanks to it being locked with a password. Prosecutors sought an order compelling password production but were met with arguments from the driver’s lawyer claiming this would violate his Fifth Amendment rights. The appellate court agrees.

    • EFF Sues California Law Enforcement Agency For Refusing To Hand Over Stingray Documents

      The EFF is taking the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to court. The dispute centers on Stingray warrants possessed by the agency. The Sheriff’s Department likely holds more of these records than any other agency in the state. According to the Desert Sun’s investigation — based on state law-mandated reporting on electronic searches, San Bernardino residents were 20 times more likely to be subjected to an electronic search than residents elsewhere in state.

      Even more troubling, a lot of these searches — including Stingray deployments — were performed by the department when it had no idea who it was looking for or whose devices it was searching.

    • Apple Finally Shuts Down Security Flaw Used By Phone-Cracking Vendor [Ed: But Apple still sports lots of back doors, is in NSA PRISM etc. This article is poor as it helps promote Apple’s lie despite utter disregard for privacy.]

      Some in law enforcement may view this as confirmation of their “going dark” complaints and claim that Apple cares more about its customers than it does about fighting crime. As if that was bad thing. Apple should care more about what its customers want and need than government access to locked devices. A security hole is a hole that can be used by everyone who can exploit it. There’s no way to prevent a flaw from being exploited by criminals even if law enforcement agencies find the exploit super-useful.

      Grayshift’s products are still somewhat useful, but it’s going to be hard to justify a premium price for a stunted service. This new development might be Grayshift’s fault. Soon after Apple announced one fix for an exploit used by Grayshift, the company bragged it could still crack phones just as easily. This appears to have prompted closer examination of the problem Apple thought it fixed with the first round of patching. The second pass has blunted the exploit’s usefulness, even if it hasn’t made it completely impossible to access some data contained in locked devices.

      Even with the fix in play, law enforcement complaints about “darkness” are overblown. There are other technical solutions available, along with a wealth on information stored by third parties and cloud services. The more technical solutions won’t scale, but that’s not really something law enforcement should complain about. Security protections for phone owners shouldn’t be viewed as weapons deployed against law enforcement. Phone manufacturers have an obligation to their customers to protect their personal data, and encryption is just one of the tools deployed to keep customers’ information out of the hands of others. That some of the “others” are cops and investigators is just a side effect of providing solid products and service.

    • Court: Teen’s driving killed someone, but he can’t be forced to give up passcode

      A Florida state appellate court has ruled that an inebriated teenager involved in a car crash that resulted in the death of another person cannot be compelled to provide a passcode to his iPhone 7—the boy can indeed invoke a Fifth Amendment privilege, protecting him against self-incrimination.

      The October 24 ruling in G.A.Q.L. v. State of Florida before the 4th District appellate court runs against a previous ruling by a sister court in a case known as State of Florida v. Stahl.

    • Technology preview: Sealed sender for Signal

      We have been exploring techniques to further reduce the amount of information that is accessible to the service, and the latest beta release includes changes designed to move Signal incrementally closer to the goal of hiding another piece of metadata: who is messaging whom.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Indiana Woman Says She Feels Better After Sending Black Neighbors a ‘No N*****s Wanted’ Letter: ‘I Released Some Anger’
    • ‘Women’s walkout’ at Google to protest sexual harassment report

      More than 200 Google engineers will stage a “women’s walkout” on Thursday to protect against the company’s handing of a handsome payout to Android chief Andy Rubin and the protection of several other big names who had allegedly engaged in sexual misconduct.

    • Court Tells Deputy He Can’t Lie About Reasons For A Traffic Stop And Expect To Keep His Evidence

      The nation’s courts don’t have a problem with pretextual traffic stops. Any traffic violation — real or imagined — can trigger an investigatory stop. There are limits, of course. The Supreme Court’s Rodriguez decision says officers can’t extend stops past the objective of the stop if reasonable suspicion of additional criminal activity fails to materialize.

      It’s perfectly legal to pull someone over for crossing a fog line when all you really want to do is search their vehicle for contraband. But you have to stick to the pretext… at least for the most part. A host of excuses and exceptions (good faith, plain view, “I smelled marijuana,” etc.) salvage most stops-turned-searches but if a defendant can show the stop itself was bogus, all bets are off.

      This short federal court decision [PDF] ordered the suppression of evidence obtained during a pretextual stop, and calls out a sheriff’s deputy for lying about the reason for the stop, one that resulted in the discovery of drugs and weapons.

    • Federal Judge Catches Mississippi Traffic Cop In A Lie

      A federal court on Tuesday threw out felony charges against a motorist who was pulled over by a police officer who was caught stretching the truth. Cederic Gordon was driving his dark blue GMC Yukon on Highway 51 on the evening of September 9, 2017, when he caught the attention of Deputy Robert Forbert.

      The deputy explained to the court that he ordered Gordon to pull over because the Yukon’s license plate light was out, making it impossible to read the tag. The officer also said he saw the woman riding in the passnenger seat was not wearing a seatbelt. Once stopped, the officer insisted that he smelled marijuana which allowed him to conduct a search. He found a .40 caliber Glock and some methamphetamine, for which Gordon, a convicted felon, was charged with three felony counts.

      The case fell apart when US District Judge Sharion Aycock reviewed photographs taken the night of the incident that showed the Yukon’s license plate lights were fully functional. The deputy adjusted his testimony.

    • Google Engineers Organizing “Women’s Walk” Walkout Over Sexual Misconduct

      On Thursday, The New York Times reported the alleged sexual misconduct of Android creator Andy Rubin while he was working at Google. The story was also supported by the similar behavior of other top executives at the company. Instead of taking some concrete step to curb such behavior, Google gave Rubin a reported $90 billion exit package.

      In response to this protection of executives (read: men in power), a group of more than 200 engineers at Google is organizing a company-wide “women’s walk” walkout.

      As reported by BuzzFeed News, on Thursday itself, Google executives held a meeting and attempted to explain the incident and apologize to the employees. Following that, over the weekend, a group of women engineers began rooting for a post on an internal forum that suggested a walkout later this week.

    • Google Engineers Are Organizing A Walkout To Protest The Company’s Protection Of An Alleged Sexual Harasser

      Google gave Rubin a reported $90 million exit package in 2014, following an investigation into an allegation that he had coerced another employee to perform oral sex on him. That investigation reportedly found that allegation to be credible.

      “Personally, I’m furious,” said one Google employee who requested anonymity. “I feel like there’s a pattern of powerful men getting away with awful behavior towards women at Google‚ or if they don’t get away with it, they get a slap on the wrist, or they get sent away with a golden parachute, like Andy Rubin. And it’s a leadership of mostly men making the decisions about what kind of consequences to give, or not give.”

    • A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance: Global Humanism for a Safer, Kinder and Better World

      In May of 2018, Counterpunch.org was kind enough to publish my essay, “A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance.” That piece was very popular on social media. It even received a “like” and re-tweet from a very well known celebrity who has received the ire of Donald Trump. But as I reviewed my essay, one startling idea jumped out at me, and that was the essay might be too localized. Although, as a stand-alone piece, it served an important purpose in May to rally others to the cause of freedom and against the current American administration in Washington.

      But there was lack of a humanist worldview related to resistance to tyranny as not just a United States issue. Humanist resistance is a worldwide concern and one that citizens around the globe should consider and encourage both in terms of dialog and non-violent action to bring social change. Therefore, and upon much reflection, I have updated the work to revise and refocus the first essay.

    • Trump Administration is Illegally Turning Away Asylum Seekers

      We filed a Freedom of Information Request to find out why refugees are being turned away at Texas border.
      When President Trump announced on Monday that he planned to send some 5,000 military troops to fortify the southern border, even his supporters were quick to dismiss this as a political stunt. A convoy of migrants, many of whom are families with young children fleeing violence, is not a threat to the United States.

      There is a crisis unfolding at the border, but it is not the one the Trump administration would have its supporters believe. The real problem at the border is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been violating its legal obligations and mistreating immigrants — including by refusing to accept legitimate asylum applications.

      Although both U.S. and international law dictate that noncitizens arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum and other forms of protection, the Trump administration has been routinely turning them away, a policy for which it is already being sued. Since June, CBP has stationed its agents mid-bridge to summarily turn away asylum seekers along the Texas border where international bridges at ports of entry span the Rio Grande. These are the ports of entry that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have told asylum seekers to go to.

      CPB claims that it is at capacity and doesn’t have the personnel to process the asylum seekers, but given the empty waiting rooms we’ve routinely seen, this is difficult to believe. CBP is the country’s largest law enforcement agency and in 2018 it has processed 1.1 million fewer people arriving at our southern border than crossed in the year 2000. At that time, the agency had less than half the budget and at least 10,000 fewer officers.

    • A Blatant Lie and ‘Obvious Stunt’: Trump Claims He Can End 14th Amendment Guarantee of Birthright Citizenship by Presidential Fiat

      Denouncing the U.S. right to birthright citizenship—guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution—as “ridiculous,” President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that he has the power to subvert that guarantee by presidential fiat – his latest effort to mainstream a noxious lie and xenophobic trope while also furthering what critics call his authoritarian approach to governance by once more exploiting certain members of the White House press corps willing to carry his water for him.

    • Trump Says He Will End Right of Citizenship at Birth for American Children of Immigrants

      President Donald Trump says he is going to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship: the right of children born to immigrants in the U.S., legally or not, to be American citizens at birth.

      “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump told Axios in an interview published Tuesday morning. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

      The stripping away of rights granted by the U.S. Constitution would be among President Trump’s most virulent attacks on immigrants – and the U.S. Constitution – ever.

    • Fascism Denial Ignores Some Inconvenient Truths

      The massacre of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the arrest of a far-right serial bomber in Florida, and probably the killings of two African Americans in Kentucky, should be signs that fascism is no longer an abstract threat, but is right on our doorstep. In the same way, the recent intensified hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico should confirm that the climate crisis is no longer a future possibility, but has already arrived.

      But in the same way that too many Americans engage in Climate Change Denial, many Americans are now engaging in “Fascism Denial.” An existential threat to our humanity seems so enormous and threatening that it cannot possibly be real. If we knew the inconvenient truths about both, we may either feel overwhelmed and powerless, or realize we have to make radical changes to adequately confront them.

      Robert Bowers and Cesar Sayoc have added their names to the pantheon of 2010s far-right killers including Jared Loughner (who shot a congresswomen and others in Arizona), Wade Michael Page (who murdered Sikhs in a Wisconsin temple), Dylann Roof (who massacred African Americans in a Charleston church), Jeremy Christian (who knifed two white men defending African American women on a Portland train), and James Alex Fields (who drove into an anti-fascist protester in Charlottesville).

      It is far too easy to dismiss these “lone wolves” as mentally ill loners, rather than to understand the political roots and rationales of their actions. It is also too easy to point only to President Trump’s ramped-up nationalist rhetoric, or the midterms and refugee caravan crisis, as the short-term source of the current upsurge in violence. Far-right authoritarianism is a longer-term global trend, as we can have seen in countries such as Hungary, Austria, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and now Brazil.

    • Lost in a Week of Hateful Violence, a White Man Killed Two Black Shoppers at a Kentucky Supermarket

      Just days before a domestic terrorist entered a Pittsburgh synagogue and shot 11 worshipers dead, a white man gunned down two elderly African-American customers at a Kentucky grocery store Wednesday in what many are calling a hate crime. Fifty-one-year-old Gregory Bush opened fire and killed Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, shortly after trying to enter a predominantly black church. Bush reportedly then told an armed bystander that “whites don’t kill whites.” As the community mourns, we speak with Kentucky Rep. Attica Scott and Reverend Vincent James, chief of community building for the city of Louisville and pastor of Elim Baptist Church.

    • How White Supremacist Ideology & Conspiracies Have Fueled U.S. Domestic Terror & Hateful Violence

      Domestic terror swept the country last week, when a white gunman stormed a peaceful synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 peaceful worshipers in what has been described as the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. The attack came a day after an avid Trump supporter in Florida was arrested and charged with mailing bombs to more than a dozen of the president’s prominent critics, and three days after a white gunman fatally shot two African Americans at a grocery store shortly after trying and failing to enter a black church. We speak with Lois Beckett, a senior reporter for The Guardian covering gun policy, criminal justice and the far right in the United States. “The shooter in Pittsburgh was not just anti-Semitic,” Beckett says. “He had been radicalized by white supremacist ideology.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California Agrees To Delay Net Neutrality Law Pending Outcome Of Federal Lawsuit

      California has agreed to pause the state’s shiny new net neutrality lawsuit pending the outcome of a looming federal lawsuit against the FCC. After some early gamesmanship courtesy of AT&T, California passed one of the toughest net neutrality laws in the nation (which isn’t saying much) back in September. The law effectively mirrors the discarded 2015 FCC net neutrality rules, though the law goes a little further to ensure that ISPs can’t abuse things like zero rating (exempting a partner or an ISP’s own content but not others) and usage caps.

      In a not entirely-unexpected move, the state late last week struck a deal with government and industry lawyers, agreeing to delay its implementation until a lawsuit against the FCC can be settled. That federal lawsuit, filed by Mozilla and 23 State Attorneys General, isn’t expected to hear opening arguments until February. If the FCC and industry lose, the 2015 rules would be restored. If the FCC and industry win, the legal fight shifts to whether states will be allowed to implement their own rules, potentially, eventually, coming down to new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    • FCC Falsely Claims Community Broadband an ‘Ominous Threat to The First Amendment’
    • FCC Falsely Declares Community Broadband An ‘Ominous’ Attack On Free Speech

      Absent any hard data to support their claims, you may have noted that the Trump FCC often just makes up some shit.

      Like that time FCC boss Ajit Pai tried to claim that net neutrality somehow aids dictators. Or that time Pai’s office just made up a DDOS attack to try and downplay massive public backlash to his historically unpopular policies. There’s often no real-world data that can defend blindly kissing the rings of widely-loathed telecom monopolies, so bullshit tends to be the weapon of choice when Pai’s FCC embraces whatever handout to Comcast and friends is on the menu this week.

      [...]

      Ultimately, Chattanooga’s service forced these ISPs to do the one thing they had been hoping to avoid: compete on both service speed and price. That’s not to say local-government owned broadband should be the only solution embraced, but it’s obviously one of several ways you can actually prod lumbering, pampered mono/duopolies to actually give a damn.

      And of course that’s the real problem in O’Rielly’s mind: that locals would dare impede on Comcast’s god-given right to buy itself a geographical monopoly over an essential service, nickel-and-diming consumers until they grew so frustrated they’re forced to get into the broadband business themselves.

      Of course ISPs could prevent this by simply offering better, faster, and cheaper service. But it’s far easier and cheaper to try and buy laws restricting consumer rights, and to have your favorite public official mindlessly demonize something that is, at the end of the day, a legitimate, organic public response to a broadband competition and availability problem ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast would prefer regulators ignore.

    • Trump FCC official publicly lying about censorship on municipal broadband

      FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly gave a speech to the Media Institute in which he falsely claimed that municipal fiber networks (which provide competitive services that are cheaper and better than those provided by commercial telcoms monopolies, and which are a major target for dark-money billionaire smear campaigns) have onerous terms of service that allow them to censor users’ speech, and that they use this power to suppress right-wing political views.

    • Regulating the Web through decentralisation

      The adoption of the Copyright Directive and the recent debates about the “Fake News” have been an introduction to the more general discussion about the regulation of the Internet, which will be held (FR) this year. Today, La Quadrature du Net submits some practical proposals.

      The French Government wants (FR) the major social networks to stop promoting the dissemination of “hate and extremist speech”. Why not.

      The French report (FR) aiming at “strenghtening the fight against racism and antisemitism on the Internet”, ordered by the Prime minister and published last month, explains it very clearly. It denounces “a perverted connection between hate speech and advertising: people who write offensive or extremist remarks are the “money makers”, because one of them can cause fifty or a hundred others. From this perspective, it is valuable for these networks to host and disseminate this kind of speech”.

      More generally, the report regrets “the rule according to which an offensive remark will generate more “buzz” than a consensual one, fueling the economic model of these platforms”. This is the same analysis that we developped to explain why Google (FR) or Facebook (FR) must be fought.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Pharrell Is Not At All Happy About Trump Using ‘Happy’ At His Rally… And He Might Actually Have A Case

        It happens basically every election cycle: at a political event or rally a politician that a musician dislikes uses one of that musician’s songs to get the crowd excited. The musician gets upset and speaks out about it, and maybe even sends a legal threat letter. We’ve written about this many, many times before going back many years. And in most cases, the complaints are bullshit. Most event venues and and most competent campaigns have the appropriate blanket performance licenses from BMI and/or ASCAP, and that allows them to play whatever they want at the events, and the musicians really can’t do much about it (other than complain publicly, which makes lots of news — and which is why we’re still amazed that campaigns don’t first check to make sure they play music of musicians who support them).

        But… there are some rare exceptions to this general rule, and not only have we found one, but it involves quite an impressive legal threat. It appears that on Saturday evening, just hours after 11 people were murdered in Pittsburgh, President Donald Trump decided to still hold a political rally, because when the choice is put in front of Trump between “appropriate silence” and “pointless spectacle that makes Trump feel worshiped” he will always choose the latter*. But at this highly inappropriate rally, Trump apparently played Pharrell Williams’ incredibly upbeat earworm of a pop song “Happy.”

        * Hey, I get that some of you are going to be upset about this line, and will come up with all sorts of bullshit rationalizing and excuses for why the rally was appropriate, and all I will say to you is: make better life choices, and maybe, take a serious look at yourself in the mirror and ask “what the fuck happened to me?”

      • Interview With Catherine Chammartin, Director General Of The Swiss Federal Institute Of Intellectual Property

        IPW: Switzerland was on the US Section 301 Watchlist for its copyright legislation allowing in principle the downloading of protected material for personal use. Would the new copyright law change the situation?

        CC: We are effectively on the US 301 Watchlist. The main concern of the US is that Switzerland does not have enough instruments to fight internet piracy, especially since the “Logistep” decision of the Federal Supreme Court, which created uncertainty as to whether the collection of IP addresses is in conformity with data protection law. When copyright infringement occurs on the internet, rights owners usually do not know who is responsible for this infringement. In order to identify the responsible person, they need to take criminal action against the infringer and submit to the authorities the IP addresses from where the copyright infringement came. The revision would eliminate these uncertainties. We expect that the improvements in the fight against internet piracy will satisfy the US. At the same time, the revision of the Copyright Act was not initiated because of US criticism, but because of concerns of Swiss stakeholders. The revision being presented to Parliament was prepared in close cooperation with the stakeholders. A compromise was found where all stakeholders see some, but not all, of their concerns fulfilled.

        Together with the revision of the Copyright Act, the Federal Council has submitted for approval two WIPO instruments: The Beijing treaty [Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances] and the Marrakesh treaty [Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled].

        The IPI is also currently preparing the necessary steps for the government to take a decision on Switzerland’s accession to the Geneva Act [Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications].

      • Piracy reflects market failure: Husic

        An expansion of Australia’s piracy site-block laws is “a form of regulatory hallucinogen”, Labor MP Ed Husic has said, adding that the voice of the consumer needs to be heard and rights holders should be less “resistant” to digitisation and reforming their systems.

        “The big challenge is the freeing-up of copyright to ensure that innovation can spread more widely and to face up to big rights holders and the types of hysterical arguments we get in this space,” Husic said.

        “These rights holders think that by constantly using legal mechanisms through this place and elsewhere, piracy will disappear. The reality is that piracy is a reflection of a market failure.”

      • Administrative UK Site-Blocking Should Be Accompanied By Absolute Transparency

        This week the UK Government announced that it’s considering options for ‘pirate’ site-blocking without rightsholders having to go to court to obtain an injunction. While there are undoubtedly plenty of pitfalls to consider before implementing this kind of system, absolute transparency should be the minimum standard. Without it, confusion reigns.

      • The EU’s new Link Tax bans the use of Creative Commons and open access for news

        But link taxes go even farther than merely requiring paid licenses: the accompanying “Recital 32″ suggests that copyright owners won’t be allowed to waive this right, and will have to negotiate a separate license for every platform that wants to link to them.

      • Will Internet Services Block Europeans to Avoid “Upload Filters”?

        The EU’s plans to modernize copyright law in Europe are moving forward, including the controversial Article 13. While supporters and opponents remain diametrically opposed, we take a look ahead. If Article 13 is implemented, will large websites block European visitors fearing potential liability for pirated content?

      • The New Mayor of Prague is a ‘Pirate’

        The Pirate Party movement has booked quite a few successes already and this week it can add yet another. The 37-year-old Pirate Party member Zdeněk Hřib is the newly appointed mayor of the Czech Republic’s capital Prague, which solidifies the party’s recent election win. Hřib initially joined the Pirates to help with its health care program, but he’s now leading the country’s largest city.

Team UPC Hijacks the Debate in the Media and in British Parliament

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s like Battistelli is still there ‘in spirit’ or in the shadows

CIPA meeting with Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones (CIPA) with Lutz and Battistelli

Summary: The dubious if not profoundly corrupt activities that motor the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement (UPCA) carry on unabated; front groups like the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), aided by one-sided British media, tell a bunch of lies to British politicians, hoping that policy would thus be changed to favour the litigation ‘industry’ at the expense of productive industries

Earlier today, or just a few hours ago according to this page, there was a Parliamentary session titled “Patent protection experts questioned by Committee” in the UK. “Witnesses” were only Team UPC (lawyers and the front group CIPA, friends of Battistelli) because we’re supposed to think patents exist just for a bunch of law firms. Hey, who needs to listen to real companies and actual scientists anyway? Yesterday Team UPC wrote: “#UPCandBrexit Listen in tmrrw, Tue, 10:45 GMT” and from the corresponding page:

Witnesses
Tuesday 30 October in Committee Room 3, Palace of Westminster

At 10.45am

Mr Kevin Mooney, Simmons & Simmons (and Chairman of the Committee tasked with drafting the Rules and Procedure of the Unified Patent Court)
Mr Stephen Jones, President of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA)

This is Stephen Jones, who is fine with EPO crimes and even met Battistelli after he had edited IP Kat (where criticism of corrupt Battistelli is no longer allowed). Kevin Mooney was also mentioned here before [1, 2].

We are disgusted to learn that these are the supposed ‘experts’; all they do there is lobby for their financial agenda and lawyers’ media helps amplify them (see this Team UPC tweet) like some sort of think tank. Exactly 5 days earlier Max Walters published a piece titled “‘Tragedy’ for UK to miss out on European patent court, say lawyers” (nice propaganda he got there, just in time for the Parliamentary session).

‘Tragedy’ because they rely on lots and lots of lots of legitimate British companies getting sued by patent trolls and then hiring lawyers (also hired by trolls) to ‘save’ them. These lawyers are blood-sucking leeches. From the so-called article (at the Law Gazette):

Lawyers have told parliament that the government should do ‘everything it can’ to grasp the opportunity of joining an EU-wide patent court – a month after Whitehall conceded a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could force the UK to withdraw from the system.

Giving evidence to the House of Lords’ EU Justice Sub-Committee yesterday Trevor Cook, partner at international firm WilmerHale, and Daniel Alexander and Charlotte May, both silks at 8 New Square, stressed the importance of the UK remaining in the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

Absent from this article are any views from anyone other than law firms. This is very much consistent with the foul play and corruption of Team UPC. They try to hijack the law and co-opt politicians for this crooked agenda. They also infiltrate and spread their lies in the media. In the above, for example, they spread two lies at once when they say “remaining in the Unified Patent Court (UPC).” (as if it already exists and the UK can join; neither is true)

EPO Insider: Under António Campinos “the Union Busting Done by the Administration Continues Even Worse Than Before”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One year ago: ‘Efficiency’ in Action: António Campinos is Sending Jobs Abroad, Then Gagging Critics

EUIPO outsourcing

Summary: The patent office that used to be the world’s best has deteriorated and become one of the world’s worst in terms of atmosphere and human rights (routinely trampled upon by management that exploits immunity)

THE European Patent Office (EPO) under the leadership of António Campinos is still an appalling workplace with no job security and examiners are compelled to grant software patents in Europe in direct defiance of the EPC, which makes them reluctantly complicit (because they’re afraid of losing their job, whereupon they need to leave the country with their family).

As one EPO insider put it a short while ago: “With the arrival of the new president #campinos nothing significant has changed… noppes, nada, niente! On the contrary, following the recent developments, the union busting done by the administration continues even worse as [sic] before. Really depressing for all staff involved.”

“Many suicides are a symptom of the problem. From a dream job it turned into a stressful nightmare and a high proportion of EPO workers seek professional mental support.”It often feels as if the US controls the ‘European’ Patent Office. “The European Patent Office (EPO) is holding a seminar for US‑based patent attorneys,” says this new page (warning: epo.org link), which a day ago the EPO promoted as follows: “What are the advantages of using the EPO as PCT International Searching Authority? We’ll present them at our upcoming events in Houston and Washington…”

Yes, Houston, Texas. That part of Texas (east). Imagine the USPTO holding patent events across Europe as often as the EPO goes to the US to promote software patents and other such nonsense. The EPO just keeps promoting software patents in Europe and yesterday it wrote: “Why attend our Patenting #Blockchain conference? For one, you’ll be able to develop your knowledge of blockchain-related examination practice at the EPO. For more reasons, see here: http://bit.ly/EPOblockchain18 pic.twitter.com/C0ezZCizPX”

Welcome to EPO 2.0. It’s a software patents powerhouse. What would the founding fathers (behind the EPC) have said? It all went wrong. Many suicides are a symptom of the problem. From a dream job it turned into a stressful nightmare and a high proportion of EPO workers seek professional mental support.

IBM- and Microsoft-Backed Patent Troll Strikes Again and IBM’s Lobbyist for Software Patents Has Just Defended Patent Trolls (Again)

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 9:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: IBM, IPO, AIPLA, ABA and Other Lobbying/Front Groups of the Patent Microcosm Are Trying to Change US Law for Software Patents

David Kappos as lobbyist

Summary: With IBM and Microsoft having lots of commonalities when it comes to patent policy and exploitation of the law (both employed similar people too, notably Marshall Phelps and David Kappos, former Director of the USPTO), concerns should be raised in light of the latest lawsuit from the patent troll they support

FORGET the nonsense about OIN and LOT Network; OIN does nothing to shield anyone from trolls or proxies, which Microsoft is leveraging to sell “Azure IP Advantage” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]. It’s also difficult to forget Microsoft’s role in the SCO lawsuit, which is still ongoing (more than a decade and a half now) and primarily targets IBM.

“It is quite worrying to see IBM- and Microsoft-employed lobbyists publicly defending patent trolls on the very same day an IBM-armed and Microsoft-funded patent troll uses software patents for blackmail.”According to patent boosters, who took note of it pretty fast and linked to reports, patent troll Finjan, fueled by the new owner of Red Hat, backed and financed by Microsoft, filed another lawsuit. We had spotted the original press release within hours upon publication and it said this:

Finjan Holdings, Inc., (NASDAQ:FNJN), a cybersecurity company, today announced that — after nearly two years of good faith efforts to resolve a patent dispute with Fortinet, Inc. ( “Fortinet”) — its subsidiary Finjan, Inc. (“Finjan”) has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Fortinet, Inc., a Delaware corporation with headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Finjan filed the Complaint (Case No. 3:18-cv-06555), on October 26, 2018, and alleges that Fortinet’s products and services infringed or are infringing at least nine of Finjan’s U.S. patents. Specifically, Finjan asserts that Fortinet’s FortiGate, FortiManager, FortiAnalyzer, FortiSiem, FortiSandbox, FortiMail, FortiWeb, FortiCache and FortiClient technologies, including Fortinet Security Fabric Platform products infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,154,844; 6,965,968; 7,058,822; 7,418,731; 7,647,633; 7,975,305; 8,079,086; 8,225,408; and 8,677,494 (collectively “the Asserted Patents”). Finjan is seeking, among other things, a jury trial, past damages not less than a reasonable royalty, enhanced damages for willful, wanton and deliberate infringement, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for infringement of each of the Asserted Patents. Additionally, Finjan is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against Fortinet and those in privity with them, from infringing and inducing the infringement of the ‘968, ‘822, ‘731, ‘633, ‘305, and ‘408 Patents.

These are software patents. So the same month that Microsoft said it had reached patent “truce” with GNU/Linux its patent troll Finjan is filing yet another lawsuit against Microsoft’s rivals. It’s as if nothing at all has changed except Microsoft’s lies embedded all over the media (something about “protecting Linux” and “open-sourcing patents).

Meanwhile, the lobbyist David Kappos (sponsored by Microsoft and IBM after he had run the USPTO) is promoting software patents and patent trolls (like Microsoft’s and arguably IBM). He uses the euphemism non-practicing entities (NPEs) and published this article yesterday in what’s likely the largest site on the topic, saying:

The recipe for swinging the pendulum of patent law towards weaker patent rights is simple: Start with a generous warning about the scourge of low quality patents, stir in a skosh of fear mongering regarding non-practicing entities (NPEs) asserting those patents, then apply heat with predictions of lost jobs and threats to innovation, publicize in a blog, speech or article, and there you have it!

Just like the Trump-appointed Director Iancu he seems to be denying there’s a problem. Earlier this month Iancu came under a lot of fire, especially from front groups of technology firms large and small, after he had insinuated that patent trolls aren’t a problem or don’t even exist (they’re a ‘fiction’ or ‘fake news’). It is quite worrying to see IBM- and Microsoft-employed lobbyists publicly defending patent trolls on the very same day an IBM-armed and Microsoft-funded patent troll uses software patents for blackmail. Need we add that on the same day IBM also announced that it bought or agreed to buy all of Red Hat’s ‘defensive’ patents, which include software patents? The Federal Circuit typically finds that those patents are invalid (if the case reaches that far, at great expense to the defendant).

Nobody Should be Immune From Patent Law or the Rule of Law in General

Posted in America, Courtroom, Law, Patents at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old cartoon about António Campinos and his son, who attempted to 'borrow' his father's immunity

Son of Campinos

Summary: The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has been asked to determine whether the US government is a person and is therefore accountable for breaches of patent law; it seems like a rather trivial question to be dealing with if everyone in society is equal before the court

EARLIER this week the CCIA’s head of patents (Patent Progress) wrote: “New patent SCOTUS cert grant in Return Mail (is the gov a person for purposes of IPR.)”

It’s about AIA and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which are generally supported the vast majority of the time by the Federal Circuit (sometimes it’s remanding/vacating, rarely overturning/reversing).

“We’re against the concept of immunity for anyone, having written a lot about EPO corruption, showing how immunity was misused to perpetuate crimes without anyone being held accountable.”Remember that “corporations are people” and bribes are “free speech” to SCOTUS. But SCOTUS does not, however, tolerate USPTO-granted software patents and it definitely supports IPRs as Constitutional. Guess what comes next… “Is the Government a Person?”

That’s how Dennis Crouch put it. I have actually received legal threats — both online and at my doorstep — from lawyers who lie shamelessly, painting massive corporations as “native American tribes” for tax and patent purposes. They guard scammers and criminals, then they threaten critics (who dare point out that they grossly abuse sovereign immunity).

Anyway, this is how Crouch put it:

The outcome here is an open question: The AIA doe not define the term; nor has the PTO through rulemaking; nor is there any real legislative history on point. The petition cites to the 2000 Supreme Court decision of Vt. Agency of Nat. Res. v. US ex rel. Stevens, 528 U.S. 765, for the proposition that “person” does not ordinarily include the “sovereign.”

In considering the issue, the Federal Circuit first noted that “Return Mail has waived reliance on the term “person” because it failed to make any arguments in that regard in its opening brief.” The court then went on to explain that – if the issue is somehow “not waivable” then the correct interpretation of “person” in this context would include the Government — noting that there is “no hard and fast rule of exclusion, and much depends on the context, the subject matter, legislative history, and executive interpretation.” Wilson v. Omaha Indian Tribe, 442 U.S. 653, 667 (1979). In general though the Federal Circuit’s statutory construction analysis in this case is quite lacking.

It troubles us to see that it’s actually an open question. We’re against the concept of immunity for anyone, having written a lot about EPO corruption, showing how immunity was misused to perpetuate crimes without anyone being held accountable. The US uses terms like “sovereign” in relation to tribes and also defends universities, not just government branches. Nobody should be above the law. Nobody. As for corporations and governments, their make-up is mostly people and these people can be held accountable both individually and collectively. Nobody and nothing should be above the law. EPO perpetrators are a good reminder of it.

Meanwhile, according to this new press release [1, 2], the Western District of Pennsylvania made the following decision, spun by one of the sides in the dispute as “United States District Court Confirms Construction of Blast Motion Patent” (we’re no strangers to it because we noted an embargo attempt). To quote:

On October 24, 2018, the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a favorable claim construction to Blast Motion, Inc. (“Blast Motion”) in the ongoing five-patent lawsuit between Blast Motion and Diamond Kinetics, Inc. (“Diamond Kinetics”). Diamond Kinetics challenged, and lost, the key term it had selected for construction.

[...]

Diamond Kinetics attempted to narrow the scope of the claim language of the ’527 patent by proposing a construction that would have limited the patented invention to a “simultaneous” broadcast such as television broadcasting. The Court soundly rejected Diamond Kinetics’ proposed limiting construction and interpreted “broadcasting,” as used in the ’527 patent, to mean “transmitting information capable of being received by multiple display devices.” As a result, the Court’s order confirms the strength of Blast Motion’s infringement allegations against Diamond Kinetics.

If the case is properly followed, as per the rule of law, and if Diamond Kinetics is indeed found to have violated a patent (or even 5), then so be it. We’re not against patents. We’re actually against those who try to disregard the rule of law or subvert the law for purely financial agenda.

Donald Trump’s Choice of Leadership for the USPTO Means That Invalid Patents Continue to be Granted Only for Law Firms to Profit

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 8:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Legal departments versus justice and scientific advancement, competition

“It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does [...] Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents [...] The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection.”

Linus Torvalds, 2007

Summary: Bogus patents (or ‘fake patents’ as today’s President might put it) are being awarded in spite of 35 U.S.C. § 101, almost as though SCOTUS does not exist or does not count; this means that a lot of lawsuits end up nowhere, leaving only a long trail of legal bills

OVER the weekend we wrote that in Australia the large patent law firms (through a front group of theirs) tried to bring back software patents because they assume that litigation and feuds are not only their source of income but something to be imposed on everyone else (taxing society and industry by legal bills). We received some heckling for that, courtesy of the patent trolls’ lobby, so that might mean that we touched a sensitive spot (they didn’t refute anything we had said). There’s now a new article about it (behind a paywall of course) from an Australian site called Lawyerly.

No matter how one looks at it, it’s impossible for law firms to deny that they want more lawsuits; they want to be involved in those because it’s “big money” (to them at least, no matter the outcome of these lawsuits).

“We have reached a sad situation where the Director of the world’s most influential patent office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, simply diverges from the decisions made by courts and instead takes instructions from radicals like IPO, i.e. companies like IBM.”We are saddened to see that the USPTO’s new Director, Mr. Iancu, insists on granting fake software patents that have no legal worth or use. Maybe because the USPTO has been taken over by the litigation ‘industry’? This Director had worked for Trump (his firm had done work for the President), whereupon he was thrust into the very top of the patent office. Somehow.

Earlier this week Marks & Clerk’s Julian Asquith and Tobias Eriksson wrote that this “USPTO Director suggests new test for software patents” and remember that Marks & Clerk has long been very vocal in its support for software patents, even in Europe. It said that it had become easier to get software patents from the EPO than from the USPTO.

It’s concerning that Director Iancu takes advice from and ‘works’ for IPO radicals, a front group funded by the likes of IBM to push for software patents in the US (he should follow the law and courts, not lobbyists), but here’s what Asquith and Eriksson report:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) director, Andrei Iancu, recently gave a talk at the IPO’s annual meeting, and he had some…

The rest is behind a paywall. But what’s important here is the headline and his participation in this event.

Weintraub Tobin meanwhile writes (on October 29th) that “Ordering Pizza Is Not Patentable!” (yes, exclamation mark in the headline) and he refers to the USPTO. A better headline and summary would have clarified (no need for exclamation marks) that courts assure the US patent office that it keeps granting bogus, fake, worthless software patents that have no legitimacy in actual legal processes. To quote Weintraub Tobin:

Some things are not patentable: laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas. The Supreme Court has long held that inventions falling within these categories are not patentable; they are patent-ineligible subject matter. In 2014, the Supreme Court relied on this principle in deciding Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347. In that case, the Court invalidated patent for a computerized system for mitigating risks in financial transactions. The Court also established a test for determining patent-eligible subject matter. Since then, Alice has been used to invalidate many patents, particularly software patents. Now it has been used to invalidate a patent for ordering pizza.

Ameranth owned four patents for “an information management system” for transmitting menus from a master database to handheld devices. In 2011, Ameranth filed suit in the Southern District of California against several defendants, including Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, and others, for infringement of the four patents. The defendants challenged the validity of three of the patents in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB invalidated many of the claims of the three patents, and, in a subsequent appeal, the Federal Circuit invalidated the remaining claims. All three patents were held invalid on the grounds that they were directed to patent-ineligible subject matter because the invention was an abstract idea.

We have reached a sad situation where the Director of the world’s most influential patent office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, simply diverges from the decisions made by courts and instead takes instructions from radicals like IPO, i.e. companies like IBM.

Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Judges Oughtn’t Attend Patent Lawyers’ Echo Chamber Events Like the AIPLA Annual Meeting

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t become a raider like Rader

CAFC corruption

Summary: It nowadays seems as though the value of PTAB inter partes reviews (IPRs) has been widely realised and acknowledged by companies that actually make things (not just legal papers); but the litigation ‘industry’ fights back and PTAB staff (mostly technical people) should remember to defend science and technology, not those striving to ‘monetise’ as many lawsuits as possible

LEADING scholars in the area of patents recently finalised a scholarly study on pertinent actions at the USPTO, showing the impact of 35 U.S.C. § 101, based on massive amounts of data rather than some biased (financial agenda-driven) claims from the patent microcosm, unhinged from any facts or hard evidence.

“If invited by the likes of IPO or AIPLA, they should tell them where they can go…”Unified Patents has just caught up with this other new paper titled “Maintaining the Balance: An Empirical Study on Inter Partes Review Outcomes of Orange Book Patents and its Effect on Hatch-Waxman Litigation” (we wrote about it a few times before).

“A recent study of PTAB and district court litigation involving Orange Book patents,” Unified Patents wrote, “examined how these FDA-approved pharmaceutical patents fare in inter partes review as compared to other patents in the same tech center. The study also evaluated IPR outcomes based on the petitioner type and the drug type.”

It is worrying to see PTAB disdain, however, at the top of the USPTO. Director Iancu does to PTAB judges what corrupt Battistelli did to BoA judges (a sort of equivalent of PTAB at the EPO). According to yesterday’s article from a patent maximalists’ publication:

The PTAB acting chief judge and vice-chief judge advised to inform them if there has been a final claim construction determination in another forum, and revealed another update to the Trial Practice Guide will be coming in the next few months

PTAB judges provided tips for petitioners and patent owners during at session at the AIPLA Annual Meeting last week.

As we said yesterday, it’s not exactly appropriate for judges to attend these events of patent maximalists such as AIPLA (or their “Annual Meeting” that’s essentially a lobbying event that’s preaching to the choir). It gives the impression that they may be open to influence in those corridors.

PTAB judges are kindly advised to remember that the patent office exists to advance science, not to line the pockets of greedy law firms. If invited by the likes of IPO or AIPLA, they should tell them where they can go…

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