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10.27.18

Lobbying and Blackmail Rewarded? JUVE Awards Team UPC Firm Bardehle Pagenberg, Which Represents Microsoft’s Worst Patent Troll, Intellectual Ventures.

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 11:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tilman Müller-Stoy
Image source

Summary: Firms that are advancing the agenda of malicious patent trolls from the US are being rewarded for it, even by publications which target jurists rather than just the litigation ‘industry’

TEAM UPC — collectively speaking — does not like to disclose who it works for, but it has always been pretty evident that they’re litigators who work for a lot of patent trolls, usually foreign patent trolls that prey on European firms (taxing, blackmailing, suing them). Over the past week Bristows, for example, wrote lots of posts in defense of patent trolls in the UK. Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat obliged to provide a platform for that.

JUVE gave an award to a Team UPC firm which (from the description) sounds like it’s working closely and intensively for a Microsoft-tied patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. They’re even proud of it. To quote: “Another highlight is the representation of Intellectual Ventures in a multitude of patent infringement proceedings. Tilman Müller-Stoy shows a ‘great battle attitude at court’ and makes clients ‘feel in the best hands also in emotional moments due to his calm, matter-of-fact demeanor’.”

It’s regretful to learn that JUVE has just awarded these people and wrote: “Sounds like a big party tonight for @bardehleIP. Strong performance especially in the field of champagne trademarks. Big patent case for Intellectual Ventures. @bardehleIP is law firm of the year in IP #JuveAwards2018 pic.twitter.com/WKm8nQMGJp”

“Over the past week Bristows, for example, wrote lots of posts in defense of patent trolls in the UK. Kluwer Patent Blog and IP Kat obliged to provide a platform for that.”It’s also interesting to learn that Team UPC’s “top gun” Tilman Müller-Stoy (he’s highly vocal about it) works for the world’s most notorious patent troll. It really says quite a lot about the UPC in general, not just Team UPC.

What can be said about JUVE? Well, maybe it makes good “business sense” to give an award to these people. JUVE is a publisher. Like IAM. That’s just the business model. Rewarding this kind of behaviour, however, might be expected from the patent trolls’ lobby, e.g. IAM. This, in our view, harms perception of objectivity (e.g. about UPC). Paid (indirectly) endorsement for those who serve patent trolls? For example by advertising money? Hard to tell.

Microsoft’s troll wants the UPC desperately in order to more easily blackmail firms in Europe like it does in the US (with abstract patents granted by the USPTO like they are nowadays granted by the corrupt European Patent Office (EPO)).

Links 27/10/2018: Wine 3.19, Sparky 4.9 RC, GCC 6.5 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Bing Is Pushing Malware When You Search for Chrome

        You launch Edge on your new PC, search for “download Chrome,” and click the first result headed to “google.com” on Bing. You’re now on a phishing website pushing malware, disguised to look like the Chrome download page.

        [...]

        Microsoft is apparently not verifying the web address the advertisement actually goes to. Bing is letting this advertisement lie people.

    • Mozilla

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 48
      • WebRender Reaches Beta For GPU-Accelerated Web Rendering In Firefox

        WebRender, the very exciting multi-year project for providing more GPU-accelerated rendering of web content and originally developed as part of the experimental Servo engine, has reached the beta milestone.

        WebRender was announced today to have achieved the beta milestone, but there are several blocker bugs remaining so it will remain in beta for a few release streams before it has “received enough polish to hit the release population.”

      • Women Who Tech and Mozilla Announce Winners of Women Startup Challenge Europe

        Europe was at the center of a milestone for women in tech today as nonprofit Women Who Tech and tech giant Mozilla announced the winners of the Women Startup Challenge Europe. Women-led startup finalists from across Europe pitched their ventures before a prestigious panel of tech industry executives and investors on 25 October at Paris’s City Hall, co-hosted by the office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

        “While it’s alarming to see the amount of funding for women-led startups compared to European companies as a whole go down from 14% to 11% between 2016 and 2018, the Women Startup Challenge is on a mission to close the funding gap once and for all. If the tech world wants to innovate and solve the world’s toughest problems and generate record returns, they will invest in diverse startups,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech. “If investors don’t know where to look, our Women Startup Challenge program has a pipeline of over 2,300 women-led ventures who are ready to scale.”

        Sampson Solutions from the UK won the grand prize, receiving $35,000 in funding via Women Who Tech to help scale their startup. The Audience Choice Award went to Inorevia from Paris, France. Mozilla awarded an additional $25,000 cash grant to Vitrue from the UK, selected by jury member Mitchell Baker, Chairwoman of Mozilla.

  • Databases

    • Tips for Migrating to Open Source

      The trend of increasing adoption of open source databases like MySQL, Postgres and flavors of NoSQL isn’t going away any time soon.Resistance to the OSDBMS in the enterprise is diminishing as CIOs and IT managers realize that it is indeed a low-cost yet reliable alternative to the proprietary RDBMS, especially with the advent of better management functions and support.

      DBTA recently held a webcast featuring Jeffrey Surretsky sales engineer, information management group, Quest Software, who discussed the rapid growth of commercial-grade open source database platforms and highlight some of the challenges their use presents to developers and administrators unfamiliar with them.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 6.5 Released

      The GNU Compiler Collection version 6.5 has been released.

      GCC 6.5 is a bug-fix release from the GCC 6 branch
      containing important fixes for regressions and serious bugs in
      GCC 6.4 with more than 250 bugs fixed since the previous release.

      This is also the last release from the GCC 6 branch, GCC continues
      to be maintained on the GCC 7 and GCC 8 branches and the development
      trunk.

    • GCC 6.5 Released To End Out The GCC6 Series

      After two years worth of point releases, GCC 6.5 was released this morning as a final update to the GNU Compiler Collection 6 series.

      GCC 6.5 fixes more than 250 bugs/regressions since the earlier GCC 6.4 release. Users are encouraged to upgrade to GCC 6.5 if not able to upgrade yet to GCC7 or GCC8 stable series.

    • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 15 new GNU releases!

      dico-2.7
      gama-2.01
      gdb-8.2
      gnu-pw-mgr-2.4.2
      guile-cv-0.2.0
      gvpe-3.1
      help2man-1.47.8
      indent-2.2.12
      librejs-7.17.0
      mes-0.18
      mtools-4.0.19
      nano-3.1
      parallel-20181022
      units-2.18
      xorriso-1.5.0

    • GNU Virtual Private Ethernet 3.1 Released For Many-To-Many VPN

      As the first update in nearly two years, GVPE 3.1 has been released as the GNU Virtual Private Ethernet implementation that provides a many-to-many VPN with support for a variety of transport protocols and where nodes do not need to trust each other.

      GVPE allows setting up a virtual ethernet network with multiple nodes and supporting UDP, TCP, HTTPS, DNS, and a variety of other protocols while creating encrypted host-to-host tunnels between multiple end-points.

    • gdbm Version 1.18.1

      This is an intermediate release that restores backward compatibility with databases created by gdbm 1.8 (and some later versions, if built with mmapped I/O disabled). See Debian bug 910911 for details.

    • mailutils: Version 3.5

      Version 3.5 is available for download from main GNU ftp server. You can also use one of the mirrors for higher download bandwidth.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • The 10 programming languages developers use most in open source projects

      Twenty years after the open source movement began, developers are increasingly contributing to these projects, but employers are expecting even more participation, according to a Friday report from DigitalOcean.

      Just over half (55%) of the 4,300 developers surveyed for the report said they are contributing to open source projects. However, 71% said their companies expect them to use open source software as part of their day-to-day development work, the report found.

      [...]

      55% of developers said they are contributing to open source projects. — DigitalOcean, 2018

      The most popular coding languages for open source projects are JavaScript, Python, and PHP. — DigitalOcean, 2018

    • DigitalOcean Survey Results Reveal the State of Open Source

      Cloud provider DigitalOcean runs this developer survey quarterly, and focused this edition entirely on the state of open source. Over 4,300 individual responded, with 60% coming from companies with 100 or fewer employees. Of the 55% of respondents contributing to open source, 60% of those contribute to existing open source projects. 16% maintain their own projects, and 14% file issues against projects. Why are developers participating in open source? According to the survey, they’re motivated to improve their coding skills, join a community, and learn new technology. These developers primary use JavaScript (62%) when engaging with open source, with Python a close second at 52%. Go and C# are rarely used, by 16% and 10%, respectively.

    • What’s the next programming language you want to learn?

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New Report: Mitigating Patent Linkage To Promote Medicines Access In LMICs

      Patent linkage refers to “the application of a conditional relationship between the granting of marketing approval for a generic medicine and the patent status of the originator reference product,” according to the report.

      Patent linkage therefore ensures that applications to regulatory entities for market certification of generic drugs are cross-checked with current lists of patents, to prevent those entities from “inadvertently” contributing to patent infringement by granting marketing rights to generic drugs, the report explains.

      Patent linkage further serves as an “early resolution of patent disputes before the generic product in question gains marketing approval [to] avoid the need for complex litigation over damages for marketing an infringing product,” the report states.

      However, the report explains that “patent linkage has been shown to have a detrimental effect on access to medicines, by delaying generic market entry and allowing the high prices of originator medicines to remain unrestrained by generic competition.”

    • The Great Drought

      The most hazardous global warming risk for society at large is widespread loss of grain production because of a synchronized worldwide drought. It would be a colossal killer.

  • Security

    • Trivial Bug in X.Org Gives Root Permission on Linux and BSD Systems [Ed: Let's remind ourselves, regarding the latest X.org bug, that few people actually have an account on some remote server/s, access to that server/s, and X server actually installed on it/those (GUI not needed). If anything, argument against installing GUI.]
    • Easy-to-exploit privilege escalation bug bites OpenBSD and other big name OSes
    • CVE-2018-14665: Xorg Vulnerability Affects Both Linux and BSD Systems
    • The D in Systemd stands for ‘Dammmmit!’ A nasty DHCPv6 packet can pwn a vulnerable Linux box

      A security bug in Systemd can be exploited over the network to, at best, potentially crash a vulnerable Linux machine, or, at worst, execute malicious code on the box.

      The flaw therefore puts Systemd-powered Linux computers – specifically those using systemd-networkd – at risk of remote hijacking: maliciously crafted DHCPv6 packets can try to exploit the programming cockup and arbitrarily change parts of memory in vulnerable systems, leading to potential code execution. This code could install malware, spyware, and other nasties, if successful.

      The vulnerability – which was made public this week – sits within the written-from-scratch DHCPv6 client of the open-source Systemd management suite, which is built into various flavors of Linux.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Samsung Security Updates Have Become More Frequent Because Of Strict Google Guidelines
    • Chinese Hardware That Fueled Massive DYN BotNet Attack Still Poorly Secured Pieces Of Shit

      Just about two years ago, you might recall that the internet partially imploded after DNS provider Dyn was hit with a historically massive DDOS attack. A major reason for the attack was the Mirai botnet malware, which made creating rampant botnets a pretty trivial affair for anybody with an IQ over 70. The other problem was that Mirai was able to quickly compromise and incorporate millions of internet of things devices as part of the assault thanks to said devices’ lack of meaningful privacy and security protections.

      [...]

      Fast forward several years, and you’ll be shocked to learn that really nothing has changed at the company in terms of ensuring its cheap hardware can’t be quickly compromised by hackers and thieves. Most of the fatal flaws remain in the company’s products, including default login credentials, terrible GUIs that fail to show what the device is doing online, intentional backdoors, and pretty basic design flaws like the failure to prompt a password change during setup.

    • iOS 12.0.1 Lock Screen Can Be Tricked To Access Pictures

      The iOS 12.0.1 lock screen can be tricked into opening the pictures in the gallery of the device. This is true for the iPhone X, as well as the XS models. A video was posted by José Rodríguez that shows a flaw in the security. If someone has access to the device then the pictures on the device can be accessed without knowing the passcode.

      The trick is not all that simple and needs 13 steps and perfect timing but it is not impossible to pull off either. Once you follow the steps you can get access to the photos on the device without the passcode. iOS 12.0.1 was released in order to patch some lock screen bypasses and other issues. It turns out that the new update has issues of its own.

    • NSA Tools Used to Attack Nuclear Energy Firms
    • Spotted: Miscreants use pilfered NSA hacking tools to pwn boxes in nuke, aerospace worlds

      Miscreants are using a trio of NSA hacking tools, leaked last year by the Shadow Brokers, to infect and spy on computer systems used in aerospace, nuclear energy, and other industries.

      This is according to Kaspersky Lab, whose researchers today said the American snooping agency’s DarkPulsar cyber-weapon – along with a pair of toolkits called DanderSpritz and Fuzzbunch that can remotely control infected machines – have been used by hackers to commandeer Windows Server 2003 and 2008 boxes in Russia, Iran, and Egypt.

      The infected vulnerable servers are used in some 50 organizations within industries including aerospace and nuclear energy, particularly those with large IT and R&D departments.

    • Cybercriminals exploit misconfigured container to deliver cryptominer

      The attacks weren’t the result of the Docker engine being compromised or problems within Docker’s enterprise platform but instead were the result of misconfiguration set up at the administrator level.

      While researchers noted misconfigurations aren’t new, it can be a perennial challenge for organizations since many of them, especially in China, still have their Docker hosts misconfigured. Researchers also noted misconfigured Docker hosts in the U.S., France, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Japan, India, and Ireland with the majority of them running Linux OS.

    • How I blocked myself from obtaining a Let’s Encrypt TLS certificates

      I had setup a new domain name for use as a simple peer-to-peer video streaming service (more on that in a future update) but repeatedly ran into issues with Let’s Encrypt’s domain authorization tests. Here is how I locked myself out of minting my new domain a TLS certificate.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • How dare the west pretend to be shocked about Khashoggi. He’s not the first Saudi critic I’ve known who’s ‘disappeared’

      “If I disappear you know what happened to me.” That was the last thing Saudi Prince Sultan bin Turki said to me on an encrypted messaging app.

      It was early 2016. I had been speaking to this dissident prince sporadically – he was living in self-imposed exile In Europe – for nearly a year, to get a sense of what other strands of the sprawling House of Saudi felt about the new King Salman and his then deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Then aged just 31, the crown prince had seen a meteoric rise to power: he was the youngest defence minister in the world.

      At the time, I thought the prince was being a little dramatic. He also claimed he had been kidnapped from Geneva by the regime in 2003.

      [...]

      But during the following two years it became part of a familiar pattern: there were mounting reports from the Kingdom and about the crown prince, including kidnappings, mass arrests at the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel and the alleged targeting of civilians in the Yemen war. These reports were worrying, but they were ignored.

      Instead, he was praised as a young social reformer for curtailing the power of the religious police and allowing women to enter football stadiums and to drive. It’s telling that during that time, the UK sold nearly £4bn worth of arms and military kit to Saudi Arabia – in the first half 2017 alone that bill had topped £1.1bn. The world heralded his promotion to crown prince last year.

    • 35th Anniversary of Biggest Pre-9/11 U.S. Antiterrorism Debacle

      This week marks the 35th anniversary of one of the biggest antiterrorism disasters in American history. President Reagan sent U.S. troops to Beirut in the chaotic aftermath of the 1982 Israeli invasion. 243 Marines were killed on October 23, 1983 when a lone terrorist drove a truck bomb past the poorly-guarded perimeter and detonated his vehicle in the lobby of the Marines’ headquarters. That debacle helped spur Reagan to withdraw U.S. troops from Lebanon. Unfortunately, Reagan and subsequent presidents later blundered more deeply into Middle East quagmires. A third of a century later, it is easier to find bomb rubble than lessons learned by US politicians.

      Here’s an excerpt from my 2003 book, Terrorism & Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice & Peace to Rid the World of Evil on that terrorist attack that originally ran in CounterPunch on October 23, 2003.

      [...]

      On April 18, 1983 a delivery van pulled up to the front door of the U.S. embassy in Beirut and detonated, collapsing the building and killing 46 people (including 16 Americans) and wounding over a hundred others. The U.S. embassy was a sitting duck for the terrorist assault: unlike many other U.S. embassies in hostile environments, it had no sturdy outer wall. Newsweek noted: “Delivery vehicles are supposed to go to the rear of the building. Why Lebanese police guarding the embassy driveway would have made an exception in the case of the black van remained a mystery.” The attack lacked novelty value, since the Iraqi and French embassies had been wrecked by similar car bomb attacks in the preceding 18 months.

    • Saudi Ties to US Universities Under Question Amid Khashoggi Crisis

      As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urges Saudi Arabia to disclose who ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, we end today’s show looking at how US universities are facing new scrutiny over their close ties to Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder. In Connecticut, activists are calling on the University of New Haven to cut ties to King Fahd Security College in Saudi Arabia. According to news reports, the Saudi forensic doctor who allegedly dismembered Khashoggi’s body served on the editorial board of a publication tied to King Fahd Security College. Dr. Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy’s name was removed from the publication’s website this week. A forensic scientist from the University of New Haven served on the editorial board with him. We speak to Stanley Heller, executive director of the Middle East Crisis Committee, and Harvard Medical School fellow Yarden Katz.

    • Jamal Khashoggi’s Death Underlines the Influence of US Foreign Policy in the Middle East
    • Killer politicians: Curtain of deniability lifting

      What rulers crave most is deniability. But with the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by his own government, the poisoning of former Russian spies living in the United Kingdom, and whispers that the head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, may have been executed in China, the curtain has been slipping more than usual of late. In Riyadh, Moscow, and even Beijing, the political class is scrambling to cover up its lethal ways.

      But no one should feel self-righteous here. American presidents have a long history of murder, something unlikely to trouble the current incumbent, Donald Trump, whose favorite predecessor, Andrew Jackson, was a cold-blooded murderer, slave owner, and ethnic cleanser of native Americans.

    • Broad-Daylight Fascism and the Bombs of October

      “Over the past couple of days, several suspicious packages addressed to well-known persons were intercepted or discovered in various locations by law enforcement officials,” reads the notice sent to all municipalities by the NH Department of Safety. “In light of these events, we have attached the New Hampshire Suspicious Package Protocol to assist public safety agencies in response to such incidents. Please share this protocol with those individuals that are responsible for handling your mail to ensure they are aware of the process should they deem a package suspicious in nature.”

      [...]

      Within a week of this venomous diatribe — just one of the hundreds Trump has unleashed in the last three years — pipe bombs packed with shards of broken glass were delivered to the homes and offices of two former Democratic presidents, a former Democratic vice president, a former Democratic candidate for president, a former attorney general, a former CIA director, a pro-Democrat philanthropist, a former Democratic congresswoman, a sitting Democratic congresswoman, a world-famous liberal-leaning actor and a major news organization. On Friday morning, two more bombs were interdicted after they were sent to a sitting Democratic senator and a former director of national intelligence.

    • Arms sales vs taking a stand: the West’s Saudi dilemma
    • Trump, Saudi Arabia and the Khashoggi Murder

      Is there no crime so obvious, so egregious and so blatant that it won’t be overlooked by United States President Donald Trump, if doing so suits his twisted needs? He looks past Israeli barbarity, despite the obvious, unspeakable human rights abuses that that rogue, racist apartheid nation commits. He ignores the abject suffering caused by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. He excuses, with barely a mention, the Saudi bombing of a school bus full of Yemeni children. And now he is overlooking the cold-blooded murder of a Saudi journalist, which that government even concedes, after several rather incredulous stories, that it is, indeed, responsible for.

      Any other U.S. president, Democrat or Republican, would certainly see this as a reason to at least review the U.S.’s unqualified support for the Saudi regime. He or she would express horror not only at the murder itself, but at the targeted silencing of a member of the press, one critical of Saudi Arabia. The massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia agreed upon would at least put on hold, while the entire situation is reviewed.

      But not Trump; he was first happy to say that there must be some other explanation for why Jemal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post, entered the Saudi embassy in Turkey to obtain a marriage license, and never came out. Then, after numerous denials by the Saudi government that it had no knowledge of what may have happened, they stated that Khoshoggi died in a fistfight in the embassy! While this may be a prize winner in any contest for the most outrageous and unbelievable statements any government has ever made, Trump was happy to accept it.

      Then, when the Saudi regime finally said that ‘rogue’ members of the government (are there any other kind in Saudi Arabia?) were responsible, Trump seemed perfectly content with that explanation. What consequences the perpetrators will experience is not known, nor are any expected. Certainly, none of this will impact U.S. relations with the Saudi regime.

    • Jamal Khashoggi’s murder shows the West can no longer put business before democracy

      Authoritarian regimes that the liberal establishment assumed were client states are seeking to reset the power structure of the world.

      Saudi journalist gets tortured, killed and dismembered in the embassy of his home country. A singer is jailed for 10 months for insulting the Turkish President. The US President celebrates a congressman who body-slammed a journalist. The Chinese boss of Interpol has disappeared into Xi Jinping’s gulag. Meanwhile, in Italy, the granddaughter of Benito Mussolini threatens to send the police round to anyone who insults her fascist ancestor.

      What we’re witnessing is the collateral damage from the death of a rules-based multilateral system. Globalisation was always about more than trade rules, freely exchangeable currencies and honouring cross-border debts. It demanded mutually enforceable codes of conduct, above all among those who get to go upstairs when they board a Boeing 787.

      A system of global trade between democracies, dictatorships and medieval despotisms always required the Western elite to look the other way when outrages were perpetrated against the plebs. They could assuage their guilt by donating to Amnesty or English PEN, and requiring their executives to obey strict rules against participating in bribery.

    • The Anti-Russia Cold War in the Arctic is Heating Up

      In January China described its Arctic strategy, “pledging to work more closely with Moscow in particular to create an Arctic maritime counterpart — a ‘Polar Silk Road’ — to its ‘one belt, one road’ overland trade route to Europe. Both the Kremlin and Beijing have repeatedly stated that their ambitions are primarily commercial and environmental, not military.” It couldn’t be plainer that Russia and China want the Arctic to be a profitable mercantile trade route, while continuing exploration for oil, gas and mineral deposits.

    • The deadly, cowardly U.S. drone wars in Africa

      War is romantic only when it is limited to the confines of a sanitized imagination. Movies that portray heroic soldiers vanquishing demonic enemy combatants or rescuing fallen comrades may whip up jingoistic war fever, but horrific images of real children and elders maimed, scarred, dismembered and killed during armed conflicts have the power to end wars. Graphic pictures of civilian victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings account for a universal fear of nuclear weapons. Soldiers themselves are often deeply affected. Countless Vietnam veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder because of up-close and personal observations of unspeakable violence directed at non-combatants.

      Although it is claimed that some military strikes are designed to hit only military targets with surgical precision, far too often there are unintended civilian “casualties.” Gil Scott-Heron said it best when he noted there is nothing “casual” about dying. Civilized societies know this and in 1949 nations concerned about civilian deaths signed on to the Fourth Geneva Convention that was designed for the specific purpose of protecting wars’ innocent bystanders.

    • After the Khashoggi Murder, It is Up To Israel to Repair the Crack in the Axis of Evil

      Because he has so many serious competitors, each of whom is loathsome in different ways, the question is impossible to answer. But Trump is “special” — thanks to the hand that the Electoral College, building on the work of Democratic Party losers and Hillary Clinton, dealt him.

      MBS, Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is special too.

      Compared to those two, Benjamin Netanyahu looks almost like what he plainly is not, a decent human being.

      But as the leader of a country that, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States, comprises an axis of evil in the Greater Middle East, his power is magnified, and therefore so is the harm he can do. He could, for example, bring America into a war with Iran. This would almost certainly take a catastrophic turn.

      That prospect is less likely, however, the more fractured the axis becomes. This may turn out to be the silver lining in the savage murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

      [..]

      Those historians will also know more about the Trump Organization’s business arrangements with MBS and other Gulf potentates than we now do. This is likely to make those who fell for the MBS charm offensive look even dumber.

      That the United States is in league with Saudi Arabia is not exactly news; America has been throwing its weight around in ways detrimental to the historically Muslim world since the end of the Second World War. But now that Trump is in the White House, and Middle East policy is in the hands of Jared Kushner, his joined at the hip to Netanyahu son-in-law, the problem is worse than ever.

      If the Trump Party loses ignominiously in the upcoming midterm elections, perhaps not all will be lost. Lately, though, prophets of doom – or are they just Democratic National Committee fear mongers? — have taken to telling the world that the Trump Party might hold onto power even in the House. They say that Trump’s misogyny, racism and overall vileness has aroused the enthusiasm of his base enough to overwhelm the enthusiasm of the anti-Trump “resistance.”

      They may be right. It does look like formerly quiescent, morbidly desperate people who used to be only privately mean-spirited now think that body slamming reporters and sending pipe bombs to “liberal” news organizations and Democrats is cool. Those purported “populists” even think, on Trump’s word, that Brett Kavanaugh, late of Georgetown Prep and Yale, is God’s gift to the workingman.

      We will know soon enough how well Trump’s strategy of riling up his base, all others be damned, will work.

    • Presidential Nuclear Nonsense

      Schmidt’s description was no exaggeration. In an October 5, 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service, “flexible response” was explained similarly. “NATO’s strategy of ‘flexible response’… is designed,” the C.R.S. wrote, “to allow NATO to … be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict, with the intent of slowing or stopping [opponents] if they … advanced into Western Europe.”

      Now, President !#&$! says he will withdraw from the INF treaty because he claims Russia is in violation of it. Russia denies this, noting that research and development is not banned, that its new land-based cruise missile “fully complies” with the treaty’s requirements.

      These questions could all be settled with negotiations, but President !#&$! wants to get contracts for new missiles signed the and the gusher of military spending pumping, so that electoral votes are bought and paid for this year, and in 2020. Last Feb. 12, the Prez boasted, “We’re increasing arsenals of virtually every weapon. If they’re not going to stop, we’re going to be so far ahead of anybody else in nuclear like you’ve never seen before.” Never mind that the president cannot speak English; he and Congress are handing hundreds of billions of your tax dollars to their friends.

    • How Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Trump Are Coordinating a Plan to Get Away with Murder

      As the mighty monsoon of information (and disinformation) known as the news cycle moves from the apparent assassination of Jamal Khashoggi to the attempted terror bombing of President Trump’s critics, the case of the murdered journalist may soon fade from the front pages and the news shows.

      Many people in Washington and Saudi Arabia certainly hope so. Defense contractors are mobilizing to protect those oh-so-generous contracts with the Saudis. The Saudis are deploying their media assets in the Persian Gulf and the United Kingdom.

      And now after three weeks of lies, leaks, and conspiracy theories, the autocratic heads of state in Washington, Riyadh, and Istanbul have coordinated their stories. President Trump, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), and Turkish president Recep Erdogan are all reading from the same sheet music.

      The Saudis have abandoned the lie that Khashoggi left the consulate in Istanbul and discarded the cover story that he died in an accidental fistfight. They have settled on the talking point that his demise was “premeditated murder,” which at least has the virtue of plausibility.

    • Turks let CIA director listen to tapes of Khashoggi torture and execution

      Gina Haspel somehow getting to listen in on Khashoggi being tortured is like when the editor of a travel magazine somehow gets to spend a month in Bali.

    • Kelly McParland: A brutal reminder of what Saudi Arabia’s rulers truly are

      They might go to war, or sanction assassinations. Former U.S. president Barack Obama gloried in the successful killing of Osama bin Laden, and developed a notable enthusiasm for drone strikes against perceived enemies, even at the cost of civilian deaths. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, he ordered his first strike just three days after taking office, causing as many as 20 civilian casualties. Nonetheless, he added another 540 strikes over the next eight years.

      [...]

      People are outraged at Khashoggi’s death, as well they should be. Yet the world has been treated fairly regularly to the use of murder as a political tool. People who annoy Russian President Vladimir Putin are bumped off all the time. They get shot in the street, poisoned in restaurants, are found hanging from bridges or strangled in their homes. Nikolai Glushkov, one of the more recent victims, was discovered dead in his home the day he was due in court in a case involving the Russian airline Aeroflot that was deemed potentially embarrassing to Moscow’s security services.

    • Five Times the CIA Robbed Africa of Its Promising Leaders

      The role of the West in making life unbearable for Africans is well documented. The Americans, especially, have been infamous for interfering in the matters of sovereign states for their own parochial interests.

      The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has been notorious for meddling in the affairs of other African countries. They come under the pretext of deposing dictators in some instances, and in others they seek to genuinely remove dictatorship, but for their own interests.

      In the 1950s to 1960s when Africa was yelling for independence, the CIA had their role clear-cut. As African countries got their independence, so did the CIA step up their efforts in depriving Africa of its promising leaders. Where it worked, it did, but where it did not, there was chaos.

      [...]

      The CIA supported Mobutu Sese Seko and Joseph Kasavubu by supplying them with money and arms to fight Lumumba’s supporters.

      The CIA contributed to the robbing of one of Africa’s “charismatic” leaders.

    • Alleged Bomber Arrested, But National Nightmare Continues

      Friday morning, 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc was arrested in connection with an ongoing mass assassination attempt that has targeted a major newsroom, members of Congress, a movie star, the families of two ex-presidents, and others. The attacks began Monday, when famed philanthropist George Soros received the first suspicious package, which was later determined to be an explosive device. The momentum of the attacks continued throughout the week as the Clintons, the Obamas, Rep. Maxine Waters, actor Robert De Niro and, on Friday, Sen. Corey Booker, were also targeted. It is worth noting that in a different time, a national emergency might have been declared. Two weeks before the midterm elections, amid Trump’s hate rallies and bigoted policy attacks, bombs were dispatched in the mail, in an effort to blow some of the president’s most frequently cited enemies out of existence, and absolutely nothing came to a standstill.

      The president made a general, perfunctory statement condemning the attacks before blaming the media the following day. On Friday morning, the president tweeted, “Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows – news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”

      Prior to the suspect’s arrest, a number of high-profile Republicans, and many of their followers, had smugly dismissed the attempted bombings as fraudulent — just as Trump’s early political fandom lapped up his baseless claims that Obama was not an American citizen. The arrest of Sayoc is unlikely to derail the conspiracy theories of Trump fans, just as facts have never interfered with past right-wing conspiracy theories. Sayoc’s own Twitter feed is littered with far-right conspiracy theories, as well as threats against various leftists and Democrats, including targets of this week’s attacks.

    • America’s Pattern of Killing Innocent Civilians

      Members of Congress have been actively debating whether and how to limit U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia in its war against Houthi forces in Yemen. American involvement in that region is reflected in a report by President Obama to Congress on October 14, 2016, stating that the Houthis had attacked US ships operating in international waters earlier that month. In self-defense, the United States responded with strikes against three radar facilities in Houthi-controlled territory. However, other US activities in Yemen are not defensive. They provide assistance to the Saudis, continuing into the Trump administration. There have been two major concerns. One is the President’s authority to engage in such actions without receiving specific support from Congress. The second is the number of innocent civilians who have perished in these military operations or have suffered gravely.

    • Dallas police hope to be flying drones by 2019 — and here’s why they say you shouldn’t be afraid of that

      Stokes said he understands that some people may be afraid of the aircraft, especially if they aren’t sure how police want to use them.

    • Dallas police move to implement drones by 2019
    • To Avoid Scaring Public, Dallas Police Department Outlines Drone Restrictions
    • Drone-Based Bird-Herding Is Taking Off

      Collisions with birds can threaten the integrity of airplanes and the safety of their passengers. Now scientists are developing ways to use drones to herd flocks of birds away from airports, potentially helping prevent dangerous bird strikes.

    • Afghan War Casualty Report: Oct. 19-25
  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange’s lawsuit against Ecuador halted over WikiLeaks publisher’s issue with translator

      WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange complained that his court-appointed translator was “not good enough,” prompting a judge overseeing his lawsuit against Ecuador to put a pause on proceedings to find a replacement fluent in “Australian,” news outlets reported Friday.
      Judge Karina Martinez cut Thursday’s hearing short in response to Mr. Assange’s protest and ordered the appointment of a translator better equipped to interpret matters for the Australian-born fugitive, the Sydney Morning Herald first reported.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would surrender to Britain if no US extradition

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would end his five-year stay in Ecuador’s London embassy and hand himself over to British authorities if given assurances he would not face extradition to the US, his lawyer said Friday. Assange has been holed up at the embassy since 2012, concerned that a British arrest warrant would result in his extradition to the United States, where he could be tried for revealing state secrets.

      Assange would “face up” to surrendering to British authorities who want to arrest him for breaching bail conditions, said his lawyer Carlos Poveda. “In British justice, he could even be sentenced to three to six months’ imprisonment,” Poveda said.

      “But what is being requested from the legal team is that there is a necessary assurance that after that sentence he will not be extradited to the United States.” This would be “an extremely important condition” for the 47-year-old Australian, the lawyer said.

    • Join our project to track the CIA’s official contacts with other agencies

      Last week, MuckRock asked for your help going extracting names and affiliations from the Central Intelligence Agency’s list of official contacts and liaisons with other government agencies. Since then, MuckRock users have combed through half the list, producing names, affiliations and other leads. The response has been strong enough that we’re launching a new project for the effort.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Energy Transfer: New Name, Same Oil Spills and Violence Against Protesters

      Battles over new shale gas and oil pipelines involving Energy Transfer, formerly known as Energy Transfer Partners, have heated up in recent weeks — an escalation that carries a tilt, as one side stands accused of acts of violence.

      Energy Transfer (ET) security contractors have been accused of physically assaulting pipeline opponents on multiple occasions, including incidents in which security allegedly pointed a gun at one pipeline opponent, struck another with the butt of a shotgun, and overturned two boats carrying a television film crew and pipeline opponents into a Louisiana swamp, according to a new report published by Greenpeace USA on October 18.

      Pipeline opponents also ratcheted up their protests, as three women from communities impacted by ET projects interrupted an ET shareholder meeting and activists carrying signs locked themselves to gates outside the company CEO’s residence.

    • Trump Administration Opens Up Alaska for Drilling, Threatening At-Risk Wildlife

      We begin today’s show with the historic announcement by the Trump administration to approve a plan to drill for oil off the Alaska coast. On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior approved Hilcorp Energy’s proposal to drill in the Beaufort Sea, six miles off the Alaskan coast. It would be the first oil and gas production facility in federal waters in Alaska. Hilcorp plans to build a nine-acre artificial island about 20 miles east of Prudhoe Bay, not far from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Dubbed the Liberty Project, the operation plans to extract about 70,000 barrels of oil per day on the state’s North Slope. This latest move continues the Trump administration’s targeting of the Alaskan Arctic. We’re joined by Subhankar Banerjee, activist, photographer and professor of art and ecology at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land and editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point. His work is included in the exhibition “Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment” at the Princeton University Art Museum.

  • Finance

    • Billionaires Made More Money in 2017 Than Any Other Year in History

      During a year in which so much of the world faced deep poverty, the corrosive effects of austerity, and extreme weather caused by the worsening human-caused climate crisis — from devastating hurricanes to deadly wildfires and floods — one class of individuals raked in more money in 2017 than any other year in recorded history: the world’s billionaires.

      According to the Swiss bank UBS’s fifth annual billionaires report published on Friday, billionaires across the globe increased their wealth by $1.4 trillion last year — an astonishing 20 percent — bringing their combined wealth to an astonishing $8.9 trillion.

      “The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age,” the UBS report notes. “That period bred generations of families in the US and Europe who went on to influence business, banking, politics, philanthropy, and the arts for more than 100 years.”

      UBS estimates that the world now has a total of 2,158 billionaires, with 179 billionaires created last year. The United States alone is home to 585 billionaires — the most in the world — up from 563 in 2017.

      Meanwhile, according to a June report by UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston, 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty and “5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty.”

    • Containing CEO Pay

      Last week Roger Lowenstein had a piece in the Post about GE’s hiring of a new CEO after the prior one served less than a year. According to Lowenstein, the new CEO’s contract will give him incentives worth $300 million over the next four years if he does well by the shareholders. He will walk away with $75 million if he does poorly. This follows the hiring of an inept CEO who was dumped in less than a year and long-term CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars during his tenure while giving shareholders returns averaging 1.0 percent annually, according to Lowenstein.

      This raises the obvious question: What is GE’s board is doing? I haven’t looked at their forms, but I am quite certain these people get paid well over $100k a year and quite possibly over $200k for a job that requires perhaps 200 to 300 hours a year of work. That comes to an hourly pay rate in the $300 to $1,000 range. The primary responsibility of directors is picking top management and making sure that they don’t rip off the shareholders.

      How could you possibly fail worse in this job than GE’s board? Yet, my guess is that there has been very little turnover in the board.

    • If the Euro Cracks—Blame Germany, Not the Italians

      The European Union today is experiencing a revival of the very political conditions that its formation was ostensibly designed to eliminate. Although the creation of the euro in particular was deemed to be a key component helping to move the EU to an “ever closer union,” ridding the continent of centuries of historic enmities, in reality, it has done the opposite: The monetary union, and the austerity-linked conditions governing membership in the eurozone (EZ), continue to create conditions ripe for extreme nationalist movements in Italy, France, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere.

    • The Poor, the Rich and the Immigrant

      The parlous state of the European Union is a case in point. Here neither the German center nor the much put-upon periphery can hold in the face of a rising tide of Right-wing anti-immigrant racism. In Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer demanded a few weeks ago that Chancellor Angela Merkel close the country’s border to migrants arriving from other EU nations like Austria and Italy. Merkel’s effort to save her ruling coalition – and the liberal political and economic order that has characterized the European Union for several decades – involves a chilling concession to xenophobia. Under the compromise deal Merkel proposed, Germany would set up mass-internment camps to house migrants while their status was reviewed. Any migrant found to have registered for temporary status in another European country would be deported back to that country. Germany’s borders would theoretically be kept open, but authorities would have to check people crossing the border in some fashion. Presumably the criteria at the country’s borders would involve explicit racial profiling: those who do not “look”German would be subjected to document checks, while those with the appropriate breeze past guard posts without even needing to flourish their magical magenta-colored EU passports.

      Merkel’s concessions to the demands of xenophobes effectively undermine the liberal order they seek to salvage. By caving in to the demands of Bavarian right-wingers in her coalition, she has essentially allowed the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) to dictate the terms of politics in Europe’s most powerful country. To give a sense of how far to the right Merkel has slid, it is worth noting that she borrowed the terminology for the camps she has promised to set up – “transit centers”- from Viktor Orban of Hungary, who until now was seen as anathema to liberal European values for his authoritarianism and reactionary nativism.

    • What’s Driving Superstar Companies, Industries, and Cities

      For cities, we analyze nearly 3,000 of the world’s largest cities by population that together account for 67% of global GDP. Using our metric of GDP and personal income per capita, we identify 50 top superstar cities. They include cities such as Boston, Frankfurt, London, Manila, Mexico City, Mumbai, New York, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Tianjin, and Wuhan. These 50 cities account for 8% of global population, 21% of world GDP, 37% of urban high-income households, and 45% of headquarters of firms with more than $1 billion in annual revenue. The average GDP per capita in these cities is 45% higher than that of peers in the same region and income group, and this gap has grown over the past decade. The churn rate of superstar cities is half that of superstar firms. Often when superstar cities fall, they tend to be advanced economy cities, replaced by a developing economy city.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook finds evidence of Iranian disinformation campaign

      Roughly 1 million accounts followed those pages, with another 25,000 accounts joining at least one of the groups and 28,000 accounts following the Instagram pages.

    • Facebook yanks content tied to Iranian effort due to “inauthentic behavior”

      This is consistent with content posted by Iranian actors taken down by Facebook in August, and with posts on Twitter identified as being part of an Iranian influence campaign dating back to 2014. But unlike recent Russian influence campaigns, the Iranian actors focused on promoting sentiments and activities that tended to be in opposition to President Trump (and in some cases, UK prime minister Theresa May).

    • George Osborne’s Evening Standard under fire (again) over lucrative Uber deal

      There are widespread calls for the UK’s advertising regulator to mount a fast-track investigation into George Osborne’s Evening Standard following the publication this week of an effusive interview with Uber’s chief executive. The article, presented as news, failed to inform readers that Uber is one of the key partners in a £3 million commercial deal – called Future London – with the London paper for “money-can’t-buy” positive news and comment, as revealed by openDemocracy earlier this summer.

      The Standard told openDemocracy that it was “made clear in the article that Uber supported the Future London Initiative.” But hundreds of thousands of copies of the paper distributed throughout London on Tuesday made no mention of Future London, the paper’s rebranded commercial tie-in with Uber, Google and other companies.

      Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon have both called on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to investigate the Standard. Guardian columnist George Monbiot called the Uber coverage “a disgraceful blurring of the line between journalism and advertising”.

    • New York Times’ Trauma Tourism

      Percy’s sour description of Kensington could fit almost any city: How many urban neighborhoods have brightly lit alleys? She tells you how to feel about a mix of businesses catering to working-class customers, associated with diverse ethnicities: It’s a “congested mess.”

      This framing continued throughout the feature. At one point, Percy described the Kensington underpass as “dark, like the opening to a rat hole,” as if all underpasses aren’t dark. Even people who do something as simple as getting off the train in Kensington are reduced to “buyers”—“The train doors opened, and buyers spilled onto the walkway”—because Percy can’t imagine why anyone would go to Kensington other than to buy drugs.

      The piece failed to differentiate between trash and the belongings of homeless individuals: “Trash was everywhere—office chairs, a pleather loveseat, plastic crates, trash bags stuffed with clothes.” Defining these belongings as nothing more than trash allows readers to be indifferent to Percy’s description of the city clearing out homeless encampments, seizing and throwing away people’s tents, clothes and supplies.

    • Judge officially blocks Georgia from tossing out absentee ballots
    • Georgia’s Kemp Purged 340,134 Voters, Falsely Asserting They Had Moved

      Last year, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state canceled the registrations of over half a million Georgians because they left the state or moved to another county. Except they didn’t. The nation’s top experts in address location reviewed Kemp’s list of purged voters — and returned the names and addresses of 340,134 who never moved at all.

      John Lenser, CEO of CohereOne of San Rafael, California, led the team analyzing the purge list. He concluded, “340,000 of those voters remained at their original address. They should have never been removed from the voter registration rolls.”

      This is the story of the mass exodus from Georgia that never happened, and the mass purge of voters by Kemp, GOP candidate for governor, through methods guaranteed to disproportionately take away the vote from the young, the poor and voters of color.

      It began five years ago, when Kemp stonewalled my first requests for information on purges in Georgia, first for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone, now for Truthout and Democracy Now! It took my lawyer’s threat of a federal lawsuit, filed last week in Atlanta federal court, to blast the list of the electorally doomed from Kemp’s hands.

    • Texas voting machines changing some straight-party selections [iophk: "Microsoft Windows TCO"]

      Oldham tells us he recalls the problems for at least six years and says he’s talked to the Secretary of State more than once about the problem. It has not been fixed aside from signs provided by the Secretary of State to warn voters to check their selections.

    • Voters report Texas voting machines changing straight-party selections

      The problem reportedly exists for both Democratic and Republican voters, with some Democrats reporting machines erroneously selecting Sen. Ted Cruz (R) as their candidate of choice while Republicans attempting to vote for Cruz have reported the machines dropping their votes and selecting no candidate at all.

    • Reports of Voter Intimidation at Polling Places in Texas

      Tempers are flaring during early voting in Dallas County, Texas, and reports of voter intimidation are on the rise. The county’s nonpartisan election administrator said that the harassment — including name-calling and interrogating voters waiting in line — is the worst she’s seen in decades.

      “I’ve been here for 30 years, and this harassment that’s going on, I haven’t ever seen the likes of this,” said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county’s election director. “I’ve seen some other things, props being used and whatnot, but nothing like this type of mentality or aggressiveness or demeaning type of actions.”

      At the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas, election administrators received complaints of a partisan poll watcher looking over voter’s shoulders as they cast their ballots and questioning voters on their politics. The person was later escorted out by Mesquite Police Department officers on Monday after refusing to leave the premises, according to Pippins-Poole.

    • Identity politics benefits the Right. But not for long?

      Identity politics has become the driving force of US politics and it has brought along the scourge of ethno-nationalism. But to many of us living outside the United States, it’s nothing new. Take a look at Europe. It’s riddled with ethno-nationalistic populism in such places as Hungary, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and many more: all inundated by politicians betting on ethnic identity politics to court the masses.

      Or take my home country as an example, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here, ethno-nationalism is engraved into the constitution, primarily reflected in stringent ethnic quotas put on public offices. As a result, identity politics is the only form of politics. Almost every party has an ethnic prefix; the presidency consists of three members representing major ethnicities; and the country is thoroughly Balkanized so that every ethnicity is politically autonomous, with some cities being in an apartheid-like state. Each policy is judged through the ethnocentric prism, and weighed on the principle of how much it affects the standing of one’s ethnicity compared to the others. And when ethnic affiliation becomes the sole criterion for political office, the more radical you are, the more authentic you appear.

      Needless to say, in all the aforementioned places identity politics favours the political Right. Sheri Berman notes that identity politics is “more powerful and efficacious … for right-wing populists” since they are trying to win over a more homogenous group. But more importantly, that homogenous group is almost always the country’s ethnic majority, whose ethnocentrism is easily stoked by presenting them with a paltry minority as a bogeyman.

    • This Neuroscientist Explains How Trump’s Fiery Rhetoric and Conspiracy Theories Can Push Dangerous and ‘Suggestible’ People to Violence

      While the nation should certainly hold Sayoc personally responsible for his actions, especially if it is shown that he does not have a serious mental illness, as a nation we must ask whether the president’s anti-liberal, anti-media rhetoric was a motivating factor in the bombing attempt. To determine whether Trump is partially culpable, we need only ask, would this event have likely happened if another Republican politician, such as Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz, were in office? As a journalist and a psychology researcher, my answer to that is an unequivocal “no.”

      In the past, I wrote about how Trump and his media allies were targeting mentally vulnerable people with their heated and divisive rhetoric, as well as their outlandish conspiracy theories. These theories describe nefarious plots by the “deep state,” a cabal of Left-wing politicians and powerful co-conspirators that is trying to undermine President Trump, while running child sex trafficking rings on the side. These heinous narratives put forth by people like Alex Jones, the shadowy QAnon, and other far-right figures, have been supported implicitly, and in some cases explicitly, by Donald Trump.

    • Crowd chants ‘fake news,’ ‘CNN sucks’ amid Trump calls for unity
    • Here’s how to avoid problems with straight-ticket voting in Texas

      Hey, Texplainer: I’m hearing reports of voting machines changing the selections of some straight-ticket voters. What gives?

      Voters from around the state have reported a curious thing happening at the polls this week: They meant to vote straight-ticket but when they reviewed their final list of selected candidates, someone from an opposing party was picked instead.

      Some people wondered if there was malfeasance. Others blamed malfunctioning voting machines. And both Democrats and Republicans have tried to warn voters in their respective parties.

    • On movements and platforms… in defense of political parties

      Liberal parties are created with the ambition to put the individual first and provide equal chances for all. We have seen across the world that liberal policies translate freedom into free market policies to create prosperity for all and advance civil liberties to provide equality before the law for all.

    • Agora Europe disembarks in the UK

      …it is possible to create a transnational, European anti-Europe league, but seemingly impossible to create a pro-European one.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Another Terrible Court Decision In Europe: Insulting A Religion Is Not Free Speech

      Let’s start off with the basics, because if I don’t, I know we’ll be flooded with these comments: no, the European concept of “free speech” differs quite a bit from the American one. The American 1st Amendment creates extremely strong protections for all sorts of expression — including insulting or offending expression. Europe has always been a bit more willing to shove various exceptions into the right of freedom of expression, while mostly paying lip service to the concept. Article 10 of the Human Rights Act says that you have the right to your own opinions and the freedom to share them without government interference but, in practice, Europe has always been much quicker in brushing that aside in order to engage in all sorts of censorship from prior restraint to rewriting history.

      And, according to a new ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, another exception to free expression is that you can’t disparage religions because it might hurt the feelings of religious practitioners. No, really.

      The case, which was originally brought in Austria, involved a woman who hosted an event where she made a bunch of silly and misleading claims about Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad, in particular, claiming that because one of his marriages was to a very young girl, there was an implication that he was a pedophile (and further, strongly implying that other Muslims sought to emulate Muhammad). I’m not entirely clear as to why anyone cares what someone did over a thousand years ago (nor could anyone know with any real certainly what actually happened), but either way, some were offended by these comments — and that’s fine. If someone says offensive things, it’s reasonable for some to take offense.

    • War, censorship, and the invention of “fake news”

      The solution: Social media companies must internalize censorship procedures on a much more systematic level. “The role that outsiders currently play, as consumer advocates and content screeners, can easily be filled in-house.” The social media companies, that is, must themselves become the “gatekeepers” of information, as former Times editor Bill Keller once referred to his newspaper.

      The Washington Post, for its part, warned of the supposed threat played by “domestic disinformation.” Twitter and Facebook are, the Post wrote, “finally starting to articulate their responsibility not to facilitate manipulation, no matter who pulls the strings.”

      What is the “domestic disinformation” that Facebook and Twitter are fighting, with the full support of the Times and the Post? That question was answered positively earlier this month, when Facebook removed a series of popular left-wing media accounts, including organizations opposing war and police violence, in the name of fighting “fake news.”

    • Firefox, Chrome and the Future of Trustworthy Extensions

      Browser extensions are wonderful. Nearly every day I come across a new Firefox extension that customizes my browser in some creative way I’d never even considered. Some provide amusement for a short time, while others have become indispensable to my work and life. Extensions are a real-world manifestation of one of Mozilla’s core principles — that individuals must have the ability to shape the internet and their experiences on it.

      Another of Mozilla’s core principles is that an individual’s security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. We’ve made the decision to support extensions, but it is definitely a balancing act. Our users’ freedom to customize their browser – their “user agent” – and to personalize their experience on the web can also be exploited by malicious actors to compromise users’ security and privacy.

    • Radical expansion of Australia’s national firewall will censor search results and websites

      SOPA has come to Australia: under Communications minister Senator Mitch Fifield’s Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, rightsholders will be able to tell search engines which results they are allowed to show users, and will expand the country’s censorship system (“copyright blocking orders”) by allowing rightsholders to have any website censored by claiming it is a “mirror” of an already-blocked site, without having to show evidence for their claims.

      Two major media companies — Foxtel and Village Roadshow — are behind the measure. They are already the major users of Australia’s copyright censorship system.

    • Facebook Continues Censorship, Removes Pro-Life Stories Because of ‘Graphic Content’
    • Pro-Life Group Calls Out Facebook for Censorship of Ads Before Midterms
    • Facebook accused of ‘censorship’ after deleting video on Christopher Columbus by Guardian journalist George Monbiot
    • ‘Explain this censorship’: Facebook removes Guardian writer’s video on British colonial crimes
    • In Latest Fit of Censorship, Facebook Deletes Video Detailing Brutal Legacy of Christopher Columbus

      With nothing but a vague “violation of community standards” note and offering no ability to appeal the decision, Facebook has once again blocked a piece of critical journalism—this time a short documentary video depicting the brutal legacy of Christopher Columbus—from its global online platform.

      [...]

      In the piece, Mendez explains, Monbiot “recounts the horrors of history in vivid detail. Therefore, at times, we understand the film may have been uncomfortable for some to watch. A number of visuals used, taken from the film 1492 and historical documentary footage, were graphic in nature. Facebook could have opted to put a warning screen on the video, which we would of had no problem with.”

      As of this writing, the video remains deleted from Facebook—it was originally posted at this link—and its producers have been given no further explanation for why it was taken down. The video remains available on YouTube.

    • Gender and Censorship

      From 2016-18, the Student Press Law Center piloted a program to train and empower college age women to partner with high schoolers on projects focused on free press and free expression. The Active Voice initiative was rooted in the findings of a 2016 study that revealed school censorship of journalism disproportionately targets female teens, marginalizing their voices and diminishing their ability to develop as leaders.

      We are proud to highlight the achievements of two cohorts of Active Voice fellows whose free speech service projects spanned an academic year.

    • Lawsuit filed in Niskayuna art censorship case

      A lawsuit that claims Niskayuna Central School District and several district administrators censored the art of a female student has been filed in U.S. District Court.

      The woman, who graduated from Niskayuna High School in June, is suing school officials for First Amendment and Title IX violations. Her name is not being printed by The Daily Gazette due to the nature of her claims.

      The former student said school officials told her to alter and, eventually remove, a painting she created for a school art class that included the name of a man she said raped her in 2015.

    • Censorship Under Military Dictators Was Bad. It May Be Worse in a Democracy.

      Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest English-language newspaper, carries on its masthead the image of a man’s face and this proud claim: “founded by Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah,” who also founded the country itself. For the last eight years, the centerpiece of Dawn’s weekend editorial page has been commentary on national politics and national security by the assistant editor Cyril Almeida.

      Almeida writes in what some call very good English, though sometimes in ways that are irreverent or annoying to his subjects; he also happens to be one of very few non-Muslims in a media landscape dominated by religious right-wing ideologues. Jinnah, a staunch secular and an Anglophile, would have approved.

    • Five galleries cease programming at Arts Commons after censorship controversy

      The Marion Nicoll Gallery, Stride Gallery, The New Gallery, TRUCK Contemporary Art and Untitled Art Society announced Wednesday in a news release they will no longer be programming their gallery spaces on the Plus-15 level of Arts Commons.

      In September, Arts Commons removed an exhibition programmed by The New Gallery titled A Thousand Cuts by Montreal-based transgender artist B. G-Osborne after Arts Commons said they received complaints about the swearing and nudity in the piece. A Thousand Cuts featured three video screens showing clips from movies and television shows of transgender characters played by non-transgender actors and a list of the names of transgender murder victims.

    • 5 Calgary galleries end partnerships with Arts Commons after censorship accusation
    • iPhone’s new kids censorship tool blocks sex education
    • Supreme Court agrees to hear a case that could determine whether Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies can censor their users
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Ex-NSA employees criticize Mike Rogers’ role with Israeli venture firm

      Some former National Security Agency officials have strongly criticized ex-NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers’ decision to join the advisory board of a venture capital firm that is closely linked with an Israeli intelligence agency.

      The company, Team8, announced Rogers’ position last week. Founded by former members of the elite Israeli army intelligence group known as Unit 8200, Team8 researches cybersecurity market demand, raises investments from big tech companies, and creates startups based on those demand signals. It also describes itself as a think tank, and does its own threat research.

    • ‘Unaccountable’: Mysterious NSA IT Contracts Might Outsource Global Surveillance

      Work has apparently begun on several multibillion-dollar information technology projects outsourced over the past year by the US National Security Agency (NSA), though details on what that work is exactly are sparse.
      The three contracts, collectively called Greenway and worth $6.7 billion, were signed between the NSA and telecom giant AT&T, defense industry heavyweight General Dynamics and cybersecurity corporation ManTech International over the past 13 months.

      “As you’d expect for an agency whose very existence was classified for years and whose budget remains classified, the NSA is being very secretive about what these programs and contracts involve,” web developer and technologist Chris Garaffa told Sputnik News Tuesday.

    • CIA, NSA and the Pentagon still aren’t using a basic email security feature

      Some of the most sensitive U.S. government departments and agencies still aren’t using a basic email security feature that would significantly cut down on incoming spam or phishing emails.

      Fifteen percent of all U.S. government domains still aren’t employing DMARC, or domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance policy on their domains, which email systems use to verify the identity that the sender of an email is not an impersonator.

    • NSA Licenses Computer Port Protection Tech to PadJack

      The agency has shared its technology with intelligence agencies and also made the tool available to the public.

      NSA noted it has more than 120 patented technologies for cybersecurity, internet of things, data science and mobility applications.

    • A Senior NSA Official Engaged In Abusive Behavior Toward Women, An Inspector General Report Finds

      The incidents took place in 2012, but details about the allegations have remained classified and are only now being disclosed after BuzzFeed News filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the NSA for copies of its inspector general reports that lay bare waste, fraud, and abuse.

      The official’s name at the center of the allegations was redacted from the report — “Misuse of Government Communications Systems and Conduct Unbecoming” — on privacy grounds. The document identifies him only as a “deputy chief” of a division within the NSA. The official resigned from the agency after he was interviewed by investigators and confronted about his behavior, the report said.

      The deputy chief had already been reprimanded once, in 2011, for sending sexually explicit chat messages over the NSA’s top secret communications network. At the time, he received a letter of counseling. The inspector general, who spent more than a year investigating the allegations, called the deputy chief’s behavior “egregious.”

    • NSA Will Try To Stop Turning Whistleblowers Into Leakers With Kinder, Gentler Official Channels

      This is important, at least to the NSA, because its most famous whistleblowers have eventually gone outside the system to deliver news of systemic surveillance program abuse to the masses. I don’t think NSA officials necessarily want to handle internal complaints and scale back abusive collection programs. I think they just want to make sure no one outside of the NSA and its direct oversight hear about it.

      That being said, the NSA definitely needs to work on its interpersonal relationships with disgruntled employees. People yelling about Snowden not going through the proper channels didn’t have much to say about his proper channel being on the chopping block for retaliating against a whistleblower. And protections for contractors are still weaker than those offered to federal employees, which means the NSA can keep complainers quieter by continuing to rely on outsiders to handle the dirty work of analyzing incoming intel.

    • The expanding scope of e-discovery in IP cases

      Social media is increasingly becoming a factor in e-discovery, while new sources of electronically stored information are emerging such as smartwatches and vehicle technology

      “These days if you’re a litigator or if you’re in a company that is involved in a lawsuit, you can’t escape e-discovery,” says Aliza Carrano of Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner.

    • The UK is refusing to cooperate with Belgium over alleged hacking [sic] claims

      The investigation began after slides from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed Belgacom as a target of GCHQ spying. The hacking was supposedly focused on company subsidiary Belgacom International Carrier Services, which handles the phone and data traffic in Africa and the Middle East.

      If proven, this would be the first time an EU member state has been documented spying on another. Which is quite a high note to leave the bloc on, come 29 March 2019. Like calling it a night at a house party after throwing up in the host’s shoe rack

    • British intelligence hacked Belgacom then sabotaged investigation

      The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office has confirmed that it considers British intelligence as the main actor in the [cracking] of telecommunications company Belgacom, now known as Proximus.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • NYPD Should Not Take the Lead in Fixing New York’s Homeless Crisis

      New York City Transit President Andy Byford announced this week that he would ask the city, including the police, to help respond to homeless people exhibiting “offensive, obnoxious and anti-social” behavior on subways.

      The comments prompt fresh concerns that the NYPD could exacerbate the city’s already problematic track record of criminalizing homeless people.

      “There is a fundamental difference between someone coming in to keep warm and sitting on a seat and dozing off, I don’t really have a problem with that,” Byford said at a Metropolitan Transportation Authority board meeting. “But laying across a seat or behaving in an antisocial manner or making a mess is not acceptable.”

      Byford added that people “being offensive, obnoxious, and anti-social” is something “we are not prepared to tolerate.”

      It remains to be seen how these comments from Byford will be interpreted by the city’s transit employees and the NYPD. And Byford did mention that he remains committed to making sure homeless people in the subways get “the help they need.” After his initial comments made headlines, Byford further clarified that he was not calling for a “blitz” or “mass eviction” of homeless people.

    • Canadian ISPs Want To Amend Law To Outlaw Settlement Letters

      As Canada looks to update its copyright laws as part of the USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA strong-armed into existence by Donald Trump, we covered previously how ridiculous it is that copyright interests have been allowed to stick their nose in the whole thing and make all kinds of demands. Part of USMCA involves allowing Canada to keep its notice and notice system, as opposed to the notice and takedown system we have here in the States. While Canada’s system is preferable to our own, it’s not without it’s flaws, of course. One of those flaws is how the notice and notice system has devolved into a deluge of settlement letters.

    • Despite Trump’s Best Efforts, Hundreds of Thousands of Immigrants Earn Reprieve From Deportation

      The Trump administration’s attacks on the Temporary Protected Status program have been stopped — for now.
      Last week, Jeff Sessions attacked a court ruling that gave a temporary reprieve to hundreds of thousands of immigrants facing imminent deportation after years of living lawfully in this country.

      “Federal district court judges are not empowered to fashion immigration policy,” Sessions said. “The Legislative and Executive branches — of federal and state government — are the constitutionally authorized branches to do these things.”

      Complain as he might, the judiciary indeed has a say, because the executive branch has to follow the law and, most important, the Constitution. As the court found, the administration violated both federal law and the Constitution’s protection against race discrimination when it attempted to terminate the lawful immigration status of these individuals. As a result of the ruling, more than 300,000 immigrants will be able to stay in this country for at least another year — even as the government appeals the decision.

      Sessions was responding to a ruling that came earlier in the month concerning the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. TPS provides legal status to residents of certain countries that the U.S. government has deemed too unsafe for return.

      The Trump administration started stripping protected status from TPS holders, one by one and country by country, shortly after the inauguration. It has since ordered the end of TPS for 98 percent of the people who were protected under the program on Election Day in 2016.

      Even for those who do not follow immigration law closely, the TPS program may ring a bell, because it prompted one of President Trump’s more infamous expletives. In January, during a conversation about the TPS program the president was having with some Republican senators, he rejected an immigration proposal that would have granted many TPS holders lawful permanent residence. He asked why we need to allow “people from shithole countries” to stay here and said we should instead be trying to encourage more people from Norway to come. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, DHS has announced the end of TPS for recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Honduras, and Nepal.

    • Attacks on women’s ministries are a threat to democracy

      This seemingly incidental administrative demotion, coupled with the appointment of an evangelical, anti-abortion congresswoman to lead the agency, has contributed to the abnegation of women’s rights in Brazil.

    • Appeals Court Judge Tears Into ATF’s Life-Wrecking, Discriminatory Stash House Stings

      The ATF’s stash house stings are one of the worst things about federal law enforcement. And it’s a crowded field! Sure, the FBI routinely engages in something approaching entrapment when it turns people with self-esteem problems and/or serious mental health issues into terrorists. But the FBI can’t tell a judge how much terrorism to charge defendants with. The ATF stings — involving imaginary drugs hidden in fictitious stash houses — give the government the ability to trigger mandatory minimum sentences simply by claiming the fake stash of drugs was more than five kilos — automatically setting up defendants for 20-year prison terms.

      Another victim of the ATF’s stash house stings is fighting his conviction in court. Daryle Lamont Sellers hopes to prove the ATF’s stash house stings are racially-biased. There’s some evidence this is the case. Researchers found sting operations in Chicago netted a disproportionate number of minority suspects. A review of hundreds of court cases by the USA Today showed the ATF targeted minorities 91% of the time.

      Sellers says the ATF is engaging in selective enforcement. To do that, he needs information the ATF has on hand, but is refusing to hand over. The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has declared Sellers should have access to this information because the claim he’s making isn’t the same as selective prosecution, which requires Sellers to show more than he has in this case.

    • Local officials should be held accountable for CIA torture program

      Thank you to Ned Barnett and to the N&O for your recent coverage of North Carolina’s role in the CIA rendition, detention, and interrogation program (“Citizens’ report explores NC’s role in CIA torture program,” Oct. 7) and the ongoing grassroots efforts to expose our state’s complicity. You rightly called out Presidents Bush and Obama, and our former governors and state attorneys general, for failing to investigate our State’s participation.

      But Johnston County commissioners also were complicit by allowing the Johnston County airport to be used for rendition flights. As much as federal and state officials, they must answer for their failure to respond to the N.C. Commission of Inquiry on Torture, whose relentless efforts have exposed the alleged crimes that State and County officials refused to investigate.

    • I’ll never wish my enemy what I suffered in Saudi Arabia —Nigerian who spent 15 years in Saudi Jail

      The case was decided about four different times, the first judge said five years, then the second judge said seven years. The third time the judge said ten years, when he came around the fourth time, he pronounced that he sentenced us to fifteen years in anger. The legal ramification of this meant that we would be imprisoned and also given a thousand lashes. At that point, before the final trial, the Amnesty International was already involved. I was in constant correspondence with Chim Him before he left the post and handed over to Mrs Ella.

      The organisation mounted pressure on Nigerian diplomats and the embassy in Saudi Arabia. As a result, the embassy sent a representative to our final trial. On the 28th of April, 2017, we were released due to the continued pressure that the Amnesty International mounted. We experienced a lot of things in prison and occasionally, the prison officials would frame up people to provoke us and push us to fight.

      They did this so that we could have another case but we refrained from such because we knew their intent. The fifteen years I spent there was the equivalent of forty-five years in terms of experience because we saw and experienced a lot of things. We reached out to several high profile Nigerians during the period of our imprisonment but it was all to no avail. The Amnesty International really did a whole lot to ensure that we were safely released. We once witnessed the death of about ninety-two inmates, we knew that if we didn’t get help soon, our lives were hanging in the balance.

    • Temple professor urges more employers to hire people with autism

      About 80 percent of people with neurodiverse conditions are either unemployed or underemployed, according to Edwards.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • California Will Pause Net Neutrality Law for Federal Suit

      The outcome of the lawsuit against the FCC’s order won’t necessarily resolve the issue in California, however. US attorney general Jeff Sessions has also argued that the California law is invalid because it attempts to regulate interstate commerce, which only the federal government can regulate. It’s also possible that congressional action to either restore the FCC rules or create new federal-level regulations could also render the California law moot.

    • China Telecom has been using poisoned internet routes to suck up massive amounts of US and Canadian internet traffic

      BGP is a notoriously insecure protocol used to route internet traffic; by design it is dynamic and responsive, moving traffic away from congested routes and onto those with more capacity: this flexibility can be exploited to force traffic to route through surveillance chokepoints, as well as for censorship (publishing BGP routes to censorsed services that dead-end in nonexistent addresses are a common technique in repressive regimes).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • China introduces legislation to create a national IP appeals court

      China’s National People’s Congress is considering legislation that would create an Intellectual Property Tribunal within the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) to serve as a national IP appellate court. The move would authorise a centralised body in Beijing – situated within the nation’s top court – to hear appeals from both civil and administrative cases from all over China.

      Last night, Xinhua News reported that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress – China’s top lawmaking body – is reviewing a draft proposal that paves the way for the Supreme People’s Court to hear appeals from patent and other technology-adjacent IP rights judgments made by specialised IP courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as other intermediate-level courts. Currently, these cases are heard at the higher people’s court level in the jurisdiction in which the first instance case takes place.

    • [Older] US Patents and the potential global monopoly effect for software

      Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court held that the Patent Act’s damages provision, 35 U.S.C. 284, allowed a patent holder to recover foreign lost…

    • Preliminary Injunction Granted to Alibaba Against AlibabaCoin Cryptocurrency Operators

      On Monday, October 22nd, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York entered an opinion and order in a trademark case brought by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba against a group of companies operating in Dubai and Belarus involved in marketing a cryptocurrency known as AlibabaCoin.

    • Trademarks

      • Trademark Enforcement: A More nuanced game than whack-a-mole

        Brand protection requires the fortitude and persistence to prevail at what may seem like an unending game of whack-a-mole. For those that have not had the cathartic pleasure of the Whac-A-Mole arcade, the game involves quickly and repeatedly hitting the heads of mechanical moles with a mallet as they randomly pop up from holes.

    • Copyrights

      • Google will likely ask the Supreme Court for a second time to review API copyrightability

        As I wrote about six months ago when Google was preparing a petition for en banc rehearing of the Federal Circuit’s Oracle v. Google Android-Java copyright decision, I’m not going to reiterate my longstanding positions (which haven’t changed) on that case. However, Google filed an application for extension of time within which to file a petition for a writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) about a week ago (PDF on Supreme Court website), so I wanted to update my readers in purely procedural terms.

        In late August, the Federal Circuit denied Google’s petition for a full-court review of a decision that (as I predicted) held the incorporation of many thousands of lines of Java API declaring code into Android did not constitute fair use.

        Without the requested extension to January 25, 2019 (which was granted four days ago), Google would have had to file its cert petition in late November.

        This time around, Google is trying its luck with a new Supreme Court counsel: Williams & Connolly’s Kannon Shanmugam. Presumably, Oracle will continue to work with Orrick’s Joshua Rosenkranz, who scored two Federal Circuit wins over Google on Oracle’s behalf and fended off Google’s original petition for writ of certiorari (which was about copyrightability). What he and his team have achieved in this case, and in some others, is nothing short of amazing.

      • EU Court Of Justice Advocate General: No, Of Course You Can’t Copyright Military Reports

        Last year we mentioned an interesting (or crazy, depending on your point of view) case that was being sent to the EU Court of Justice (CJEU), on a German case, exploring whether or not a German newspaper had infringed on the government’s copyrights in publishing leaked military reports about German operations in Afghanistan (which people are calling the “Afghanistan Papers”). And, yes, as we’ve discussed before, while US copyright law is quite explicit that works created by our federal government cannot be subject to copyright law, many other countries do have a terrible and highly questionable concept of “crown copyright.” In most cases — including the one at the heart of this case — such laws are used to stifle the press and freedom of speech. Here it’s quite obvious that the case is being brought not because of the copyright incentives in these military reports, but in an attempt to stifle the leaks and intimidate the media from publishing such things.

      • EFF Wins DMCA Exemption Petitions for Tinkering With Echos and Repairing Appliances, But New Circumvention Rules Still Too Narrow To Benefit Most Technology Users

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation won petitions submitted to the Library of Congress that will make it easier for people to legally remove or repair software in the Amazon Echo, in cars, and in personal digital devices, but the library refused to issue the kind of broad, simple and robust exemptions to copyright rules that would benefit millions of technology users.

        The Library of Congress, through its subsidiary, the Copyright Office, yesterday granted several new exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201 makes it illegal to circumvent the computer code that prevents copying or modifying in most software-controlled products—which nowadays includes everything from refrigerators and baby monitors to tractors and smart speakers. EFF has fought a years-long battle against anti-consumer DMCA abuse, since the statute on its face gives manufacturers, tech companies, and Hollywood studios outsized control over the products we own.

        The Library and Copyright Office granted an exemption that allows jailbreaking of voice assistant devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Owners of those devices will now be able to add and remove software, adapting the devices to their own needs, even in ways the manufacturer doesn’t approve of.

      • New Exemptions to DMCA Section 1201 Are Welcome, But Don’t Go Far Enough

        We’re pleased to announce that the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office have expanded the exemptions to Section 1201 of the DMCA, a dangerous law that inhibits speech, harms competition, and threatens digital security. But the exemptions are still too narrow and too complex for most technology users.

        Section 1201 makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital locks that control access to copyrighted works, and to make and sell devices that break digital locks. Every three years, the Copyright Office holds hearings and accepts evidence of how this ban harms lawful activities. This year, EFF proposed expansions of some of the existing exemptions for video creators, repair, and jailbreaking.

      • Copyright Office Adds DMCA Exemption for ‘Abandoned’ Online Games

        The US Copyright Office has published a list of new exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention rules. Several new freedoms were granted this year, including the right for preservation institutions to break DRM to play abandoned online games. It’s a small change that only applies if the server code is legally obtained, but for game preservationists, it’s a step in the right direction.

      • Swedish ISP Telia Appeals Pirate Bay Blocking Order

        Telia, Sweden’s largest Internet provider, will appeal a recent court order that requires the company to block The Pirate Bay, Dreamfilm, FMovies, and NyaFilmer. The ISP believes that the verdict, issued following a complaint from Hollywood and local studios, goes too far.

      • Swedish Court orders ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay and other Torrent sites

        Earlier this year, the Swedish Patent and Market Court was requested to issue an injunction against Swedish internet service provider Telia Company (Telia) to block access to the likes of The Pirate Bay, Dreamfilm, Nyafilmer, Fmovies, and several other related proxies and mirror sites [here].

        Following the application, the Patent and Market Court ordered Telia – by way of an interim ruling – to block access to the above-mentioned sites. The blocking order would come into effect by the end of this month.

        Several of the sites at issue give access to works protected by copyright either through links to torrent sites (eg, The Pirate Bay) or by enabling users to upload/download and make available those works without the consent of relevant rightholders.

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