EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.17.18

The European Patent Office Comes up With a Plethora of New Buzzwords by Which to Refer to Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents, RAND at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European authorities play along with a “Study on the interaction between Open Source Software and FRAND” (these are not compatible)

A muscle car
They now proudly grant patents on computer vision (my field), which is basically mathematics

Summary: The permissive attitude towards software patents in Europe is harmful to software developers in Europe; the officials, who never wrote a computer program in their entire life, pretend this is not the case by adopting marketing techniques and surrogate terms

THE GRANTING of software patents in Europe appears to have accelerated under António Campinos as President of the European Patent Office (EPO), or at least advocacy thereof.

This is very troubling in light of the fact that the US goes in the opposite direction, with 35 U.S.C. § 101 used to routinely squash such patents, citing Alice (SCOTUS) — a subject we’ll focus on tomorrow.

“This is very troubling in light of the fact that the US goes in the opposite direction, with 35 U.S.C. § 101 used to routinely squash such patents…”As shown in [1] below (several readers have independently alerted us about it), the European politicians now actively participate in this toxic agenda and OIN seems very happy with this (it calls FRAND proponents “charities” now), being a proponent of software patents itself. We’ve seen some troubling statements in relation to [1] and various tweets on the subject have been abound (FFII, OIN, Red Hat etc.). Is violation of the EPC considered acceptable now? Not only at the EPO but also the EU/EC?

Just before the weekend we saw the EPO promoting “AIpatents” (as it does every day; it has done this for months, more so under Campinos). Here’s one example: “Key discussions and insights from our conference on patenting #AI are available here. Take a look if you are interested in #artificialintelligence: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

Here’s another new “AIpatents” tweet: “Experts from industry, academia and the IP world discussed possible future considerations for patent laws in view of #artificialintelligence at this recent conference: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

“Just before the weekend we saw the EPO promoting “AIpatents” (as it does every day; it has done this for months, more so under Campinos).”Then came “IoT”: “Interested in the #InternetOfThings & standard-essential patents? At this conference, you can discuss this trending topic with experts from all around the world: http://bit.ly/indoeur pic.twitter.com/XAON4cTF8F”

Many so-called ‘IoT’ patents (basically software on devices) are just software patents. Pure and simple. How about “blockchains”? It’s not just a buzzword (unlike “AI” and “IoT”), but it’s a hype wave. The EPO wrote: “What is the examination practice at the European Patent Office of #blockchain technology? Find out at this conference in the Hague: https://bit.ly/2PGRp79″

Now there’s also "SDV", the latest of many three-letter acronyms that the EPO paid to manufacture or at least spread through the media (we’ve seen about a dozen ‘reports’ about this, not just in English, and they all boil down to EPO PR, naming António Campinos personally). The EPO has just tweeted: “Europe and the US are the global leaders in self-driving vehicle innovation. See which European countries filed the most applications for this technology here: http://bit.ly/SDVstudy #SelfDriving #FutureOfCars pic.twitter.com/Jnk1Qlep3P”

“Many so-called ‘IoT’ patents (basically software on devices) are just software patents.”Then there’s “4IR”. Yesterday the EPO tweeted: “Join the discussion on patenting some of today’s most dynamic areas of innovation at this conference in Munich, co-hosted with @GoI_MeitY: http://bit.ly/indoeur pic.twitter.com/xjDm3QcWyh”

This links to a page about “emerging technologies” (warning: epo.org link) that starts as follows: “The 4th Industrial Revolution continues to gather momentum, and the digital transformation is affecting all aspects of life, as shown by the EPO’s report on “Patents and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are converging with all traditional areas of technology.

“Notice that buzzwords ‘salad’; most if not all refer to algorithms.”“This provides opportunities for emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, capable of “Machine Learning” and optimising systems too complex for manually programmed algorithms; and Blockchain, for digital-speed processing of secure transactions.”

Notice that buzzwords ‘salad’; most if not all refer to algorithms. It’s a pretty shallow deceptive layer.

Additionally, widely promoted by patent maximalists is this Watchtroll article from Andrea Perronace (epi); here’s how he’s described by his own bio: “European Patent Attorney and has been working in the IP field for 17 years. [...] Andrea is a full member of the ICT Thematic Group of the European Patent Practice Committee (epi) and participates in EPI’s Guidelines’ and ICT subcommittees e whose aim is to submit to the EPO proposals for improvement of the Guidelines for Examination. As an epi delegate, he was a speaker at the “Patenting Artificial Intelligence” Conference at the European Patent Office in Munich, May 30, 2018.”

To quote: [via]

The new Guidelines entered into force on November 1, 2018. Like the previous edition, this year’s Guidelines include substantial and valuable improvements with regard to guidance on the eligibility of computer-implemented inventions (CII). These sections of the Guidelines have been discussed with the European Patent Institute (epi), in particular with the ICT Thematic Group of the European Patent Practice Committee within the epi. The EPO website includes a useful html index for the Guidelines, including those sections relating to computer-implemented inventions.

He even uses the term “CII” and the headline says “Computer-implemented inventions”; much of the rest is a lot of buzzwords, which surely EPO examiners have become familiar with.

“After the attack on judges from the Boards of Appeal we very much doubt any of the Boards of Appeal can confront the EPO over this gross abuse of power to grant patents, even in defiance of courts, Parliament, and the founding document of the Office/Organisation, the EPC.”We’re not sure if this disturbing trend can be stopped, but we at least hope to highlight it. Mitscherlich PartmbB’s Christian Rupp has just published this article about a decision of the Boards of Appeal (T0642/14), but it has nothing to do with the above. After the attack on judges from the Boards of Appeal we very much doubt any of the Boards of Appeal can confront the EPO over this gross abuse of power to grant patents, even in defiance of courts, Parliament, and the founding document of the Office/Organisation, the EPC.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. JRC stakeholder consultation on open source software and standardisation

    In the context of the on-going Study on the interaction between Open Source Software and FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-discriminatory) licensing in Standardisation we carry out a survey with interested stakeholder groups.

    [...]

    Deadline: 30 November 2018.

Patent Maximalists in Europe Keep Mentioning China Even Though It Barely Matters to European Patents

Posted in Asia, Europe, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO white flag

Summary: EPO waves a “white flag” in the face of China even though Chinese patents do not matter much to Europe (except when the goal is to encourage low patent quality, attracting humongous patent trolls)

PRESIDENT António Campinos continues the tradition of his predecessor, posing with Chinese officials as if China is strategic to Europe’s patent system. Campinos and the man who gave him the job possibly fancy China because of its notoriously low standards/quality of patents, which in turn usher software patents into Europe (‘normalising’ this illegal practice, which is only legal in China).

“As EPO insiders are well aware, China accounts for a very small proportion of European Patents (Japan is way ahead and tiny South Korea is just about on par)…”A European Patent Office (EPO) director, Peter Albrecht, speaks to patent maximalists, for one can assume that to become a director (or Director) at the EPO one must be a patent maximalist (to get promoted to that position if not just to keep that position).

As EPO insiders are well aware, China accounts for a very small proportion of European Patents (Japan is way ahead and tiny South Korea is just about on par), yet this propaganda site of patents on life/nature (Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review is exactly that) uses Albrecht as follows, citing a lobbying event/think tank called “LSPN Europe”. Here they go:

Last year, for the first time in European Patent Office (EPO) history, a Chinese company filed the most European patent applications, making an “impressive statement” on what companies in the country are doing, according to Peter Albrecht.

Albrecht, who serves as principal director of the EPO’s healthcare, biotech and chemistry sector, was speaking at LSPN Europe 2018 today.

In 2017, electronics company Huawei claimed the top filing spot with 2,398 patent applications, in a move that Albrecht said was a “surprise”. Huawei bumped Siemens (based in Germany) into second place, ahead of competitors LG, Samsung and Qualcomm.

In China those few very large companies are typically connected to the government and they have a lot of patents; this gives the false impression that China matters a lot to the EPO. But it doesn’t. Less than one in 20 European Patents/applications are Chinese in source/origin.

“IAM isn’t against trolls but against the narrative, i.e. against trolls being called “trolls”.”Meanwhile, CCIA‘s main patent person wrote that “[t]he [Chinese] media has come up with new Chinese coinages translating to ‘patent scoundrel’ ‘patent cockroach’ and ‘patent monster’.” Patent troll suddenly seems so dated and staid.”

This is also based on an old report from IAM (from a Chinese-speaking writer); IAM isn’t against trolls but against the narrative, i.e. against trolls being called “trolls”. IAM’s ‘PR’ campaign for IPEL, a patent troll looking to prey on China (see some background in [1, 2]), is hard to forget; it was recently mentioned again by Managing IP, another proponent of patent trolls.

The article cited by the above says:

A recent article titled “Why non-practicing entities are good for China” has attracted notice in the English-language IP blogosphere. Originally featured on Chinese IP news site Zhichanli, which is affiliated with litigation data provider IP House, the article puts forth the case that greater activity by foreign NPEs in China can lift the value of Chinese patents, boosting the entire innovation ecosystem. By contrast, it warns, “failing to embrace foreign NPEs would immediately tell investors around the globe that Chinese patents are a bad investment”.

The article was posted by Zhichanli’s news editor, but contains a note explaining that it was compiled based on “relevant” material and does not necessarily reflect the site’s own point of view.

Much of the article focuses on iPEL, the NPE helmed by Brian Yates and Rasheed McWilliams that announced it had raised $100 million to buy and monetise Chinese patents earlier this year and claims to own around 1,000 former Huawei and ZTE rights. iPEL is framed as a company that is entering the market to target overseas infringers that are “stealing intellectual property from Chinese companies”. The NPE could hardly come off better if the article were written by Yates himself.

We already published about a dozen articles about how China (or “CHINA!”) was exploited by patent maximalists to manipulate politicians and steer agenda/policy, based on fear, hate, jealousy, and stigma. Similar political strategies exploit “RUSSIA!” but Russia isn’t too keen on this domain, so the patent maximalists typically settle on “CHINA!”

“The EPO needs to ask itself who or what it serves; as it stands at the moment it serves neither Europe nor science and instead it serves patent trolls/lawyers, irrespective of where they come from.”One has to be careful about these thinly-veiled xenophobic tricks or pseudo-patriotism if not overt nationalism. They make China seem like a potent threat based on patents that aren’t even prevalent in the West. But such is the agenda of sites like IAM, which does this to India as well; they wrote about Dolby in relation to India some months back and days ago they issued the latest ‘PR’ for Dolby’s patent aggression (in their site and in Twitter).

The EPO needs to ask itself who or what it serves; as it stands at the moment it serves neither Europe nor science and instead it serves patent trolls/lawyers, irrespective of where they come from. Obviously that’s a problem — one that well-educated patent examiners can recognise and routinely warn about publicly.

Team UPC Has Been Reduced to Lies, Lies, and More Lies about the Unified Patent Court Agreement

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: With the Unified Patent Court Agreement pretty much dead on arrival (an arrival that is never reached, either) the UPC hopefuls — those looking to profit from lots of frivolous patent litigation in Europe — resort to bald-faced lying

THIS WEEKEND we’re still struggling with server issues and potential migration by month’s end. We’ve decided to focus on the European Patent Office (EPO) today and leave aside, at least until tomorrow, all the coverage about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). We should also note that things have quieted down on both ‘fronts’ (or continents or countries), presumably because of the media’s decline in general, not lack of things to cover.

Just before the weekend we caught some lies about the Unitary Patent (referred to collectively as Unified Patent Court, or UPC). We have given many examples of the common lies about UPC in relation to Brexit. These lies are being repeated every week, almost always by law firms with a stake in the outcome.

Just before the weekend a ‘news’ site of a law firm encouraged businesses to ask for more business from law firms. Why? Brexit. What a bunch of self-serving manipulators. Skipping all the self-promotional nonsense, there’s this sentence towards the end: “The withdrawal agreement also confirms that the UK will be considered a member of the new Unified Patent Court regime during the Brexit transition period.”

There’s no UPC! The Unified Patent Court doesn’t exist and here they are pretending again that it’s there already and the only question is, can the UK join? (it technically and legally cannot)

Unified Patent Court lies like these are just nonchalantly thrown out there; the above shows up even in Google News (which does not seem to recognise the lack of objectivity of the source that’s trying to sell something). Shameless self-promotion and marketing.

“Unified Patent Court lies like these are just nonchalantly thrown out there; the above shows up even in Google News (which does not seem to recognise the lack of objectivity of the source that’s trying to sell something).”The Dennemeyer Group also spreads lies about the Unified Patent Court Agreement; it’s now pretending that “no legal barriers are standing in the way, just some political will.” This is a lie. There are constitutional barriers and corruption.

From Dennemeyer’s article: “The Agreement only needs ratification by Germany and Great Britain to come into effect. When it comes to the latter, no legal barriers are standing in the way, just some political will.”

Nonsense. Utter nonsense.

Then came the CIPA types, just like the above law firms. To quote the messengers’ self-promotional disclosures: “European Patent Attorney, Chartered Patent Attorney (UK) with a Ph.D. and a Master Degree in Physics, Dr. Anthony Carlick entered the IP profession in 2005. Before joining Dennemeyer & Associates, he worked for a top tier IP firm in the UK and also spent four years in the Middle East as a patent consultant. In this presentation, part of our Dennemeyer Annual Meeting 2018 blog series, Dr. Carlick discusses all the different options patent owners have and the ratification of UPC.”

They are just trying to sell something. Doing so by lying is detrimental to one’s reputation.

Speaking of poor reputation, how about Bristows? Alan Johnson (Bristows) cites an unsourced “rumour” (lie that brings up further concerns) about UPC given a go-ahead in Germany by year’s end. This is a lobbying tactic of Team UPC; it’s pretty much refuted by the court itself.

Kluwer Patent Blog published it under a real name, for a change, as many of their UPC articles were recently posted anonymously (usually those seeking to discredit truth-tellers about the UPC).

“They have been saying UPC would start “real soon now” for at least 3 years and where are we now?”People like Alan Johnson are telling these lies to politicians (like Jo Johnson and his successor), who then make misleading public statements. From Alan Johnson: “What then of the UPC and unitary patent dossier? From that perspective, the important point about this draft agreement is the expected Transition Period. Union law still applies to the UK in this period including, of course, the unitary patent and translation Regulations. These Regulations require that unitary patents are litigated in the UPC, and hence the effect of the Withdrawal Agreement is implicitly to sanction the UPC Agreement coming into force with the UK as a participant. “All” then that is required is for the Bundesverfassungsgeright to deal with the Stjerna Complaint – which rumours suggest might happen this year. Hence, if this Brexit deal goes through in some form, and if the BVerfG delivers the hoped-for rejection of the Complaint, we could actually see the UPC start in 2019 – a mere 60 years since a pan-European patent court was first seriously mooted and a mere 20 years since the Paris Intergovernmental Conference of the EPC which started the latest efforts (your author attended his first meeting with the UK IPO on this topic on 18 November 1999).”

This is an incredible lie, as usual from Bristows. They have been saying UPC would start “real soon now” for at least 3 years and where are we now? Their UPC blog is pretty much dead. No blog posts in months (they used to write several times per week).

Techrights recently turned 12 and I’ve never in those dozen years seen such chronic lying. Team UPC takes it to a whole new level.

Links 17/11/2018: Mesa 18.3 RC3, Total War: WARHAMMER II, GNOME 3.31.2

Posted in News Roundup at 8:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • FAIL!!! Windows 10 October Update (1809) Still Has Multiple Flaws

      Microsoft has acknowledged this issue and suggested a few workarounds, but they aren’t exactly useful. In fact, those solutions could lead to more problems for businesses that mostly rely on their mapped network drives.

      The company admitted that “mapped drives may fail to reconnect after starting and logging onto a Windows device.” Microsoft says it is working on a solution, but also made it clear that a fix won’t be arriving before 2019.

    • If at first or second you don’t succeed, you may be Microsoft: Hold off installing re-released Windows Oct Update

      The 1809 build of Windows 10 and Windows Server is fast becoming infamous. Microsoft pulled it shortly after release when it started deleting people’s files, and stumbling in other ways. Redmond reissued the software on Tuesday, and today it’s clear you shouldn’t rush into deploying it, if installing it at all, in its present state.

    • Microsoft Just Crammed Ads Into Windows 10 Mail. When Will They Stop? [Ed: With Vista 10 the users are the product. The spies from Microsoft spy on them (sometimes illegally, but these people are above the law) and their real clients are advertisers.]

      Whether it’s pre-installing Candy Crush Saga, showing full-screen ads on your lock screen, or displaying banner ads in File Explorer, Microsoft has been shoehorning ads into every inch of Windows 10. The Mail app is getting them next.

      Update: Microsoft’s head of communications, Frank Shaw, just backpedaled on Twitter. He said “this is an experimental feature that was never intended to be tested broadly and is being turned off.” As Mehedi Hassan notes over at Thurrott, this is a strange claim because Microsoft has a detailed support page explaining these advertisements.

    • Microsoft menaced with GDPR mega-fines in Europe for ‘large scale and covert’ gathering of people’s info via Office

      Microsoft broke Euro privacy rules by carrying out the “large scale and covert” gathering of private data through its Office apps.

      That’s according to a report out this month [PDF] that was commissioned by the Dutch government into how information handled by 300,000 of its workers was processed by Microsoft’s Office ProPlus suite. This software is installed on PCs and connects to Office 365 servers.

      The dossier’s authors found that the Windows goliath was collecting telemetry and other content from its Office applications, including email titles and sentences where translation or spellchecker was used, and secretly storing the data on systems in the United States. That’s a no-no.

      Those actions break Europe’s new GDPR privacy safeguards, it is claimed, and may put Microsoft on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines. The Dutch authorities are working with the corporation to fix the situation, and are using the threat of a fine as a stick to make it happen.

    • How old were you when you first started using Linux?

      Whether you switched from another operating system, or are one of the lucky few who knew no OS before it, all of us were beginners at some point.

      How old were you when you started using Linux? Do you remember that time clearly, or is it so far in the past that it’s but a faint memory?

      Regardless of the answer, let us know when it was, and maybe, a bit about what that experience has meant to you.

    • macOS vs.Windows: Which OS Really Is the Best?

      If you’re truly gung-ho on interface customization, I recommend Linux, which offers a selection of completely different user interface shells.

      [...]

      Those looking for the ultimate in stability, though, should check out Linux.

  • Server

    • Migrating to Linux: the basis of digital transformation

      SAP is moving HANA exclusively to Linux – Sabine Soellheim explains why

    • Red Hat Ties Kubernetes Platform Closer to OpenStack

      Red Hat this week moved to tie application development and deployment environments based on Kubernetes closer to the latest version of the OpenStack cloud computing framework.

      The Red Hat OpenStack 14 release is based on the Rocky distribution of OpenStack. With this release, Red Hat is making it easier to automate the deployment of its distribution of Kubernetes on both virtual machines and bare-metal servers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).

      Other capabilities added include automated deployment of production-ready, high-availability Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform clusters based on Kubernetes and the ability for OpenShift container-based and OpenStack workloads based on virtual machines to share the same virtual network using the open source Kuryr container networking software developed under the auspices of the OpenStack Foundation.

    • Ruby in Containers

      Software changes environments from a development machine to a UAT (user acceptance testing) server environment or even from a test environment to production. It is required that the software runs consistently and reliably in these environments in the process.

      There was a time when deploying software was an event, a ceremony because of the difficulty that was required to keep this consistency. Teams spent a lot of time making the destination environments run the software as the source environment. They thereafter prayed that the gods kept the software running perfectly in production as in development.

      With containers, deployments are more frequent because we package our applications with their libraries as a unit making them portable thereby helping us maintain consistency and reliability when moving software between environments. For developers, this is improved productivity, portability and ease of scaling.

      Because of this portability, containers have become the universal language of the cloud allowing us to move software from one cloud to another without much trouble.

      In this article, I will discuss two major concepts to note while working with containers in Ruby. I will discuss how to create small container images and how to test them.

    • Kubernetes co-founder on the container revolution and the future of VMs

      Containers have exploded in popularity in recent years. To help with the deploying, scaling, and managing of containerized applications, Brendan Burns co-founded Kubernetes – a production-grade container orchestration system. In this episode, Brendan shares how he and his co-founders came up with the idea, how they got started, and what containers mean for the future of Virtual Machines.

    • FOSS Project Spotlight: BlueK8s

      Kubernetes (aka K8s) is now the de facto container orchestration framework. Like other popular open-source technologies, Kubernetes has amassed a considerable ecosystem of complementary tools to address everything from storage to security. And although it was first created for running stateless applications, more and more organizations are interested in using Kubernetes for stateful applications.

      However, while Kubernetes has advanced significantly in many areas during the past couple years, there still are considerable gaps when it comes to running complex stateful applications. It remains challenging to deploy and manage distributed stateful applications consisting of a multitude of co-operating services (such as for use cases with large-scale analytics and machine learning) with Kubernetes.

    • How to choose the right storage solution for your containers

      We talk to many shops that are adopting, or have adopted, DevOps practices. For many companies, staying ahead of disruption means not only delivering new applications but also optimizing (or changing!) current processes and systems. They are moving to team-based cultures, working in smaller increments, and automating their environments to try to increase the velocity for software development and deployment.

      Having a common storage underpinning that is “self-service” for developers to provision and manage storage for their applications means teams have less friction in developing and shipping applications.

    • Red Hat releases Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 beta; deprecates Btrfs filesystem
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta Offers Stratis and Yum 4 with Efficient Linux Networking
    • Red Hat Names Carahsoft 2018 Public Sector Distribution Partner of the Year; Natalie Gregory Quoted

      Red Hat has selected Carahsoft Technology as a recipient of the Public Sector Distribution Partner of the Year award for the fifth year in a row.

      Carahsoft said Thursday the award recognizes its efforts to drive net revenue and support for Red Hat’s public sector partner program.

    • Why IBM’s purchase of Red Hat makes their future mostly cloudy

      IBM’s purchase of Red Hat is getting mixed reviews and the implications for the IT world remain to be seen. I talked with James Sanders about the acquisition and reaction to the news. The following is an edited transcript of our interview.

    • First beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 now available with security updates, new features

      As the dust settles from the announcement of IBM’s pending acquisition of Red Hat, work continues undaunted in delivering new products. This week sees the first beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 8, Red Hat’s venerable enterprise distribution, which also serves as the basis for CentOS and Oracle Linux. For reference, RHEL is based on Fedora, which just celebrated the release of Fedora 29.

      In terms of security, the biggest changes in RHEL 8 are support for OpenSSL 1.1.1 and TLS 1.3, which a press release notes “[enable] server applications on the platform to use the latest standards for cryptographic protection of customer data.” Likewise, the new release includes “System-wide Cryptographic Policies” allowing for cryptographic configuration using a unified interface, rather than needing to work with specific applications.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation

      • Acumos Project’s 1st Software, Athena, Helps Ease AI Deployment

        The LF Deep Learning Foundation on Wednesday announced the availability of the first software from the Acumos AI Project. Dubbed “Athena,” it supports open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning.

        This is the first software release from the Acumos AI Project since its launch earlier this year. The goal is to make critical new technologies available to developers and data scientists everywhere.

        Acumos is part of a Linux Foundation umbrella organization, the LF Deep Learning Foundation, that supports and sustains open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning. Acumos is based in Shanghai.

      • Uber is the latest firm to join The Linux Foundation

        The Linux Foundation has announced that Uber has become the newest Gold member of the non-profit organization. The announcement came during the Uber Open summit which runs for one day where developers and community leader hold talks and workshops on advancing open source collaboration and innovation at scale. Uber is just the latest big name to join the group, other members include Deutsche Telekom, Valve, and Microsoft.

        As part of the move, Uber has also joined The Linux Foundation’s TODO Group, an open group where firms can collaborate on tools and practices to successfully maintain “effective” open source projects.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Open-Source AMD Linux Driver Stack Hitting Problems With The Radeon RX 590

        While the Radeon RX 590 that launched this week is just yet another Polaris refresh, it turns out the open-source AMD Linux graphics driver stack isn’t yet playing well with retail RX 590 graphics cards. This is quite a surprise considering the PCI ID was picked up months ago and the mature Polaris Linux driver support for quite a while now, but could be like the rough Raven Ridge Linux experience where the production cards with the shipping vBIOS isn’t what the developers encountered during their pre-production driver enablement.

        [...]

        Long story short, it looks like at least one initialization issue is blocking the Radeon RX 590 Linux support. Hopefully the workaround ends up being trivial enough that it can be quickly back-ported to existing stable Linux kernel series. Once the Radeon RX 590 is running well on Linux, I’ll be through with a ton of benchmarks that I have already been working on this week with other graphics cards using the newest Linux driver stacks. This situation is sadly reminiscent of the Raven Ridge launch earlier this year where the open-source driver team was working on support for months in advance, but the production hardware/BIOS ended up varying a lot from their hardware bring-up that is was very shaky support at launch. The Raven Ridge support improved a lot on Linux since launch, but even to this day some hardware still seems to be problematic both of hardware in my labs as well as reports by users. Hopefully it won’t take nearly as long for the RX 590 support to be in shape.

      • mesa 18.3.0-rc3

        The third release candidate for Mesa 18.3.0 is now available.

      • Mesa 18.3-RC3 Released With RADV Fixes, Drops Zen L3 Thread Pinning

        Mesa release manager Emil Velikov has announced the latest weekly release candidate of the upcoming Mesa 18.3.

        Mesa 18.3 has a number of Meson build system updates, several RADV driver corrections, a few NIR updates, fixes video API support for Raven 2 APUs, and back-ports the change to drop the AMD Zen L3 thread pinning functionality.

      • Radeon ROCm 1.9.2 Released – Brings SDMA/RDMA Support For Vega 20, HIP/HCC Improvements

        While we know ROCm 2.0 is coming out before year’s end and that will have many improvements like complete OpenCL 2.0 support, ROCm 1.9.2 is out today as the latest stable release for this Radeon Open Compute stack.

        ROCm 1.9.2 brings some notable changes for just being a point release ahead of the big ROCm 2.0 milestone. Vega 20 remains one of the big areas for AMD’s driver/software developers for what will begin shipping next year as the Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 accelerators.

      • Mozilla Now Ships Firefox Nightly Builds With Wayland Enabled

        After what feels like an eternity in waiting years for Mozilla to ship their Firefox web-browser with native Wayland support enabled, their latest Firefox Nightly builds have achieved this milestone.

        There have been Wayland patches for Firefox going back years but the Wayland support hasn’t been enabled in the official Firefox binaries up until now. Starting yesterday, the Mozilla.org Firefox Nightly packages have Wayland support built-in and when launching Firefox if GDK_BACKEND=wayland is set, should now work with native Wayland rather than XWayland.

    • Benchmarks

      • Bisected: The Unfortunate Reason Linux 4.20 Is Running Slower

        After running a lot of tests and then bisecting the Linux 4.20 kernel merge window, the reason for the significant slowdowns in the Linux 4.20 kernel for many real-world workloads is now known…

        This latest Linux 4.20 testing endeavor started out with seeing the Intel Core i9 performance pulling back in many synthetic and real-world tests. This ranged from Rodinia scientific OpenMP tests taking 30% longer to Java-based DaCapo tests taking up to ~50% more time to complete to code compilation tests taking measurably longer to lower PostgreSQL database server performance to longer Blender3D rendering times. That happened with a Core i9 7960X and Core i9 7980XE test systems while the AMD Threadripper 2990WX performance was unaffected by the Linux 4.20 upgrade.

      • More Benchmarks Of The Performance Pullback In Linux 4.20

        Last night I published some benchmarks after finding Linux 4.20 is regressing in several workloads compared to Linux 4.18/4.19 and at least was affecting Intel Core i9 “HEDT” boxes. Here are more affected workloads regressing on Linux 4.20 and it’s not just limited to high-end hardware.

        This morning I decided to check in on my automated bi-daily kernel benchmarks on LinuxBenchmarking.com. It’s all automated and thus don’t necessarily have the time to look at the data too often (even though PTS’ LinuxBenchmarking.com does also provide email notifications when auto-detecting possible regressions), but in looking back at the archived data it too captured a significant performance pullback on multiple systems on Linux 4.20.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Talking about Qt and Computer Vision at QtCon Brasil 2018

        I had the opportunity to participate in QtCon Brasil 2018 as a speaker during the last weekend. It happened in São Paulo, which is a city that I haven’t visited for a long time. My talk was about the integration of Qt applications and Computer Vision, specially focused on the mobile environment with QtQuick and QML.

        During my presentation, I was focused on introducing some concepts to the people who just have heard or never had contact with Computer Vision. I talked a little bit about OpenCV, including an brief explanation about its modules and how they work, and I presented a little example of object recognition application made with QML (the code is available in the repository).

      • Qt Quick Performance Improvements with Qt 5.12 LTS

        Qt 5.9 LTS already shows a great improvement of the overall performance compared to the previous long-term supported Qt 5.6 LTS release. These are summarized in a blog post about Performance Improvements with Qt 5.9 LTS and Qt Quick Performance Improvements on 64-bit ARM. With Qt 5.12 LTS we have continued to tune these further and taken a deeper look into the areas of QML engine memory consumption and JavaScript performance.

        Qt 5.9 LTS already shows a great improvement of the overall performance compared to the previous long-term supported Qt 5.6 LTS release. These are summarized in a blog post about Performance Improvements with Qt 5.9 LTS and Qt Quick Performance Improvements on 64-bit ARM. With Qt 5.12 LTS we have continued to tune these further and taken a deeper look into the areas of QML engine memory consumption and JavaScript performance.

      • Qt 5.12 Lowering The QML Memory Consumption, Better JavaScript Performance

        As part of The Qt Company’s ongoing improvements to their tool-kit and with Qt 5.12 being an LTS release, this cycle they focused a lot on improving the performance.

        Qt 5.12 LTS will be releasing in the next few weeks and as part of their performance push they have been working to lowering the memory consumption of the QML engine. The QML data structures have been optimized to reduce their size and better handling around cached objects.

      • Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 released

        We are happy to announce the release of Qt Creator 4.8.0 Beta2!

        This release comes with the many fixes that we have done since our first Beta release.

        Additionally we upgraded the LLVM for the Clang code model to version 7.0, and our binary packages to the Qt 5.12 prerelease.

      • KDE Itinerary @ Paris Open Transport Meetup

        I have been invited by Kisio Digital to present the work we have been doing around KDE Itinerary at the Paris Open Transport Meetup next week. The meetup is near Gare de Lyon and starts on Thursday at 19:00. Feel free to come by, I’m looking forward to discuss ideas on how to move KDE Itinerary forward.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.31.2 released

        GNOME 3.31.2 is now available. This is the second unstable development release leading to 3.32 stable series. Apologies that it’s slightly late: there were some technical snafus.

        If you want to compile GNOME 3.31.2, you can use the official BuildStream project snapshot. Thanks to BuildStream’s build sandbox, it should build reliably for you regardless of the dependencies on your host system…

      • GNOME 3.31.2 Desktop Released
      • Plata Is A New Gtk Theme Based On The Latest Material Design Refresh

        Plata is a new Gtk+ theme based on the latest Material Design refresh. The theme comes in 3 variants, regular (mixed), Lumiere (light) and Noir (dark), each with regular and compact versions.

        The theme, which mixes black, indigo and grey with bits of red and purple, supports Gtk+ 3.20.x, 3.22.x and 3.24.x, as well as Gtk+ 2, and a multitude of desktop environments like Gnome Shell (and Flashback), Cinnamon, Xfce, Mate, LXDE, and Budgie Desktop.

        Patheon (elementary OS), Unity 7 and “Gnome Shell customized by Canonical” (the Ubuntu session) are not officially supported by Plata theme. I’ve used Plata in Ubuntu 18.10 with Gnome Shell and I didn’t notice any issues other than the theme GDM theme not being used, but this is only after about an hour of usage.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Manjaro Linux 18.0 – Review and Features

        Manjaro has finally released a stable version of Manjaro 18.0 also codenamed “Illyria“. Manjaro always provided a lot of lot of emphasis on a user-friendly experience and Illyria is lived upto that to a great extent. The open source operating system is designed in such a way that it work completely out of the box straight away as it comes with a lot of pre-installed software. So once complete the installation of Manjaro 18.0, you don’t need to go installing other software that is needed for your day to day tasks. And Manjaro 18.0 has come out with fixes for a lot of issues and some improvements as well. Manjaro Linux 18.0 is certainly one of the easy-to-use and simple Arch Linux desktop version.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora lifecycle: Problems, solutions, and a proposal

        I’ve been talking with a number of Fedora leaders, principals, and team members about the issue of Fedora lifecycle. Lifecycle here means the way we manage, schedule, and populate Fedora releases. I started the Lifecycle objective and proposed it as a lead to the Fedora Council to house what I hope will be improvements to Fedora lifecycle.

        One of the most important goals is to diversify the community ownership of our releases. This involves a fairly extensive set of changes in Fedora. It will need effort from a number of teams that work on release processes and services. For that reason, I’m proposing we pause the release cycle after the release of Fedora 30.

        I posted this morning to the devel list to start gathering feedback and input from a wider group on the ideas around the ideas in the writeup. The most important feedback comes from those who are involved in those processes and services. But constructive feedback is welcome from any part of Fedora. Please take the time to read the whole document and understand the goals and benefits for Fedora.

      • FPgM report: 2018-46
      • Fedora 29 : PyQt5 with Qt5 Designer tool.
      • Bodhi 3.11.0 released
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Raspbian 2018-11-13 Brings Hardware-Accelerated VLC Media Player

          After releasing the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ yesterday, the Raspberry Pi Foundation today announced Raspbian 2018-11-13 as the latest update to their Debian-based Linux distribution for these low-cost ARM SBCs.

          Most notable with the Raspbian November 2018 update is shipping VLC as its default media player application. The VLC build in Raspbian comes with working hardware acceleration using Broadcom’s VideoCore engine for H.264 / MPEG-2 / VC-1 video formats. But the MPEG-2 and VC-1 support requires purchasing the codec licenses.

        • Raspberry Pi software update brings VLC media player (with hardware-accelerated video playback)

          The Raspberry Pi line of single-board computers can run a variety of operating systems, but there is one operating system that’s officially supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It’s called Raspbian and it’s GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian.

          This week the Raspberry Pi team released a new version with a new Python development tool called Thonny, and some under the hood tweaks to things like the Appearance menu.

          But one of the most interesting updates is the inclusion of VLC as the default media player.

        • How to upgrade the Raspberry Pi in your Kano Computer

          Upgrading the Raspberry Pi in your Kano Computer can sound a little scary, especially for folks out there who have no idea how to do so. There’s no need to worry, since it’s actually quite simple, even if you’re not sure what Raspbian or Debian even is.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04 Will Get 10-Year Support (Instead of the Usual 5 Years)

            The long-term support (LTS) releases of Ubuntu used to get support for five years. This is changing now. Ubuntu 18.04 will now be supported for ten years. Other LTS releases might also get an extended support.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Extended to 10-Year Support as Shuttleworth Predicts 2019 IPO

            At the latest OpenStack Summit, the founder and CEO of Canonical Inc / Ubuntu mentioned that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Long Term Support) will be receiving up to 10 years of support. This is of significant news, since most LTS releases receive only 5 years of support – although Ubuntu 12.04 and 14.04 also received extended supports. Shuttleworth also mentioned that while 16.04 is technically reaching the end of its lifespan in April 2021, it too will be given extended support.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS support is now extended for up to 10 years
          • Ubuntu MATE 18.10 Cosmic Cuttlefish – Reasonable-ish

            We mentioned consistency, remember? Well, in this regard, Ubuntu MATE is consistent. Lots of tiny visual bugs, average battery life, an occasional crash or three, and network connectivity issues. These were my top complaints with Beaver and they remain so with Cuttlefish. Ubuntu MATE 18.10 is more or less identical to its LTS predecessor. The changes aren’t really big, with some extra hardware problems – the phone side is a big, big disappointment, but you get better overall theming and a more streamlined package manager.

            I would like to see this project succeed, but the energy investment from going hobby to pro is exponential, and it can’t be done easily. But this is exactly what Ubuntu MATE needs. A super-strong QA process, and more focus on getting things tightly integrated. Power management is another issue. In the end, you should stay with the LTS edition of course, but hopefully, the problems we see here will be resolved in the next version. This reminds me of the situation Xfce was in two years ago. Gaining momentum, becoming better, and then … we’ll see.

            Because, speaking of energy, there does seem to be a limited, finite amount of it, and the mojo pendulum seems to have swung away from Xfce to MATE. There are a lot of excellent and unique new ideas in this project, but the glue (gluons in nuclear physics, if you will) isn’t strong enough. Grade, about 7/10. I really want to see everything working like clockwork. Having a modern, majestic Gnome 2 reincarnate would be super fun. Take care, Borgians.

          • Mastering the upgrading of OpenStack

            This past week the OpenStack Summit has been in Berlin with thousands attending the last of its name, given that it will soon be renamed the Open Infrastructure Summit.

            Canonical, as a founding member of the OpenStack community, was of course in attendance, speaking with attendees, hosting talks, presenting demos, and on stage delivering a keynote.

            At this Summit, Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, spoke about a number of topics, from 10 years support for Ubuntu 18.04, to why price performance is critical when operating in a world where AWS, Microsoft and Google are all competing for the CIOs attention, and the Ubuntu AI story from the cloud to the edge with perfectly portable AI.

            One topic, which is perhaps not as buzzworthy or ‘sexy’ as AI but is fundamentally important, is that of upgrading OpenStack.

            Upgrading OpenStack for Canonical, means being able to support every single OpenStack release with upgrades. That means when Stein and Train are released, we will deploy, as part of the test process, Icehouse on 14.04, then deploy workloads on Kubernetes on Icehouse. With that running in the cloud, and without losing a workload, the version is then upgraded up to Mitaka. We then take the running cloud and upgrade to 16.04 under the hood, then upgrade to Queens, then upgrade to 18.04 and on to Rocky, Stein and beyond, as standard.

          • Ubuntu Mir’s EGMDE Desktop Getting Experimental XWayland

            Ubuntu’s little known EGMDE example Mir desktop that is mostly a proving grounds for Mir development is now receiving support for XWayland for being able to run X11 applications within this example environment.

            Lead Mir developer Alan Griffiths posted about initial XWayland support for EGMDE but that it is “highly experimental, and can crash the desktop.” This support is available via the “edge” EGMDE Snap.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Delver devs release their tech publicly under open source license

    As an added bonus, it’s always nice when developers open source their tech to share with others.

    The source release doesn’t contain or cover the game data from Delver, and the game data remains subject to original copyright and applicable law.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the source code release is licensed under the GNU General Public License v2.0, meaning the software can continue to be shared, edited, and distributed for free, and can be used for commercial use as well.

  • How open source makes lock-in worse (and better) [Ed: Troll Mac Asay at it again]

    For open source companies desperate to figure out a business model that scales with the adoption of their ostensibly free software, Amazon’s recent troubles getting off Oracle’s database could be instructive. One way to look at Amazon’s struggles is through the lens of “proprietary software creates lock-in,” but this isn’t actually helpful. Why? Because open source creates similar lock-in, and that’s something open source entrepreneurs might want to consider.

  • At Acquia Engage, CTO talks of open source WCM, Red Hat buy

    Dries Buytaert: No, [because] 18 to 19 years ago, mobile didn’t exist. Google was a private company. I remember AT&T launching text messaging a month or so before. Social media didn’t exist. I think less than 10% of the world had internet.

    I started Drupal; it was very much an experimental platform for me, just to have some fun. I was fascinated with the web, and I didn’t have any grand plans. Obviously, that changed over time. I made it open source, [and] it started growing, slowly.

    Drupal started to grow, so I started my plans for Drupal and [followed] my conviction of us being onto something. We made a bet-the-farm bet on cloud [in about 2008], and that turned out to be the right bet, because we pioneered a new business model for open source, delivering [it] in the cloud. And a lot of companies are doing that now — Elastic Path, MongoDB — and I’m very proud of that.

  • Openstack moves one step closer to the edge

    The second Openstack Summit of the year drew to a close in Berlin yesterday, and it will be the last of its name as it rebrands as the Open Infrastructure Summit in 2019, a move that seems largely in line with the evolution of the open source cloud platform as it shifts further into edge and builds out a series of related pilot projects with Openstack as the core proposition.

    Many of the keynotes this time around showed the progress that the community had made in building out the pilot projects announced at the Vancouver Summit earlier this year. One in particular, the first release of StarlingX, might well help cement the open infrastructure platform in edge.

    StarlingX is branded as an open source edge platform, with telecom and IoT use cases in mind. According to the Foundation it “leverages components of Ceph, Openstack and Kubernetes and complements them with new services including configuration and fault management”, in particular to address technology challenges around high availability and ultra-low latency compute.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Mycroft

    Companies are looking to provide better experiences with their customers, which has given rise to the popularity of chatbots. Yet assistants that use voice tend to be only associated with tech giants like Apple, Amazon, and Google. Mycroft is an open-source voice assistant that is aiming to make voice assistants more attainable for everyone.

    “We believe the future of AI should be open, not a cryptic black box only few understand and have control over. Building this new technology together, collaborating, sharing ideas and building on top of each other – that’s how we see it,” Mycroft’s website states.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Productivity That You Should Use In 2019

        Google is the most popular browser around and supports a vast number of extensions as well. Since there are a lot of Chrome addons available in the Chrome Web Store, picking the best Google Chrome extension can be quite a task.

        Also, it is quite easy to get distracted on the web and lose track of time. Thankfully, several good extensions for productivity are available that can help you focus on your tasks, save time by prioritizing them and skillfully manage your to-do list. So here is a list of excellent Google Chrome extensions for productivity for the year 2019 that will assist you in your work in.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Fights On For Net Neutrality

        Mozilla took the next step today in the fight to defend the web and consumers from the FCC’s attack on an open internet. Together with other petitioners, Mozilla filed our reply brief in our case challenging the FCC’s elimination of critical net neutrality protections that require internet providers to treat all online traffic equally.

        The fight for net neutrality, while not a new one, is an important one. We filed this case because we believe that the internet works best when people control for themselves what they see and do online.

        The FCC’s removal of net neutrality rules is not only bad for consumers, it is also unlawful. The protections in place were the product of years of deliberation and careful fact-finding that proved the need to protect consumers, who often have little or no choice of internet provider. The FCC is simply not permitted to arbitrarily change its mind about those protections based on little or no evidence. It is also not permitted to ignore its duty to promote competition and protect the public interest. And yet, the FCC’s dismantling of the net neutrality rules unlawfully removes long standing rules that have ensured the internet provides a voice for everyone.

        Meanwhile, the FCC’s defenses of its actions and the supporting arguments of large cable and telco company ISPs, who have come to the FCC’s aid, are misguided at best. They mischaracterize the internet’s technical structure as well as the FCC’s mandate to advance internet access, and they ignore clear evidence that there is little competition among ISPs. They repeatedly contradict themselves and have even introduced new justifications not outlined in the FCC’s original decision to repeal net neutrality protections.

      • Virtual meeting rooms don’t have to be boring. We challenge you to design better ones!

        Mozilla’s mission is to make the Internet a global public resource, open and accessible to all, including innovators, content creators, and builders on the web. VR is changing the very future of web interaction, so advancing it is crucial to Mozilla’s mission. That was the initial idea behind Hubs by Mozilla, a VR interaction platform launched in April 2018 that lets you meet and talk to your friends, colleagues, partners, and customers in a shared 360-environment using just a browser, on any device from head-mounted displays like HTC Vive to 2D devices like laptops and mobile phones.

        Since then, the Mozilla VR team has kept integrating new and exciting features to the Hubs experience: the ability bring videos, images, documents, and even 3D models into Hubs by simply pasting a link. In early October, two more useful features were added: drawing and photo uploads.

      • New Raspbian Update, Qt Creator 4.8 Beta2 Released, Firefox Monitor Now Available in More Than 26 Languages, Chrome OS Linux Soon Will Have Access to Downloads Folder and Canonical Extends Ubuntu 18.04 Long-Term Support

        Firefox Monitor, the free services that tells you whether your email has been part of a security breach, is now available in more than 26 languages: “Albanian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English (Canadian), French, Frisian, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish (Argentina, Mexico, and Spain), Swedish, Turkish, Ukranian and Welsh.” Along with this, Mozilla also announced that it has added “a notification to our Firefox Quantum browser that alerts desktop users when they visit a site that has had a recently reported data breach”. See the Mozilla blog for details.

  • CMS

    • WordPress Update 5.0 Introduces The Gutenberg Editor, A Brand New Theme and Much More

      WordPress, an open source platform for managing content which is built up and based around MySQL and PHP. Often used for blogging purposes and publishing content on websites, WordPress happens to be one of the pioneer class in what it does. With that, building up on its current platform, the latest update for is arriving sooner than later. The 5.0 update, dubbed as the biggest update in quite a while.

      While minor updates will be followed and coupled with the main deal, WordPress developers and publishers have been keen to reiterate the two new additions brought towards it, this time around. Firstly they emphasis on the Gutenberg Editor, a new way to edit text rather than the usual classic WordPress Editor that people normally use. The second one happens to be the theme for the updates platform. Dubbed as the Twenty Nineteen theme, this will be the style suite enveloping the WordPress user interface this time around.

      Firstly, Gutenberg. This is not a new feature for those ‘Pro’ WordPress users who may have seen the update as a form of the testing phase in the update version 4.9.8. It allowed for users to try out this new form of the text editing platform. The look of the entire editor window seems ot be revamped and can be seen here below. Apart from that, interacting with it has been changed, the true depth of which would be completely known when the full version is available to the end users and is tested out.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Programming/Development

    • Free Online Java EE Development Course From Red Hat Available Now

      The Red Hat Training team is pleased to announce the release of Fundamentals of Java EE Development. This free training is hosted by our partner edX. edX is an open online course provider that now hosts three Red Hat courses, including Fundamentals of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Fundamentals of Containers, Kubernetes, and Red Hat OpenShift.

      Enterprise Java (Java EE is now known as Jakarta EE) is one of the most in-demand and marketable programming platforms. With Fundamentals of Java EE Development, students learn the foundational skills needed to develop modern applications. Serving as an introduction to enterprise Java development using Red Hat Developer Studio and Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, this course builds on students’ Java SE skills to teach the basic concepts behind more advanced topics such as microservices and cloud-native applications.

    • New Rust Course – Building Reuseable Code with Rust

      This course is about the Rust programming language, but it’s not those general introductory course on basic Rust syntax. This course focus on the code reuse aspect of the Rust language. So we won’t be touch every language feature, but we’ll help you understand how a selected set of features will help you achieve code reuse.

      [...]

      snippet is not enough. What comes next naturally is to define a clear interface, or internal API between the modules (in a general sense, not the Rust mod). This is when traits comes in handy. Traits help you define and enforce interfaces. We’ll also discuss the performance impact on static dispatch vs. dynamic dispatch by using generics and trait object.

      Finally we talk about more advanced (i.e. you shouldn’t use it unless necessary) tool like macros, which will help do crazier things by tapping directly into the compiler. You can write function-like macros that can help you reuse code that needs lower level access. You can also create custom derive with macros.

    • What is the MEAN stack? JavaScript web applications

      Most anyone who has developed web applications knows the acronym LAMP, which is used to describe web stacks made with Linux, Apache (web server), MySQL (database server), and PHP, Perl, or Python (programming language).

      Another web-stack acronym has come to prominence in the last few years: MEAN—signifying a stack that uses MongoDB (database server), Express (server-side JavaScript framework), Angular (client-side JavaScript framework), and Node.js (JavaScript runtime).

    • RcppGetconf 0.0.3

      Changes are minor. We avoid an error on a long-dead operating system cherished in one particular corner of the CRAN world. In doing so some files were updated so that dynamically loaded routines are now registered too.

    • The performance impact of zeroing raw memory

      When you create a new variable (in C, C++ and other languages) or allocate a block of memory the value is undefined. That is, whatever bit pattern happened to be in the raw memory location at the time. This is faster than initialising all memory (which languages such as Java do) but it is also unsafe and can lead to bugs, such as use-after-free issues.

      There have been several attempts to change this behaviour and require that compilers would initialize all memory to a known value, usually zero. This is always rejected with a statement like “that would cause a performance degradation fo unknown size” and the issue is dropped. This is not very scientific so let’s see if we could get at least some sort of a measurement for this.

    • GitHub alternative strives to be all open source, only open source

      A new software service for hosting and managing open source projects, Sr.ht, aims to be an entirely open source alternative to existing services like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket, recreating many of their features.

      Created by Drew DeVault and written in a mixture of Python and Go, Sr.ht is now available for public alpha testing by developers. Users can create an account with the hosted version provided by DeVault, or set up the exact same code on cloud or on-prem hardware.

Leftovers

  • Death by PowerPoint: These talks break the mold

    You could even ditch Keynote, PowerPoint, or LibreOffice altogether and use your projector to display other content.

    At Linux.conf.au 2011, Florian Haas presented Roll Your Own Cloud: Enterprise Virtualization with KVM, DRBD, iSCSI and Pacemaker while Tim Serong drew the slides live in front of the audience.

    For a more “pre-prepared” style, Christopher Pitt proved you can present a talk in Minecraft in his Dutch PHP Conference talk, Zombies and Binary. He uses a simple game modification to add images to signs in the game, changing slides by moving his avatar through the game. This talk centers on teaching logic gates by showing the crafting of Minecraft’s redstone circuits.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Why Delhi is so polluted

      Delhi does not have the dirtiest air in the world. According to the 2018 ranking of 4,500 cities by the World Health Organisation, that distinction goes to Kanpur, another of the north Indian towns that occupy the top 14 spots on the list. But with 25m people Delhi is far bigger than the others, so its pollution endangers more lives. Dirty air kills some 30,000 Delhi-wallahs a year—and that is a low estimate, some doctors say, if you count for effects as varied as higher rates of lung cancer, diabetes, premature births and, according to recent research, even autism. Delhi’s daily average level of suspended PM2.5—fine dust—is six times what the WHO regards as the maximum safe concentration. In winter it is higher and in the weeks after Diwali, an autumn festival of lights (and firecrackers), it can rise above 50 times the WHO limit. Why is Delhi so polluted?

    • Researcher: Michigan’s PFAS threat went unheeded for five years

      Robert Delaney told a Grand Rapids hearing Tuesday with Sen. Gary Peters that he was “concerned and angry” in 2010 about the class of dangerous chemicals called PFAS. With the knowledge of the threat Michiganians faced, Delaney said he “felt like I was at the edge of an abyss looking into hell.”

      But his 2012 report to former DEQ Director Dan Wyant recommending ways to combat the dangerous effects of PFAS went unheeded for five years, a fact that disturbed the scientist.

    • The Democratic Republic of Congo Has Humanitarian Crises Leaving Millions of Children In Danger

      The violence that engulfed Tche is part of a constellation of conflicts affecting the DRC, a country the size of Western Europe that sits on $24 trillion in natural resources but is, nonetheless, one of the world’s poorest nations. While it has received a fraction of the media attention and aid response it needs, Congo’s many conflicts have led to a humanitarian crisis that rivals any — from Syria to Myanmar — on the planet. And DRC’s youth have borne the brunt of the hardship.

    • Rebel attacks threaten Ebola response in Congo

      Salama said many of the cases are spreading through interactions at private health-care facilities, which do not register with the local government and where basic services like running water and safe needle handling do not exist. There are several hundred such facilities in Beni alone, some of which are located in private residences.

      “The majority of transmissions, we believe, is occurring in private health facilities,” Salama said.

    • DR Congo Ebola outbreak ‘worst’ in country’s history

      A vaccination programme has so far inoculated about 25,000 people.

    • The Risk That Ebola Will Spread to Uganda Is Now ‘Very High’

      That means that the best, perhaps only, way to contain an outbreak like the one currently ravaging the Democratic Republic of Congo is by obsessively tracking infected individuals—monitoring their social circles and their movements, and limiting their exposure to other people for weeks at a time. But containment is proving so difficult in DRC that last week, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested an alarming possibility. The current Ebola epidemic could be beyond control, he said, and may—for the first time since the deadly virus was first identified in 1976—become persistently entrenched in the population.

    • Former Flint Mayor Walling says state alone made decision to use Flint River

      But while Walling and the City Council publicly supported Flint’s partnership in the Karegnondi Water Authority, neither had the power to reverse the decision to use the river for drinking water.

      Emergency managers appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder were in charge of city business from 2011 until 2015.

    • Gov. Snyder made personal pitch to keep Flint on Detroit water, former mayor says

      Walling — as have state official since — said he did not know emergency managers in Flint would go on to make separate decisions that led to the city using the Flint River as its source of drinking water until the KWA pipeline was put into service.

    • Parents Deliver Ashes of Diabetic Children to Price-Gouging Insulin Manufacturer

      Nicole Holt-Smith arrived at pharmaceutical giant Sanofi’s research facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Friday carrying a powerful testament to the consequences of price gouging essential medicines under a for-profit health system: the ashes of her son, Alec.

      Alec Raeshawn Smith lived with Type 1 diabetes and lost health coverage under his parent’s insurance plan when he turned 26. He died last year after attempting to ration his insulin supply by cutting doses to make it last longer. Along with Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk, Sanofi is one the three major insulin manufacturers accused of gouging diabetes patients worldwide who use the blood-sugar regulating hormone as a prescription drug in order to stay healthy.

      “Sanofi’s high prices are killing people like my son Alec,” Smith-Holt said in a statement before the action. “I’m sick of them listening to my story and then doing nothing. I’m not asking them to lower prices anymore, I’m demanding it.”

      Along with parents of two other young people who died rationing insulin, Holt-Smith attempted to deliver Alec’s ashes to Sanofi officials during a protest at the research facility on Friday. The parents were flanked by dozens of local diabetes patients, doctors, nurses and students affiliated with the Right Care Alliance, a grassroots group fighting for a health care system that puts people over profits. The Democratic Socialists of American and Physicians for a National Health Program also organized the action.

      Police blocked protesters from approaching the Sanofi office, but organizers negotiated with them to allow the parents to deliver the ashes of Alec and Antavia Lee-Worsham, who also died while rationing insulin last year. Security guards then turned the parents away at the front door, threatening them with arrest. All of Sanofi’s employees had been sent home for the day, according to Right Care Alliance spokesperson Aaron Toleos.

    • A Look At The Proposed EU IP Exception To Promote Generic, Biosimilar Industry Competitiveness

      The European Commission has proposed an exception to the extended period of patent protection that the European Union provides to original drug manufacturers for certain products, in order to boost the competitiveness of EU generic and biosimilar industries in global markets. The exception will allow EU generic and biosimilar companies to manufacture protected drugs for export during this patent extension period. Stakeholders are so far unhappy with the exception. Meanwhile, studies analyse its potential economic impacts and legal implications, and the Commission remains confident that safeguards it is putting in place will keep the lower-priced medicines from making their way back into the EU.

  • Security

    • 5 Easy Tips for Linux Web Browser Security

      If you use your Linux desktop and never open a web browser, you are a special kind of user. For most of us, however, a web browser has become one of the most-used digital tools on the planet. We work, we play, we get news, we interact, we bank… the number of things we do via a web browser far exceeds what we do in local applications. Because of that, we need to be cognizant of how we work with web browsers, and do so with a nod to security. Why? Because there will always be nefarious sites and people, attempting to steal information. Considering the sensitive nature of the information we send through our web browsers, it should be obvious why security is of utmost importance.

      So, what is a user to do? In this article, I’ll offer a few basic tips, for users of all sorts, to help decrease the chances that your data will end up in the hands of the wrong people. I will be demonstrating on the Firefox web browser, but many of these tips cross the application threshold and can be applied to any flavor of web browser.

    • A leaky database of SMS text messages exposed password resets and two-factor codes

      A security lapse has exposed a massive database containing tens of millions of text messages, including password reset links, two-factor codes, shipping notifications and more.

      The exposed server belongs to Voxox (formerly Telcentris), a San Diego, Calif.-based communications company. The server wasn’t protected with a password, allowing anyone who knew where to look to peek in and snoop on a near-real-time stream of text messages.

      For Sébastien Kaul, a Berlin-based security researcher, it didn’t take long to find.

      Although Kaul found the exposed server on Shodan, a search engine for publicly available devices and databases, it was also attached to to one of Voxox’s own subdomains. Worse, the database — running on Amazon’s Elasticsearch — was configured with a Kibana front-end, making the data within easily readable, browsable and searchable for names, cell numbers and the contents of the text messages themselves.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • Google: Android Pie Updates Will Be A Lot Faster With Project Treble
    • Frustrating spammers
    • Popular AMP Plugin for WordPress Patches Critical Flaw – Update Now
    • Why aren’t chip credit cards stopping “card present” fraud in the US?

      Chip cards work by creating a unique code for each transaction, and (ideally) require a customer to enter a PIN to verify that they want to make the purchase. This doesn’t make it impossible to steal information from chip-based cards, but it does make it much harder to reuse a stolen card. By contrast, using a magnetic stripe to swipe a card simply offers all the relevant information to the merchant’s card reader, which is much easier for a bad actor to steal.

      Gemini Advisory now says that 60 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in the US in the past 12 months, and most of those were chip-based cards.

    • Encryption bill: US academic questions what law is trying to achieve

      American cryptography fellow Riana Pfefferkorn has questioned what end the Federal Government’s encryption bill is trying to achieve, asking whether the ends of keeping crime under control could not be achieved by other means.

    • Encryption bill: ‘systemic weakness’ eludes definition

      The Federal Government is yet to properly define in its encryption bill what a systemic weakness means, and the question came up more than once for discussion during the second hearing on the bill before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Security and Intelligence.

    • Minister in Charge of Japan’s Cybersecurity Says He Has Never Used a Computer

      But one is. Japanese lawmakers were aghast on Wednesday when Yoshitaka Sakurada, 68, the minister who heads the government’s cybersecurity office, said during questioning in Parliament that he had no need for the devices, and appeared confused when asked basic technology questions.

    • Former Facebook security chief: ‘I failed to prepare my employer’ on Russian disinformation

      While Stamos took some blame, in a tweet thread he also took at aim at other groups he felt were partially responsible for enabling Russian election interference and credited Facebook for going public with information about misinformation campaigning on its platform when other companies did not.

    • Companies keep losing your data because it doesn’t cost them anything

      Why does this keep happening? Because it’s affordable. In 2014, Home Depot breached more than 50,000,000 credit-cards; in 2016, they paid less than $0.34/customer in restitution.

    • Massive Data Leaks Keep Happening Because Big Companies Can Afford to Lose Your Data

      When criminal [crackers] keep breaking into big company networks to grab consumer data, the reason comes down to dollars and nonsense.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Knife-crime in Britain is rising almost everywhere

      Yet the biggest increases in knife crime have been outside London (see chart). Since 2010-11 it has risen by a tenth there, and by a third in the rest of England and Wales. During the same period, knife crime leapt more sharply than the national average in the patches around Sheffield, Leeds and Liverpool. The number of stabbings began to tick up in North Wales, Norfolk and Essex well before they did in London.

    • Sending the US Army to the Border Creates ‘a War Atmosphere’

      President Donald Trump has deployed 5,600 active-duty US troops to the border with Mexico as part of the mission formerly known as Operation Faithful Patriot. According to leaked documents received by The Nation, the Army will provide Customs and Border Protection officers with anti-riot weapons and protective equipment, further blurring the line between military and civilian law enforcement.

    • The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference

      Historians debate to what extent the Treaty of Versailles was responsible for Hitler’s march to World War II, but there can be little doubt that the treaty ending the “War to End All Wars” continues to be a major factor in our ongoing “War Without End.”

      On November, 11, 1918, Europe laid exhausted and nearly bled dry. Just months before the war ended on that date, fresh, motivated U.S. troops entered the fight and assured an Allied victory. As a result, President Woodrow Wilson played an oversized role in the fateful redrawing of borders across half the globe.

      Wilson was the primary proponent of American Exceptionalism, an idea promoted by the U.S. elite ever since. The myth that somehow America would always advance humanitarian interests attracted many, particularly the dispossessed encouraged by Wilson’s “Fourteen Points.” The president took to his messianic mission in Paris with paternalistic passion but as the record shows, imperialism infected not only European powers, it also drove Wilson. Nonetheless, millions were mesmerized by this outspoken advocate of some vague form of self-determination. He was an empty vessel into which whole nations poured their hopes for a better life.

      True, there was a stated effort at Versailles to rise above the centuries-old tradition of “to the victor goes the spoils” by introducing plebiscites and theoretically grounding decisions more frequently on justice than revenge. However, plebiscites were omitted when troublesome and justice often morphed into “just us.”

    • The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist

      The reporter on TV has just detailed his “chilling” encounter with the killer in a Pittsburgh courtroom. I was present in the courtroom as well, and I have no idea what the hell he is talking about.

      It was the initial court appearance of Robert D. Bowers, the individual who killed 11 and wounded several others at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, October 27, 2018. Bowers, who received 29 federal and 36 state charges, was pushed into the courtroom in a wheelchair. With his gray sweatpants, blue sweatshirt, dollar store black plastic slippers and thinning hair, he could be any problem drinker at a local Pittsburgh bar; except that his arms and legs were shackled to his wheelchair. He looked around the courtroom as he entered, but nothing appeared to register for him. It’s not that he wasn’t alert—just that he was possibly a bit of a “dull blade,” if you know what I mean; certainly, he was in over his head. When asked if he would waive his right to bail, he said, simply, “yes.” When asked if he needed a public defender, he said, “yes.” That was about the extent of the hearing, although to hear David Begnaud of CBSN relay the hearing to his TV audience, the killer’s appearance was “chilling,” something out of a horror film or an episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

      Perhaps Begnaud wanted to perceive evil in the presence of Bowers, because at least that would go some way towards explaining how such a tragedy might have happened. The reality of the situation is that Bowers didn’t live in a white nationalist compound somewhere in remote Idaho wilderness—he lived in a crappy apartment in the same building as a plumbing and heating company, in a neighborhood lined with modest single-story brick houses. Sitting on the pavement outside his apartment door was a rusted out barbecue smoker with an upturned Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup on the top; an empty bottle of Bud Light was on the ground between the smoker and the front door. The building was near an old coal patch where, according to a neighbor named Terrance Holleran, “there’s been a couple homicides” in the last few years. He didn’t know Bowers; none of his neighbors seemed to. In Holleran’s words, it “is just unfortunate that this asshole chose to live here.”

    • ‘Tell Your Boss’: Recording Is Seen to Link Saudi Crown Prince More Strongly to Khashoggi Killing

      Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated last month, a member of the kill team instructed a superior over the phone to “tell your boss,” believed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, that the operatives had carried out their mission, according to three people familiar with a recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing collected by Turkish intelligence.

      The recording, shared last month with the C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, is seen by intelligence officials as some of the strongest evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist whose death prompted an international outcry.

      While the prince was not mentioned by name, American intelligence officials believe “your boss” was a reference to Prince Mohammed. Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, one of 15 Saudis dispatched to Istanbul to confront Mr. Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate there, made the phone call and spoke in Arabic, the people said.

    • CIA links Saudi Crown Prince to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder
    • CIA chief ‘seen all proof’ related to Khashoggi murder
    • Australian special forces combat spread of Islamic State in Philippines

      This increased number of foreign fighters in Mindanao is more than double the estimate made by Philippines intelligence in January 2018.

    • Islamic State finds safe haven in the Philippines

      The three neighboring nations share broad maritime borders in what is considered the second busiest shipping trade route in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

      “The FTFs regard Mindanao as the new land of jihad, safe haven and alternative home base,” Banlaoi said. “They join local groups to wage jihad in the Philippines on behalf of the Islamic State.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Clerical error reveals charges against Assange
    • Court filing cites charges against Assange
    • Julian Assange charged in secret, mistake on US court filing suggests
    • Filing indicates indictment prepared for Julian Assange

      A court document filed by mistake has revealed that the Justice Department is preparing to criminally charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

    • The USA is ready to prosecute Assange

      The General Prosecutor’s office of the United States is ready to start a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to informed sources, the newspaper the Wall Street Journal. According to information obtained by this newspaper, the likelihood of transfer Assange to American justice increases.

      Ecuador has granted political asylum to Assange in 2012. Then assange took refuge in Ecuador’s Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was persecuted on charges of rape and since then is in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

      The growing optimism of Americans about the prospects of Assange’s extradition based on the fact that his relationship with the Ecuadorian authorities deteriorated after coming to power last year of President Lenin Moreno. The new head has called Assange a “thorn in the side of Ecuador” and has repeatedly stated that his stay in the Embassy cannot last forever.

    • WikiLeaks founder ‘may have been charged in secret’

      The US Department of Justice has inadvertently named Julian Assange in a court document that suggests the WikiLeaks founder may have been charged in secret.

      A court filing from a prosecutor in Virginia in a case unrelated to Mr Assange mentions his name twice.

      The document, which urges a judge to keep the matter sealed, states that the charges “would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition”.

    • WikiLeaks chief could see charges, US court filing suggests

      The Justice Department inadvertently named Julian Assange in a court filing in an unrelated case that suggests prosecutors have prepared charges against the WikiLeaks founder under seal.

      Assange’s name appears twice in an August court filing from a federal prosecutor in Virginia, who was attempting to keep sealed a separate case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged, court documents show
    • Court document suggests US preparing to indict WikiLeaks’ Assange

      Assange’s WikiLeaks website has leaked thousands of secret U.S. documents, and the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the U.S. Justice Department was “increasingly optimistic” about the chances of prosecuting Assange in a U.S. court.

      Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for six years after being granted political asylum by the South American country.

    • Unrelated Case Suggests US Prepared Charges Against WikiLeaks’ Assange
    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could see charges, and 9 more things to know for Friday
    • Need 2 Know: Snowstorm Snarls Commutes, Assange Charged
    • Court document refers to U.S. charge against Julian Assange; source says prosecution planned

      The supposed charge was revealed by a reference to it in an unrelated case against someone named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi: “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer.

    • U.S. Prepares Charges Against Wikileaks’ Assange, Document Shows
    • WikiLeaks founder could face criminal charges
    • Julian Assange: U.S. prosecutors accidentally reveal secret charges against WikiLeaks founder

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal in the U.S., prosecutors have appeared to reveal by mistake in a court filing unrelated to his case.

      The accident was first reported on Twitter by Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, and confirmed by The Washington Post.

      The text was discovered in an August 22 filing by assistant U.S. attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, as part of an ongoing case in the Eastern District of Virginia. Dwyer is also probing WikiLeaks.

      Dwyer wrote that “due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” The filing added that charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.” Sources confirmed to The Washington Post that the disclosure was accurate but “unintentional.”

      It remains unclear what charges the U.S. is bringing against the WikiLeaks publisher. It was previously reported a Justice Department case into WikiLeaks dated back to at least 2010 for leaks from the government, including diplomatic cables and secret military files. Leaks during the 2016 presidential election are being probed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

    • ‘Error’ Reveals Secret Assange Charges

      Julian Assange has often claimed that the US has secretly filed charges against him—and an apparent error in a court filing for an unrelated case suggests he is right. The document, filed by federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of an unrelated sex-crime case, asks for charges against somebody living overseas called Assange to be kept secret, the Guardian reports. It asks for a criminal complaint and arrest warrant “to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” A US Attorney’s office says the “court filing was made in error,” and Assange “was not the intended name for this filing.” Analysts suspect prosecutors copied and pasted parts of the documents from Assange’s case and forgot to change the name.

    • ‘Dangerous Path for Democracy’ and Dire Threat to Press Freedom: Trump DOJ’s Secret Charges Against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Revealed

      The charges, Dwyer continued, “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”

      Though it is not yet clear what specific charges have been filed against Assange, press freedom advocates immediately raised alarm at the dangerous prospect of an individual being prosecuted for publishing classified information—something journalists and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post do all the time.

      “I hope people see how precedent the Trump administration wants to get against WikiLeaks under the Espionage Act can easily be turned around and used on mainstream reporters,” Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, wrote on Twitter. “Hard to overstate how dangerous it would be for press freedom.”

      “If Assange is charged by the U.S. government in relation to the Manning leak and WikiLeaks, the implications for U.S. journalism, and the chilling effect, would be extremely serious,” added Christian Christensen, an American professor of journalism at Stockholm University in Sweden. “Dislike of Assange should not blind people in the U.S. to this fact.”

    • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange charged in US, court document accidentally reveals

      Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has been charged under seal in the US, prosecutors have accidentally revealed.

      American prosecutors obtained a sealed indictment against Mr Assange, whose website published thousands of classified US government documents, a US federal court document showed on Thursday.

      The document, which prosecutors say was filed by mistake, asks a judge to seal documents in a criminal case unrelated to Mr Assange, and carries markings indicating it was originally filed in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia in August.

      [...]

      The error first emerged after Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who is known for scrubbing court filings, joked about the apparent error on Twitter.

    • US Is Reportedly Preparing To Indict WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange
    • Lawyers for Julian Assange hit back at US ‘charges’

      Jennifer Robinson, Mr Assange’s lawyer in the UK, added: “The US indictment of Assange is a grave violation of press freedoms. The Trump administration is seeking to extend US law worldwide, claiming it is a criminal offence for a publisher in Europe to reveal evidence of US government abuses. How long until China, Russia or Saudi Arabia follow suit, citing the US example?” Alastair Dalton: What Edinburgh’s new 100-seat monster buses say about public transport

    • US has charged Julian Assange: reactions and coverage

      Figliuzzi’s statements reflect the the US government’s intent to prosecute Assange for publishing all along, as his tenure with the FBI long pre-dates alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The fact that the “entire intelligence community” was working on an Assange prosecution signals the amount of surveillance Assange and other members of WikiLeaks have been under. Ecuador has admitted to having spent 1 million pounds per year, most of it reportedly on the “security” inside the embassy which it has been revealed is tasked with spying on Assange’s activities.

    • If You Want The Government To Hand Over Documents, You Might Want To Retain A Lawyer

      Fifty years after the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, the letter of the law lives on but its spirit has been crushed. While it’s definitely preferable to having no opportunity to demand government agencies hand over requested documents, it’s not the significant improvement it was promised to be.
      As was noted here four years ago, the government has pretty much adopted a presumption of opacity that necessitates the filing of lawsuits. This contradicts the law’s intentions, as well as proclamations made by President Obama, who declared his administration the “most transparent.” This assertion fell flat when government agencies engaged in FOIA business as usual and Obama did nothing to hold them accountable.

    • Press freedom threat seen in prosecuting WikiLeaks’ Assange

      Many Democrats seethed when the radical transparency activist humiliated Hillary Clinton by publishing the content of her campaign chairman’s inbox. Most Republicans haven’t forgiven Assange for his publication of U.S. military and intelligence secrets. Much of the American media establishment holds him in contempt as well.

      But academics, civil rights lawyers and journalism groups worry that an attempt to put Assange behind bars could damage constitutional free speech protections, with repercussions for newsrooms covering national security across the United States.

      “This isn’t about Julian Assange, this is about the First Amendment and press freedom,” said Elizabeth Goitein, who co-directs the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center in New York. “You can’t support First Amendment freedoms and still support the government chipping away at those freedoms of people you don’t like.”

      U.S. officials clearly have been itching to get their hands on the 47-year-old ex-hacker for some time; he has been a thorn in Washington’s side for almost a decade. And Assange’s longtime claim that prosecutors secretly were preparing charges against was vindicated late Thursday when his name accidentally surfaced in an apparently unrelated legal filing.

    • If Assange Is a Villain, What About Zuckerberg?

      Now that we know, apparently thanks to an error by American prosecutors, that Julian Assange has been secretly charged with a crime in the U.S., it’s interesting to revisit an eight-year-old column by Time magazine’s managing editor, Richard Stengel, that compared the WikiLeaks founder to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

      In 2010, Time named Zuckerberg Person of the Year, though its readers had voted for Assange. To explain the magazine’s decision, Stengel draw a parallel between the two men.

      [...]

      Assange, for his part, has gone on publishing leaked documents. There’s evidence that WikiLeaks has solicited hacks to obtain the data, and it probably hasn’t been straightforward about its methods (it claims to only collect information volunteered by whistle-blowers). Nonetheless, the gadfly has remained committed to its original goal of publishing authentic documents.

      According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, both Facebook and WikiLeaks served as conduits for the Russian propaganda effort to influence the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. But while WikiLeaks published genuine, and not particularly incriminating, emails apparently stolen by Russian intelligence from leading Democrats’ computers, Facebook that allowed paid trolls and other propagandists to make that material look sinister. The social-media site facilitated the spread of lies and disseminated posts that called for fake and divisive protest rallies.

    • Prosecutors get indictment against Wikileaks’ Assange
    • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Faces Criminal Charges, Prosecutors Accidentally Reveal
    • Counterterrorism expert who found Assange court filing: ‘I just thought it was a typo’
    • DOJ Accidentally Reveals Indictments Against WikiLeaks’ Assange

      The Justice Department has inadvertently revealed it has prepared an indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In an unusual development, language about the charges against Assange was copied and pasted into an unrelated court filing that was recently unsealed. In the document, Kellen S. Dwyer wrote, “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” The news broke on Thursday night just hours after The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department was planning to prosecute Assange.

    • Wikileaks’ Julian Assange charged in US, court documents suggest
    • WikiLeak’s Founder Julian Assange Might Be Prosecuted By The US Justice Department, Revealed In an Unrelated Case Filing

      A lot of people think confidential information and state secrets are exclusively leaked in some dingy Deep Web websites, but Wikileaks would beg to differ. Wikileaks is an organization that leaks confidential documents, state secrets and other related information. Many of their revelations have caused waves in both global and local politics. Some of their notable works include documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afganistan War and leaking files related to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Wikileaks also leaked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, which according to some analysts cost her the Presidential elections.

    • How the Trump Administration Stepped Up Pursuit of WikiLeaks’s Assange

      Soon after he took over as C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo privately told lawmakers about a new target for American spies: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

      Intent on finding out more about Mr. Assange’s dealings with Russian intelligence, the C.I.A. began last year to conduct traditional espionage against the organization, according to American officials. At the same time, federal law enforcement officials were reconsidering Mr. Assange’s designation as a journalist and debating whether to charge him with a crime.

      Mr. Pompeo and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed an aggressive campaign against Mr. Assange, reversing an Obama-era view of WikiLeaks as a journalistic entity. For more than a year, the nation’s spies and investigators sought to learn about Mr. Assange and his ties to Russia as senior administration officials came to believe he was in league with Moscow.

      Their work culminated in prosecutors secretly filing charges this summer against Mr. Assange, which were inadvertently revealed in an unrelated court filing and confirmed on Friday by a person familiar with the inquiry. Taken together, the C.I.A. spying and the Justice Department’s targeting of Mr. Assange represented a remarkable shift by both the American government and President Trump, who repeatedly lauded WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign for its releases of Democratic emails, stolen by Russian agents, that damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
      A prosecution of Mr. Assange could pit the interests of the administration against Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Assange could help answer the central question of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III: whether any Trump associates conspired with Russia to interfere in the presidential race. If the case against Mr. Assange includes charges that he acted as an agent of a foreign power, anyone who knowingly cooperated with him could be investigated as a co-conspirator, former senior law-enforcement officials said.

    • Court Filing Suggests Prosecutors Are Preparing Charges Against Julian Assange

      The U.S. government may be preparing criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to suggestions in a document filed in an unrelated case.

      Assange’s name appeared at least twice in papers filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, both times appearing to say that Assange has already been made the subject of his own case.

      Prosecutors in Virginia say the court document was an error.

      The filing alludes to the need to keep paperwork in the case under seal because “due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

      It’s not clear whether any possible charges against Assange would relate to the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election or earlier materials that were released by WikiLeaks.

      It also isn’t clear whether any charges actually have been filed. The Justice Department said it had no comment about the case.

    • WikiLeaks’ Assange faces charges; lawyer says he’d fight
    • Has Robert Mueller Just Revealed His Next Target?

      Exactly what charges Assange is facing remains unclear. In the past, prosecutors have considered conspiracy, violating the Espionage Act, and theft of government property. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department held back on going after Assange amid concerns that doing so was similar to prosecuting a news outlet. (Charging someone for publishing accurate information, Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told The Guardian on Thursday, is “a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”) The recently ousted Jeff Sessions, however, took a more Draconian stance on government leaks, and prosecutors were reportedly told over the summer that they could start compiling a complaint. So far, the D.O.J. has not offered further details. “That was not the intended name for this filing,” Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, told The New York Times, explaining that “the court filing was made in error.”

    • Assange Speculation Shows Why Charges Should Be Public

      The word-processing error that unintentionally revealed the Justice Department’s sealed charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is fascinating, not least because analogous mistakes can be found in texts going all the way back to the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh.

      It also raises important legal policy questions: In a free, open society, what justifies the use of secret indictments? Are they a nefarious tool of the deep state, like secret trials? Or are they a valuable mechanism for allowing law enforcement to do its job?

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces charges under seal
    • Free speech for CNN, but not for Assange: The media’s double standard

      Two journalists on the bad side of Donald Trump were vindicated this week. One had his White House credentials restored. Another got proof that Uncle Sam wants him behind bars. Guess which one had all the support from the MSM.
      CNN’s Jim Acosta was kicked out of the White House because the US president didn’t like the way the journalist bombarded him with confrontational questions. Less than a week later, a Trump-appointed judge ordered his access restored, at least for the time being. A big win for the freedom of speech in America.

      WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is in a self-imposed confinement in Ecuador embassy in London because he believes that if he leaves the British will snatch him and ship to the land of the free to be prosecuted as a spy. His situation did not change much this week, except that his suspicions of a secret indictment were collaborated an Assistant US Attorney, in an apparent slip of the pen.

    • What’s Going On With This Julian Assange Indictment?

      Now that the midterms are over, the White House has reportedly shifted its focus to panicking over the Mueller investigation. We know Trump has, at least. The special counsel went quiet in the months leading up to last Tuesday’s elections, and there have been indications that indictments could be coming soon. Former Trump adviser Roger Stone, Stone ally Jerome Corsi and Donald Trump Jr. are among the figures many believe could be charged. Speculation has also surrounded Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, which during the 2016 campaign released thousands of hacked Democratic emails. It’s no longer speculation. On Thursday night, it was revealed that Assange, who has been in the Justice Department’s crosshairs for years, has been indicted. The problem was that no one was supposed to find out about it Thursday night.

      Prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia revealed the indictment by mistake in an unsealed court filing unrelated to Assange. “Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,” wrote U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, who is also assigned to the WikiLeaks’ case. She continued to argue to the judge that the charge needed to remain sealed until “Assange,” whom the filing noted was a public figure who would need to be extradited, was arrested. Assange is currently living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and would indeed need to be extradited to be arrested. Because of how suddenly the filing about an unrelated pedophilia case pivoted to discussing Assange, it appears that the reveal was the result of a copy-paste error.

      The slip-up was first identified by George Washington University’s Seamus Hughes, who posted the relevant portion of the filing on Twitter Thursday night.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Has Been Charged

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged by federal prosecutors. The move suggests the U.S. government is determined to pursue his extradition (Source: Bloomberg)

    • This prosecutor’s cut-and-paste mistake revealed a case against WikiLeaks founder
    • Lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Assange says he would fight charges

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will not willingly travel to the United States to face charges filed under seal against him, one of his lawyers said, foreshadowing a possible fight over extradition for a central figure in the U.S. special counsel’s Russia-Trump investigation.

      Assange, who has taken cover in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum, has speculated publicly for years that the Justice Department had brought secret criminal charges against him for revealing highly sensitive government information on his website.

      That hypothesis appeared closer to reality after prosecutors, in an errant court filing in an unrelated case, inadvertently revealed the existence of sealed charges. The filing, discovered Thursday night, said the charges and arrest warrant “would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.”
      A person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case had not been made public, confirmed that charges had been filed under seal. The exact charges Assange faces and when they might be unsealed remained uncertain Friday.

    • Assange lawyer: US indictment would threaten press freedom

      A lawyer for anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned on Friday (Nov 16) that an apparent US indictment against him poses a grave threat to press freedom both inside the United States and internationally.

      The possible indictment suggested that Washington will seek Assange’s extradition if he leaves Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he took refuge in 2012 over fears he could be prosecuted for WikiLeaks’s previous revelations of US national security secrets.

      “A criminal investigation into WikiLeaks sets a dangerous precedent for all the media … Everyone ought to be concerned about what this potential indictment means,” lawyer Jennifer Robinson told the Democracy Now news program.

    • WikiLeaks Helped Hackers Rifle Through Stolen Company Emails, Leaked FBI Docs Show
    • Booting Jim Acosta from the White House was bad for press rights. Charging Julian Assange might be worse.
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty

      As my wife Chelsea and I drove through Arizona on our annual pilgrimage from California to Montana, orange smoke billowed along the darkened horizon, signals of hearts shattered and landscapes scorched. Days earlier nineteen hotshot firefighters died together as they battled the intense blazes near the mountain town of Yarnell. It was the most lethal wildfire America had witnessed in 80 years.

      The Yarnell flames were so erratic and intense the team became suddenly trapped, and despite each of the men deploying their individual fire shelters, all fighting the flames that day perished.

      The lone survivor was out fetching a truck for his crew, only to return to the gruesome scene. It was the single deadliest incident for firefighters since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

      [...]

      As humans continue to spew more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the world’s climate will continue to be altered. In fact, as many scientists believe, there may already be no turning back. Warmer winters, hotter summers, drought and burning forests (and the homes built in them) may soon be the new norm for the Western United States. The signs are already all around us. If you don’t believe me just take a little road trip through the Rocky Mountains to see the travesty first hand. Just remember to take your camera, it’s all going fast.

    • Trump’s Department of Interior Prioritizes Extractive Industries, Systematically Disarming Environmental Protections

      Katherine Benedetto, a senior advisor for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, “scheduled roughly twice as many meetings with mining and fossil-fuel representatives as with environmental groups, public records requests have revealed,” according to Jimmy Tobias, writing for the Guardian.“Many of these meetings were followed by official decisions that benefited the private companies or trade groups in question, as in the case of Twin Metals Minnesota, a company that has long sought to build a copper and nickel mine near the famed Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota.”

      At the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, his administration did not renew Twin Metals Minnesota’s lease on land connected to the BWCA, opting instead to review the necessity of mines in that protected area. In December 2017, Twin Metals Minnesota is the mining corporation that proposed the mine, and in December of 2017, they were granted access to part of the area by the Trump administration. This directly contradicts BLM’s mission statement: “The Bureau of Land Management’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”

  • Finance

    • Rich People Pay for Private Firefighters While the Rest of Us Burn

      Trump notably halted American payment into the Green Climate Fund, a UN-organized fund designed to help economically vulnerable countries that have contributed little to climate change abide by the terms of the Paris Accord. Recently, he expressed doubt about the veracity of a United Nations report, which said that global governments would need to fundamentally restructure their economic systems in to mitigate the worse effects of climate change. This month, the EPA removed its once climate change dedicated page entirely, under the instruction of Trump and his administration.

    • Why Future Congresswoman Can’t Afford the Rent

      Like many millennials, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, cannot afford to pay the rent in Washington, D.C.

      But Ocasio-Cortez isn’t your average twenty-something. The New Yorker was just elected to the U.S. Congress, where she will earn an annual salary of $174,000. But that money won’t start coming in until she takes office in Washington this January. In the meantime, Ocasio-Cortez told The New York Times she hopes her savings will tide her over for the next three months.

    • Finnish Software Company Basware Explores Sale

      Basware, the Finnish software company backed by hedge fund Arrowgrass Capital Partners, is exploring a sale after receiving a takeover approach, according to people familiar with the matter.

    • Why the draft withdrawal agreement may be the only responsible option

      British politics is currently exciting, with resignations and the prospects of leadership challenges. But when the excitement passes, there are certain brute facts about Brexit and the draft withdrawal agreement which will still be there.

      First, there will still be the mandate of the referendum result. One may contest that there was a real mandate and point to the irregularities and the unlawful behaviour of certain campaigners. That, however, does not change the political reality that the government, the opposition and the majority of MPs are committed to fulfilling that mandate.

      Second, the UK is set to leave the EU by automatic operation of law on 29 March 2019. On the same day, the European Communities Act 1972 is also set to be repealed by automatic operation of law. Both of these legal facts can be averted, of course, by formal action in the 130 or so days left. But until and unless that happens, they are the defaults.

      Third, the UK is unprepared for a “No Deal” Brexit, and there is no serious prospect that the UK can become prepared properly in the time available before 29 March 2019. This is true, regardless of those who in abstract terms seem to be at ease with the prospect. The reality would be chaos in respect of customs and citizenship, supply chains of food and other necessities, atomic energy and medicine, and so on. No Brexit is not serious politics.

      [...]

      If MPs do vote against, and the EU does not renegotiate then, other things being equal, the best the UK can hope for are a series of emergency bilateral agreements before March on discrete cross-border issues to mitigate against the worst of the impact of No Deal. That would be unseemly, and there is no guarantee the agreements would work, but that would be to what a responsible, desperate government would have to resort.

      Whatever happens in the next few hours, days and weeks, the EU’s offer is likely to still be there. Of course, if there is a development which means the UK seeks an extension of the Article 50 period, or even revokes the notification, then the ultimatum of this text or No Deal becomes far less urgent. But if that does not happen, the UK will have no real option to accept, however embarrassing it will be for the MPs who attacked the deal yesterday. In this way, Brexit will become like Grexit.

    • Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute

      On November 7, Andrew Cuomo was re-elected as New York’s Governor. One week later, the people of Long Island City, Queens learned that they had been sold into civic vassalage to the world’s richest man. There’s no word yet on whether Jeff Bezos will have the first right of visitation to the gubernatorial bedchamber on Cuomo’s inauguration night, but the ritual of servitude is otherwise complete.

      The timing isn’t accidental. The people of New York, especially those in Queens who will be most affected, know that this is a lousy deal for them. Cuomo could not have run for re-election as a Resistance Progressive™️if voters had known about this deal before they voted.

      Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has effectively crushed his own attempts to be seen as a national leader of the left.

    • The STOP Walmart Act Is Rewriting the Rules of Stock Buybacks

      Today, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced the STOP Walmart Act, which prohibits large companies from engaging in stock buybacks unless they make serious investments in their workers. While the act takes aim at Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, it highlights the theme of my work: that excessive giveaways to shareholders across the vast majority of large corporations are a major part of why workers’ wages remain stagnant.

      The STOP Walmart Act stipulates that companies with over 500 workers cannot conduct stock buybacks unless their employees—importantly, including part-time workers, independent contractors, and franchisees—make a starting wage of $15 per hour. It also stipulates that employees must earn up to seven days of paid sick leave, and that CEO compensation does not rise above 150 times the median pay of all employees.

      This proposal matters because, in many parts of the country, Walmart still pays its employees a starting wage of $11 dollars per hour—a wage that company executives think is fair. Never mind that the Walmart family is the wealthiest family in the country, and that the six heirs of the Walton empire own more wealth than 40 percent of Americans. They also comprise the majority of the company’s shareholders, sit on the board of directors, and, in part, decide how much Walmart spends on its stock buybacks program.

      The STOP Walmart Act joins other important pieces of legislation—including the Reward Work Act, introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and the Worker Dividend Act, introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)—that aim to curb the runaway use of stock buybacks that has occurred since passage of Trump’s corporate tax cuts. Stock buybacks occur when corporations purchase their own company’s shares on the open market, automatically boosting the value of the stocks that shareholders still hold, as each share is now worth a larger slice of the corporate pie.

      While they may sound harmless, stock buybacks have been driven by relentless pressure from wealthy shareholders to move more and more corporate profits up and out of the firm for themselves. This extractive behavior is exacerbated by the fact that corporate executives are largely compensated in stock themselves. What has this “shareholder primacy” approach to running large corporations meant for workers? Shareholder primacy has, among other things, resulted in workers being understood by corporate executives as a cost to be cut, rather than being considered as an essential part of the value-creation process and as stakeholders who should be able to bargain for a living wage that is commensurate with the value they create. One important example of how this has played out in practice is the choices that Walmart’s executives have made over the last 10 years. Walmart’s starting wage is $11 dollars an hour, or $19,448 a year for a full-time worker.

    • California Already Has a Housing Crisis. The Fires Just Made It Worse.

      California is on fire. Again. The state’s 2018 wildfire season has been devastating, and it’s not over yet. The dramatic Woolsey and Hill fires scorching the hills around Los Angeles are still being brought under control, and first responders are battling the Camp Fire in Butte County, which has killed at least 56 people and torn through 140,000 acres and more than 10,000 structures.

      Recovery from wildfires can take years, and for affected communities, one aspect is especially pressing: Housing. California’s housing prices are infamously high, and in Butte County, this problem is particularly bad. With 19.5 percent of the county living below the poverty line, explains Ed Mayer, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Butte, many households are heavily rent-burdened.

      Five of his 36 staffers from around Butte County lost their homes in the blaze and many others are housing friends and family left houseless by the fire. The Camp Fire was most devastating in Paradise, where 95 percent of the city’s residential and commercial buildings are gone, says Mayer. The county as a whole lost a staggering 10 percent of its housing stock in the Camp Fire.

    • How HUD’s Inspection System Fails Low-Income Tenants Nationwide

      The inspection system has created a culture of “score chasing” that allows landlords to make exterior repairs and cosmetic fixes, and avoid tackling the most serious health and safety problems facing tenants inside their units. In some cases, attempts to game scores have resulted in legal action. Two former housing authority directors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were sentenced to probation this year after pleading guilty to their role in cheating on HUD inspections by sending workers into units ahead of inspectors to patch up problems. In 2015, a former Chelsea, Massachusetts, public housing executive and a former public housing inspector were convicted for taking part in an inspection rigging scheme. Each was sentenced to short prison terms.

    • “Pretty Much a Failure”: HUD Inspections Pass Dangerous Apartments Filled With Rats, Roaches and Toxic Mold

      Apartment complexes subsidized by HUD collectively house more than 2 million low-income families around the country. Some are run by public housing authorities and others are owned by private for-profit or nonprofit landlords. By law, the owners of such complexes must pass inspections demonstrating they are decent, safe and sanitary in exchange for millions of dollars in federal money each year.

      But as thousands of renters across the country have discovered, passing scores on HUD inspections often don’t match the reality of renters’ living conditions. The two-decade-old inspection system — the federal housing agency’s primary oversight tool — is failing low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities and undermining the agency’s oversight of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded rental subsidies, an investigation by The Southern Illinoisan and ProPublica has found.

      HUD has given passing inspection grades for years to dangerous buildings filled with rats and roaches, toxic mold and peeling lead-based paint, which can cause lifelong learning delays when ingested by young children. The same goes for buildings where people with disabilities have been stranded in high-rise apartments without working elevators, or where raw sewage backs up into bathtubs and utility drains. The agency has passed buildings where ceilings are caving in and the heat won’t kick on in frigid winter months as old boiler systems give out.

      The failure of HUD’s inspection system has been on display in the southern Illinois towns of Cairo and East St. Louis, which have had their public housing taken over by HUD. In both towns, complexes received passing scores as decades-old buildings deteriorated.

    • Canadian Politician Hangs Out With Racists; Issues Legal Threats To People Calling Him A Racist

      A Canadian politician is getting upset — litigiously upset — that people are characterizing him by the company he keeps. Parliament member Kerry Diotte’s legal rep (Arthur Hamilton of Cassel Brock Lawyers) has sent takedown demands to a handful of Twitter users for calling him a racist.

      Bashir Mohamed was one such user. His tweet called Diotte a racist for “openly associating” with “white supremacists like Faith Goldy.” Goldy was, until recently, a correspondent for the Breitbart-esque Rebel Media. Rebel Media is run by another pal of Diotte’s, Ezra Levant, who has shown support for white nationalist groups like the one that headed up the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that ended with a car being driven into the crowd by someone with white nationalist views.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Why the Perfect Red-State Democrat Lost

      Taylor Sappington heard the call like so many other Democrats in the year after Nov. 8, 2016. He had seen Donald Trump coming, homing in on his little town of Nelsonville, Ohio, in the state’s impoverished Appalachian southeast. The town of 5,300 people had voted for Barack Obama twice by large margins.

      Trump was Nelsonville’s pick in 2016, though it was more by default than acclamation. Trump won there with less than a majority, with 30 percent fewer votes than Obama had gotten four years earlier.

      Sappington, a 27-year-old Ohio native, took this as evidence that Nelsonville was not beyond redemption, that the town where he had grown up in hard circumstances — the son of a single mother who was for a time on food stamps, living deep in the woods in a manufactured home — wasn’t really Trump country.

      Not so long ago at all, Ohio was considered the quintessential swing state — it had, after all, voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election starting with 1964. Something happened this decade, though. The 2010 national “shellacking” of Democrats left a particularly strong mark in Ohio. The Republicans who assumed control of Columbus pulled off an aggressive gerrymandering of federal and state legislative districts. In 2012, when Obama won the state for the second time, Republicans held 12 of the state’s 16 congressional seats despite winning only 52 percent of the total House vote.

    • Twitter: Fast Track to the Id

      Actually, it is difficult to forget the internet, especially because cyberspace has become our default reality. Polls show that the Millennials and Gen Z are not “besotted with television” but rather with their Smartphones.

      I will not forget the internet but first let us consider what Mr. Stephens believes has led us to the presidency of Donald Trump.

      I realize that the phrase “moral relativism” frightens an ostensibly Christian country. Actually, we do not fear relativism in regard to morality but rather in regard to economics. I mean that we cannot believe the market only rules relative to what Federal rules might be. Response to need cannot be relative to what government decides to do but rather only to the play of the market. Individual success must always be seen as relative to individual choice and competition and not to gifts you are born with or inherit or when and where you are born. We also cannot believe that profit to shareholders should be relative to the power of labor unions to bargain for wages.

      You might say that our morality is relative to our economic status, or where we are positioned in the wealth divide.

      Those living on their dividends have leisure to sponsor universal and moral absolutes, rather like the way plantation owners had more time for mint juleps than did the field hands. Those living on wages, which rise or not according to the noblesse oblige of capital, are in a good position to see that inequities exist but do not show up on the moral calculation chart.

      They are in the position to observe that in spite of always working and working hard, times do not get better, that in fact how good or how bad your life is does not merit a moral review by market rule which never looks beyond your own personal responsibility. Americans like everything personal and private, especially a moral sense, but that is hard to do when the society in which you are embedded has already embedded within you the market’s notion of moral behavior– individual choice, the assumption of individual responsibility, and the glories of not fraternitè but competition.

      What conditions and forces that economically and then politically corrupt your life because they are themselves corrupt must never be up for a moral review, especially by the Losers. Instead, the Losers much at every stage of their descent into immiseration conduct a moral review of themselves. Therapy will lead them to a discovery as to why hard work and ambition has led them to a precariat place loaded with dysphoria.

    • The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?

      Tony Maxwell, a retired African-American naval officer, was trying to get his Jacksonville, Florida neighbor to go vote with him. The young neighbor, a high-school-dropout, had no interest.

      “Voting,” the young man declared, “doesn’t change anything.”

      Can Democrats use their newly won House majority to reach that dispirited young man in Jacksonville? That all depends on their eagerness to think big and bold — and to challenge the concentrated wealth and power that keeps things from changing.

      Of course, big and bold new legislation will be next to impossible to enact with a Republican Senate and White House. But just pushing for this legislation — holding hearings, encouraging rallies, taking floor votes — could move us in a positive direction and send the message that meaningful change can happen.

      This sort of aggressive and progressive pushing would, to be sure, represent a major break with the Democratic Party’s recent past. The reforms Democrats in Congress have championed have often been overly complicated and cautious — and deeply compromised by a fear of annoying deep-pocketed donors.

      That fear may be easing. A number of leading Democrats with eyes on 2020 — and the party’s growing progressive base — have advanced proposals that could spark real change in who owns and runs America.

    • Trump’s crazy, crafty strategy: Discredit everybody until nobody believes anything anymore

      If there’s one thing you might have thought Donald Trump has learned in the past two years it’s that it was a huge mistake to go on TV with Lester Holt and admit that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to fire FBI Director James Comey. Recall that Trump was just rambling, in his stream-of-consciousness mode, when he just blurted it out without prompting. That revealing statement was not only what precipitated the appointment of Robert Mueller, it was also one of the most compelling pieces of evidence that Trump was trying to obstruct justice when he fired Comey — an apparent confession of intent. Trump has said and done hundreds of stupid things during his tenure, but that one really stands out as the blunder of all blunders.

      Oops, he did it again. This week, in the midst of what observers everywhere are characterizing as a meltdown, Trump gave an interview to the Daily Caller in which he was asked if he had come up with any names for the permanent attorney general appointment, and whether Chris Christie had come up. Trump replied that his acting AG, Matt Whitaker, is highly respected in the Department of Justice and that he got a “very good decision” affirming that Whitaker’s appointment was legal.

    • 13,000 Immigrant Children Held In Detention Centers as Trump Moves to Dismantle Flores Agreement

      As reported by Michelle Chen for The Nation and by Telesur, the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement has detained more than 13,000 immigrant children. This is “almost five times greater than the nearly 3,000 previously reported by the Donald Trump administration,” according to Telesur. Children from a variety of these shelters have described conditions including “extreme security monitoring, a total lack of privacy, isolation from family and threats from administrators to delay their release for the slightest infraction,” Chen reported. Detained children must also follow extreme rules to avoid punishment. They are barred from any contact with the other children, even if they are related. They are also often deprived of sleep by frequent checks made by guards with flashlights throughout the night. They are poorly fed. Any misstep by the detainees can be invoked as a reason to delay their release.

    • Dear White Women, There May be Hope for You After All

      The Democratic “blue wave” may not have made as big of a splash as some would have hoped. But momentum was felt, nonetheless, as a record number of women were elected to seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

      As the #MeToo movement continues to expand its base of women and men working to extinguish a culture of gender and sexual violence in the United States, women in particular are bringing the movement to the legislative branch of government. And there is no one more thrilled about this than me, a black woman, who had just about lost faith in many white women voters.

      I mean, seriously.

      In 2016, 53 percent of white women voted for the presidential candidate who bragged about grabbing women by their genitalia. In 2017, 63 percent of white women in Alabama voted for alleged pedophile Roy Moore in the state’s senate race. And this year, 59 percent of white women in Texas voted for Senator Ted Cruz, helping him defeat Beto O’Rourke, a proponent of women’s health.

      Let’s not forget about the white women who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, after allegations that he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — ahem, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

    • Ari Berman on the State of Voting 2018, Jackie Prange on Keystone XL Re-Review

      This week on CounterSpin: Elections highlight corporate news media’s partisan prism—the insistence on reading things preeminently in terms of what they mean for the “fortunes” of one major party or the other, and calling a good story one that lets them trade claims. But as one of the key times people visibly engage with power, there’s hardly a time more important than elections for media to stop splitting the difference and frankly describe the impact of elections—not just the outcomes, but the processes—on people and their ability to have a say in their circumstances. We’ll talk about what the 2018 midterms told us about voting in this country with Ari Berman, a senior reporter at Mother Jones and author most recently of Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights in America, out now in paperback.

    • House Republicans, Terrible Before the Midterms, Are Now Much Worse

      great many people are eagerly anticipating the opening of the next Congress, waiting with bated breath to see what the new House sheriffs in town intend to do with their newly minted powers. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, to name but one of the serious new players, has spent the last two years looking like he wants to paint his face blue and charge the White House gates in a kilt. Reps. Maxine Waters, Emmanuel Lewis and the others, from the sound of it, are likewise champing at the bit.

      For my money, however, the real show in the House is going to be on the right side of the aisle. The Republican minority, defeated and pruned like it was 1974, is set to empower a radical faction of an already disorganized party which will commence in short order to make messes so vast and deep that all prior messes will seem quaint by comparison.

      With the departure of Speaker Paul Ryan now imminent, House Republicans elected Kevin McCarthy of California as their new leader by a vote of 159 to 43. His opponent for the position, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, is a leader of the Freedom Caucus, a genuinely dangerous collection of wreckers who will have a loud voice in the House. The Freedom Caucus played a central role in ending John Boehner’s political career because they thought he was too liberal, and later made Ryan’s life miserable enough to quit for pretty much the same reason. McCarthy would be foolish to miss the inherent lesson: Cross the Freedom Caucus at your peril. If he forgets, Jordan will surely take pains to remind him.

    • Color of Change: Facebook Retaliated Against Protests by Pushing Anti-Semitic, Anti-Black Narratives

      A New York Times investigation has revealed that Facebook fought critics and a growing number of scandals following the 2016 election by launching a PR offensive backed by a dubious Republican opposition-research firm: Definers Public Affairs. We speak with Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, one of the organizations targeted by Definers Public Affairs. We also speak with Siva Vaidhyanathan, the author of “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy.” He is a professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. Vaidhyanathan’s new article for Slate is titled “Facebook Is a Normal Sleazy Company Now.”

    • Who’s Running Now? These Are the Latest 2020 Democratic Rumors

      We haven’t even finished counting all of the votes in the 2018 midterms — Florida, Georgia and a number of smaller races remain undecided – but pundits have already moved on, jockeying to give their hot takes on the power rankings for 2020 Democratic presidential nominees.

      Of course, there isn’t a lot of news yet. And that’s why the vacuum is being filled with maybes and what-ifs, mostly from Democratic retreads – many of whom have shown no inclination of running at all.

      It wouldn’t be a 2020 roundup without the inevitable “Is Hillary running again?” question — and the answer is no, she is not, as she has said repeatedly.

    • The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats

      The Republican Party lost ground in the Congressional and state elections earlier this month, but they continue to triumph in the all-important contests over words.

      Republicans have been winning the “war over words” for years. First, the hard core political right wingers symbolically claimed the Bible and the American flag, turning them upside down. To them the Bible meant anything but the Golden Rule and compassion for the “poor,” so frequently noted in the Scriptures. They brandished the flag as a patriotic symbol to gag dissent, as a bandanna for waging war crimes, and as a fig leaf to hide the shame of their cruel domestic policies in the U.S.

      During the late Forties, few Americans chose to call themselves “conservatives.” “Liberals” were ascendant, coming out of the FDR years. Under incessant associational attack on the word “liberal,” few politicians now brandish their beliefs as “liberals,” while many tout some of their views as “conservative.”

    • Brothers Whom Authorities Linked to Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect Had Flyer Supporting Neo-Nazi Group, Officials Say

      When federal agents searched the Washington, D.C., house of two brothers they had linked to the suspected Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, they found a troubling scene.

      There were hollow-point bullets, “ballistic vests and helmets,” a “marijuana grow” operation and a Nazi flag. A noose dangled from a bunk bed, a small toy hung by its neck, and a flyer was found promoting the neo-Nazi organization known as Atomwaffen Division.

    • Whither the Melting Pot?

      It is practically axiomatic: Donald Trump makes everything worse.

      Is it all part of a plan? There is no easy answer to that question because, more likely than not, Trump has only attitudes and instincts, not strategies. But let’s give him more credit than he deserves and stipulate, as lawyers might say, that his machinations are calculated — even if to no purpose beyond his own glorification and enrichment.

      Then the method behind them would be the same both for his passion, campaigning, and for governing, an activity about which it seems that he could care less. It is to count on the acquiescence of the majority, while enthusing the cult-like followers in his base and flimflamming as many others as he can.

      His is a politics of division that consists essentially in appealing to what Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president, called “the darker angels of our nature.”

      This is why, if there will be life as we know it after Trump, de-Trumpification will be Job Number One.

    • Blockchain Voting: Solves None Of The Actual Problems Of Online Voting; Leverages None Of The Benefits Of Blockchain

      Just recently we wrote about why blockchain-based DRM was a terrible idea, and it could be summed up by the simple fact that a blockchain solves none of the “problems” of DRM today, and leverages none of the actual benefits of a blockchain. And… now I feel like writing basically the same exact post around blockchain voting. Like blockchain DRM, blockchain voting is one of those ideas that gets tossed around a lot. For decades, lots of people who actually understand computer security have explained why online voting is a horrifically bad idea in that it involves effectively unsolvable problems. It’s not that it’s a “hard” problem, it means that online voting is effectively impossible without massive changes to almost everything we do in ways that we can’t really comprehend right now. There are some serious researchers who are thinking about this, but to date, there is nothing even remotely close to to being acceptable, and there may never be.

      And yet, the “simplest” way that some people understand the risks of online voting is basically “it would be bad if someone could change your vote and no one would know.” That’s an easy to understand point to make, but the problems with online voting go way, way beyond that. Do a simple Google search on why online voting is a terrible idea and you’ll get dozens of on-point results, but if you want a nice, simple explanation of just the first pass of potential risks with online voting, check out this video from a couple years ago by Princeton professor Andrew Appel, who has been studying voting security for many, many years:

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Asia Bibi and the legacy of partition

      Much of this, of course, is an imperial legacy. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, British authorities maintained their haphazard control over India through a strategy of divide and rule, codifying and reinforcing India’s traditional caste system, and partitioning Indians into categories of caste, religion and language. Or as Rudyard Kipling put it in The Education of Otis Yeere, ‘Strict supervision and play them off one against the other. That is the secret of our government.’ The imperial authorities created, therefore, the divisions and mutual suspicions that the leaders of the Indian National Congress ultimately failed to overcome.

    • The Obama administration blocked or banned Fox News reporters from White House press conferences.

      President Obama attempted to delegitimize Fox News by calling their oppositional stance “destructive” for the country, took questions from Fox News correspondents less frequently than he did from those of other major networks in press briefings, and his administration expressed a willingness to exclude Fox reporters from interviews with top officials.

    • Professor sues over rebuke for calling female transgender student ‘sir’

      Meriwether, who has worked at the university since 1996, argued he didn’t discriminate and that he treated the student like “other biologically male students.” He unsuccessfully challenged his reprimand in a grievance process.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Tracking and snooping on a million kids

      With a couple of watches paired to different testing phones, I had a play with various authorisation and Insecure Direct Object Reference, IDOR, attacks.

      The only check the API appears to perform is matching the UID with the session_token, so simply changing the family_id in the get_watch_data_latest action, shown ibelow, allows an attacker to return the watch location and device_id associated with that family.

    • What Constant Surveillance Does to Your Brain

      As technology and machine learning continue to advance, we’re integrating surveillance into our daily lives at an increasing rate, and the level of surveillance is becoming more sophisticated. It’s easy to overlook all the ways we’re being tracked, but as soon as you start to quantify it, it quickly becomes unsettling. And it may make you wonder: what effect does being watched all the time have on your behavior—and your brain? Turns out, it can be just as mentally taxing as mental disorders like depression, and can even cause symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Police Officer Responding to Shooting Near Chicago Kills Security Guard, Authorities Say

      A black security guard at a bar in the Chicago suburbs was killed by the police as he apparently tried to detain a man he believed to be involved in a shooting, the authorities said Monday.

    • Police Fatally Shoot Black Security Guard Who Detained Suspected Shooter

      Witnesses say Roberson was wearing his uniform, including a hat emblazoned with the word “security” and was holding a firearm he was licensed to carry.

      Midlothian police confirmed that two officers responded to the scene at bar on Sunday and that one of them opened fire.

    • Get Out of Jail for a Price: The First Investigation From Our Illinois Reporting Project
    • Outside Review Faults Orlando Fire Department Policies and Mistakes in Pulse Shooting Response

      An independent review of the Orlando Fire Department’s response to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting has concluded that the agency was not prepared for the disaster and did not know how to use the ballistic vests it had previously purchased.

      The report by the National Police Foundation, released Wednesday, largely corroborates a September investigation by WMFE and ProPublica that found that the Orlando Fire Department failed to prepare adequately for a mass shooting, despite calls from some supervisors to do so. Forty-nine people died and more than 50 were injured during the shooting. The foundation is a nonpartisan police research organization.

      [...]

      Frank Straub, the lead author of the report, said the Orlando Fire Department saved a lot of lives during and after the Pulse shooting. But the event provides a cautionary tale of stagnant policies at a time of increasing threats, he added.

      Several of the Fire Department’s policies were written in 2001 and hadn’t been updated since.

      “The threat is constantly evolving and changing,” Straub said. “Our method of responding has to constantly evolve and change. That was an issue in Orlando.”

      In a press release issued Wednesday, the city of Orlando said it has updated its active shooter policies since the Pulse nightclub shooting and now has bulletproof vests for all first responders. The city paid for the foundation to review its response.

    • A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism

      According to the FBI, 1,679 religious hate crimes were reported last year. 58.1% were anti-Jewish and 18.6% were anti-Muslim. I don’t like to turn to the FBI for statistics, but I don’t know where else to turn for evidence of crimes of this sort. The statistics might dampen my “holiday spirit” this time of year when I have often celebrated Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, which I enjoyed in Hanoi for the first time twenty-years ago. I feel like I belong to the world and to all its religions, though I know that religions have brought violence and calamity, and though I was born into a secular Jewish family and grew up when Jews were excluded from country clubs and fraternities.

      When I was eleven-years-old, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, two American-born Jews, were sent to the electric chair after they were found guilty of stealing the secret of the atomic bomb and then handing it to the Soviets. That event seared my childhood more than any other; my parents were also Jewish and had belonged to the American Communist Party from 1938 to 1948.

      The American Nazi Party was alive and well when I was a boy. Members of the organization wore swastikas and paraded in largely Jewish neighborhoods. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that they had a right to do so under the First Amendment to the Constitution. “Jew Boy” was a term of derision and so was “New York Jew,” which might be taken to mean a Wall Street banker or a Communist agitator. Now, New York Jew it might mean the former mayor of the city, Michael Bloomberg, the eleventh richest person in the world, or the orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist.

    • Sen. Hyde-Smith’s Public Hanging Quip Is an Affront to Black Americans Who Were Lynched

      Dismissing comments about public hangings as a joke is not okay, especially in Mississippi, a state that lynched more Black people than any other.
      When Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is in a run-off election with Democrat Mike Espy for the state’s U.S. Senate seat, attempted to show her loyalty to one of her supporters during a recent campaign stop, she quipped: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

      The comment would be wildly inappropriate anywhere, but in Mississippi, which has the distinction of being the state that lynched more African-Americans than any other, it is particularly repugnant.

      Rather than apologizing for the offensive remark, Hyde-Smith issued a statement the following day saying: “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.”

      Reducing the history of lynching designed to inflict terror on Black communities to a joke, or “an exaggerated expression of regard,” serves as a reminder of the continuing failure to address and acknowledge the country’s past and the continuing need to face the many ways in which Black people remain subject to racially based violence.

      Recently, a group of current and former staff members of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, on a kind of pilgrimage to visit the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice and it’s Legacy Museum, which traces the path from enslavement to mass incarceration. Although each of us is well-versed in the nation’s shameful history of racial discrimination and violence and has worked to combat the persistent vestiges of that history, there is little that could have prepared us for the emotional impact of the two EJI sites.

    • What the Latest Bipartisan Prison Reform Gets Wrong and Why It Matters

      specter is haunting the United States — the specter of “bipartisan prison reform.” Although the last effort at bipartisan prison reform stalled out in 2014-15, the US now seems poised to pass the “First Step Act,” after Donald Trump signaled his support for the measure in a statement at the White House on Wednesday.

      Passage of the bill would be a major victory for Trump. A number of liberal and progressive commentators have gone all in on the legislation, which has been heavily shaped by Jared Kushner and Koch Industries attorney Mark Holden. CNN commentator and Cut50 cofounder Van Jones praised Trump. “Give the man his due,” Jones tweeted, saying the president is “on his way to becoming the uniter-in-Chief on an issue that has divided America for generations.”

      Yet, regardless of who is “uniting” around its passage, the bill itself is both weak and dangerous. While it offers a few token reforms — some of them, like the end of shackling for pregnant and post-partum women in federal custody, necessary and long overdue — it leaves many of the most pressing issues off the table. It barely makes a dent in terms of reducing the length of prison sentences or reducing the number of people in prison. Meanwhile, it heightens the use of racist and classist assessment mechanisms and expands the net of surveillance.

      The proposed bill includes a few minor reductions in sentence length for federal prisoners, by expanding potential access to good time credits and lowering the age of consideration for compassionate release However, it will not make any sentence reductions retroactive (except for the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which minimized — but did not erase — the disparity between crack and cocaine sentences). This means that people who are currently serving, for example, life sentences for drug offenses will not get any relief from this bill. A press release from the National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed the First Step Act, indicates that the organization “engaged” with lawmakers to ensure that most sentencing changes would not be applied retroactively. Despite Trump taking a deserved pot shot at Bill Clinton’s support for punitive crime policy of the 1990s, the bill would leave intact the lengthy sentences and limited legal access that Clinton enacted in a trifecta of laws (the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Reform Act, the Prison Litigation Reform Act).

    • Dream Defenders Claim Victories against Privatized Prison Industry

      In August 2018, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! reported that communities and human rights groups had organized a national day of protest against the for-profit prison company GEO Group after it threatened to sue the human rights group Dream Defenders for planning a national day of action to protest the private prison company. As Democracy Now! reported, GEO Group is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s single biggest contractor, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars to run private immigrant prisons. In an interview, Rachel Gilmer, the co-director of Dream Defenders explained, “We’ve organized a national day of action where we’re targeting GEO prisons, we’re targeting GEO detention facilities, and we’re targeting elected officials’ offices who are actually making money from the very people who profit off of these systems, and then going on and making policies that lead to building more prisons, that lead to tough-on-immigration crimes.”

    • Appeals Court: No Immunity For Shooting A Man Who Had His Hands Up And Twice Said He Surrendered

      By the time some qualified immunity cases hit the appellate level, there’s an air of “why are we even discussing this” about them. But if there’s even a 1% chance the next level of review might overturn a lower court ruling, the cases will addressed, no matter how obvious their conclusions.

      This is one of those cases. In this one, it’s a police officer needing to hear one more time that the shit they pulled just isn’t legal. It started with a parking ticket and ended with the ticketee being shot by a police officer. In between, there was a misunderstanding and an altercation. And, after this review, the odds are even lower that the officer is going to be able to talk a judge or jury into excusing his actions. Here’s the backstory:

      Craig Strand, a truck driver, needed to take a mandatory drug screening. Since he was unable to fit his truck in the testing facility’s parking lot, he obtained permission to park it at a nearby Planned Parenthood office. Officer Curtis Minchuk, who was providing security for Planned Parenthood while in uniform and with the blessing of his department, saw Strand’s truck and left two parking tickets on its windshield.

      Strand returned to his truck and saw the tickets. He returned to the Planned Parenthood office to inquire about them and was directed to meet Officer Minchuk in the parking lot. Strand explained he had received permission to park there. This is where things went downhill for Strand, his rights, and his as-of-yet unwounded body.

    • Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels

      We went to a very moving commemoration in London this week marking the 80th anniversary of Krystallnacht– when thousands of German Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. The opening salvo, as it were, of the Holocaust. But what I found most appalling–because of its relevance to today’s headlines –was not the description of those horrific events, but the motivation of a top Nazi official responsible for carrying out Hitler’s genocidal commands.

      One of the speakers at the commemoration was Anita Lasker-Walfisch, whose prodigious musical talent as a a cello player in the Woman’s Orchestra at Auschwitz saved her from the Nazi gas chambers. The other speaker was Niklas Frank, son of one of Hitler’s top henchmen, hung at Nuremberg in October 1946 for the role he played in the Final Solution.

      Anita’s description of the horrors she and her family faced was moving—particularly their incredulity that their Jewish family, so steeped in German culture and tradition, would be packed off to extermination by the leader of a country they felt so much a part of.

      But to me most chilling was what Niklas Frank had to say about his father. Hans Frank was a German lawyer , an early supporter of Hitler, who rose through Nazi ranks to become Governor-General of occupied Poland during World War II. He would be directly involved in the deaths of millions of Polish Jews.

    • Illinois Police Killed a Black Security Guard While Doing His Job

      Jemel Robinson saved lives — but because of racially biased policing, he paid for it with his own.
      In an alternate reality, Tuesday’s national news headlines would have read: “Active Shooter Heroically Subdued by Brave Security Guard.” Instead, we woke up to news stories announcing that police in Midlothian, Illinois, responded to a bar shooting by killing the security guard who had bravely detained the shooting suspect.

      Jemel Roberson should be alive today. But he’s not, and it seems quite clear that race played a critical role in his death.

      If Roberson had been white, would the officer who shot him have seen that he was dressed as a security guard, as witnesses to the shooting asserted? Would they have heard the bystanders shouting that Roberson was a security guard and a hero? And would they have paused instead of gunning him down?

      Experience — and statistics — suggest that Roberson would probably have lived to be called a hero if he were white. According to a 2018 study, Black men are 3.16 times as likely as white men to be killed by a police officer. A separate 2018 study found similar disparities.

      These statistics helped shape the reality that ended Roberson’s life. But it’s important to remember what was lost. Roberson was not only a 26-year-old security guard at Manny’s Blue Room Bar outside of Chicago. He was an active member of community churches who had aspirations. In fact, he dreamt of being a police officer and joining the community that ultimately took his life. Most importantly, however, he was a father to a 9-month-old son, and his partner is pregnant with their second anticipated child.

    • ICE Is Targeting Activists in Vermont. And the State’s DMV Has Been Helping Them.

      ICE partnered with the Vermont DMV to target farmworker rights’ activists for political repression.
      In October 2017, Vermont-based Migrant Justice scored a major victory in the organization’s campaign to extend labor protections to undocumented farmworkers in the state. After years of public action and lobbying, they reached an agreement with Ben & Jerry’s that established basic labor standards at the farms supplying dairy products to the company. Those standards included one day off a week, a minimum wage of $10 per hour, and accommodations that included electricity and running water — a milestone for farmworkers’ rights in Vermont. For many Migrant Justice organizers, who were themselves undocumented and had worked long hours in those dairy farms, the victory was personal.

      But while Migrant Justice’s organizers were celebrating their victory, according to a lawsuit filed this week by a coalition that includes the ACLU of Vermont, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was carrying out a targeted operation to arrest and deport them. Using tactics that law enforcement agencies typically employ to disrupt organized crime, the lawsuit alleges that ICE agents planted at least one informant in Migrant Justice to hack into the email accounts of the group’s members and compiled detailed dossiers on their movements and social circles. And ICE had an eager partner in those efforts — the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles.

      In 2013, Migrant Justice played a critical role in the passage of Vermont’s Driver Privilege Card law, which allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain legal driving permits. But a public-records request filed by the ACLU revealed that DMV officials systematically passed the private information of applicants for those permits directly to ICE, even in cases where ICE agents hadn’t asked for it. Email correspondence obtained in the request show DMV workers using racist language to describe those applicants, referring to “South of the Border” names and in one case lamenting that the state was being “over run by immigrants.”

    • Progressives, Please Don’t Defend Broken Promises on Immigration

      In recent weeks, many on the left and right of the US political spectrum have been riveted by the spectacle of thousands of families from Central America trekking across Mexico with the migrant caravans. On the right, President Trump has used these images to gin up racism and fear, curtailing migrants’ opportunities to seek asylum. On the left, activists and academics have attempted to counter his lies by insisting that it is legal to seek asylum under US and international law. These assertions, while correct, worry me: I fear we are throwing Central Americans under a bus driven by our own limited imagination.

      In part, it’s easy to ignore Central American realities because historically, their numbers have been relatively small compared to Mexicans apprehended at the US border. But since 2014, the Border Patrol has apprehended almost as many Central Americans as Mexicans, a startling figure when you take into account that the entire combined population of the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — is roughly a quarter of Mexico’s.

    • Helicopters Take to Sky, Door-to-Door Search Conducted after Video of Child Abduction Released. But…

      So our job is to try to push the re-set button.

    • Betsy DeVos Wants to Roll Back Civil Rights Protections For Students Filing Complaints of Sexual Harassment or Assault

      Our analysis of how DeVos’ proposed rule would change how colleges and universities deal with allegations of sexual assault under Title IX.
      The Department of Education headed by Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday released a proposed rule that, if implemented, would dramatically limit schools’ obligations to students who experience sexual violence and would not further the stated goal of fair process. The ACLU is equally committed to ensuring students can learn in environments free from sexual harassment and violence and to guaranteeing fair process for both respondents and complainants.

      The new rule preserves some important protections for respondents from the Department of Education’s 2001 guidance, such as a guarantee of an impartial investigator and the opportunity to present rebuttal evidence. It also ensures both parties equal rights to appeal and access to evidence.

      But the overwhelming effect of the new rule is to limit schools’ obligations to students who file complaints of sexual harassment and violence under Title IX, a federal civil rights statute that prohibits sex discrimination in education, without increasing the fairness of disciplinary proceedings. Under the new policy, schools will likely investigate far fewer complaints, and the Department of Education will hold fewer schools accountable for ensuring campuses are free of sexual harassment and assault.

    • ACLU of Illinois Demands Removal of Children in DCFS Care From Troubled Chicago Hospital

      The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois on Friday took the state’s child welfare agency to federal court to attempt to force the removal of all children in its care from a troubled Chicago psychiatric hospital after additional claims of sexual abuse there.

      A sexual assault allegation involving a 19-year-old patient, cited in the ACLU’s emergency court filing, comes as Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital faces intense scrutiny following a string of disturbing accusations of sexual and physical abuse. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services sends hundreds of children to the hospital each year, relying on Lakeshore to treat those with severe mental illness who are sometimes turned away by other hospitals.

      DCFS acknowledged Friday that it is also investigating a separate sexual abuse allegation, called into the state’s hotline Wednesday, involving two patients, a 14-year-old male and a 16-year-old transgender female, fondling each other at the hospital, according to a source with knowledge of the report. The girl, who is the subject of a previous abuse allegation at Lakeshore, came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor from Honduras and is in the custody of the federal government, records show.

      That brings the number of DCFS investigations into accusations of abuse or neglect at the hospital to 18 since January. The agency has found evidence to support four of those allegations, while seven were found to be unsubstantiated. Seven cases, including the two most recent reports, remain under investigation.

    • CIA considered potential truth serum for terror suspects after 9/11

      The existence of the drug research program — dubbed “Project Medication” — is disclosed in a once-classified report that was provided to the American Civil Liberties Union under a judge’s order and was released by the organization Tuesday.

    • Truth serum? New CIA ‘torture program’ docs shed light on post-9/11 ‘Project Medication’

      A CIA report obtained by the ACLU lays bare the details of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation” program, including tactics so disturbing even CIA agents were reluctant to implement them.
      The ACLU fought in court for two years to obtain the report, which constitutes a history of the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” detention program from 2002 to 2007. It was drawn up in response to the Abu Ghraib scandal to counteract the “distorted picture” taking shape in the media and, according to the agency’s lawyers, does not represent a “final official history, or assessment, of the program.”

      Beginning with a description of US intelligence services post-9/11 – chaos, panic, disorder, the willingness to do anything to prevent another terrorist attack – the report quickly moves from the seemingly rational goal of “rounding up al-Qaeda operatives worldwide” into surreal excuse-making (“no one ever was medicated rectally” despite “an occasional charge” that this was common practice during the rendition process) – within a single page.

    • CIA considered potential truth serum to force terror suspects to talk
    • CIA doctors considered using ‘truth serum’ on terror suspects
    • CIA considered potential truth serum to force terror suspects to talk
    • CIA explored potential truth serum drug for post-9/11 interrogations
    • CIA considered potential truth serum on terror suspects
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T CEO Continues His Fake Calls For Real Privacy, Net Neutrality Laws

      Notice for a moment that the linked outlet in question doesn’t bother to clarify to readers that we had meaningful net neutrality and broadband privacy rules at the FCC (passed after years of painstaking debate), and AT&T lobbyists worked tirelessly to kill both of them. AT&T also routinely battles any efforts to mandate more competition or broadband availability, to the point where they prevent efforts to even improve broadband availability maps. These are not problems AT&T wants fixed; rather important context when judging the merits of Stephenson’s statements.

      To be clear, AT&T doesn’t want meaningful privacy or net neutrality legislation. It wants loophole filled placeholder laws on these subjects in name only; laws that pretend to address the problems on both of these fronts, but serve one key purpose: pre-empt tougher state or federal laws that might actually accomplish something. AT&T wants laws its lawyers write that don’t actually fix the problems we all largely agree need fixing, especially the lack of broadband competition that helped create privacy and net neutrality violations in the first place.

      That tech and policy reporters don’t understand this (or understand it but for whatever reason don’t share this fact with readers) is consistently frustrating.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • European Commission creates IoT SEP licensing group

      According to the commission, the group will “deepen the expertise on evolving industry practices related to the licensing of SEPs in the context of the digitalisation of the economy, the sound valuation of intellectual property and the determination of fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms”.

      The group will facilitate an exchange of experience and good practice in the field of licensing and valuation of SEPs, provide the commission with the necessary economic, legal and technical expertise surrounding evolving industry practices related to SEPs, as well as assist the commission in monitoring SEP licensing markets and obtaining information on licensing and valuation practices.

    • LSPN Europe 2018: SPCs—important but ‘phenomenally complicated’, say lawyers

      Supplementary protection certificates (SPCs) are hugely important to MSD’s business, according to Elena Böhles, assistant counsel at the pharmaceutical company, based in Hertfordshire, UK.

      However, Böhles, who was speaking on a panel at the LSPN Europe 2018 in London yesterday, November 15, added that the SPC system can also be a source of frustration.

    • Copyrights

      • Protecting your Flavor

        As you might imagine, the court said no — taste cannot be protected under European copyright. “The taste of a food product cannot be likened to any ‘works’ protected by that treaty and, to my knowledge, no other provision of international law provides for the copyright protection of the taste of a food product. . . . I consider that the taste of a food product does not constitute a ‘work’ within the meaning of Directive 2001/29.”

      • EU High Court Rejection Of Copyrights For Food Tastes Worries Rights Holders

        A food’s taste cannot be pinned down with enough precision and objectivity to make it copyrightable under EU law, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said on 13 November. The decision creates a new standard that could be applied to all European copyright works, but would likely be the same under US law, intellectual property lawyers said.

      • Nintendo Gets Huge Settlement Against ROM Site Probably Just To Scare Other ROM Sites

        A couple of years ago, we first discussed how Nintendo, long-time maximalists on intellectual property concerns, decided to open up a new front against ROM sites. What at first looked like it might be something of a surgical strike mission-creeped this past summer into a full war on ROM sites generally, with Nintendo using a buckshot lawsuit approach. Many sites simply voluntarily shut down, sweeping away decades of video game history to be once again locked up by Nintendo, while others stared down the company’s legal guns. All this, of course, as Nintendo was showing how silly this all is given the insane performance of its Nintendo retro consoles.

        Well, it looks like the output of this effort is going to be Nintendo playing games with at least one of these suits, getting a settlement that nobody thinks it’s actually going to pursue in full just to have a multi-million dollar number to threaten other sites with. The husband and wife operators of LoveROMS.com have agreed to a $12 million settlement they can’t pay, and likely won’t have to, to have Nintendo call off its dogs.

      • Conan O’Brien’s Defense Hits Snag in Tom Brady Joke Theft Claim

        Conan O’Brien can’t defend a claim alleging he stole a joke about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady by arguing the person accusing him of the theft tricked the government into granting his copyright.

        Alex Kaseberg in July 2015 sued O’Brien over a series of jokes he says the late-night host used on his show. At the center of the current decision is a joke about Brady handing his 2015 Super Bowl MVP trophy over to the guy who won the game for the Patriots — the opposing team’s coach. Kaseberg tweeted his version on Feb. 3, 2015, and later that night the host delivered a similar joke on his show.

        Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino denied a motion for summary judgment with regard to three of the jokes, including the one about Brady, and moved the matter toward trial — also finding that Kaseberg’s quips were entitled to only “thin” protection and he would need to show that O’Brien’s jokes were virtually identical, instead of substantially similar, in order to prevail on his claims.

      • Not Funny: The Conan O’Brien Joke-Stealing Lawsuit Is Still Going On

        We’ve obviously talked about the great deal of harm that a protectionist view of copyright can cause, both in terms of its ability to deny the public useful innovations and its use by the powerful to bully the weak. But one of the harms in protectionism and the ever-expanding culture of ownership that pervades modern life that is less talked about, possibly because it’s somewhat obvious, is its sheer ability to bog down individuals in an absurdly lengthy legal process that seems to move at a pace purposefully calibrated to be as frustrating as possible.

        A great example of this is the copyright case Conan O’Brien is embroiled in still, all over accusations that he and his writing staff “stole” a handful of jokes from a freelance comedian, who has claimed copyright over them. We first wrote about this case in the first half of 2017, where a judge had greenlit all of this for a jury trial, but the lawsuit itself was actually filed back in 2015. And, incredibly, it’s still going on. The clock is still running at three years, with the most recent news being that the court has refused to allow O’Brien’s team two affirmative defenses based on the actions of the plaintiff.

      • Leaks Show Europe’s Attempts to Fix the Copyright Directive Are Failing

        The EU’s “Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive” is closer than ever to becoming law in 28 European countries, and the deep structural flaws in its most controversial clauses have never been more evident.

        Some background: the European Union had long planned on introducing a new copyright directive in 2018, updating the previous directive from 2001. The EU’s experts weighed a number of proposals, producing official recommendations on what should (and shouldn’t) be included in the new directive, and meeting with stakeholders to draft language suitable for adoption into the EU member states’ national laws.

        Two proposals were firmly rejected by the EU’s experts: Article 11, which would limit who could link to news articles and under which circumstances; and Article 13, which would force online platforms to censor their users’ text, video, audio, code, still images, etc., based on a crowdsourced database of allegedly copyrighted works.

        But despite the EU’s expert advice, these clauses were re-introduced at the last minute, at a stage in the directive’s progress where they would be unlikely to receive scrutiny or debate. Thankfully, after news of the articles spread across the Internet, Europe’s own voters took action and one million Europeans wrote to their MEPs to demand additional debate. When that debate took place in September, a divided opposition to the proposals allowed them to continue on to the next phase.

      • Not Even Hiding It Any More: EU Council Explicitly Pushing For Mandatory Upload Filters

        One of the key talking points for supporters of Article 13 in the EU Copyright Directive is to absolutely deny that it requires mandatory upload filters. Of course, as soon as you ask them how an internet platform could possibly abide by the rules of Article 13 without implementing mandatory upload filters, they suddenly change the conversation. Usually to something about how YouTube is ripping off all musicians. This is… weird. First of all, YouTube already has its giant upload filter in the form of ContentID. Second, if they can’t tell you how it doesn’t require upload filters, then… it requires upload filters.

        As the trilogue negotiations continue between the EU Council, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament, the Council has apparently decided to drop the pretense and is now explicitly demanding mandatory upload filters. The newly proposed language says that any site is liable for all infringement committed by their users unless they block any infringing works they’ve been informed about from ever appearing on their sites again. It’s a “notice and stay down” requirement — which has all sorts of problems. First of all, this assumes that every use of the same work is equally infringing. It does not take into account that one use may be infringing, while another may be fair use or fair dealing. Second, it requires incredibly expensive technology. ContentID already cost Google over $100 million… and it’s not very good. Tons of stuff still gets through. So now, basically, any successful smaller platform would have to spend ridiculous sums of money to implement a useless filter that won’t work… and when things slip through, they’re still liable for massive damages.

        And, notice what’s missing? What happens if these filters take down content they should not? This happens all the time. But here, of course, there is no punishment for false notifications or for mistakes. While the Council tries to get around this by saying the rules “shall not affect legitimate uses, such as uses under exceptions and limitations,” that’s entirely meaningless. How the hell do you train a filter to understand parody? Or fair use? Or any other limitation or exception? Google has spent $100 million on its system and it has no clue how to determine fair use.

      • Article 13: YouTube CEO is Now Lobbying FOR Upload Filters

        In a week which began with warnings from YouTube about the potential negative effects of the EU’s Article 13 proposals, an interesting development is being reported by Julia Reda, MEP for the Pirate Party. The vice chair of the Greens/EFA group reports that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has visited Strasbourg and now appears to be lobbying in favor of upload filters.

      • The EU can #fixcopyright, but they’re not

        The Don’t Wreck the Net coalition of online platforms and civil society groups has published a laundry-list of the minimum set of technical fixes that Articles 11 and 13 need to actually be fit for purpose, including some really basic things like defining what a “news story” and “link” are in Article 11′s ban on linking to news stories without payment.

      • New “Warsaw Declaration” Promises International Anti-Piracy Cooperation

        A group of 34 organizations and institutions have signed the ‘Warsaw Declaration’, hoping to increase international cooperation in the fight against online piracy. The signees, including prominent names such as the BBC, HBO, and NBCUniversal, believe that effective global collaboration is key to address the ongoing problem.

      • Lost Disney ‘Oswald’ film found in Japan

        In response, Disney began work on a new lead character: one that would eventually be known as Mickey Mouse. As for Oswald, it was left in animation purgatory until Disney CEO Bob Iger bought back the rights in 2006.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts