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11.18.18

The European Patent Office is Attracting Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Enforcement of software patents in Europe by the large patent troll (disguised as a pool) MPEG-LA means that European software developers cannot develop software with full multimedia support (not without sudden disruption to their peace)

THE race to the bottom of patent quality isn’t a new thing at the European Patent Office (EPO); it had become very obvious under Battistelli and António Campinos made it worse. Unlike the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the EPO is becoming more software patents-friendly over time and it seems to be choosing China as a partner, knowing that Chinese patents are of low quality and barely matter to European Patents (few of which are assigned to Chinese firms). Months ago we explained why Software Patents Are a Dying Breed of Patents Except in China (and Maybe EPO) and also published Racing to the Bottom, the António Campinos-Led EPO Continues to Promote Software Patents, Just Like China.

“Huawei and ZTE are impacted (the Chinese giants) and this can cause an increase in prices all over Europe. Who benefits from all this? the trolls of course…”China is just playing catchup, seeing trade wars and sanctions creeping in. China’s government offers incentives to generate/spur many patent applications domestically (literally millions of them) and these may get granted irrespective of quality, prior art etc. This is a recipe for trouble as it opens the door to patent trolls — an issue that China already wrestles with (being tough and aggressive/oppressive, China already arrests some trolls). This US patent troll/parasite called iPEL [1, 2], which targets China for the most part, is being promoted by Watchtroll this month. Watchtroll has published puff pieces/ads for this notorious patent troll (e.g. “Why Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs) Are Good For China”) and we keep seeing lots of articles about China’s new appeal procedures/courts. Guanyang Yao (Liu, Shen & Associates) has done an article about it, as did some patent maximalists’ sites lately.

Of most interest to us, however, is news about MPEG-LA taxing Chinese companies in the usual ways; These patent trolls are having a good time nowadays in Germany. In Associated Press (press release) and elsewhere they celebrate this enforcement of software patents in Europe. Huawei and ZTE are impacted (the Chinese giants) and this can cause an increase in prices all over Europe. Who benefits from all this? the trolls of course…

Patent Maximalists Are Still Upset at the US Supreme Court (Over Alice) and the US Patent Office Carries on As Usual

Posted in America, Patents at 11:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: In spite of the courts’ continued rejection of software patents — perfectly in line with what the high courts are saying — abstract ideas are still being covered by newly-granted patents

THINGS have been changing for the better since 35 U.S.C. § 101 incorporated Alice/Mayo (SCOTUS). Sites of patent maximalists, however, speak about a different 101 (like this latest from Gene Quinn, who asked in his headline: “Does the Supreme Court even appreciate the patent eligibility chaos they created?”)

Chaos for who? Oh, wait, we get it. Watchtroll speaks for patent trolls and law firms. This is why we call it Watchtroll. The endless court- and judge-bashing noted as well…

“Watchtroll speaks for patent trolls and law firms.”How about yesterday’s nonsense titled “Protecting an Idea: Can Ideas Be Patented or Protected?”

What Quinn meant to ask is, “Monopolising a thought: can thoughts be monopolies and similar thoughts be made thoughtcrime?”

It would be wrong to suggest that a society can be better off as a function of the number of granted patents. That would be patently wrong. Just turning something into a patent (monopoly) does not imply innovation or progress, only a form of sanction. 4 days ago USA TODAY used the number of granted patents (or patents per capita) as a measure of “innovation”. It may sound like a decent approximation, but a patent is a monopoly really, and it’s not so cheap either. Patents were one among other factors like university a.k.a “college” degrees (proportion). When one measures the number of patents (expensive) and university a.k.a “college” degrees (in a country like the US the good colleges are notoriously expensive) it doesn’t say much about innovation but more about wealth; like Switzerland in Europe. Unless we assert that innovation only “happens” when it’s filed as a patent we basically fall for that mental trap or mindset wherein only rich people are allowed to innovate or receive public recognition for their work. The European Patent Office (EPO) never gets it; it keeps mentioning Switzerland all the time (patents per capita).

“It would be wrong to suggest that a society can be better off as a function of the number of granted patents.”What needs to improve is the quality of patents or the accept/reject ratio (to the point where fewer people even bother applying); when it comes to patents, the more isn’t the merrier (unless you’re a lawyer). It is crystal clear that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) continues to grant fake patents on software (or software patents). We’ll give or share some new examples.

For reasons that are privacy-centric, this surveillance patent application (“Facebook seeks to patent software to figure out profiles of households”) received a lot of media attention and coverage. Neurala has also just issued a press release [1, 2] to note that it has been awarded a fake patent; it’s quite clearly a software patent disguised using buzzwords like “AI” (good enough for examiners, but courts would beg to differ).

“When one measures the number of patents (expensive) and university a.k.a “college” degrees (in a country like the US the good colleges are notoriously expensive) it doesn’t say much about innovation but more about wealth; like Switzerland in Europe.”Blockchains, which are pure software, also made some headlines a few days ago; any “blockchain patent” is a software patent that courts would likely invalidate over and over again. Amazon and Xerox got mentioned aplenty [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] for newly-granted “blockchain patents” and speaking of Amazon, Marathon Patent Group (it is a patent troll that preys on real companies) celebrated its shakedown (“Patent Litigation with Amazon.com”) that it has bet the farm on.

Links 18/11/2018: Cucumber Linux 2.0 Alpha and Latest Outreachy

Posted in News Roundup at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Coreboot Support Taking Shape For Intel Icelake

    Intel developers have been punctual in their bring-up of Icelake support within Coreboot.

    Intel’s open-source developers have already been busy for more than a year on bringing up bits of Icelake CPU and graphics support within the Linux ecosystem from new instructions for the GCC compiler, enabling the “Gen 11″ graphics, adding the new device IDs, and other kernel and user-space for preparing for this exciting generation of Intel hardware.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12.0-RC1 Released, Fixes Ryzen 2 Temperature Reporting

      Arguably most user-facing with this week’s FreeBSD 12.0-RC1 release is updating the amdsmn/amdtemp drivers for attaching to Ryzen 2 host bridges. Additionally, the amdtemp driver has been fixed for correctly reporting the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990WX core temperature. The 2990WX temperature reporting is the same fix Linux initially needed to for a 27 degree offset to report the correct temperature. It’s just taken FreeBSD longer to add Ryzen 2 / Threadripper 2 temperature bits even though they had beat the Linux kernel crew with the initial Zen CPU temperature reporting last year.

    • MeetBSD 2018: Michael W Lucas Why BSD?
  • Public Services/Government

    • Goa to train teachers in new open-source software apps for cyber security

      After working with Google India for wider adoption of internet safety in schools two years ago, Goa education agencies will implement another project to train computer, information and communication technology school and higher secondary teachers in new open-source software applications for cyber security integration.

      The State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education and Goa State Council Educational Research and Training (GSCERT) have decided to begin the second programme with over 650 computer teachers from December 4 to 18, Mr. Ajay Jadhav, Board of Study member and coordinator of the first project with Google, said on Friday. The cyber security training syllabus has been worked out and 18 resource persons are ready for the project.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Radeon GCC Back-End Updated For Running Single-Threaded C & Fortran On AMD GPUs

      Back in September Code Sourcery / Mentor Graphics posted the Radeon GCC back-end they have been developing with the cooperation of AMD. This is for allowing the GCC compiler to eventually offload nicely to Radeon GPUs with its different programming languages and supported parallel programming models, particularly with OpenMP and OpenACC in mind. But for now this patch series just works with single-threaded C and Fortran programs. The second version of this port was posted for review.

      Hitting the GCC mailing list on Friday was the updated version of this AMD GCN port targeting Tonga/Fiji through Vega graphics hardware. Code Sourcery will post the OpenACC/OpenMP support bits at a later date while for now the code works with single-threaded C/Fortran programs with C++ not yet supported, among other initial shortcomings. For now the AMDGPU LLVM back-end is far more mature in comparison, which is what’s currently used by the open-source AMD Linux driver compute and graphics stacks.

    • AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler 1.3 Brings More Zen Tuning

      Earlier this month AMD quietly released a new version of their Optimizing C/C++ compiler in the form of AOCC 1.3. This new compiler release has more Zen tuning to try to squeeze even more performance out of Ryzen/EPYC systems when using their LLVM-based compiler.

      The AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler remains AMD’s high performance compiler for Zen compared to the earlier AMD Open64 Compiler up through the Bulldozer days. AOCC is based on LLVM Clang with various patches added in. Fortunately, with time at least a lot of the AOCC patches do appear to work their way into upstream LLVM Clang. AOCC also has experimental Fortran language support using the “Flang” front-end that isn’t as nearly mature as Clang.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Building houses that grow with us

      Of course, the premier example of a house designed for stuff is the McMansion, which, as I have argued at length elsewhere, is designed from the inside out. The reason it looks the way it does is because of the increasingly long laundry list of amenities (movie theaters, game rooms) needed to accumulate the highest selling value and an over-preparedness for the maximum possible accumulation of both people (grand parties) and stuff (grand pianos). This comes at the expense of structure, skin, and services. The structure becomes wildly convoluted, having to accommodate both ceilings of towering heights and others half that size, often within the same volume. Because of this, the rooflines are particularly complex, featuring several different pitches and shapes, and the walls are peppered with large great-room windows (a selling feature!), and other windows on any given elevation consist of many different sizes and shapes.

    • The Lie Behind the Lie Detector: how to beat the pseudoscientific polygraph

      George writes, “AntiPolygraph.org has released the 5th edition of its free ebook, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector, which provides a thorough debunking of the pseudoscience of polygraphy and explains how to pass or beat a polygraph test.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Industry studies show evidence of bias and misleading conclusions on widely used insecticide: Scientists

      Researchers who examined Dow Chemical Company-sponsored animal tests performed two decades ago on the insecticide chlorpyrifos found inaccuracies in what the company reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compared to what the data showed.

      And, according to internal EPA communication, agency scientists also had issues with the study interpretations, yet the agency approved the compound for continued use anyway.

      “EPA staff scientists and staff were telling management there were problems,” said Jennifer Sass, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, who was not involved in the current study but has worked on issues related to toxics, including chlorpyrifos, for decades.

      “And management disregarded it.”

  • Security

    • Security News This Week: Japan’s Top Cybersecurity Official Has Never Used a Computer
    • SuperCooKey – A SuperCookie Built Into TLS 1.2 and 1.3

      TLS 1.3 has a heavily touted feature called 0-RTT that has been paraded by CloudFlare as a huge speed benefit to users because it allows sessions to be resumed quickly from previous visits. This immediately raised an eyebrow for me because this means that full negotiation is not taking place.

      After more research, I’ve discovered that 0-RTT does skip renegotiation steps that involve generating new keys.

      This means that every time 0-RTT is used, the server knows that you’ve been to the site before, and it knows all associated IPs and sign-in credentials attached to that particular key.

    • Information Breach on HealthCare.gov

      In October 2018, a breach occurred within the Marketplace system used by agents and brokers. This breach allowed inappropriate access to the personal information of approximately 75,000 people who are listed on Marketplace applications.

    • Tens of millions of private text messages and security codes exposed

      The database of text messages, used by companies to send password reset information, shipping notifications and security codes, was left exposed by communications company Voxox.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • US Officials: CIA Concludes Saudi Prince Ordered Journalist’s Killing

      The assessment by the CIA, first reported by The Washington Post Friday, contradicts that of Saudi Arabia, whose top prosecutor one day earlier exonerated the crown prince in the killing.

    • Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution

      Can you imagine a “democracy” in which the president handpicks a council that proceeds to dismiss the Constitutional Court, the Judicial Council which oversees the judiciary, the National Electoral Council, the Attorney General, the ombudsman, and all six major regulators (superintendents)?

      Unfortunately, that is the current situation in Ecuador. Abusing participatory democracy, and deceiving the public with the complicity of a corrupt press, on February 4 of this year they called an unconstitutional referendum.

      Several articles in our constitution stipulate that the Constitutional Court must rule on the legality of any referendum questions, but, given the clear unconstitutionality of several questions, the government knew that a ruling would not go its way and called the referendum by decree. For the first time in its history, Ecuador had a nationwide referendum without a ruling from the Constitutional Court.

      With the approval of the tricky and confusing question 3, they seized the so-called Council of Citizen Participation [CPCCS in the Spanish acronym], whose members were selected through national competitions, and which, according to the Constitution of Ecuador, is responsible for overseeing competitions that elect about 150 control authorities. [1]The unconstitutional referendum gave a “Transitory” CPCCS (which I’ll refer to as the CPCCS-T) the “power” to evaluate and, if applicable, dismiss these control authorities. The dismissal of authorities is an exclusive constitutional power of the National Assembly. The Constitutional Court, which is not even selected by the CPCCS , cannot be dismissed by anyone else.

      At present, Ecuador does not have a Constitutional Court. The President’s handpicked CPCCS-T [after dismissing the court] declared a two month absence of the court which expire this week and will surely be extended. Throughout this lapse, Ecuadorians have no one to guarantee our constitutional rights.

      The illegally dismissed authorities had to be replaced by their [already selected] alternates, as the law demands, but the “Transitory” CPCCS-T directly appointed its replacements. Not even the unconstitutional referendum gave it the power to directly appoint authorities.

      Ecuador is presently a “Transitory Republic”. We have a transitory CPCCS, a transitory Judicial Council, a transitory National Electoral Council, and similarly with the Prosecutor General, Ombudsman, Comptroller General, and all superintendents – all transitory and practically all open enemies of my government. All were illegally and arbitrarily appointed by the CPCCS-T and under its complete control.

      The Ecuadorian state has five branches: the Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Electoral, and the Transparency and Social Oversight branch. Three of these five branches are in the hands transitory officials directly appointed the Executive’s handpicked CPCCS-T.

      The temporary authorities were sworn in before the CPCCS-T, violating article 120 of the Constitution which states that they must sworn in before the National Assembly. I hope you understand what it means to be pursued by an “acting” prosecutor directly appointed and sworn in before a “transitory” Council whose president – a personal and political enemy of mine- publicly insults me every day and says that I must go to prison.

    • Khmer Rouge leaders found guilty of genocide in landmark ruling

      Two top leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime were found guilty of genocide on Friday, in a landmark ruling almost 40 years after the fall of a brutal regime that presided over the deaths of a quarter of the population.

      The Khmer Rouge’s former head of state Khieu Samphan, 87, and “Brother Number 2” Nuon Chea, 92, are the two most senior living members of the ultra-Maoist group that seized control of Cambodia from 1975-1979.

      The reign of terror led by “Brother Number 1” Pol Pot left some two million Cambodians dead from overwork, starvation and mass executions but Friday’s ruling was the first to acknowledge a genocide.

      The defendants were previously handed life sentences in 2014 over the violent and forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975.

    • US could lose in war with China or Russia, warns bipartisan panel [Ed: “Great Power competition” they call it; glory of empire delusions. In nuclear war everyone loses. The whole planet dies from starvation and cancer, firearms after fallout apocalypse.]

      US could lose in war with China or Russia, warns bipartisan panel – Congress had tasked the National Defense Strategy Commission to look at President Donald Trump’s sweeping National Defense Strategy (NDS), which highlights a new era of “Great Power competition” with Moscow and Beijing.

    • White House covering for bin Salman: Ex-CIA officer

      A former CIA case officer is claiming that the Trump administration is helping cover up the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in last month’s killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

      Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Bob Baer, who worked at a CIA case officer primarily in the Middle East, said the U.S. has purposely muted its response to Khashoggi’s murder.

    • Trump Administration Helping Saudi Crown Prince Cover Up Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder, Former CIA Officer Says
    • Ex-CIA operative argues that the Trump White House is covering up Saudi crown prince’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi
    • A former CIA officer says the White House is helping cover up Jamal Khashoggi’s murder
    • CIA believes Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s death, report says
    • How An American Spy Predicted the Cold War

      ON AUG. 23, 1944, A young Eastern European king in his early 20s was arresting the head of his government and switching sides from fighting with the Germans in World War II to joining the Allies. History credits King Michael of Romania with having changed the course of his country’s history and shortening the war by months.

      With the Germans now depleted of oil resources in the Carpathian region, the Soviets were slowly taking over the Eastern European country, changing key people in the government and replacing them with Communist figures. America and the U.K. were far away, and both were keen on keeping their alliance with the Soviet Union, regardless of signs that Moscow was about to take over much of Central and Eastern Europe.

    • The Murder of a CIA Agent In an Unruly Post-Soviet Country Prompted A Texas Attorney To Seek Answers

      Georgia was a lawless nation at the time. Several years earlier, the country had emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union and was still overrun with Russian intelligence agents. Crime was rampant and electricity sporadic as rival gangs and paramilitaries competed for influence. Georgia was fighting a separatist insurgency in the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The CIA had also identified the country as a major drug smuggling route.

      After Woodruff was shot and killed, then-CIA director James Woolsey traveled to Georgia personally to claim the dead body. Georgian officials determined that the murder had been an accident and Woodruff had been killed by a stray bullet shot by a drunken soldier who was unaware that there was an American in the car. A trial was held in 1994 and a young man named Anzor Sharmaidze was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for the murder.

    • 16 years into U.S. drone war in Yemen, civilian deaths keep mounting

      The United States has waged a drone war in Yemen for 16 years, trying to suppress al-Qaida’s branch here. But the campaign has had a hidden cost: civilians cut down by the drones’ missiles.

      There is no comprehensive count of civilian deaths because of the difficulty of confirming identities and allegiances of those killed. But in an examination of drone strikes this year alone, The Associated Press found that at least 30 of the dead likely did not belong to al-Qaida.

      That is around a third of all those killed in drone strikes so far in 2018. The Pentagon does not release its assessment of the death toll, but an independent database considered one of the most credible in tracking violence in Yemen counted 88 people — militants and non-militants — killed by drones this year.

    • In Yemen, a race to save a boy from al-Qaida and a US drone

      Al-Qaida was giving away motorcycles up in the mountains — that’s what the kids in town were saying the day Abdullah disappeared.

      Early that morning, Mohsanaa Salem woke her 14-year-old son to go buy vegetables. The sun had just risen above the mountain ridge, and winter light filled the ravine where their mud brick house sat at the foot of a slope. “Let me sleep,” Abdullah groaned from a mattress on the floor, surrounded by his brothers and sisters.

      One word from his father, though, and the boy was up and dressed, trudging out of the house to the market in a neighboring village. Three hours later, when he still hadn’t returned, Mohsanaa and her husband began to worry.

      They were a family trying to get by in Yemen, a nation at war with itself that has become a battleground for more powerful countries.

    • Drone pilot could have caused ‘catastrophic’ helicopter crash akin to Leicester City disaster, court hears

      Owner of iPad-controlled craft becomes first in UK to be convicted of interfering in police operation

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Group seeks details of Assange charges after leak

      American journalists’ grouping Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has filed a motion in the eastern district of Virginia to unseal the US Government’s criminal charges against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

    • Mistake in Filing Suggests WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Has Been Charged

      Following an earlier report that the Justice Department was looking to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the Washington Post has now reported that Assange may have been charged under seal in a revelation that appears to have stemmed from a mistake in a court filing.

      The circumstances by which this information was disclosed, if indeed true, involved a filing in an unrelated case by a lawyer also assigned to the WikiLeaks case. Per the Post, the August filing related to a case involving national security and sex trafficking in the Eastern District of Virginia. The name Assange appeared at least twice in the filing: [...]

    • Possible Indictment Of Wikileaks’ Assange Prompts Press Freedom Concerns
    • 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.

    • The Radical Evolution of WikiLeaks

      While the revelation of an apparent indictment against Julian Assange sets an ominous precedent for news organizations, it also serves as a reminder of his group’s stark transformation.

      [...]

      Then, in 2010, WikiLeaks posted a graphic video depicting the killing of perhaps a dozen Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists, at the hands of the U.S. military. The video brought the organization acclaim from civil libertarians and transparency advocates, and infamy within the U.S. military and elsewhere. Soon after its release, WikiLeaks posted its largest-ever cache of leaked material: a set of diplomatic cables and Army documents, many of which concerned the conduct of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If WikiLeaks began as a mere internet curiosity when it was founded in 2006, within four years, national-security officials in the United States were publicly depicting it as a threat.

      Now it looks as if the U.S. government is preparing its most direct action yet against Assange. On Thursday, an unrelated court filing referred to secret charges against Assange for unspecified crimes. Assange, who has been living in London’s Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden in connection with an unrelated, now-dropped investigation of rape allegations, had long voiced the fear that the U.S. would seek to charge and possibly extradite him if he ever left the compound.
      The revelation put a new twist on the saga of an organization that, after becoming famous in 2010, became notorious in 2016 for its role in publishing hacked emails apparently obtained by Russian intelligence in an effort to sway the U.S. presidential election. Today the WikiLeaks story isn’t just about the line between transparency and security, but about the question of when the mere act of releasing information becomes information warfare.

      The video of the killings of the Iraqis, dubbed the Collateral Murder video, appeared on the WikiLeaks site in the spring of 2010. It records, through a helicopter’s gun-sights, the moment in 2007 when the crew fired on a group of Iraqi men walking down a street in a Baghdad suburb, killing perhaps a dozen people—including two Reuters journalists whose camera gear they had mistaken for weapons.

    • Week 78: Will the Left Get Its Revenge on Assange?

      Having conditioned the press corps to think that he loves nothing better than to spend his Fridays filing criminal indictments, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had Washington reporters fidgeting all week long in the expectation that Roger Stone or Jerome Corsi or someone else connected to the scandal would get slapped in the kisser with criminal charges. Late on Thursday, news of a criminal indictment did bring joy to the press, but it wasn’t what they expected at all. News dribbled out that—thanks to a clip-and-paste flub into a court filing by federal prosecutors—international man of mystery and WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange stands secretly charged with something or other.

    • The CIA College Tour: The case of the “Jabberwocky 13”

      On October 15th, 1981, then-Central Intelligence Agency Director William Casey traveled to Brown University’s campus in Providence, Rhode Island. Invited by CIA administrator turned Brown professor Lyman Kirkpatrick, Casey was to speak as part of the Olin Lecture Series, funded by ultra-conservative chemical and munitions baron John M. Olin in his quest to combat leftism at elite universities.

      Campus activists united to plan a protest of Casey’s speech, wanting to draw attention to the CIA’s track record of overthrowing democratically-elected governments (among other things) and Olin’s role in supplying the US military. “We were tired of the everyday picket with signs,” explained Mark Toney, then an undergrad at Brown, saying the group wanted something special, “to show how absurd all the lies were from William Casey.”

    • Pamela Anderson gives ‘smutty’ Scott Morrison a double-barrel blast over Assange comments

      Anderson, a former Baywatch star, appeared on 60 Minutes Australia earlier this month, sharing details of her friendship with Mr Assange and urging Mr Morrison to “defend your friend, get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him, and throw him a parade when he gets home”.

      Mr Assange, who published thousands of classified United States documents, has been living in political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition.

    • Pamela Anderson accuses Scott Morrison of making ‘smutty’ comments about her
    • Pamela Anderson blasts Scott Morrison for ‘smutty’ comments after Assange plea
    • Pamela Anderson slams ‘smutty’ PM for rejecting Assange calls
    • Pam Anderson knocks PM’s ‘lewd’ comments
    • Pamela Anderson knocks PM’s ‘lewd’ comments
    • Pamela Anderson Slams Australian PM’s ‘Smutty’ Remarks Refusing Her Request To Aid WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange
    • Pamela Anderson is not happy with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

      Pamela Anderson has spectacularly blasted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling him “smutty” and “lewd” in an open letter.

      She penned the missive — which was published on the Daily Beast website on Sunday — after the PM rejected her calls to help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange come home to Australia.

    • Pamela Anderson slams ‘smutty’ PM for rejecting calls to help Julian Assange

      Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has hit back at Prime Minster Scott Morrison after he rejected her calls to help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange come home to Australia.

      In an open letter published in the Daily Beast on Sunday, Anderson slammed Morrison for comments she describes as “smutty”, “lewd” and “unnecessary”.

      The 51-year-old had previously urged the prime minister to lend his support to Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years over sexual assault allegations.

    • Pamela Anderson accuses ‘smutty’ Scott Morrison of abandoning Assange

      Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has penned a furious open letter to the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, calling him “smutty”, “lewd” and questioning his “strength and conviction”.

      Writing on the US website the Daily Beast, Anderson criticised Morrison’s response to her calls for the government to help WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange return to Australia, accusing him of trivialising the issue.

      Anderson – a close friend of Assange’s – appeared on 60 Minutes Australia earlier this month to urge Morrison to “defend your friend, get Julian his passport back and take him back to Australia and be proud of him, and throw him a parade when he gets home”.

      Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since seeking asylum in 2012, is under investigation by US law enforcement agencies for publishing classified diplomatic cables and other secret government records.

    • Pamela Anderson: My Open Letter to Australian PM Scott Morrison on Julian Assange

      Your comments following my appeal to you on 60 Minutes were disappointing.

      You trivialized and laughed about the suffering of an Australian and his family. You followed it with smutty, unnecessary comments about a woman voicing her political opinion.

      We all deserve better from our leaders, especially in the current environment.

      Following the show, 60 Minutes canvassed the views of Australians online. People responded in the thousands, overwhelmingly—92% of more than 7000—in favour of bringing Julian home.

      Rather than making lewd suggestions about me, perhaps you should instead think about what you are going to say to millions of Australians when one of their own is marched in an orange jumpsuit to Guantanamo Bay—for publishing the truth. You can prevent this.

      Julian Assange will soon face his seventh Christmas isolated from family and friends, after 8 years of detention without charge.

    • How A ‘Court Records Nerd’ Discovered The Government May Be Charging Julian Assange

      One minute, Seamus Hughes was reading the book Dragons Love Tacos to his son. The next minute, he stumbled on what could be one of the most closely guarded secrets within the U.S. government.

    • The Theory of Prosecution You Love for Julian Assange May Look Different When Applied to Jason Leopold
    • 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?

      The accidental disclosure of an Assange case originated with a federal prosecutor who was filing a motion with a federal court in Virginia to seal the criminal complaint against one Seitu Sulayman Kokayi. Twice in the short document, the name of the person whose charges were supposed to be sealed was given as “Assange” rather than “Kokayi.” The Kokayi case was recently unsealed, and the error was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert who monitors court cases.

      Anyone who’s ever worked as a lawyer or a paralegal can tell you how this happened. Law firms and legal offices keep copies of sample documents containing boilerplate language — like the language prosecutors use to explain why a sealed criminal complaint is necessary.

      The lawyer drafting the document has the job of changing the names from the sample. The prosecutor in the Kokayi case was most likely in too much of a rush — and didn’t proofread.

    • Post op-ed: Charging Assange would be very bad for press freedom

      Press-freedom advocates got a rare chance to celebrate Friday, with a federal judge’s ruling that the White House must restore the credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

      But an unrelated case should keep them from breaking out too many bottles of Dom Pérignon.

      Julian Assange has been charged with an unspecified crime in a separate government case, and – while the WikiLeaks founder is an unsympathetic and unsavory figure – that raises troubling questions about the right to publish stolen material.

      “It very much depends on what the charge is,” the prominent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams told me by phone, recalling that the Obama administration came close to indicting Assange years ago.

      The Obama Justice Department backed off – wisely, Abrams believes.

      They did so because of concerns that a successful prosecution of Assange would mean traditional news organizations could be punished for publishing stolen material.

      The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 fits that description.

      If publication of government secrets – however they were obtained – can be treated as a crime, there could easily be a chilling effect on investigative journalism. And citizens are then deprived of crucial information they would never know about otherwise.

    • Feds Say Suspected CIA WikiLeaker Spilled New Files From Prison

      One day after criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were mistakenly confirmed in a court filing, a newly public transcript reveals that the man suspected of providing the website with classified CIA files may have leaked additional information from federal prison.

      Joshua Adam Schulte, believed to be behind the WikiLeaks “Vault 7” and “Vault 8” tranches, had multiple contraband cellphones – including at least one heavily encrypted device – recovered his cell inside New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center searched in October. The FBI said it also found approximately 13 email and social media accounts and other electronic devices that he used to “communicate clandestinely with third parties outside of the MCC.”

      [...]

      Marcy Wheeler, an investigative journalist who provided the FBI with evidence relevant to the Russia probe, has argued that Schulte’s case could provide prosecutors with an opening to charge Assange with conduct unrelated to acts of publishing.

    • Julian Assange Charge Raises Fears About Press Freedom

      The disclosure that federal prosecutors have brought an unidentified criminal charge against Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks leader, follows years of government deliberations over the dilemma raised by competing desires to put him out of business and fears that doing so could create a precedent that would undermine press freedoms.

      Many crucial details about what prosecutors have done remain unclear, including when the criminal complaint was filed, what specific charge or charges it contains, and what facts it is based upon. Depending on the answers, the Justice Department’s move could have very different implications for the traditional news media and First Amendment protections.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • BP accused of causing a ‘slow motion genocide’ in one of the world’s poorest regions

      Posing as a doctor, British investigative journalist Michael Gillard snuck into occupied West Papua to hold BP (British Petroleum) to account for alleged human rights abuses. Though the region is one of the most dangerous in the world for reporters, Gillard managed to reveal that BP’s activities appear to be causing a “slow motion genocide” while the company is extracting “high speed profit”.

    • The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us

      Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse

    • California Wildfires: Where Is the Climate Change Outrage?

      Unprecedented droughts, fires and floods are not the “new normal”: Climate change gets nonlinearly worse from here on out. Like an avalanche, the physics of warming determines that a little more warming doesn’t create a little more extremeness, but a lot more. Until we reduce greenhouse gas warming, it gets a lot worse every year. Reducing emissions alone does not reverse warming until after 2300. To reduce warming, we must eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, plus remove near 1,000 gigatons of already emitted greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, according to the new 1.5°C report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change.

      Meanwhile, a third unprecedented wildfire in California has happened in the last 12 months. At the time of writing, nearly 12,000 structures and 71 lives have been lost in Paradise, California, to the “Camp Fire” that began November 8. Before that, the July 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire burned 459,000 acres and set a record for the state’s largest fire. But the largest fire record before that was set by Thomas Fire, which burned 281,000 acres in December 2017. More than 10,000 structures have been lost in 2018 so far in the state, and more than 9,300 structures were lost in 2017.

      The record-setting increases of these unheard-of extreme weather events continues to horrify the public. What will it take to allow us to treat climate change like it is the most important issue our society has ever faced, as top scientists say it is?

    • Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today

      The Woolsey Fire jumped the freeway and scorched Bell Canyon in the West Hills area of LA, where I scrambled up El Escorpión Peak with the late Galen Rowell and a few others back in the early 90s. I had taken a fistful of magic mushrooms that September day, anticipating how they might enhance a tangerine sunset brewed up from fires in the Topatopa Mountains near Ojai. I don’t recall the sunset, but I can’t still shake memory of the three rattlesnakes I nearly stepped on during that climb. You don’t think of rattlesnakes, when you think of LA. But they are there and I hope they remain so, long after the ashes from this fire cools and the chaparral springs back to life …

    • The New Abnormal

      Thousand Oaks, California: a city torn apart by wildfire and gunfire. Both are unnatural disasters.

      “This is the new abnormal,” Gov. Jerry Brown said this week at a press conference, talking about global warming and the three voracious fires that are tearing up his state, one of them — the Camp Fire, in Northern California — the deadliest and most destructive in the state’s history.

      “Unfortunately, the best science is telling us that dryness, warmth, drought, all those things, they’re going to intensify,” Brown said.

      In Thousand Oaks, northwest of Los Angeles, the new abnormal met the new abnormal. On Nov. 7, a gunman entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in that city and started shooting, killing 11 patrons and a police officer. He then shot himself. Several of the patrons, including one of the victims, had survived the mass shooting a year earlier at a Las Vegas concert.

      There was no time to grieve. A day later, as the Washington Post reported, “catastrophic twin blazes had formed a ring of fire around this Southern California community. The second tragedy of the week had somehow dwarfed the first.” Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes.

      Gunfire and wildfire. This is a country at war with itself in multiple ways.

    • Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California

      In a victory for the ocean, a federal judge on Friday, November 9, ordered the Trump administration to cease issuing permits for offshore fracking and acidizing in federal waters — waters over 3 miles from shore — off the coast of Southern California.

      U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ruled that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act when it allowed fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and acidizing in offshore oil and gas wells in all leased federal waters off Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

      Gutierrez issued an injunction prohibiting the two responsible federal agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), from approving any plans or permits for the use of well stimulation treatments (WSTs) off California.

      The court concluded that the Federal Defendants “satisfied their obligations” under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) in preparing the environmental assessment that is the subject of the suit.

      “But theCourt also concludes that the Federal Defendants violated the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) by failing to consult with the relevant federal services and violated the Coastal Zone Management Act (“CZMA”) by failing to prepare a consistency determination and submit it to California for review as required by that statute,” Gutierrez wrote.

      Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technique that uses a pressurized liquid to fracture rock. Acidizing is another well stimulation technique that entails pumping acids into a well in order to dissolve the rock, increasing the production by creating channels in the rock to allow oil and natural gas to reach the well.

    • Drone footage shows helicopters dousing cars with water as they escape inferno on Californian highway

      Cars are driving on the wrong side of the road, hugging the median, staying as far away from the fire as possible. A big cloud of grey smoke fills the air.
      In some parts of the motorway cars and trucks are bumper to bumper and down to one lane as they drive past the fire that looks to be just metres away from them.

    • Here’s why Montana officials are scaring birds on purpose

      The Berkley Pit in Butte, Montana is an old copper mine and the water is toxic to birds.

      Two years ago 10,000 geese were killed at the site when they landed there.

    • Sympathies to drone-infested areas that will no longer enjoy peace

      Good luck dear Gungahlin residents. Say goodbye to the peaceful amenity of your homes and suburb, and hello to flight paths being opened over your houses, noisy aircraft with recording devices on them, and goodbye to your birdlife.

  • Finance

    • Cryptocurrencies’ Seven Deadly Paradoxes

      John Lewis of the Bank of England pens a must-read, well-linked summary of the problems of cryptocurrencies in The seven deadly paradoxes of cryptocurrency. Below the fold, a few comments on each of the seven.

    • The seven deadly paradoxes of cryptocurrency

      Will people in 2030 buy goods, get mortgages or hold their pension pots in bitcoin, ethereum or ripple rather than central bank issued currencies? I doubt it. Existing private cryptocurrencies do not seriously threaten traditional monies because they are afflicted by multiple internal contradictions. They are hard to scale, are expensive to store, cumbersome to maintain, tricky for holders to liquidate, almost worthless in theory, and boxed in by their anonymity. And if newer cryptocurrencies ever emerge to solve these problems, that’s additional downside news for the value of existing ones.

    • ‘Demonetisation biggest scam in history of independent India’: Rahul Gandhi

      Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday termed demonetisation as the biggest scam in the history of independent India, adding it would be proved that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “robbed the poor of their hard-earned money and given it away to a few rich”.

    • 5 Surprising Reasons Actors Turned Down Major Movie Roles

      Seraph was originally written for Michelle Yeoh, who turned it down, after which it went to Li (or as he’s known in the industry, “the male Michelle Yeoh”). Although excited about the role, Li eventually backed out after realizing that the process of being motion-captured for CGI would’ve meant that, much like the fictional Matrix, taking the job (or “plugging in” as they probably called it) would have required surrendering his digital personhood. As Li tells it, Warner Bros. wanted to keep him doing martial arts in front of a green screen for six months in order to “record and copy all [his] moves to a digital library,” after which they would own them forever. Fearing that his style would end up being used by Daffy Duck or something, Li said no.

      This probably sounded like a bizarre reason to walk away from a generous payday, but it’s not exactly outside the realm of possibility. [...]

    • Betsy DeVos Faces Another Lawsuit Over For-Profit College Loans

      Even though a court ordered the Department of Education to discharge — otherwise known as forgive — student loans taken out by people who attended for-profit colleges that were later shuttered, the agency has been slow to comply.

      And now, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos faces yet another lawsuit over the situation, highlighting her historically cozy relationship with these institutions.

      The controversy in this case surrounds the Borrower Defense to Repayment Rule, instituted under the Obama administration. Students who attended schools that misled them or engaged in other forms of misconduct before closing down are eligible for loan forgiveness. If implemented as designed, the policy could wipe out $250 million in debt for 106,000 students who took out loans to finance educations that never materialized or didn’t come with the benefits they promised.

    • In the Pacific Northwest, the First Paraeducator-Led Strike of the Teacher Uprising

      Paraeducators in Port Angeles, Washington, are on strike. In this year’s wave of teacher strikes, it’s the first one led by paraeducators.

      Teachers have refused to cross their picket lines, shutting down the district’s schools Thursday and Friday.

      The 115 paradeucators in this small coastal city, just across the water from Canada, assist with everything from reading lessons to recess. Paraeducators play an essential role in today’s schools, offering extra attention and care to students who need it—especially those with disabilities.

      Besides solidarity, another reason teachers were reluctant to cross the paras’ picket lines was “a lot of safety concerns,” said Eric Pickens, president of the Port Angeles Education Association. “They’re trained to help out our most fragile students, students with special needs.”

      The strikers are pushing the school district to grant wage increases they say they’re owed from state money.

    • Ex-CIA Cryptography Expert Bill Barhydt: Bitcoin Fully Capable of Bringing Competition to The Man

      Ever since the end of the World Wars, there has been a growing level of frustration with how the government for the people, by the people is seemingly working against the people. This has led to radical movements around the world. Some gaining a little success but most are repressed in the end. Therefore, there is an increasing sense of alienation and a strong dislike for authority or “the Man”. And Bill Barhydt would know a thing or two, having seen both sides of the coin. The ex-cryptographer for the Central Intelligence Agency is now the founder of Abra, a cryptocurrency investment platform. He hopes to be able to work out how to legally work a crypto bank, outside the regulatory environment.

      [...]

      All this extensive knowledge with a wide base will undoubtedly help Bill to formulate plans and strategies best suited to leverage cryptocurrencies and help reinvent modern banking in the way he desires. He explains how this all will come together, “When you’re putting fiat into your Abra wallet, the experience looks like Venmo, like a Venmo deposit, but what you’re really doing is you’re depositing money at an exchange which then automatically buys Bitcoin for you, and then, in the case of Ripple, enters into that multi-sig contract where you effectively short Bitcoin versus Ripple. And Abra takes the long position on that contract versus Ripple. All of that happened in the background without you having to know.”

    • Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction

      Since the mid-1970s I see four main trends shaping the world and the country. Big capital in the U.S., for the most part, has moved to the right in reaction to each of them. Each of these trends has also invigorated rightwing populism.

      First, while the U.S. and Europe are still the most powerful bloc, political and economic power is shifting to other parts of the world and international and national capitalist competition has intensified. These processes have been clear since the 1970s but have recently reached a new tipping point: Symbols of this changing balance of forces are the immediate as well as structural economic crisis of the European Union, the displacement of the Group of 8 by the Group of 20 (which includes the BRICS) and the failure of U.S. militarism in the Middle East. However, the U.S. is the still the only world superpower and its competitors and opponents have many divisions among them.

      Second, since the 1970s the current system of financialized, high tech capitalism has generated a dramatic increase in capitalist wealth and economic inequality, a marked division between the wealthy and the struggling sections of working and middle classes, growing economic and political differentiation within those each of those classes and an explosion of homelessness. The Great Recession exposed the deep contradictions internal to contemporary capitalism.

    • ‘A Staggeringly Bad Idea’: Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would ‘Kneecap the Progressive Agenda’

      According to a list of Democratic proposals obtained by the Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—who is currently fighting back against efforts to prevent her from becoming House Speaker—is pushing for a rule that would “require a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80 percent of taxpayers.”

      In response, MoveOn.org called the proposal “a staggeringly bad idea.”

      Though the proposed rule is framed as an effort to protect the financial well-being of middle class Americans, Eric Levitz of New York Magazine pointed out that “while progressives are committed to increasing the discretionary income of the bottom 80 percent, that does not necessarily mean keeping their tax rates frozen at historically low levels.”

      “A bill that required those households to pay a new, smaller monthly sum to the government—so as to fund a single-payer system that would actually reduce their cost of living by delivering radically cheaper healthcare services—could hardly be called regressive,” Levitz notes. “And the same can be said for legislation establishing universal child care, paid family leave, or any other program aimed at easing the middle class’s financial burdens.”

    • Green New Deal? Bring It! But Don’t Forget Your Union Card.

      Fifty young people affiliated with the Sunrise Movement were arrested on November 13 in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office, following a sit-in demanding that Democrats use their new majority in the US House of Representatives to launch a comprehensive plan to confront climate change — a Green New Deal.

      Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not only attended the protest, but the same day posted on her website draft language to establish a Select Committee on a Green New Deal.

      Ocasio-Cortez’s willingness to embrace the dynamic and confrontational mobilization of the Sunrise Movement and their reinvigoration of a public discourse on a Green New Deal signals that the next legislative session will present opportunities to create and elevate an ambitious left agenda.

      Ocasio-Cortez’s draft proposal for a Green New Deal Committee contains bold provisions for achieving 100 percent renewable energy, a federal jobs guarantee, a commitment to mitigate racial, regional, and gender-based wealth and income inequalities, and a plan to use innovative public financing to achieve these goals. While these are all important aspects of a Green New Deal, what’s missing are any terms for protecting — let alone strengthening — the right to organize.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook Is Now Critical to Democracy. That’s a Problem.

      In short, these messages targeted people’s interpretation of their democracy. But the manipulative methods in which they traveled — Facebook among them — were largely taken for granted. And that manipulation isn’t over.

    • Where Did the ‘Freedom From Facebook’ Campaign Really Come From?

      The point here isn’t to question Freedom From Facebook’s intentions. Their efforts seem to stem from genuine concern over Facebook’s outsized role in the world. But the labyrinthine relationships and shadowy catalysts of the efforts on all sides of that debate show just how little involvement actual Facebook users have in the fight over reining the company in.

    • Children’s show is propaganda for Putin, say critics

      A programme about a mischievous girl and a bear watched by millions of British children is accused of being a “soft propaganda” tool for the Kremlin (Mark Bridge writes). The English-language Masha and the Bear has more than 4.18 million subscribers on YouTube and, in various languages, the animated series has gained 40 billion views across 13 channels.

    • Historic Wave of Women Candidates Sweep to Power on Guam

      On November 6, voters in the US territory of Guam elected their first female governor, first openly gay lieutenant governor and a 15-person legislature in which 10 senators are women. Guam also elected its first senator of Chuukese descent (an ethnic minority from Chuuk, Micronesia). Another candidate, a transgender woman, wasn’t elected, but had a strong showing in an election that has energized Guam’s progressive community.

      “After you’ve had 16 years of Republican governors on Guam, I think people were ready for something different,” said Michael Lujan Bevacqua, an assistant professor at the University of Guam who specializes in Chamoru Studies — the study of Guam’s Indigenous people and culture.

      “I think that we are seeing a shift,” he told Truthout. “I doubt it’s irreversible but it’s definitely shifting.”

      Now, with eight of 15 candidates having expressed interest in the possibility of independence from the US, Bevacqua said the new legislature “could lead to tangible steps toward a change in political status.”

      Guam, which is part of the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific, has been a US territory since it was acquired in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. But 500 years of colonialism and over a century of US military occupation have left many on Guam hungry for self-determination. The results of this month’s election are, for many on Guam, a glimmer of hope.

    • Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens

      Never underestimate the disingenuousness of top U.S.-American politicos. They truly have no shame.

      Notice how little the fascistic president Donald Trump has to say any more about the big bad Central American Caravan that was supposedly menacing the United States with a great criminal “invasion”?

      The U.S. military “heroes” sent down at great taxpayer expense to “defend our border” will be missing Thanksgiving with their families thanks to this fake threat to “national security.”

      Gee, what happened? It was all a dog-wagging, white-nationalist ruse!

      The bogus peril was transparently concocted by the neo-Know Nothing president to rally his “blood and soil” electoral base for the midterm elections.

      That’s standard, crudely duplicitous procedure for the pathological liar Trump, who has spent years casting doubt on the reality of global warming (a “Chinese hoax”) even as he has built walls to protect his golf courses from rising seas resulting from the climate crisis he has acted as president to exacerbate.

    • Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management

      Talk about a bunch of sad sacks that really stink in the sack. The Trumpocalypse is ruining sex for the rest of us.

      Starting at the top with the bottom-feeding Pussygrabber-in-Chief, the “Charles Manson of American Politics” whose scary hair, odious toadstooland garbage-spewing shithole under his snout are such a turn-off there’s a type of PTSD (Post-Trump Sex Disorder) named for him, and moving on through our newest, lying, crying Supreme (who at least no longer coaches girls’ basketball), gangs of racist wife-beaters, creepy ass-grabbers, Proud Boy sucker-punchers, muscle-bound MAGA-bombers and U.S. military-trained, unabashedly misogynistic mass murderers, it’s a veritable frat house of walking, squawking, gawking, stalking, toxic and yes, killeranti-aphrodisiacs. As on most points, the Dems are not quite so Repugnican, but not exactly encouraging; how about that Keith Ellison?

      It’s enough to make even a woman who really likes sex sign up for the convent, except… oh no—priests!

    • When Depravity Wins

      It is a fact of political life that in the United States, what Michelle Goldberg in a recent New York Times article referred to as the “bottomless depravity” of Donald Trump, can also be applied to at least three members of Congress who emerged triumphant from the recent election. One of them, to his credit, was not an indicted criminal.

      The re-elected, but unindicted congressman, was Steve King of Iowa. He was re-elected for the 9th time on November 6, 2018. Mr. King almost certainly takes great pride in the fact that he has not been charged with any criminal activity-only racism and fascism. He is credited over the years with countless racist rants. In one of his many tweets he said: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Commenting on the activities of illegal immigrants, he said that for every illegal immigrant who becomes a valedictorian of his or her class, there are 100s of others who “weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

      In a recent back and forth with a supporter in an Iowa restaurant, he repeatedly referred to people he needed to hire as farm workers as: “dirt from Mexico” and, referring to the caravan that has bedeviled Trump, Mr. King said: “It’s the most dirt we’ve ever seen.” In other events he has compared immigrants to dogs, endorsed a white nationalist mayoral candidate who questioned whether immigration is causing “white genocide,” and attacked the National Republican Congressional Committee for backing a gay candidate. Voters in Iowa were not deterred. He has been reelected. And, as observed above, he has not been indicted for any criminal activity. The same cannot be said for his New York and California reelected colleagues.

    • Trump Weighs Replacing Chief of Staff John Kelly in White House Shake-Up
    • Melania Trump’s dangerous move
    • Deputy NSA Ricardel may be fired after clash with First Lady: report

      Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel may be fired,The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unnamed White House official. Ricardel had clashed with First Lady Melania Trump over issues including seating on the trip to Africa as well as the belief Ricardel was the source of negative stories. Earlier the First Lady’s office had issued an unusual, public statement saying Ricardel “no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.” According to the report, she also repeatedly clashed with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

    • This Was No Vote Accident

      Here in the West Village, in beautiful downtown Manhattan, Election Day morning was overcast, with an autumn chill and some mist in the air. It was early and I was surprised by the number of people waiting to vote – a line about as long as in 2016 – which was great but seemed a little odd because in this very, very blue neighborhood there were plenty of names on the midterm ballot but no contests of any great contention.

      That had all been taken care of during the last primary in September, when Cynthia Nixon ran against Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and lost, although she did manage to shift Cuomo a bit left on a number of issues. Now that he’s been reelected we’ll be watching closely—very closely—to see if he follows through.

      No, the people I saw standing in line clearly were doing so as an act of defiance and political conscience, casting their ballots as a symbol of their desire for decency and democracy. It was a protest fueled by the need to send a message that was loud and clear: that as voters they would try at every level, local, state and federal, to keep America from under the thumb of authoritarianism. They wanted to make sure strong opposing voices remain shouting in government.

      As you know well by now, nationwide, there was great success. Although Republicans held onto the US Senate, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, perhaps by as many as 40 seats, more than any midterms since the post-Watergate election in 1974. And that new freshman class is filled with women, blacks, Latinos, the first two Muslim-American women, the first two Native American women. (In fact, when the House and Senate convene in January at least 128 womenwill be members.) And the newcomers are young, lowering the median age of Congress by at least a decade.

      Progressive ballot measures passed, Democrats flipped the governorships of seven states with no losses, and as Emma Green at The Atlantic reports, “pulled out big victories across state legislatures, flipping six chambers, turning others purple, and shoring up its supermajorities in still more.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • DOD takes initial steps in separating CYBERCOM from NSA

      The Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman the “first of several” planned contracts to build out the “Unified Platform” for military cyber operations, a capability critical to eventually separating U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency.

      The separation of CYBERCOM from NSA was an idea initiated during the Obama administration and was included in defense authorization legislation for fiscal 2017.

    • Over half the top free VPN apps on iOS and Android are linked to China

      According to a new investigation from Metric Labs – the company behind Top10VPN – the majority of the top-ranking free VPN apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store are either based in China, or have some kind of Chinese ownership.

      If that doesn’t immediately raise a flag as red as China’s, this is why it should: the Chinese government has been clamping down on VPN software in recent years, and any private data funnelled through them may well not remain private for long.

      In all, 17 out of the 30 apps analysed had links to China, and 86 per cent had huge privacy issues to boot. Some simply provided no information about whether data was logged or shared with third parties, while others used generic privacy policies with no relevance to VPNs. Others had no policy at all, but several explicitly revealed sharing information with China.

    • Your Drone Can Give Cops a Surprising Amount of Your Data

      With drones more regularly getting caught up in criminal activity, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has assembled an archive of digital readouts from 14 commercial drones, with the goal of helping law enforcement officials learn how to best extract this little-used trove of data. The NIST reference manual gives step-by-step instructions on how to physically remove the individual SD memory chips from each drone, and what to look for once an agent plugs the card into a computer.

    • What Diane Greene’s Departure Means for Google Cloud

      Greene’s announcement Friday morning that she will move on in January is being read as the latest evidence that the project hasn’t gone as well as planned. Greene said she wants to spend more time mentoring and investing in women tech entrepreneurs. She will retain her Alphabet board seat.

      The new head of Google Cloud in January will be Thomas Kurian, who until September was a top executive at Oracle.

    • Facebook Morale, Hurt by Share Drop, Suffers Another Hit

      Most discussion at Facebook happens on the company’s workplace version of the social network, in various company groups. But when the news is about Facebook’s leadership, some employees have found it easier to talk when they’re unnamed. They used Blind, the anonymous employee chat app, to raise their concerns, according to screenshots obtained by Bloomberg. On Thursday, the conversations were full of outrage. How could Sandberg – and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg – have failed to see the threat to the company? And how could they have managed all of this so poorly?

    • For $20, you can make a DIY Stingray in minutes, using parts from Amazon

      One upshot of the law enforcement reliance on cellular mass surveillance is that it has created a perverse incentive to maintain the insecurity of our mobile devices; this insecurity, combined with the inevitable decline in price for electronic components, means that more and more people are able to spy on your phones (sometimes it’s criminals, sometimes it’s foreign spies, sometimes it’s a mystery).

      If you want to get in on the action, you can order $20 worth of parts from Amazon, plug them into your laptop, paste a few commands into your terminal and you can start spying on your friends and neighbors.

    • With $20 of Gear from Amazon, Nearly Anyone Can Make This IMSI-Catcher in 30 Minutes

      Surveillance takes on different character when it trickles down to more ordinary, everyday users. The significance and threat from IMSI-catchers is multiplied when a lot more people can deploy one using cheap tech from Amazon and free code from Github.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Media Rights Group Indignant Over Detention of its Employees in Tanzania

      In a statement Monday, CJP said both women were traveling on valid visas, as part of a fact-finding trip to better understand local press freedom conditions in Tanzania.

      CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said “we are outraged by their treatment at the hands of Tanzanian authorities,” and said CPJ has “concluded that the intention of Tanzanian authorities was to harass and intimidate our team.”

      Simon said CPJ is also disappointed that South Africa’s foreign minister repeated falsehoods about the detention after helping to assist the journalists in Tanzania.

    • Terror as disappearances follow Chinese student communists’ solidarity with striking workers

      Now the state has struck back: Chinese communist student activists and leaders have gone missing, often after public kidnappings at the hands of presumed state enforcers who drive up in black, unmarked cars and force the students inside. Some of these students have not been heard from since.

      The disappearances have created a wave of terror among the activists and their friends, who say that the retaliation is arbitrary and untargeted, sometimes aimed at prominent leaders and sometimes at young people who were essentially just bystanders during meetings and strikes.

    • Young Marxists are going missing in China after protesting for workers

      Since August at least nine young Chinese labor advocates have been forcibly detained in major cities across the country, a sharp escalation in Beijing’s campaign against student activism on university campuses.

    • Beware Turkey’s Dangerous New Refugee Role
    • Telangana: Attacked by Imam for playing devotional songs on loudspeaker, Hindu priest succumbs to injuries

      According to the reports, the shocking incident occurred on the early hours of 26th October, when Satyanarayana Sharma was playing devotional songs on loudspeakers at a local Shiva Sai temple in Pochamma Maidan, Warangal. Sayeed Sadhiq Hussain, an Imam at LB Nagar mosque approached the Hindu priest and demanded him to switch off the loudspeaker. When the priest refused to do so, the angry Imam suddenly assaulted the age-old Satyanarayana mercilessly.

    • Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it.

      Since the Saudi dissident’s death on October 2, one thing has become painfully clear: President Donald Trump will do anything but severely reprimand the Saudi government.

      [...]

      Trump, it seems, just doesn’t want to risk losing incoming Saudi cash. Beyond the arms deals, Riyadh said it would invest about $20 billion in US infrastructure projects. Trump has consistently promised to rebuild much of America’s crumbling roads, bridges, and airports, but would rather not use much taxpayer money to do so. And the Pentagon support Saudi Arabia’s military mission in Yemen with intelligence support.

    • Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!

      On November 14, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives blocked a resolution that its supporters say would end U.S. participation in the war and famine in Yemen. It is unclear, however, what effect this resolution would have on the ground even if it were passed into law. It imposes no limits on arms sales to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. It does not propose any oversight or limitation of activities CIA or of private contractors from the U.S. in Yemen. The resolution is based on a time table that does not reflect the dire urgency to end the war in Yemen, where almost two months ago the United Nations’ humanitarian chief warned “We may now be approaching a tipping point, beyond which it will be impossible to prevent massive loss of life as a result of widespread famine across the country.” Further, the resolution provides exemptions for continued hostilities conducted directly by U.S. with drones and Special Forces.

      Limited as it is to removing “U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities,” one might even agree with Republican leadership that with the mutual decision that the U.S. stop refueling Saudi war planes, the resolution is moot, even as the war and famine continue. If the resolution were allowed to pass, there would be a 30-day window between the date when the bill might be signed into law and when it would take effect, in which time millions of Yemenis might succumb to famine.

      House of Representatives Concurrent Resolution 138, introduced in the House, “Directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen, except for Armed Forces engaged in operations authorized under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, within 30 days unless and until a declaration of war or specific authorization for such use has been enacted into law.” Senate Joint Resolution 54 is even more explicit and generous in its exception allowing U.S. aggression to continue in Yemen: “This joint resolution directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda, within 30 days unless: (1) the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, or (2) a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces has been enacted.”

    • Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?

      One has to admire the Canadian government’s manipulation of the media regarding its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Despite being partners with the Kingdom’s international crimes, the Liberals have managed to convince some gullible folks they are challenging Riyadh’s rights abuses.

      By downplaying Ottawa’s support for violence in Yemen while amplifying Saudi reaction to an innocuous tweet the dominant media has wildly distorted the Trudeau government’s relationship to the monarchy.

      In a story headlined “Trudeau says Canada has heard Turkish tape of Khashoggi murder”, Guardian diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour affirmed that “Canada has taken a tough line on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record for months.” Hogwash. Justin Trudeau’s government has okayed massive arms sales to the monarchy and largely ignored the Saudi’s devastating war in Yemen, which has left up to 80,000 dead, millions hungry and sparked a terrible cholera epidemic.

    • Saudi Arabia: Rights Abuses Under Scrutiny

      Country representatives gathering in Geneva for the periodic review of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record made recommendations that included the immediate release of Saudi activists – including women driving activists – jailed solely for peacefully advocating reform. They also called for an end to discrimination against women and justice for the slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including assuring accountability for his killers.

      “Many countries have problematic records, but Saudi Arabia stands out for its extraordinarily high levels of repression, which have come into focus in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Saudi Arabia should respond to international criticism of its human rights record and make meaningful changes, including the immediate release of jailed human rights defenders as a first step.”

    • US Congress Should Not Be Fooled By Egypt’s Platitudes

      Congress, on the other hand, has a long, bipartisan history of supporting human rights in Egypt. At the time of the NGO law’s signing in May 2017 Senators John McCain (R-AZ), recently deceased, and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), called for strengthened democracy and human rights benchmarks on Egypt aid. US budget bills have, for years, included restrictions on military aid to Egypt related to improvements on democracy, human rights, and rule of law.

      But Egypt’s draconian NGO law is on the books now and no review, without tangible action by the government, should be seen as a positive move. The only meaningful sign of progress would be repeal of the law.

    • Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?

      Attracted by the sun, sea, glamour and glitz many British people visit or choose to live and work in Dubai. With over 700 luxury hotels, some neck-creakingly tall buildings, tax-free salaries, futuristic design, high-end malls the appeal is obvious. At any given time, approximately a 100,000 British people live and work in Dubai and the UAE, and on average anywhere between half a million and one million British tourists visit annually.

      However, the glamour and seductive appeal of Dubai (and the Emirates generally) disguises a dark side: it’s legal system and laws. An increasing number of British people are often unsuspectingly falling foul of these laws with at times devastating consequences. The UAE’s legal system is founded upon civil law principles (mostly influenced by Egyptian law) and Islamic Sharia law, the latter constituting the guiding principle and source of legislation. The laws are, however, often vague, confusing and arbitrarily applied.

      The Foreign and Commonwealth Offices (FCO) British behaviour abroad report (2014) found a 30 per cent rise in the number of Britons arrested in the UAE between 2012 and 2014 and this despite a drop of more than a third in the number of British tourists to the UAE in the same period. The report found that the UAE was the fourth most likely country in which UK citizens would require consular assistance. The mere accusation of wrongdoing can have serious consequences; as Scottish electrician Jamie Harron discovered. He was sentenced to 3 months in jail for public indecency after he accidentally touched a man in a bar.

      Afsana Lachaux, a former British civil servant, had her son taken from her while living in the UAE. Having moved there for a new life, events soon took a nasty turn. Her husband became abusive, and she felt that she had no choice but to flee with her son. However, instead of supporting her she found that the authorities and the legal system favoured her husband. The women’s shelter that she fled to told her husband where she was, and the courts dismissed her protestations and witnesses.

      I connected with Afsana via twitter she tells me she ‘left the UAE in 2014 and is in the midst of legal proceedings here and in France to try and get the Dubai sharia divorce overturned and have some rights to see and speak to Louis. So far the U.K. has refused me jurisdiction.’ For her ‘the most despicable thing is that UK courts endorse the UAE legal system.’ I can’t imagine anything much worse for a mother to experience than to have her child taken from her.

    • Hypocrisy of Dubai’s World Tolerance Summit

      But to paint the UAE government as tolerant is laughable. The summit’s website conveniently makes no mention of the UAE’s sustained assault on freedom of expression since 2011, where the authorities detain and forcibly disappear people who criticize the government, and imprison for long periods those deemed guilty of such vague acts as “undermining national unity” and “insulting state symbols.”

    • All hail the UAE Tolerance Summit…or else

      But don’t take my word for it. Ask Naser bin Ghaith or Ahmed Mansoor or Tayseer al-Najjar. Oh sorry you can’t, they are all in jail for having the temerity to criticise the authorities, along with dozens of others deemed to be a threat to the security of the state.

    • Solidarity Abolishes Borders

      Borders are imaginary lines that have very real, violent implications. These dividers of nations block movement in the name of security and sovereignty, but they’re often a threat to the very things they’re theoretically supposed to protect, including people. Rejecting borders, instead of people, should be a top priority.

      Many of us who reject borders seek out real ways to abolish them in our daily lives, as we work toward a broader movement for border abolition. One way we can reject the violence of borders is by being fully aware of what’s happening outside of the ones that have been drawn around us. In addition to this, it’s important to know what’s happening at them and because of them. This awareness can provide us with the necessary tools to develop a worldview that challenges state violence at its core.

      Many members of the public sincerely do not understand what would drive people to risk their own lives or those of their family to trek across harsh terrain toward uncertainty. If anything is guaranteed along the way, it’s danger and suffering. That tells us a lot about what sorts of situations people are leaving if they’re willing to take such a risk.

      Caravans and large groups of people making their way to Western nations have recently drawn publicity. In Europe, the so-called “migrant crisis” has driven a variety of reactions ranging from state violence to “reception centers” (places where migrants, immigrants and refugees are detained) to right-wing vigilante efforts. The violence and destruction that the Global North has inflicted on the home countries of those fleeing is hardly an afterthought in the mainstream narrative. What we know to be true about how European military aggression, economic exploitation, and climate change are pushing people from their homes regularly gets left out of the conversation. The same can be said regarding the US.

    • The CIA gave Congress a report on the JFK assassination that was edited to remove human rights violations – and mention of JFK

      As a result of the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act, the Central Intelligence Agency ostensibly produced a copy of the Hart Report, more famously known as the “Monster Plot,” which was intended to be a definitive account of the Yuri Nosenko affair and a takedown of disgraced spymaster James Angleton. What the CIA actually released, however, resembles Hart’s actual report as much as the television edit of The Big Lebowski resembles the actual dialogue.

    • CIA director John McCone covered up JFK assassination truth

      Former CIA director John McCone has long been suspected of withholding information from the Warren Commission, President Lyndon Johnson’s investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

      Editor’s note: Throughout November, IrishCentral is commemorating Kennedy month, in honor of the famed Irish American political dynasty and their legacy. In the countdown to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination on November 22, 1963, we look at the events surrounding his death. including the investigation into the crime.

    • At Gitmo 9/11 trial, prosecutor gives lurid details of CIA prisons. Defense says: Not enough

      A Sept. 11 trial prosecutor on Thursday read aloud ghastly descriptions of what the CIA did to its prisoners: An alleged plot mastermind was taken nude from interrogation to a medical officer, who put fluids up his rectum then returned him nude to interrogation. Some captives were kept like “cowering dogs,” subjected to standing sleep deprivation, abdominal and facial slaps, in what one CIA agent called a “nightmare.”

      Prosecutor Jeffrey Groharing read the descriptions from various material his team had provided defense attorneys in a bid to get a new 9/11 trial judge, Marine Col. Keith Parrella, to restore the FBI interrogations of the alleged plotters that Parrella’s predecessor had excluded from the trial.

    • Release of Top Secret CIA Document Reveals Deeper Medical Complicity in Torture Program

      With the release of a previously top secret document – made public thanks to a legal victory by the ACLU – disclosing the role of the Office of Medical Services (OMS) in the CIA’s torture program, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) reminds health professionals that torture, in all its forms, is one of the most serious human rights violations and is absolutely prohibited under U.S. and international law, and that any collusion in its implementation – from planning through monitoring – is a gross violation of professional ethics.

      The 90-page document provides a chilling account of how CIA health professionals willingly participated in torture. The “Summary and Reflections” of an unnamed chief of CIA Medical Services narrates the decision-making process that led to health professionals signing off on, and participating in, interrogation and detention practices that clearly constituted torture. The document provides a cascade of self-justification and minimization of the risks and harm to detainees.

    • CIA considered use of anti-anxiety drug in terror suspect interrogations: report

      A federal court ordered the 90-page CIA report, which details the existence of “Project Medication,” to be provided to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which spent more than two years in court fighting the Obama and Trump administrations over it.

    • CIA interrogators sought ‘truth serum’ for 9/11 prisoners
    • CIA interrogators sought ‘truth serum’ for 9/11 prisoners

      CIA interrogators sought a truth serum to use on Al-Qaeda prisoners in addition to waterboarding and other torture techniques after the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to formerly top secret documents released Tuesday.

    • CIA explored using potential truth serum drug for post 9/11 interrogations
    • Donald Trump says torture ‘absolutely works’ — but does it?
    • ‘Project Medication’: CIA weighed using ‘truth serum’ drug on terror suspects after 9/11
    • The CIA explored using a ‘truth-serum’ on terrorism detainees after 9/11, newly released report shows
    • Ex-CIA Officer Blasts Plan to Use ‘Truth Drugs’ by US Gov’t as ‘Shameful’

      Giraldi also lamented that “there has been no accountability for the crimes” committed by the CIA, and that the people responsible for approving the techniques in question now work “for intelligence community contractors at high salaries.”
      Commenting on the recent revelations about US Central Intelligence Agency mulling the use of truth serums for interrogations in the wake of 9/11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Philip Giraldi, a former CIA case officer and US Army intelligence officer who currently works as executive director of the Council for the National Interest, told Sputnik that the use of drugs on a prisoner is “generally considered to be a war crime.”

      As Giraldi remarked, “it is shameful that the United States government and CIA were considering administering so-called ‘truth drugs’ to detainees”, noting that “context is everything”.

    • Report shines light on CIA’s ‘Project Medication’
    • CIA used ‘truth serum’ on 9/11 suspect after waterboarding failed

      Desperate agents explored giving Abu Zubaydah – and several other alleged terrorists – the drug after believing he held vital information about possible future terror attacks.

      The CIA maintained he was one of Al-Qaeda’s top operatives who helped plot the attacks on September 11, 2001.

      A newly released 90-page account details the existence of a drug research program called “Project Medication” and discloses how the CIA’s Office of Medical Services maintained a key role in the development of detention and interrogation practices.

    • British involvement in torture questioned again following CIA truth serum revelations

      A newly-released report, which reveals that the US considered using ‘truth serum’ in the CIA’s torture programme, raises fresh questions about British involvement in torture and rendition, according to human rights group Reprieve.

    • CIA Considered Administering “Truth Serum” to 9/11 Detainees

      And a newly declassified report reveals the CIA considered using a so-called truth serum drug to interrogate terror suspects in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The report, released Tuesday, details a research program known as Project Medication, in which the CIA worked with medical professionals who ultimately decided against asking the Justice Department to approve the use of any such drugs. Attorney Dror Ladin of the American Civil Liberties Union says the program led doctors to violate their Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” And he said the CIA has a history of experimenting with drugs on detainees.

    • Dave Searles: CIA should consider truth serum for Donald Trump
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Congress wants harsher penalties for robocallers

      The TRACED Act, sponsored by Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), would dramatically increase the penalty per robocall to up to $10,000. Previously, violators were charged with up to $1,500 per call. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission can only prosecute violators over inauthentic calls that were placed in the past year. This bill increases that time frame to three years. In previous letters to the senators, the commission said that “even a one-year longer statute of limitations for enforcement. . . would improve the Commission’s enforcement efforts against knowing and willful violators.”

    • A New Senate Bill Would Hit Robocallers With Up to a $10,000 Fine for Every Call

      Democrats and Republicans can agree on at least one thing: The spam robocall situation has gotten entirely out of hand.

      Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat, and Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, introduced a bill on Friday that aims to ramp up the penalties on illegal robocalls—and stop them from reaching your phone in the first place.

      The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, raises the penalty for robocalls from $1,500 per call to up to $10,000 per call, and allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action on illegal robocalls up to three years after the calls are placed, instead of a year.

    • U.S Senate Bill Cracks Down On Robocalls, Offenders Face Up To $10,000 In Penalties

      U.S Senators John Thune and Ed Markey introduced a bill this Friday which cracks down on illegal spam robocalls. Illegal automated telemarketing calls could now result in up to $10,000 in penalties for offenders.

      The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) act aims to reduce the amount of spam robocalls by increasing the time during which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can take action against illegal robocalls. The TRACED act raises the statute of limitations for action against offenders from one year to three years after an illegal spam robocall is placed.

      As Gizmodo notes, blocking service provider YouMail records that approximately 5.1 billion robocalls made in the month of October.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Platform providers should pay attention to the moves of Japanese regulations

      In Japan, a platform business has been considered just a vehicle for service providers and users, and assumed no responsibility. However, in response to recent trends in regulations on platform businesses in Europe, Japan has commenced studies toward tightening of regulations since July 2018, and published the draft interim report on November 5 2018 to invite public opinion until December 4 and commence to discuss detailed regulations after the turn of the year.

      [...]

      Market manipulability based on algorithmic profiling and opaqueness of the technologies. The necessity of disclosure of code or algorithm will be discussed.

    • Turkey Consults On Proposed Amendments For Geographical Indications And Patents

      The Turkish Patent and Trademark Office (“TPTO”) has announced proposed amendments to Industrial Property Law Number 6769 (“IP Law”) and sent these to related ministries and organizations to receive their opinions and comments. The proposed amendments relate to geographical indications and patents.

    • Copyrights

      • Netflix Dominates Internet Traffic Worldwide, BitTorrent Ranks Fifth

        Nearly 14% of all internet traffic worldwide is generated by Netflix, new data from Sandvine shows. This makes the streaming giant the dominant traffic source. BitTorrent is listed in fifth place, which is driven in large part by traffic from the Asia-Pacific region, where the file-sharing protocol even beats Netflix.

      • US Court Lists ‘DNS’ and ‘Routing’ Services in Broad Anti-Piracy Order

        Most people have probably never heard of the BTV set-top box but it’s one of many services currently accused of copyright infringement. A recent order, issued by a New York federal court, requires the associated company to pay over $6 million in damages. More concerning to the general public, however, is that the order also opens the door all sorts of blocking.

      • Google Meets Russian Govt Body to Discuss Ongoing Piracy Issues

        Google has been officially invited to become a signatory to the anti-piracy memorandum signed in Moscow earlier this month. During a meeting with government telecoms body Roscomnadzor on Wednesday, Google’s recent violation of Russian law was also discussed. The search giant is facing a fine after it displayed links to permanently banned sites within its search results.

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