Links 20/11/2018: Spectre Patch Ruins Linux, Total War: WARHAMMER II Comes to GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 7:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • Getting started with software-defined networking

      Software-defined networking (SDN) is a dynamic, manageable, cost-effective, and adaptable networking technology suitable for the high-bandwidth, dynamic nature of today’s applications. By using an SDN architecture, an IT operations team can control network traffic in complex networking topologies through a centralized panel, rather than handling each network device, such as routers and switches, manually.

      Rapidly growing mobile content, server virtualization, and hybrid cloud services are some of the trends leading the networking industry to reconsider network architectures. The traditional networking architecture is built mainly on multiple layers of network switches in a hierarchical topology. But it’s harder to address rapidly increasing application workloads from multiple and hybrid infrastructures (like the cloud) in a hierarchical architecture.

    • Up in the clouds: where next for IBM stock after Red Hat acquisition?
    • Microsoft confirms: We fixed Azure by turning it off and on again. PS: Office 362 is still borked

      Microsoft is recovering somewhat from a bad case of the Mondays that left some of its subscribers unable to use multi-factor authentication to log into their cloud services.

      The Redmond giant said that around 2130 UTC today it had managed to get its Azure Cloud back up and running as per normal. Meanwhile, Office 364 is still being knocked into shape by the Windows giant’s techies.

      Azure and the cloud-based Office suite started playing up at 0439 UTC, meaning multi-factor authentication has been knackered for about 17 hours, preventing unlucky users from logging in.

      Over the weekend, Azure’s DevOps services were also a little wobbly, we note.


      This is after many, but not all, punters have spent most of the day unable to log-in to their Microsoft-hosted services via multi-factor authentication. The outages were felt worldwide, beginning in the afternoon of Monday in Asia, and carrying on into Europe’s start-of-the-week, and into the Americas as unlucky users found themselves unable to use their two-factor gizmos to log in.

      For security reasons, multi-factor authentication is highly recommended in order to prevent password-stealing hackers from hijacking accounts.

      Now, with Asia nearly ready to get up and start its Tuesday workday, Microsoft has yet to fully resolve its Office 359 login headaches. Passwords also cannot be reset by users.

    • MFA failure hits Microsoft cloud services globally

      Microsoft cloud customers using multi-factor authentication have been locked out of their accounts since Monday morning US time, the company’s own status pages indicate.

    • Azure and Office 365 down as Microsoft suffers MFA borkage
    • IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat gives them access to crown jewels: OpenShift and Ansible

      Business opportunities today rarely involve IBM Corp. software, says Kyle Bassett, with only a few IBM-loyal customers using BlueMix requiring his company’s services. But after the largest software acquisition to date, Bassett, partner at Arctiq: Intelligent Solutions, expects that to change.


      While Bassett is unsure what IBM’s strategy is going to be moving forward – although Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, has suggested Red Hat will remain a distinct unit in IBM – what is certain is that Big Blue now has access to Red Hat’s “crown jewels.”

      “Now they’re going to have their hands on OpenShift and Ansible,” says Bassett. “They’ve acquired the maturity around kubernetes and they might be able to turn that around into some type of service offering.”

  • Kernel Space

    • Latest Spectre patches bring big performance hits to Linux 4.20 kernel

      This wouldn’t be a big deal if this also affected AMD CPUs, but it appears that AMD is doing well and it allowed AMD’s Threadripper 2990WX to pull ahead of Intel’s Core i9-7980XE in some of those tests, at least with those performance hits.

    • Linux Spectre V2 Patch Incurs up to 50 Percent Performance Penalty

      How far are you willing to go to make your PC more secure? Most security conscious people understand that mitigating their risk involves some kind of trade-off, whether it’s sacrificing convenience, spending more money, or compromising their system’s performance. Yet many Linux users weren’t prepared for a patch for the Spectre v2 vulnerability to incur up to a 50% performance penalty on Intel processors.

      The patch in question was released with the Linux 4.20 kernel. It bears the Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP) mitigation for CPUs with simultaneous multithreading (SMT). This is supposed to prevent attacks based on the Spectre v2 vulnerability, but as a result, it also hurts performance on Intel processors with Hyper-Threading enabled, provided those CPUs are running the latest microcode updates as well.

    • Linus Torvalds: After big Linux performance hit, Spectre v2 patch needs curbs

      As noted by Linux news site Phoronix, the sudden slowdowns have been caused by a newly implemented mitigation called Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP), which is on by default in the Linux 4.20 kernel for Intel systems with up-to-date microcode.

      STIBP is one of three possible mitigations Intel added to its firmware updates in response to the Spectre v2 attacks. Others included Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation (IBRS), and Indirect Branch Predictor Barrier (IBPB), which could be enabled by operating-system makers.

      STIBP specifically addresses attacks against Intel CPUs that have enabled Hyper Threading, its version of Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT)

    • Linux File-Systems Keeps Getting Better, But More Improvements Are Sought

      Linux file-systems continue getting better along with the infrastructure around it in the VFS and block code, but still there are some pain points for both users and developers around Linux storage.

      Steven French who is a Samba developer and the kernel CIFS VFS maintainer while serving as Microsoft’s principal software engineer on Azure storage, presented at last week’s Linux Plumbers Conference 2018 on some of the recent file-system/VFS improvements as well as current pain points.

    • Graphics Stack

      • An Update On The Radeon RX 590 For Linux

        Last week AMD released the Radeon RX 590 Polaris refresh graphics card, but after buying this ~$279 USD graphics card, sadly it’s not yet out-of-the-box on Linux for driver support. I am still working on getting it working with the open-source driver stack but have a brief update to share.

        As shared last week, when trying various stable/development combinations when receiving the Sapphire Radeon RX 590, the display output doesn’t work upon loading of the AMDGPU Direct Rendering Manager driver.

      • NVIDIA 415.18 Linux Driver Released: Adds HardDPMS, Fixes Wine Bug & Much More

        This builds succeeds the recent 415.13 Linux beta. That earlier release had a fix for a possible Wine crash, a new HardDPMS configuration option (causing displays to be put to sleep using a mode-set rather than Display Power Management Signaling), Vulkan and OpenGL fixes, and X.Org Server fixes too.

        Today’s NVIDIA 415.18 stable driver release incorporates those changes as well as some other extra fixes, including an indicator for the PRIME synchronization state via NVIDIA Settings.

      • AMDVLK 2018.4.2 Open-Source Vulkan Driver Brings Sparse Support, Degenerate Triangles

        It appears AMD is stepping up their game around the open-source AMDVLK Vulkan Linux driver with moving to tagged releases and better release notes.

        One year after they began pushing out the sources to AMDVLK, which is based upon their internal Linux/Windows Vulkan driver code, they did their first tagged release last week in the form of AMDVLK 2018.4.1. Out today is AMDVLK 2018.4.2.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMD AOCC 1.3 Compiler Benchmarks vs. GCC 8.2 vs. LLVM Clang 7.0

        Earlier this month marked the release of the AMD Optimizing C/C++ Compiler 1.3 (AOCC 1.3) with a re-base to the LLVM 7.0 code-base, enhanced loop optimizations, better vectorization, code generation, integration of the optimized AMD Math Library, and other enhancements. Here are some fresh benchmarks against AMD AOCC 1.3 against LLVM Clang 7.0 upstream as well as GCC 8.2.0.

        Using the Dell PowerEdge R7425 that we received a few weeks ago and have been using for a lot of our Zen/EPYC benchmarks given its dual EPYC 7601 processors, the server was running Ubuntu 18.10 in its current configuration for the latest compiler toolchain. AMD AOCC 1.3 was tested using its default binaries and compared to GCC 8.2.0 and LLVM Clang 7.0. The CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS for testing were maintained at “-O3 -march=native” throughout.

      • Phoronix Test Suite 8.4 M3 Brings Improvements For POWER9, Colorful Text Graphs

        The third and possibly final development release of the upcoming Phoronix Test Suite 8.4-Skiptvet is now available for testing of our open-source, cross-platform testing and benchmarking framework.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita Fall 2018 Sprint Results: HDR support for Krita and Qt!

        In October we held a Krita developers’ sprint in Deventer. One of my goals for the sprint was to start implementing High Dynamic Range (HDR) display support for Krita. Now almost a month have passed and I am finally ready to publish some preliminary results of what I started during the sprint.

        The funny thing is, before the sprint I had never seen what HDR picture even looks like! People around talked about that, shops listed displays with HDR support, documentation mentioned that, but what all this buzz was about? My original understanding was like “Krita passes 16-bit color to OpenGL, so we should already be ready for that”. In Deventer I managed to play with Boud’s display, which is basically one of few certified HDR displays with support of 1000 nits brightness, and found out that my original understanding was entirely wrong :)

      • KDAB Training at Qt World Summit Berlin

        KDAB is offering eight superb Training Classes in Berlin, you can see the list below, which includes one run by our long-term collaborator, froglogic. All the rest are delivered by KDAB engineers.

      • Kdenlive Bugsquashing Day

        On the 2nd of December, the Kdenlive team will be having a bug squash day in preparation for the major refactoring release due in April 2019. This is a great opportunity for interested developers to participate in the project. The team has triaged hundreds of reports, closing more than a hundred of them in the past month. We have also made a list of entry level bugs you can get started with. For the more seasoned developers, there are plenty of options – be it a shiny feature request or a challenge to polish some non-trivial edges. To hack Kdenlive you need to know C++, Qt, QML or KDE Frameworks. Those with knowledge of C can join the fun by improving MLT, the multimedia framework Kdenlive runs on. Those with no programming experience can join in testing fixes and features, as well as triaging more bug reports.

      • Spectre Mitigation Causing Significant Slowdown in 4.20 Kernel, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Coming to Linux in 2019, Kdenlive Bug-Squashing Day December 2, Diskio Pi Kickstarter Campaign and Phones to Receive Android Pie

        Kdenlive is holding a bug-squashing day on December 2, 2018 in preparation for an April 2019 major release. A list of proposed bugs to solve is available here. Contact Kdenlive via IRC: #kdenlive on Freenode.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Clear Linux Making Progress With Encrypted Installations

      One of the features I’ve personally been looking forward to is the official support for encrypted installations with Clear Linux. While many don’t view it as a particular desktop distribution, it does have all of the packages I personally need for my main production system. So I’ve been wanting to see how well it could work out as my main desktop OS and to chronicle that experience. Having official support for encrypted installations has been one of the last blockers for my requirements. You can currently setup Clear on an encrypted installation manually, but for simplicity and wanting to keep to the “official” installation routes, I’ve been waiting for them to officially support encrypted installs… Especially in this day and age, anyone installing a desktop Linux distribution particularly on a mobile/laptop/ultrabook should really be doing a full-disk encryption.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Find Out the Visa Requirements to Attend oSC19

        For people planning on attending the openSUSE Conference 2019 in Nuremberg, Germany, from May 24 – 26, there are certain requirements necessary to receive a visa for those who are not a citizen of a Schengen country.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29 release retrospective

        Some of the Fedora Spins and Labs were not included in the compose that was declared gold. With a few notable exceptions, Spins intentionally do not block releases. However, from a user-friendliness standpoint, it is nice to have all of the Spins available. Some of the missing Spins failed to build due to broken packages, while others (e.g. the ppc64le Cloud image) happened to have a transient failure during the compose that eventually shipped.

        We identified two separate avenues to address this issue. The first is raising the visibility of failed Spin builds prior to the release so that Spin maintainers have time to address this issue. František Zatloukal suggested having a member of the Spins SIG track Release Engineering Pague issues to that they will see build failures and can notify the appropriate Spin owner(s). However, the Spins SIG may not be active enough to support this.

        The second is decoupling Spins from the main release process such that they can be published in a more-self service manner. This may take the form of Spin maintainers marking their spin “Go” or of providing a self-service build and publishing system for non-blocking deliverables.

        In subsequent discussion with Release Engineering, we determined that the Fedora Program Manager will send a list of failing Spins and Labs to owners at the Freeze points for Fedora 30. Work to provide an automated notification system based on Pungi notifications will be considered for Fedora 31 and beyond. Similarly, Release Engineering is already planning how a self-service platform might be developed for Fedora 31.

      • Containers without daemons: Podman and Buildah available in RHEL 7.6 and RHEL 8 Beta
      • Support Lifecycle for Clang/LLVM, Go, and Rust
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Will Get 10-Year Support
          • Behind the drone: how aerial robotics solve industrial IOT challenges

            Apellix, an emerging leader in the field of aerial robotics, are creating innovative industrial solutions with the help of Ubuntu.

            The development of aerial robotic systems to carry out tasks at height has taken the responsibility of dangerous activity away from human workers. With 150 workers dying everyday in the USA as a result of hazardous working conditions, there is a clear need for improved occupational safety practices. Of these deaths, 849 came as a result of falling whilst on the job, a figure that Apellix endeavours to reduce. Not only are the benefits significant from a workplace safety perspective, Apellix systems provide a cost-effective and time saving solution to such tasks.

            None of this however, would be possible without software. Software is allowing the industrial world to move from analog to digital and Apellix aerial robotic systems are at the forefront of innovation.

            Ubuntu enables Apellix’s aerial robotics to conduct autonomous flights without the assistance of human navigation, eliminating the risk of human error or danger which can occur with pilot operated drones. To achieve this, each aerial robot is fitted with several sensors which are constantly processing data through an Ubuntu server. The data, once processed is then sent to the autopilot electronics systems to precisely locate and control the drone in a 3D space.

          • Costales: Ubuntu Community Appreciation Day: Thanks Rudy (~cm-t)!

            Today is the Ubuntu Appreciation Day in which we share our thanks to people in our community for making Ubuntu great.

            This year, I want to thank you to Rudy (~cm-t)! Why? Because IMHO he is an incredible activist, helpful, funny, always with a smile. He prints passion in everything related to Ubuntu. A perfect example for everyone!

          • One Mix 2S Yoga mini laptop running Ubuntu 18.04

            If you are interested in learning more about running the latest Ubuntu 18.04 Linux operating system on the new One Mix 2S Yoga mini laptop. You’ll be pleased to know that Brad Linder from the Liliputing website has created an in-depth run-through complete with video revealing what you can expect from the operating system and performance of the mini laptop.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Hitting a Break Point

              I am seeking support to be able to undertake freelance work. The first project would be to finally close out the Outernet/Othernet research work to get it submitted. Beyond that there would be technical writing as well as making creative works. Some of that would involve creating “digital library” collections but also helping others create print works instead.

              Who could I help/serve? Unfortunately we have plenty of small, underfunded groups in my town. The American Red Cross no longer maintains a local office and the Salvation Army has no staff presence locally. Our county-owned airport verges on financial collapse and multiple units of government have difficulty staying solvent. There are plenty of needs to cover as long as someone had independent financial backing.

              Besides, I owe some edits of Xubuntu documentation too.

              It isn’t like “going on disability” as it is called in American parlance is immediate let alone simple. One of two sets of paperwork has to eventually go into a cave in Pennsylvania for centralized processing. I wish I were kidding but that cave is located near Slippery Rock. Both processes are backlogged only 12-18 months at last report. For making a change in the short term, that doesn’t even exist as an option on the table.

              That’s why I’m asking for support. I’ve grown tired of spending multiple days at work depressed. Showing physical symptoms of depression in the workplace isn’t good either especially when it results in me missing work. When you can’t help people who are in the throes of despair frequently by their own fault, how much more futile can it get?

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Software Is Helping Big Companies Dominate

    Antitrust deserves the attention it’s getting, and the tech platforms raise important questions. But the rise of big companies — and the resulting concentration of industries, profits, and wages — goes well beyond tech firms and is about far more than antitrust policy.

    In fact, research suggests that big firms are dominating through their use of software. In 2011, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen declared that “software is eating the world.” Its appetizer seems to have been smaller companies.


    This model, where proprietary software pairs with other strengths to form competitive advantage, is only becoming more common. Years ago, one of us (James) started a company that sold publishing software. The business model was to write the software and then sell licenses to publishers. That model still exists, including in online publishing where companies like Automattic, maker of the open source content management system WordPress, sell hosting and related services to publishers. One-off licenses have given way to monthly software-as-a-service subscriptions, but this model still fits with Carr’s original thesis: software companies make technology that other companies pay for, but from which they seldom derive unique advantage.

    That’s not how Vox Media does it. Vox is a digital publishing company known, in part, for its proprietary content management system. Vox does license its software to some other companies (so far, mostly non-competitors), but it is itself a publisher. Its primary business model is to create content and sell ads. It pairs proprietary publishing software with quality editorial to create competitive advantage.

    Venture capitalist Chris Dixon has called this approach the “full-stack startup.” “The old approach startups took was to sell or license their new technology to incumbents,” says Dixon. “The new, ‘full stack’ approach is to build a complete, end-to-end product or service that bypasses incumbents and other competitors.” Vox is one example of the full-stack model.

    The switch from the software vendor model to the full-stack model is seen in government statistics. Since 1998, the share of firm spending on software that goes to pre-packaged software (the vendor model) has been declining. Over 70% of the firms’ software budgets goes to code developed in-house or under custom contracts. And the amount they spend on proprietary software is huge — $250 billion in 2016, nearly as much as they invested in physical capital net of depreciation.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Decentralizing Social Interactions with ActivityPub

        Hi, I’m Darius Kazemi. I’m a Mozilla Fellow and decentralized web enthusiast. In the last year I’ve become really excited about ActivityPub, a W3C standard protocol that describes ways for different social network sites (loosely defined) to talk to and interact with one another. You might remember the heyday of RSS, when a user could subscribe to almost any content feed in the world from any number of independently developed feed readers. ActivityPub aims to do for social network interactions what RSS did for content.

      • DSP-Boosted Neural Speech Synthesis

        LPCNet is a new project out of Mozilla’s Emerging Technologies group — an efficient neural speech synthesiser with reduced complexity over some of its predecessors. Neural speech synthesis models like WaveNet have already demonstrated impressive speech synthesis quality, but their computational complexity has made them hard to use in real-time, especially on phones. In a similar fashion to the RNNoise project, our solution with LPCNet is to use a combination of deep learning and digital signal processing (DSP) techniques.

      • Mozilla files comments on NTIA’s proposed American privacy framework

        Countries around the world are considering how to protect their citizens’ data – but there continues to be a lack of comprehensive privacy protections for American internet users. But that could change. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently proposed an outcome-based framework to consumer data privacy, reflecting internationally accepted principles for privacy and data protection. Mozilla believes that the NTIA framework represents a good start to address many of these challenges, and we offered our thoughts to help Americans realize the same protections enjoyed by users in other countries around the world (you can see all the comments that were received at the NTIA’s website).

  • CMS

    • How machine learning is supercharging content management

      Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are some of the hottest buzzwords around, especially in the open source community. It seems that every month brings a new machine learning system, each focused on a different application.

      The good news is that since academics developed many of these frameworks, they are often open source by default. Even Google’s own neural network software library, TensorFlow, is (at least for now) open source.

      The bad news is that many of these frameworks are designed for high-end applications and require a lot of experience to deploy effectively. If you want to spend years building image recognition software from scratch, for instance, and want to stick to open source software, there are plenty of options available. Good luck with that PhD.

      For the rest of us, taking advantage of recent advances in machine learning and AI requires that they come in an easy-to-use package and have real-world applications.

      Luckily, there is at least one area where open source machine learning and AI systems are making a real impact: content management systems (CMSes), the software that sits behind websites and manages the content on them.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Software Composition Analysis Startups: Investors Are Looking For These Three Qualities

      It is clear that enterprises and investors are looking for ways to be heavily integrated into the open-source ecosystem because that is where the developers are. It is up to you to show that your company can appeal to the developers who use open source as the core of their work, gaining significant adoption that can turn into sizable market share. Investors want to know that they are getting into business with a company who has the pulse of the open-source community, providing services that will make working with open-source components easier.

    • MicroBlocks Joins Conservancy

      We’re proud to announce that we’re bringing MicroBlocks into the Conservancy as our newest member project. MicroBlocks provides a quick way for new programmers to jump right in using “blocks” to make toys or tools. People have been proclaiming that IoT is the future for almost a decade, so we’re very pleased to be able to support a human-friendly project that makes it really easy to get started building embedded stuff. Curious? Check out a few of the neat things people have already built with MicroBlocks.

      MicroBlocks is the next in a long line of open projects for beginners or “casual programmers” lead by John Maloney, one of the creators of Squeak (also a Conservancy project!) and a longtime Scratch contributor. MicroBlocks is a new programming language that runs right inside microcontroller boards such as the micro:bit, the NodeMCU and many Arduino boards. The versatility and interactivity of MicroBlocks helps users build their own custom tools for everything from wearables to model rockets or custom measuring devices and funky synthesizers.

    • $90K Year-end Match to Fund an Ambitious Year for Conservancy
  • BSD


    • Linux To Start Alternative To glibc?

      The world of open source software, and Linux/GNU in particular, is a strange one, governed by internal politics and beliefs. Now frustration seems to have the better of the Linux developers who are now considering creating their own Linux call library.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Shutting the open sauce bottle

      While open source software has revolutionised the enterprise software world, a few people are starting to wonder if its very nature will survive the age of the cloud.

      The concept that software can be used by pretty much anyone for pretty much anything is causing its developers big problems in the era of distributed cloud computing services.

      Two open-source software companies have decided to alter the licences under which some of their software is distributed, with the expressed intent of making it harder — or impossible — for cloud computing providers to offer a service based around that software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Give your students edit access to their course syllabus

        I wanted to give students more agency in their learning. So I let them make pull requests against the syllabus.


        This exercise was a learning experience for both my students and me, as we clearly had different visions of what constituted a “disruption.” While we all agreed that students should pay attention to the instructor and engage in all classroom activities, students thought they should be able to take “important” calls during class time and that texting during class was acceptable. I thought that cell phones should be turned off entirely during class. Students also thought that leaving the classroom to get a drink without asking permission was acceptable, while I thought that they should handle thirst needs before or after class.

        This resulted in a discussion about professionalism and the expectations associated with college-level work. We discussed what constituted a distraction and agreed that making sounds, whispering, and talking in class all counted as distractions. This in turn led to a discussion of the impacts distractions can have on a learning environment and the importance of paying attention in class. We also explored the impact various learning technologies can have on a classroom—for example, the tools students with disabilities require to fully participate in class, such as a screen reader—and agreed that noise generated by these was acceptable under the policy we intended to construct.

  • Programming/Development

    • Open source tools to consider for your RESTful APIs

      At the start of a RESTful API development project, a software team might be tempted to buy an expensive commercial API management tool when an open source tool can just as easily do the trick. In fact, there are plenty of open source tools that can help with each stage of the API lifecycle and help get an API development program off the ground at low cost.

    • London Perl Workshop

      As london.pm celebrates its 20th anniversary, join Katherine Spice in conversation with a panel of the group’s former leaders.


  • Science

    • How do we handle and use such enormous amounts of data?

      How many gigabytes of data did we (the people of Earth) create yesterday?

      …brain. is. thinking…

      More than 2.5 billion!

      And it’s growing. Yes, it’s hard for us to wrap our human brains around it. So, the question the Command Line Heros podcast deals with this week is: How do we handle and use such enormous amounts of data?

    • Resist Google’s Attempts to Make You Like a Robot

      hat’s more useful to Google, however, is when you do choose to respond to an email with an autoresponse (or as Google calls them, a “smart reply”). Here’s what’s probably going on under the hood: [...]

    • How we’re ruining young minds

      In The Coddling of the American Mind, Jonathan Haidt, a professor of moral psychology, and Greg Lukianoff, CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), have carefully and precisely captured and analysed this disturbing new phenomenon, exploring its origins, the way it operates and how those of us concerned about the future of free expression might challenge it.

      They identify several factors that have led students to reject free speech in favour of what Haidt and Lukianoff term a culture of ‘safetyism’, aided by highly risk-averse university administrators who now play the role of welcome protector on campus. ‘Three great untruths’ define safetyism, they write: 1) what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; 2) always trust your feelings; and, 3) life is a battle between good people and evil people.

    • For the first time, researchers say Facebook can cause depression

      A new study conducted by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania has shown — for the first time — a causal link between time spent on social media and depression and loneliness, the researchers said.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Scott Gottlieb’s Nicotine Nazism Will Kill Kids, Not Save Them

      On November 15, US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced new measures regulating the sale of products that seem to reduce the negative health impacts of nicotine addiction — in the name of protecting children from those health impacts. Oddly, Gottlieb also announced a plan to dramatically increase the availability and variety of flavored cigarettes — in the name of banning them.

      First, let’s talk about “vaping.” The jury is still out on long-term health effects of “e-cigarettes” — electronic devices that deliver a hit of nicotine in water vapor, without all the carcinogens found in burning tobacco — but pretty much everyone seems to agree that e-cigarettes are less unhealthy than tobacco cigarettes.

      The FDA is demanding that these devices and the “juice” for them be sold only in age-restricted stores where kids aren’t allowed, rather than in convenience stores where getting them is more, um, convenient. Why? Because apparently millions of minors acquire and use them, even though current law already forbids them to do so.

    • Gilead withheld safer HIV drug to monetise its patent portfolio, claim attorneys

      Three US attorneys have filed a lawsuit against pharma company Gilead accusing it of hiding a safer HIV drug in order to protect its patent for a less safe drug.

      Bob Hilliard, Steve Berman, and Ben Crump of Hilliard Martinez Gonzales claimed that Gilead was aware that Viread, also known as TDF, could damage a patient’s bones and kidneys, yet decided to delay the availability of a safer version of Viread called TAF.

      According to Hilliard, Berman and Crump, delayed the safer version of Viread for 15 years in order to extend the commercial life of its original patented drug.

      They said that it was only when the original drug neared the end of its patent life that Gilead began to pitch the newer version as a safer drug.

      The lawsuit claimed that Gilead enabled the stifling of generic versions of its drug and limited the potential market for TDF generics.

    • Scientists warned this weed killer would destroy crops. EPA approved it anyway

      Every August, Andrew Joyce used to hunker down in the field beside his house, picking juicy, ripe tomatoes in the blazing sun. He’d load them onto his golf cart, along with buckets of okra, squash and other summer crops, and zip over to the farm stand he runs with his wife, Sara, off a two-lane highway near the Arkansas border. Sara’s Produce fans would drive hours to stock up on the artisanal fare, grown amid the fields of soybeans and cotton that reach toward the horizon of Missouri’s Bootheel.

      “Everybody brags on my stuff,” said Joyce, 58, a wistful pride crossing his bronzed, weathered face.

      But now, he has nothing to sell.

      Joyce leans against the greenhouse he’s building, hands in the pockets of his overalls, peering at the field where he started nearly 800 tomato plants in the spring. It was early August when the telltale signs of trouble emerged. The plants’ broad, flat leaves shriveled and curled, their branches twisted and buckled. Then blossom rot set in. Joyce knew they couldn’t be saved. He climbed onto his tractor and mowed down his bestselling crop – for the third year in a row.

      The plague that struck Joyce’s farm in Malden, Missouri, was not a natural disaster, but a man-made weed killer called dicamba. Farmers had applied the drift-prone chemical sparingly for decades. But in the past two years, its use has grown exponentially, and now dicamba is destroying millions of acres of crops worth millions of dollars, pitting farmer against farmer and scientists against manufacturers.

      A joint investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Food & Environment Reporting Network has found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – which is required by law to ensure pesticides don’t impose unreasonable environmental and economic costs – could have averted the destruction.

    • Undercutting Female Circumcision

      Malaysia has always been the land of myths in the colonial imagination. The myth about those who run amok when possessed by demons; the myth of the Pontianak, the female vampire, inhabiting banana trees; the myth of the lazy native.

      Today, Malaysia is still the land of myths, though one has to be careful about the way the word myth is used.

      Remember the two lesbians who were publically caned in Malaysia, but they were not really caned, just “forcefully tapped” with a rod? The myth here is about shariah punishment for sexual ‘crimes’ or ‘deviance’. Is the lashing of women sanctioned by the Quran? How is it to be done? To what extent is lashing actually carried out in Muslim countries? There are those who will also point out that caning as a form of punishment is part of the old British colonial penal code, forgetting that Malaysia is not obliged to retain this code and that this code is compatible with Islamic code.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • With Nearly 400,000 Dead in South Sudan, Will the US Finally Change Its Policy?

      The Trump administration has remained largely silent about the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, maintaining a quiet diplomacy with the country’s leaders despite a recent report that nearly 400,000 people have died in the country’s civil war.

      This figure of nearly 400,000 deaths is comparable to the estimated number of deaths in the war in Syria. About 2 million people have been internally displaced in South Sudan, and more than 2.5 million people have fled the country.

      Making matters worse, the people of South Sudan are experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. About 6 million people, or about 60% of the population, are severely food insecure, and another 1.7 million people are facing a looming famine.

      “As the conflict has gone on and worsened, the numbers of people in need of assistance has simply continued to grow,” Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said earlier this year.

    • Some Saudi royals turning on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after Khashoggi murder

      Amid international uproar over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, some members of Saudi Arabia‘s ruling family are agitating to prevent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from becoming king, three sources close to the royal court said.

      Dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession but would not act while King Salman – the crown prince’s 82-year-old father – is still alive, the sources said. They recognize that the king is unlikely to turn against his favorite son, known in the West as MbS.

      Rather, they are discussing the possibility with other family members that after the king’s death, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, 76, a younger full brother of King Salman and uncle of the crown prince, could take the throne, according to the sources.

    • How America’s Perpetual Warfare Abroad Is Fueling an Increase in White Supremacist Violence in U.S.

      America’s perpetual warfare abroad has led to an increase in white supremacist violence at home. That’s one of the key findings in Frontline PBS and ProPublica reporter A.C. Thompson’s new investigation, “Documenting Hate: New American Nazis,” which premieres Tuesday evening on PBS. The documentary reveals the deep ties between the military and white supremacy, as Thompson examines the Pittsburgh shooting and the rise of violent hate groups such as Atomwaffen. Thompson interviews historian Kathleen Belew, who says there has always been a correlation in the U.S. between the aftermath of war and the rise of white supremacist violence. “If you look for instance at the surges in Ku Klux Klan membership, they align more consistently with the return of veterans from combat and the aftermath of war than they do with anti-immigration, populism, economic hardship or any of the other factors that historians have typically used to explain them,” she notes. We speak with A.C. Thompson in Boston. His investigation premieres Tuesday on PBS stations and online.

    • Planet of War

      American militarism has gone off the rails — and this middling career officer should have seen it coming. Earlier in this century, the U.S. military not surprisingly focused on counterinsurgency as it faced various indecisive and seemingly unending wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. Back in 2008, when I was still a captain newly returned from Iraq and studying at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our training scenarios generally focused on urban combat and what were called security and stabilization missions. We’d plan to assault some notional city center, destroy the enemy fighters there, and then transition to pacification and “humanitarian” operations.

      Of course, no one then asked about the dubious efficacy of “regime change” and “nation building,” the two activities in which our country had been so regularly engaged. That would have been frowned upon. Still, however bloody and wasteful those wars were, they now look like relics from a remarkably simpler time. The U.S. Army knew its mission then (even if it couldn’t accomplish it) and could predict what each of us young officers was about to take another crack at: counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    • An Atomwaffen Member Sketched a Map to Take the Neo-Nazis Down. What Path Officials Took Is a Mystery.

      Some experts and former officials see the case as part of a larger pattern, evidence that federal agencies are understaffed and out of position in confronting the threat of white supremacist terrorism — even as the FBI’s latest report shows a spike in hate crimes for the third straight year.


      On that night in May 2017, the police quickly took two suspects into custody and developed a rough outline of what had happened. One of the suspects, Devon Arthurs, 18, said the victims were his roommates, and members of a neo-Nazi group called the Atomwaffen Division. Arthurs said that he’d decided to leave the group, and that he’d killed the men to keep them from carrying out what he said were their plans for violence.

      The second suspect detained by police, Brandon Russell, also lived in the apartment. Russell told the authorities he’d just returned home from a weekend of training with the Florida Army National Guard. And then Russell revealed something that should have set off alarms among federal investigators assigned to track the growing threat from armed, violent right-wing extremists. He said, and the police quickly confirmed, that the single-car garage attached to the apartment was full of explosives.

      Explosives experts from the Tampa Police Department and the local FBI field office soon found components of a crude pipe bomb as well as radioactive materials. The search turned up ammonium nitrate and nitromethane, the mixture used by McVeigh to destroy the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. There were sacks of explosive precursors, including potassium chloride, red iron oxide and potassium nitrate. There were homemade fuses fashioned from brass 5.56 mm rifle cartridges. In a closet, they found two Geiger counters.

      And there was a cooler with the name Brandon scrawled on the lid in black marker. Inside, the investigators discovered HMTD — hexamethylene triperoxide diamine — a potent, highly volatile peroxide-based explosive. It has become a favored tool of terrorists both here and abroad, who cook it up in small batches using recipes circulating on the internet and in improvised weapons manuals.

      At Tampa police headquarters, investigators put Arthurs and Russell in separate interrogation rooms. They wanted to know about the killings, about the neo-Nazi group and about the explosives.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange

      Those with a stake in the hustling racket of empire have little time for the contrariness that comes with exposing classified information. Those who do are submitted to a strict liability regime of assessment and punishment: you had the information (lawfully obtained or otherwise) but you released it for public deliberation. Ignorance remains a desensitising shield, keeping the citizenry in permanent darkness.

      Critics indifferent to the plight of Julian Assange have seen his concerns for prosecution at the hands of US authorities as the disturbed meditations of a sexualised fantasist. He should have surrendered to the British authorities and, in turn, to the Swedish authorities. It was either insignificant or irrelevant that a Grand Jury had been convened to sniff around the activities of WikiLeaks to identify what, exactly, could be used against the organisation and its founder.

      Cruelty and truth are often matters of excruciating banality, and now it is clearer than ever that the United States will, given the invaluable chance, net the Australian publisher and WikiLeaks founder to make an example of him. This man, who dirtied the linen of state and exposed the ceremonial of diplomatic hypocrisy, was always an object of interest, notably in the United States. “He was,” confirmed Andrea Kendall-Taylor, former deputy national intelligence officer for Russia under the director of national intelligence, “a loathed figure inside the government.”

    • 46% Want to Prosecute WikiLeaker Julian Assange [Ed: Poll by GOP-leaning propaganda mill Rasmussen]

      Recent accidentally released court filings indicate that the Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is preparing to indict, something nearly half of Americans are likely happy to hear.

    • Julian Assange deserves a Medal of Freedom, not a secret indictment

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been secretly indicted by the Trump administration’s Justice Department, “a drastic escalation” of the feds’ efforts against him, the New York Times reported. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denounced Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service” and labeled Assange a “fraud,” “coward,” and “enemy.” But rather than a federal indictment, Assange deserves a tweaked version of one of Washington’s hottest honorifics.

      Wikileaks has been in the federal crosshairs since it released scores of thousands of documents exposing lies and atrocities regarding the Afghan and Iraq wars, thanks to leaks from Army corporal Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Wikileaks released emails from the Democratic National Committee showing that its nominating process was rigged to favor Hillary Clinton. During the final month of the campaign, Wikileaks disclosed emails from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.


      “Truth will out” is the biggest fairy tale in Washington. U.S. troops are now fighting in 14 foreign nations: will the Pentagon tell us all about it? The National Security Agency illegally tracked every citizen’s phone calls: no federal official disclosed the system that a federal judge castigated as an “almost Orwellian” surveillance scheme. And what are the betting odds of Americans seeing the dirt on the U.S. government’s long-term collusion with the Saudi regime (despite its atrocities at home and abroad)?

      On the same day the Assange indictment scored headlines, Trump awarded seven Presidential Medals of Freedom. No controversy greeted posthumous awards to Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley — unlike the ruckus regarding Miriam Adelson, wife of Republican super-donor Sheldon Adelson. Public Citizen, a liberal nonprofit, howled that the Adelson award “is just the latest sign of [Trump’s] ability to corrupt and corrode all aspects of the government.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman caterwauled that it was “ludicrous” and “and an insult to people who received the medal for genuine service.”

    • PM ‘probably regrets’ comments about Pamela Anderson, Kelly O’Dwyer says

      The minister for women has semi-apologised on behalf of the prime minister for “smutty” comments he made about Pamela Anderson, as she attempted to advocate on behalf of Julian Assange.

      Kelly O’Dwyer said she stood by her comments in the wake of the Liberal party leadership spill, when she backed female colleagues who made complaints of bullying and intimidation and said she was taking a “very active and personal interest” in the complaints process.

      But it was also left to O’Dwyer to explain Scott Morrison’s comment to a Gold Coast FM radio station that he had “plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson”, after the actor and activist called on him to assist the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

    • PM ‘probably regrets’ Pam Anderson comment

      Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer believes Scott Morrison regrets comments he made about Pamela Anderson, after the Baywatch star appealed to the prime minister to defend WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      The former Playboy centrefold earlier this month urged Mr Morrison to support the Australian, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years.

      The prime minister later chuckled when asked if intended to heed the star’s advice, before simply replying: “No.”

      “I’ve had plenty of mates who have asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson,” he told Gold Coast radio station Hot Tomato FM.

    • Lisa Wilkinson blasts Aussie PM over ‘lewd’ Pamela Anderson comments
    • Scott Morrison ‘probably regrets’ Pamela Anderson comments
    • Pamela Anderson, Scott Morrison feud: Minister claims he didn’t mean it
    • Scott Morrison probably regrets his comments about Pamela Anderson: Kelly O’Dwyer

      Prime Minister Scott Morrison likely regrets his suggestive comments about model and actor Pamela Anderson, says his Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer.

      Anderson, a friend and vocal backer of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, has publicly lobbied the government to help the Australian, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six years.

    • WikiLeaks founder Assange secretly charged in US

      Any charges against him could help illuminate whether Russia co-ordinated with the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election.

      They would also suggest that prosecutors have finally taken a more aggressive tack against WikiLeaks.

      A criminal case can also potentially expose the practices of a radical transparency activist, under US scrutiny for years and at the centre of some of the most explosive disclosures of stolen information in the last decade.

      Those include thousands of military and State Department cables from Army Private Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, secret CIA hacking tools, and most recently and notoriously, Democratic emails published in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election and that US intelligence officials say had been hacked by Russia.

      Federal special counsel Robert Mueller, who has already charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers with hacking, has been investigating whether Trump associates had advance knowledge of the stolen emails.

    • Police challenged over refusal to disclose files on WikiLeaks staff

      The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) faces a legal challenge over its refusal to confirm or deny whether it has shared correspondence with US law enforcement agencies about three prominent members of WikiLeaks staff, including two British citizens, whose personal emails were secretly disclosed to US prosecutors.

      Stefania Maurizi, an investigative journalist for La Repubblica, will argue at an appeal tribunal today that it is in the public interest for the police force to reveal whether it has exchanged information about the current and former WikiLeaks employees with the US.

      The case comes only days after it emerged that a US prosecutor had mistakenly revealed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been charged with crimes in the US, after apparently mistakenly cutting and pasting Assange’s name into an indictment on an unrelated case.

      Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, after losing his appeal against extradition to Sweden following allegations of sexual assault by two Swedish women. He remains there still. The charges were dropped in 2016.

    • Arrest Julian Assange? They should give him a medal

      They hired a group of characters including the guy who was fated to become the most famous – or notorious – graduate of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark: G. Gordon Liddy.

      Liddy had a tendency to go a bit overboard in his efforts to find information about the leakers. And that led to the bungled break-in at the National Democratic Party headquarters that started the Watergate scandal.

      Keep that in mind as you follow the investigation into the role of Julian Assange in the ongoing Russia investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

      There was a report last week that a filing in a different federal case included a reference to “the fact that Assange has been charged.”

      That led to some great headlines the next day. But it turned out the “revelation” may have been nothing more than a cut-and-paste error by a busy prosecutor.

      There’s no doubt, however, that Mueller is trying to plumb the depths of Assange’s role in posting purloined emails of the same Democratic National Committee that was involved in Watergate.

      The guys who burglarized the DNC headquarters in 1972 were clumsy and got caught in the act. As to just exactly who did what to the DNC email server, we’ll have to wait for Mueller’s final report to find out.

      But the case poses a real problem for those of us in the journalism field. As Woodward and Bernstein showed so convincingly, it’s tough to uncover the truth without leaks of one sort of another.

      When Assange published the leaks from Chelsea Manning and others he was performing the same function the New York Times performed when it published the Pentagon papers in 1971.

    • Keep Calm and Report On: The Case Against Julian Assange

      U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have treated WikiLeaks as a hostile, foreign intelligence service and Julian Assange, its director, as a potential target for criminal prosecution, since the Obama administration.

      Last week’s inadvertent disclosure of a sealed federal indictment against Assange in Federal District Court in Eastern Virginia, has set off speculation that charges may include the publication of classified information – an allegation that has prompted debate about press freedom and First Amendment rights. But journalists should remain calm, since there are likely several charges that form the basis of the indictment that do not threaten the independence of journalists.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Fuel to the Fire

      HE FIELDS OUTSIDE Kotawaringin village in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, looked as if they had just been cleared by armies. None of the old growth remained — only charred stumps poking up from murky, dark pools of water. In places, smoke still curled from land that days ago had been covered with lush jungle. Villagers had burned it all down, clearing the way for a lucrative crop whose cultivation now dominates the entire island: the oil-palm tree.

    • An Indonesian Village That’s Fighting for Its Life

      The sprawling roughly 100,000-acre plantation that surrounds the village is run by DSN, one of Indonesia’s largest producers of palm oil. Here alone, they employ at least 8,000 mostly migrant workers, and say they have brought in experts to help them better understand the local culture and the concerns of surrounding communities.

    • Killing Plants Is the Fastest Way to End the World

      A recently published study has found that “[c]limate change and human activity are dooming species at an unprecedented rate.”

      The study, “Co-extinctions annihilate planetary life during extreme environmental change,” published in the journal Scientific Reports, was a joint effort by Australian and Italian researchers from Flinders University in Adelaide and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, respectively.

      To conduct the study, the researchers created 2,000 “virtual Earths.” They then added in different stressors such as abrupt climate change replicating that which we are now experiencing, a nuclear winter following the detonation of multiple nuclear weapons, and a massive impact from an asteroid.

      Each scenario resulted in showing that plant and animal species that are wiped out by any of these extreme environmental changes dramatically increases the risk of a domino effect that could annihilate all life on Earth.

    • Climate Change Denial Is Raking the Ashes of Paradise

      It began on the morning of November 8, with 50 mile-per-hour winds roaring through Jarbo Gap near the Feather River, not far from the northern California town of Paradise. Just after 6 am, two PG&E power lines that should have been shut down because of the wind malfunctioned, and minutes later the Camp Fire was born. The fire was eating 80 acres a minute before long, and thousands were forced to flee a wall of flames that moved faster than any warnings ever could. People were incinerated in their homes, in their cars and on their running feet. It happened that fast.

      Twelve days later, the Camp Fire stands as the single most devastating wildfire in California history. It remains only two-thirds contained, with at least 79 people confirmed killed and nearly 700 still missing. More than 12,000 structures and more than 250,000 acres have been burned. Paradise, home to some 27,000 people, is now a smudge on the map. The ongoing Woolsey Fire outside Los Angeles is about 90 percent contained and has claimed three lives, some 500 structures and nearly 97,000 acres.

      Beyond the damage done by the flames is the heavy curtain of choking smoke that has enveloped the areas around the fires for hundreds of miles. “On Friday,” reports The New York Times, “residents of smog-choked Northern California woke to learn that their pollution levels now exceed those in cities in China and India that regularly rank among the worst. In the communities closest to the Paradise fire, an apocalyptic fog cloaked the roads, evacuees wandered in white masks and officials said respiratory hospitalizations had surged.”

    • Living Through California’s Wildfire Nightmare

      “RED MOON. Red Moon.”

      These were the words of my 18-month-old, describing the sky in the late afternoon on November 8 as we walked out of his day care center. Choking back a deep sadness, I said “Sweetie, that’s the sun. The sky is dark from smoke.”

      I tried to not think too hard about the world he is growing up in, and how his little lungs were getting inundated by polluted air from raging fires that had already killed so many people.

      That morning, Paradise, a city of 27,000 people just 165 miles northeast of San Francisco, was nearly obliterated by a wildfire.

      By the afternoon, the air smelled like a campfire across the Bay Area, and since then, air quality has become worse than anywhere in the world, beyond China and India. Schools are closed and people have been forced to wear respirators. The toxic air has seeped into our workplaces and homes, creating a health crisis.

    • Why (Mostly) Men Trophy Hunt: a Biocultural Explanation

      Wolves do not stay anywhere for long. This is partly a function of their prey’s movement, but it’s also a function of being hunted for seven months of the year, at least in Montana, where residents can “harvest” up to five wolves for a paltry $19 dollars. A quick online search reveals dozens of images and videos of (mostly) men posing with wolves they had killed. The majority of the hunters are wearing what researchers K. R. Child and C. T. Darimont call “pleasure” or “killing” smiles. In their essay “Hunting for Trophies: Online Hunting Photographs Reveal Achievement Satisfaction with Large and Dangerous Prey,” the authors note that hunters’ smiles tend to be more pronounced when the prey is large and/or dangerous, that is, as opposed to when they pose with smaller and presumably less dangerous animals of the same species.

      Similarly, a cursory glance of online images of wolf hunts (which is all I can stomach) supports this finding by showing all the creative ways that hunters display and accentuate the size of their trophies. Some men carry the wolf across their shoulders. Others string up, lay out, or hold up the wolf to show its length, height, or mass. Another pose motif shows the hunter, often with gun in hand, kneeling behind and standing up the wolf so that it appears to be alive. One hunter—I will call him “the artist”—went so far as to prop up the wolf on a moss-covered rock. But the wolf’s size is not the only cause for celebration; so too is the fearsome appearance of the wolf’s teeth, which hunters often display, apparently, to show how much danger they were in as they hid in their blinds and shot the wolf from 150 yards away. The hunter’s killing smile tells only one part of the story, however.


      While these findings and this anecdote may illuminate the personalities or mindsets of trophy hunters, they don’t address why this mindset may exist in the first place. For that we can look at Why men trophy hunt, a paper by Evolutionary Anthropologists Brian Codding and Kristen Hawkes, and Chris Darimont, a Conservation Scientist at the University of Victoria. After finding the current hypotheses for why men trophy hunt (for meat, recreation, population control, among other apparent benefits) incomplete or implausible, Darimont, Hawkes, and Codding offer an evolutionary explanation for what they describe as this “perplexing activity.”

      This “seemingly irrational behavior is resolved by costly signaling theory. . . [which] considers the social status and prestige that accrue to successful hunters.” This explanation suggests that recreational hunters accrue status from the costs that they appear to absorb (economically and otherwise), despite the high risk of failure. According to this view, from the audience’s perspective (particularly that of rivals and prospective mates), only the fittest of the fit can afford to hunt big-game or trophy animals, especially when the hunt is for large, and/or dangerous animals and has no guarantee of success.

    • America Fiddles While California Burns

      President Trump ordered 5,600 American troops to the Mexican border to stop around 3,500 poverty- and violence- fleeing Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the United States, while the worst wildfires in California’s history were destroying homes, killing people and displacing thousands more. To motivate his base to vote in the midterm elections, Trump whipped up the unarmed Caravan of men, women and children, weeks away from the U. S., as a threatening “invasion,” while strong winds continued to whip up flames of death and destruction upon drought-stricken Californians. As American troops strung barbed wire at the Mexican border to block the migrants and their dreams of safety, residents in Northern and Southern California were seeing their dreams go up in smoke. As the heavily body-armored American troops sat around and suffered from heat exhaustion while waiting for the weary, slow-moving caravan to arrive, thousands of exhausted California firefighters battled three major wildfires, as they waited for out-of-state crews to arrive. (See “Deployed Inside the United States: The Military Waits for the Migrant Caravan” By Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Helene Cooper, The New York Times, Nov. 17, 2018; and “California wildfires leave at least 66 dead with more than 600 still missing,” ABC News Radio, abc7.com,, Nov. 13, 2018)

    • Geographies of Violence in Southern California

      The Arroyo Conejo winds through what once were oak meadows in the Conejo Valley. The area is now home to the Los Angeles exurbs of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Oak Park. It was here, before contact, that the Chumash people relied on acorns as their staple food and traded their flour for seafood from coastal villages along the Pacific coast some twenty miles to the west. William Bryant Logan in Oak, the Frame of Civilization, 2005, notes that “early European travelers came to recognize how close they were to an Indian village by the boom and thump of women driving pestles into mortars to grind acorns into meal”. That sound had hung in the Conejo Valley for at least two millennia.

      On Wednesday evening, November 7th, the only boom and thump to be heard along Rolling Oaks Drive in Thousand Oaks was coming from the Borderline Bar and Grill where country music echoed into the night. A little before midnight that sound was punctuated by the dull thuds of a Glock 21 handgun being fired in a mass shooting that killed twelve. The shooter, a former Marine, concluded the massacre by turning the gun on himself.

      Early in the afternoon the next day, a wildfire started somewhere on the 2,668 acre Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Up until 2006 this facility had been used to test nuclear reactors and rocket engines for over fifty years. It was here that Rocketdyne developed and tested the engines that powered the space shuttle. In an un-used corner of the vast site sits Burro Flats painted cave, a Chumash solstice observation rock formation where members of the community’s priestly caste, the ’Antap, confirmed the return of the sun for another year. It is here too, in the surrounding Simi Hills, that winter rains run to the Arroyo Conejo, to form a part of the Calleguas watershed.

  • Finance

    • America’s big box stores sucked up corporate welfare and killed Main Street — now they’re ducking property tax

      For a generation, big box stores have swept across America, using predatory pricing and other dirty tricks to kill the independent retail sector; they used their corporate lobbying muscle to tempt cities and towns into handing out massive corporate welfare checks to lure them to town, and now, with the help of hustling contingency lawyers, they are promulgating a property-tax scam called “the dark store theory” that is cutting their taxes in half or more, with further reductions every year, and no end in sight.

    • Tradeshift Is Bidding for Finnish Software Maker Basware

      San Francisco-based Tradeshift made the offer, backed by a group of U.S. and Chinese investors, last month, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Basware confirmed it was evaluating a “highly conditional” proposal on Friday without naming the bidder after Bloomberg News reported it was weighing a sale.

    • Instacart changes how it pays shoppers, but many say they’re now making less

      Of course, if shoppers were simply made employees with a straightforward salary, figuring out one’s take-home pay would be considerably easier. Instacart and other companies like it save millions annually by not having to pay for employee benefits, like Social Security withholdings, unemployment insurance premium payment, workers’ compensation, and more.

    • The Scam at the Heart of New York’s Amazon Deal

      But not everyone was excited. Outside the press conference—in the streets of Queens, in the chamber of the City Council, on editorial pages—a consensus was building that the multibillion-dollar mega-deal was not just lopsided, overpriced, and liable to exacerbate everything from gentrification to congestion, but was also deeply anti-democratic.

    • After the Retail Apocalypse, Prepare for the Property Tax Meltdown

      Big-box retailers nationwide are slashing their property taxes through a legal loophole known as “dark store theory.” For the towns that rely on that revenue, this could be a disaster.

    • Pro-Trump ‘dark money’ group’s first tax return reveals millions in previously undisclosed spending

      The first annual tax return filed by pro-Trump “dark money” group America First Policies and reviewed by the Center for Responsive Politics reveals that the 501(c)(4) nonprofit spent even more on political activities than previously reported in campaign finance disclosures.

      As a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” nonprofit, is not allowed to have politics as its primary purpose despite spending millions on politicking.

      Disparities between the new tax documents submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under the penalty of perjury and earlier disclosures to Federal Election Commission (FEC) indicate that millions of dollars in political spending may have been left undisclosed for many months.

      America First Policies told the FEC that it spent $1.97 million in independent expenditures and $245,404 on electioneering communications in its first year of operation. But the “political campaign activities” spending it reported to the IRS for the same period was around twice that amount — $4.3 million — and its total spending reported for that period was even more.

      While discrepancies in political expenditures reported to the IRS and FEC by politically active nonprofits are not uncommon — nor necessarily indicative of a false statement to either federal agency — dark money groups often try to mitigate their spending in tax returns’ descriptions of their political activities.

    • Apple, Amazon Team Up To ‘Enhance Customer Experience’ By Limiting Customers’ Options

      The “right of first sale” still exists. Not that Apple’s happy about it. Apple’s no fan of right-to-repair laws either, preferring to keep its revenue streams nice and deep by forcing customers to get their repairs only from Apple-approved vendors, no matter what the law actually says.

      So, yeah, you still have the right to resell your Apple products. You’re just not going to do it in the largest marketplace in the United States. This CNBC article delivers the bad news like it’s good news.

    • Global Oil Price Deflation 2018 and Beyond

      One of the key characteristics of the 2008-09 crash and its aftermath (i.e. chronic slow recovery in US and double and triple dip recessions in Europe and Japan) was a significant deflation in prices of global oil. After attaining well over $100 a barrel in 2007-08, crude oil prices plummeted, hitting a low of only $27 a barrel in January 2016. They slowly but steadily rose again in 2016-17 and peaked at about $80 a barrel this past summer 2018. Now the retreat has started once again, falling to a low of $55 in October and remain around $56 today, likely to fall further in 2019 now that Japan and Europe appear entering yet another recession and US growth almost certainly slowing significantly in 2019. With the potential for a US recession rising in late 2019 oil price deflation may continue into the near future. What will this mean for the global and US economies?

      The critical question is what is the relationship between global oil price deflation, financial instability and crises, and recession–something mainstream economists don’t understand very well? Is the current rapid retreat of oil prices since August 2018 an indicator of more fundamental forces underway in the global and US economy? Will oil price deflation exacerbate, or even accelerate, the drift toward recession globally now underway? What about financial asset markets stability in general? What can be learned from the 2008 through 2015 experience?

      In my 2016 book, ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’ and its chapter on deflation’s role in crises, I explained that oil is not just a commodity but, since the 1990s, has functioned as an important financial asset whose price affects other forms of financial assets (stocks, bonds, derivatives, currencies, etc.). Financial asset price volatility in general (bubbles and deflation) have a greater impact on the real economy than mainstream economists, who generally don’t understand financial markets and cycles, think. Hence they don’t understand how financial cycles interact with real business cycles. This applies as well to their understanding of oil prices as financial asset prices, not just commodity prices.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’: What Alex Jones and Voldemort Have in Common

      Jones is a kind of real-world Voldemort. Speak his name to condemn his conspiracy theories and you draw more attention to his hateful ideas. It’s like fighting fire with oxygen tanks instead of fire extinguishers. The tools breathe more life into the flames.

    • Inside the Pricey War to Influence Your Instagram Feed

      Many influencers with substantial followings “are not promoting products without being compensated,” said Kevin James Bennett, a cosmetics developer and consultant who works with brands interested in influencer marketing. “That doesn’t make them bad people, it makes them salespersons—and you, the consumer, deserve to know when you’re being ‘sold’ something.”

      The Federal Trade Commission agrees. As the practice has become more popular, the agency has adopted rules governing the disclosure of paid endorsements on social media. The text is long and complicated, but can be reduced to two essential concepts: If an influencer has received anything—be it cash, free products, or something else—that could affect how a viewer interprets their mention of a brand or product, they must disclose it; and the disclosure must be displayed prominently, and plainly, in the video, photo, or blog.

    • The Most Damaging Election Disinformation Campaign Came From Donald Trump, Not Russia

      The Kremlin has been focused on undermining trust in American democracy and elections, but Donald Trump and the Republicans have done it better than Russia ever could.

    • Now eight parliaments are demanding Zuckerberg answers for Facebook scandals

      The elected representatives of Facebook users want Mark Zuckerberg to answer questions in the wake of a string of data misuse and security scandals attached to his platform. The international parliaments have joined forces — forming a grand committee — to amp up the pressure on Facebook.

    • Facebook will reduce reach of ‘sensationalist and provocative’ content

      So instead of moving the line of what’s banned, Facebook is going to alter its distribution algorithms. Posts that Facebook’s AI detects as needlessly provocative will be distributed less and less, preventing them from seeing a spike in engagement.

    • Facebook to Pay to Train Local Newspaper Reporters in UK

      Around 80 new trainee reporters funded by Facebook will be recruited by regional publishers Newsquest, JPIMedia, Reach, Archant and the Midland News Association, in a scheme overseen by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), Facebook said.

    • Look to the Right for Corruption

      ewWhen I was growing up a long time ago there was a presumption of prudential integrity for politicians. Yes, I suppose I was naïve, but as a boy from Minnesota I came to think of politics as a clean game in my formative years.

      This may explain why I am nonplussed now with the acceptance of such low standards by so many, and frankly, at this time most of them with the lowest standards seem to be aligned with Trump out on the right. The voters rejected Trump for the most part in our midterms, but this is normal and he lost less than Obama did in 2010, so my question is really for the voters, not the buck naked corrupt Trump wing controlling the Republican party and the base.

      Why do you accept, tolerate, and even identify with the dishonesty, the cheating, and the incivility of the leadership of your party? What is wrong with you? Can you help me understand why dirty tricks and robbing people of voting rights is fine by you?

      Yes, I’d love to excuse them. Oh, they are working class and ignorant fools, how can they be expected to keep up? How can we hope that they will have decent values? They are all undereducated redneck fools.

    • Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans Agreed with Ocasio-Cortez Until About One Minute Ago

      When congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) confessed her personal financial dilemma — “I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real” — to the New York Times, guffaws broke out on the right.

      “Some of those shoots she had during her campaign, she had these multi-thousand dollar outfits that could pay a month’s rent in Washington,” said Fox News correspondent Ed Henry.

      “[T]hat jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles,” wrote the Washington Examiner‘s Eddie Scarry in a tweet he deleted after an uproar.

      I get it. It’s easy to mock a self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” who wants to re-make the US economy when she hasn’t proven her own financial acumen by piling up a nice nest egg before running for Congress.

      But return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear …

      Former House Majority Leader Dick Army (R-TX), who served in Congress from 1985-2003, slept in his office rather than rent an apartment in DC. So did outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan. In fact, that trend caught on among Republican members of Congress to such an extent that earlier this year it resulted in an ethics complaint from members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    • Our Falkirk Moment

      Both the Tories and Labour are riven by internal dissent over Brexit. The UK is in palpable political chaos, and the prospect of remaining tied to Westminster has never been less appealing.


      I have no more claim to be a strategic genius than the next man. But when I see my sworn opponents, disoriented, in disarray, and fighting fiercely amongst themselves, I cannot help but feel that now is the time to attack them.

    • Instagram Targets Illegally Obtained Likes and Followers

      Third-party services selling likes and followers on Instagram have been available for a long time. According to the terms of use, getting more followers through these methods is illegal, but this issue hasn’t been brought up as much in the past. Today, Instagram has finally put its foot down and has begun removing likes and followers purchased via illegal means.

      Instagram says that they have developed “machine learning tools” which will help in locating accounts that use these illegal services.

    • Courier Journal reporter who couldn’t type was actually a CIA spy

      When 28-year-old Robert H. Campbell was hired as a Courier Journal reporter in December 1964, he couldn’t type and seemed to know little about writing a newspaper story.

      He lived at the YMCA and was paid $125 a week, but he could afford to fly home to St. Louis every other weekend to see his wife and children. And he left the newspaper after only four months.

      An assistant city editor later said the stuff that Campbell turned in was “almost unreadable” and that “there was something very strange about the whole thing.”

      In 1976, another Courier Journal reporter discovered Campbell’s secret.

      “Evidence developed during a newspaper investigation strongly indicates that Campbell was an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency,” James Herzog wrote in a long expose.


      Campbell was one of more than 400 American journalists who secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, Carl Bernstein reported in a 1977 story in Rolling Stones, which cited documents on file at CIA headquarters.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Ban on Follow-Up Questions Among Trump’s New ‘Dictatorial’ Rules for White House Reporters

      In response to the new rules, which were crafted without any input from the White House press corps, the ACLU wrote, “The White House belongs to the public, not the president, and the job of the press is to ask hard questions, not to be polite.”

      “These rules give the White House far too much discretion to avoid real scrutiny,” the ACLU continued. “Asking an ‘unauthorized’ follow-up question cannot be the basis for excluding a reporter. The rules should be revised to ensure that no journalist gets kicked out of the WH for doing her job.”

      While some journalists and commentators floated the now-common suggestion that reporters should just stop going to White House press briefings entirely, others argued that reporters should show solidarity and push back against the Trump administration by not allowing the White House to dodge and lie by simply moving on to the next question.

    • White House drops bid to revoke Acosta’s press pass

      The reversal comes after the White House notified Acosta last Friday it may renew its attempts to revoke his press pass after a judge’s order restoring it expired. The White House set a Sunday deadline for Acosta to object and said it would make a final decision by 3 p.m. on Monday.


      The letter also outlined new rules for reporters at presidential news conferences, including limiting each journalist to one question with follow-ups coming “at the discretion of the president or other White House officials taking questions.”

    • How China Walled Off the Internet

      Today, China has the world’s only internet companies that can match America’s in ambition and reach.

    • When Technology Meets Tyranny

      As China heads full force in developing AI weapons, the West needs to take a stand

      Back in May 2014, Stephen Hawking, along with several scientists, warned the world: “Success in creating AI [artificial intelligence] would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.

      “In the near term, world militaries are considering autonomous-weapon systems that can choose and eliminate targets; the U.N. and Human Rights Watch have advocated a treaty banning such weapons.”

    • UN Spokesman Dujarric Spins Censorship For Guterres While Former Boss Helen Clark Questions

      As Inner City Press moved forward with its investigative reporting about the UN including its Secretary General Antonio Guterres, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric on 20 June 2018 said that “things will soon be getting worse” for Inner City Press’ reporter. Inner City Press has now been banned from the UN for 138 days and Dujarric is providing his and his boss’ pretext, as purported background, to some of those asking questions, at least if they come from Europe, see below. But on November 19 Dujarric’s former boss at UNDP Helen Clark, answering Inner City Press’ question across First Avenue from the UN, pointedly called out “the exclusion of journalists across the road.” Vine; longer version here. One might think this would be jarring for Dujarric. One might question if ANY of the other candidates for Secretary General would have been the censor Guterres has been for 138 days, enabled by Dujarric. Inner City Press at noon on November 19, before questioning Clark, asked in writing Guterres and Dujarric: “Now that the Trump Administration has given CNN time (44 hours) to response to their re-suspension, please explain why the UN did not nad has not provided even that amount of time or due process – and immediately provide it, readmitting Inner City Press in the interim to the noon briefing and SG and GA proceedings.

      More specifically, please immediately explain how Mr. Dujarric’s statement that “press credentials to work at the UN, just like any other institution, is a ‘privilege’” is different in any way that the position taken by the Trump Administration in response to the CNN lawsuit. Now that the Federal judiciary has ruled that access to the White House is not, as OSSG Dujarric has claimed, a privilege but a right, this is a FORMAL REQUEST THAT THE SG LIFT MIS-USED LEGAL IMMUNITY IN THIS CASE.” Eight hours later, no answer to this or any other question submitted, on DRC, Cameroon, Mali. Guterres’ UN is corrupt, and Dujarric is a corrupter. We’ll have more on this.

    • In A Speech Any Autocrat Would Love, French President Macron Insists The Internet Must Be Regulated

      Props to French President Emmanuel Macron, who had a busy week last week, what with the observance of the World War I armistice centennial, the Paris Peace Forum, the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and various other related events. All drew attendees and attention from around the world to his capital city, and all required his participation in some significant way, including through the delivery of several speeches that each surely required substantial preparation to deliver so capably. Techdirt has already covered a few minor aspects of the IGF speech: the announcement that France would embed officials with Facebook, and reference to the “Paris Call.” But in terms of the major substance of the speech, there are few compliments that can be paid.

      At best it was the sort of speech that someone completely new to tech policy might have come up with. Someone who, upon finding an imperfect situation, presumes that they are the first to notice the issue. And then takes it upon themselves to heroically step in to address the problem, despite the fact that their proposed “solution” reflects an incomplete understanding of the matter.

      There are a number of ways this incomplete understanding infected his speech and undermined the quality of his recommendation. There was, for instance, his erroneous declaration that the Internet today is too much about content distributors not enough about content creators. This declaration alone suggests a very poor understanding of all the myriad ways people all over the world use the Internet to create and then disseminate their expressive works themselves. In and of itself it calls into question whether his overall suggestion is capable of being adequately protective of all this expression.

    • Berlin ‘calling for censorship’ of Ukrainian website: opinion

      The Myrotvorets site is a private Ukrainian website that has since 2014 been posting a list of people who it believes threaten Ukraine’s national security, Polish journalist Grzegorz Górny writes in an opinion piece.

      On November 8, Gerhard Schröder, a former German chancellor “who is now a lobbyist” for Russian gas giant Gazprom, was added to the list, Górny says in his piece, published by the wpolityce.pl online news service.

      He adds that Myrotvorets placed Schröder’s name on the list alongside “separatists, terrorists and Kremlin agents” because the former German leader “has publicly justified the [2014] annexation of Crimea by Russia.”

    • BusTV: Culture Jamming Censorship One Bus at a Time

      You can jam up to 40 people in the tiny busses that ply the streets of Caracas, and you run into all kinds of everyone there: folks running their errands, others going to work or school. They all wait between one stop and the next; sitting, standing or clinging to the doors of the bus. While they wait, they listen to us read the news, brief pills of information that nobody was asking or looking for, but found their way to their route.

    • NCAC Protests Political Censorship at Cleveland State University

      The sculpture, titled The Politician: A Toy, by artist Billie Lawless, is encircled by a fence featuring humorous one-foot-high texts that play with popular political slogans and media clichés. These include phrases like READ MY HIPS, CONTRADICTION IN AMERICA, and AFFIRMATIVE FRICTION. Some phrases, like OBAMA SCARE have been added temporarily to reflect current issues and then removed.

    • Ubisoft Changes Mind on Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Censorship

      The best tactical shooter on the market almost became something a lot of its community lost faith in as Ubisoft announced recently plans to alter the aesthetic design of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege for the Chinese market.

    • Ubisoft Cancels ‘Rainbow Six Siege’ Aesthetic Changes After Censorship Backlash
    • Rainbow Six Siege drops China censorship, reverts ‘aesthetic changes’
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook Won’t Really Tell You How Much Time You Spend Using Facebook

      Instagram and Facebook now both have metrics that show you how much you use each platform, but they’re completely skewed for anyone with more than one device.

      The idea is a good one: people spend too much time on social networking, and by letting them know how much time they’re wasting scrolling through their feed, they can maybe help curb some of the overuse. This feature is new to both platforms, with Instagram’s rolling out last week and Facebook’s starting today.

    • HITMAN 2 Bashed For ‘Data Harvesting’ Privacy Policy

      HITMAN 2 launched last week and was well received in many ways. Steam reviews for the game have been largely positive, but several negative reviews claim that the privacy policy is immoral data harvesting. Players have reported that they are being locked out of online play unless they sign up for an IOI account, which requires you to agree to the privacy policy. IO Interactive’s privacy policy and the implementation of Denuvo Anti-Tamper for HITMAN 2 has made a lot of players unhappy.

      IO Interactive’s data collection activities involve gathering personal information, payment information, IP addresses, and information about others from HITMAN 2 players. The information gathered is then used to “market, and advertise products, programs, and services” from the developers, trusted partners, and select third parties deemed interesting to the user. Accepting the privacy policy is mandatory if you wish to register an account, which is required for online play. Usually this wouldn’t matter, but when a big part of a game is locked unless you agree to share your data, something is definitely wrong.

    • Facebook Releases 13 NSLs, Reports Another Big Increase In US Government Demands For Info [Ed: Facebook is in NSA PRISM. This (NSLs) is for when something is missed.]

      Facebook’s new transparency report is up, and the company has released a baker’s dozens of National Security Letters along with it. Thanks to the USA Freedom Act, companies finally have a way to challenge the indefinite gag orders the government attaches to its demands for user info — a process it deploys thousands of times a year without having to run anything by a judge.

      NSLs are gifts the FBI gives itself. With these self-issued pieces of paper, the agency can demand internet platforms turn over info about targeted accounts. What it can actually demand is fairly limited, although there appears to be no limit to the number of accounts the FBI can target with a single NSL. Many of the NSLs in this batch [PDF] cleared for release ask for data on multiple Facebook and Instagram users.

    • Dutch government report says Microsoft Office telemetry collection breaks GDPR

      The telemetry data collection mechanism used by Microsoft Office breaks the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Dutch authorities said yesterday in a report.

      The report raises eight issues that investigators found in ProPlus subscriptions of Office 2016 and Office 365, but also with the web-based version of Office 365.

    • Did the CIA, NSA, or anyone else have intel that an attack was coming?
    • Who lives with you? Facebook seeks to patent software to figure out profiles of households
    • Facebook patents software that will even record family members, their interests

      To help determine whether people live in the same home, the software could look at how often people are tagged in pictures together and at the captions of the photos, it said.

      “Without such knowledge of a user’s household features, most of the content items that are sent to the user are poorly tailored to the user and are likely ignored,” said the patent application, which was filed last year and made public on Thursday.

      Facebook could also incorporate “past posts, status updates, friendships, messaging history, past tagging history” and web browsing history to put together a profile of a household or family, the report added.

      The proposed online system seeks to apply one or more models trained using deep learning techniques to generate the predictions.

    • Targeted Advertising Is Ruining the Internet and Breaking the World

      Social media companies are advertising companies. This has never been a secret, of course. Google pioneered the targeted advertising business model in the late 90s, and Sheryl Sandberg brought the practice to Facebook in 2008 when she joined the company as chief operating officer. The cash was flowing in, and companies around Silicon Valley and beyond adopted the same basic strategy: first, grow the user base as quickly as possible without worrying about revenue; second, collect as much data as possible about the users; third, monetize that information by performing big data analytics in order to show users advertising that is narrowly tailored to their demographics and revealed interests; fourth, profit.

    • This Company Is Helping Build China’s Panopticon. It Won’t Stop There [iophk "there is a mistake in their premise. Biometrics are like usernames, not passwords"]

      Beyond spotting and ranking faces in a crowd, SenseTime’s long-term goal is to put its technology at the core of image recognition everywhere, from security and shopping systems to personal ID services that work by scanning faces. The idea can be seen in microcosm at its Beijing office, where staffers never swipe a badge to enter. A glass door simply slides open after a hidden camera checks their faces against company records. “That’s really how they see future interactions,” says Jean-François Gagné, who runs Canadian startup Element AI Inc. “You don’t need to log in to your computer, you don’t need to get a boarding pass, you don’t need to do anything anywhere. You’re just recognized.”

    • Instagram’s GDPR tool exposes ‘a small number’ of user passwords
    • Tim Cook defends multibillion-dollar Google search deal despite Apple’s privacy focus

      Apple reportedly makes anywhere from $3 to $9 billion from its deal with Google, which sees its search engine made the default on Apple’s Safari browser, Siri web search, and elsewhere. Privacy-focused search engines — like DuckDuckGo — exist, but for Apple, the bump in services revenue from Google coupled with a modicum of Safari controls seems to trump privacy concerns.

    • Tim Cook defends using Google as primary search engine on Apple devices

      In an interview with Axios on HBO, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the decision to use Google as the default search engine on Apple products. This decision has baffled some, considering Google’s business model of making money off of users’ data—something Apple has spoken out against numerous times.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • $337,000 Settlement Headed To Elementary School Students Handcuffed By School Resource Officers

      Putting cops in schools often turns routine disciplinary issues into police matters. That’s a problem. Cops — given the friendly-spin title of “school resource officers” — have a limited tool set for handling discipline. It involves shows of authority, deployments of force, and, in this case, adult handcuffs clamped onto an 8-year-old’s upper arms. Tiny wrists can’t be secured by adult cuffs, so up the arm they go until they more resemble an instrument of torture than a restraint device.

    • Ifat Gazia, Steve Macek and Robin Andersen

      Then Kashmiri journalist Ifat Gazia relates some of the atrocities committed by Indian occupation troops in Kashmir, and calls on the world to pay attention.

    • Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions

      Why is gender violence such a consistent feature of the insurgency and counterinsurgency that have wrenched apart the Indian subcontinent for decades? The equation of the native woman to the motherland in nationalist rhetoric has, in recent times, become more forceful. In effect, the native woman is constructed as a trough within which male aspirations are nurtured, and the most barbaric acts are justified as means to restore the lost dignity of women.

      The story of the partition of India in 1947 into two separate nation-states, India and Pakistan, is replete with instances of women resorting to mass suicide to preserve the “honor” of the community. If a woman’s body belongs not to herself but to her community, then the violation of that body purportedly signifies an attack upon the honour (izzat) of the whole community.

    • CIA Was Fully Aware of Drugs Used to Assist Interrogations – Ex-Pentagon Analyst

      Shortly after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the CIA weighed using a sedative used to treat anxiety as “possibly worth a try” as a truth serum, newly-unveiled records requested by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) revealed last week.

      “One of the drugs mentioned in the CIA report was Midazolam, commonly known as Versed. It’s been around since the mid 1970′s and is a common and cheap medicine in hospital storerooms. It’s functionally a sedative, an anxiety reducer,” Kwiatkowski, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, pointed out.


      However, those restrictions did not mean that the drug was not used, or that prisoners were not experimented on with it and other drugs, Kwiatkowski explained.

      “It seems as if it wasn’t a formal program,” she said.

      Interrogations utilizing torture such as waterboarding, slamming, humiliation, the use of extreme temperature, sound and vibrations were also unproductive and ultimately embarrassing to the US government, Kwiatkowski acknowledged.

    • Abolishing ICE Means Defunding it

      Many progressive Democrats that won their midterm election bids, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, to Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, campaigned to change radically immigration policy. One of their slogans was to abolish the principal immigration law enforcement agency, ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement). To turn that campaign slogan into reality means defunding ICE, which Democrats can do, if they chose, now that they have a majority in the House of Representatives.

      ICE has long been criticized by immigration rights groups – even before Trump became President – for its use of private, for-profit detention centers, treatment of detainees, and overall lack of transparency and accountability. Despite these problems, the Trump administration has not only expressed support for the agency, but has sought to increase its budget. In 2017, ICE was authorized to use $6.4 Billion, which increased to $7.6 Billion in 2018. Trump’s proposed 2019 budget for ICE, similarly, sees an increase of nearly $1 Billion dollars.

      A variety of activities related to immigration fall within ICE’s purview. Its 2018 budget divides these activities into five ‘missions,’specifically, (1) ‘preventing terrorism and enhancing security,’ (2) ‘securing and managing our borders,’ (3) ‘enforcing and administering our immigration laws,’ (4) ‘safeguarding and securing cyberspace,’ and (5) ‘strengthening national preparedness and resilience.’ Of these five, the third – ‘enforcing and administering our immigration laws’ – receives by far the lion’s share of ICE’s total budget. In 2017, this amounted to nearly $4 Billion, with over $3 Billion dedicated to enforcement and removal. Such operations, as explained in ICE’s budget statement, entail “identifying and apprehending removable aliens, detaining those individuals pending final determination of removability, and removing aliens from the United States by legal processes and procedures.” These practices, which are central to ICE’s mission, are also some of the institution’s most controversial and criticized.

    • Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s “Asylum Ban,” Saying President Can’t Rewrite Immigration Laws

      In the latest pushback against President Trump’s attack on immigrants rights, a federal judge in California has temporarily halted Trump’s asylum ban, which attempted to deny asylum to anyone entering the country from outside of a legal port of entry. Trump announced the move earlier this month, but Monday, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar put a temporary halt on the order. Tigar wrote, “Asylum seekers will be put at increased risk of violence and other harms at the border, and many will be deprived of meritorious asylum claims. The government offers nothing in support of the new rule that outweighs the need to avoid these harms.” We speak with one of the lawyers who sued the Trump administration over the ban, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights Baher Azmy.

    • Oregon Officials Call for Changes of Laws on Criminally Insane

      Oregon’s attorney general said the number of people deemed criminally insane who commit new crimes after their release is “definitely too high” and must be addressed by the state.

      She was “surprised” by the frequency of crimes, often violent, documented by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica. Slightly more than a third of the people released by the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board were charged again within three years, showed the analysis of public records.

      “Given the nature of the crimes committed after release, these numbers are definitely too high,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a written statement. “It makes me want to take a deeper dive into the topic.”

      Other state and local officials echoed her comments, saying it was unacceptable that so many people found “guilty except for insanity” in felony cases and sent to treatment instead of prison go on to commit new crimes after being freed, which is known as recidivism

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Comcast To Battle Cord Cutting By… Reinventing The Closed Cable Box

      Like many cable operators, Comcast continues to slowly bleed cable TV customers to cheaper, more flexible streaming alternatives (aka cord cutting). The industry just saw its biggest ever quarterly loss of such subscribers in history, with Comcast losing 106,000 subscribers during the third quarter alone. It’s a trend that’s directly thanks to the industry’s refusal to not only compete on price, but flexibility and openness.

      You’ll recall that Comcast (with the US Copyright Office’s help) played a starring role in killing plans at the FCC to bring more competition and openness to the cable box. The cable industry hauls in $21 billion in cable box rental fees annually, so their motivation here should be obvious. The combination of limited cable box competition and the walled-garden approach to content also lets these companies keep would-be competitors at arms’ length, helping to “protect” existing customers from the temptation of cheaper, more flexible programming options.

      Realizing the company had to do something to address the rising streaming threat, Comcast has been doing things like adding Netflix to some cable boxes in the hopes that would keep its existing customers from cutting the cord. And, in last week’s news, it emerged that Comcast would soon be launching a new streaming device for its broadband customers that actually lets users view not only Comcast’s cable TV content, but that of some competitors. Again, the hope is that adding a few additional options will prevent users from fleeing to alternative options.

    • Ajit Pai isn’t saying whether ISPs deliver the broadband speeds you pay for

      But the FCC hasn’t released any new Measuring Broadband America reports since Republican Ajit Pai became the commission chairman in January 2017. Pai’s first year as chair was the first time the FCC failed to issue a new Measuring Broadband America report since the program started—though the FCC could release a new report before his second year as chair is complete.

    • Charter, Comcast don’t have 1st Amendment right to discriminate, court rules

      Charter, the second-largest US cable company after Comcast, was sued in January 2016 by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), which alleged that Charter violated the Civil Rights Act of 1866 by refusing to carry TV channels run by the African-American-owned ESN. Allen, a comedian and producer, founded ESN in 1993 and is its CEO; the lawsuit seeks more than $10 billion in damages from Charter.

    • Some notes about HTTP/3

      There is a good lesson here about standards. Outside the Internet, standards are often de jure, run by government, driven by getting all major stakeholders in a room and hashing it out, then using rules to force people to adopt it. On the Internet, people implement things first, and then if others like it, they’ll start using it, too. Standards are often de facto, with RFCs being written for what is already working well on the Internet, documenting what people are already using. SPDY was adopted by browsers/servers not because it was standardized, but because the major players simply started adding it. The same is happening with QUIC: the fact that it’s being standardized as HTTP/3 is a reflection that it’s already being used, rather than some milestone that now that it’s standardized that people can start using it.

    • Everything Online Is Getting Bigger Except Your ISP’s Data Cap

      Fallout 76‘s latest patch is over 47 GB in size. From video games to 4K streaming video, everything online keeps getting bigger. But Comcast’s 1 TB data cap isn’t changing, and some smaller Internet service providers are even worse.

    • Court Again Rules That Cable Giants Can’t Weaponize The First Amendment

      Over the last few years, telecom giants have increasingly been trying to claim that pretty much any effort to hold them accountable for their terrible service (or anything else) is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Historically that hasn’t gone so well. For example, courts generally laughed off ISP lawyer claims that net neutrality violated their free speech rights, quite correctly highlighting that ISPs are simply conduits to information, not acting as editors of available speech through their blocking or filtering of available information.

      Charter Spectrum, the nation’s second biggest cable operator, has been trying to embrace this argument a lot lately as it fights off state lawsuits for terrible service. It recently tried to use the First Amendment card again in a legal battle with Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks (ESN), which recently accused Charter of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866 by refusing to carry TV channels run by the African-American-owned ESN.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Retheorizing the Impact of Intellectual Property Rights on Industry Structure

      Technological and creative industries are critical to economic and social welfare, and the forces that shape such industries are important subjects of legal and policy examination. These industries depend on patents and copyrights, and scholars have long debated whether exclusive rights promote industry consolidation (through shoring up barriers to entry) or fragmentation (by promoting entry of new firms). Much hangs in the balance, for the structure of these IP-intensive industries can determine the amount, variety, and quality of drugs, food, software, movies, music, and books available to society. This Article retheorizes the role of patents and copyrights in shaping industry structure by examining empirical profiles of six IP-intensive industries: biopharmaceuticals; agricultural biotechnology, seeds, and agrochemicals; software; film production and distribution; music recording; and book publishing. It makes two novel arguments that illuminate the impacts of patents and copyrights on industry structure. First, it distinguishes along time, arguing that patents and copyrights promote the initial entry of new firms and early-stage viability, but that over time industry incumbents wielding substantial IP portfolios often absorb such entrants, thus reconsolidating those industries. It also distinguishes along the value chain, arguing that exclusive rights most prominently promote entry in “upstream” creative functions—from creating biologic compounds to coordinating movie production—while tending to promote concentration in downstream functions related to commercialization, such as marketing and distribution of drugs and movies. This Article provides legal and policy decision makers with a more robust understanding of how patents and copyrights promote both fragmentation and concentration, depending on context. Drawing on these insights, it proposes calibrating the acquisition of exclusive rights based on the size and market position of a rights holder.

    • The Role of IP in Industry Structure [Ed: There is no such thing as “IP”, Michael Risch; patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret laws are all inherently different; you can’t make a salad out of them]

      Professor Lee surveys six industries, looking for commonalities in how they are structured, and how IP fits in with entry and consolidation. This is not an empirical paper in the sense of, say Cockburn & MacGarvie, who found that patents reduced entry into the software industry unless the entrant had patent applications. Instead, it looks at the history of entry and consolidation in the different industries as a whole, using studies like Cockburn & MacGarvie (which is discussed in some detail) as the foundational base for the theoretical view that puts all the empirical findings together.

      The result is a sort of two dimensional axis (though Prof. Lee provides no chart, which wouldn’t have added much). He finds that, in general, IP leads to entry early in time, but as the industry (or product area) matures, then IP leads instead to consolidation, as companies find it easier to acquire IP than create it on its own in crowded areas. He also finds, however (and I think this is a key insight in the paper), that IP leads to more entry upstream (early creation stage) and more consolidation downstream (commercialization and marketing).

    • ITC To Review Whether To Bar US Entry Of Nikon Cameras

      The U.S. International Trade Commission will review the bulk of an administrative law judge’s initial determination that several Nikon digital cameras should be barred from entering the United States…

    • Don’t Overreact To Fed. Circ. Design Patent Ruling

      The Federal Circuit in In re Maatita recently held that a single, two-dimensional plan view of a three-dimensional object in a design patent can satisfy the enablement and definiteness requirements.

    • Guest Post by Prof. Yelderman: How Do District Courts Cite Prior Art?

      Not all prior art is created equal. The ease of finding what’s been done before can vary dramatically—from a prior U.S. patent cited by hundreds of applicants, to the dusty doctoral thesis sitting on the shelf of a foreign library. So one might wonder: when district courts invalidate patents on prior art grounds, do they typically rely on prior art that the inventor, or the USPTO, or even a reasonably diligent searcher could plausibly have found? Or do courts regularly invalidate patents on the basis of art that only the most determined litigant could have possibly uncovered?

      For the last year or so, I have been working with a team of research assistants to attempt to answer these and other questions. Drawing directly from district court dockets, we collected every decision invalidating a patent claim over a six-and-half-year period. We then coded these on a claim-by-claim, reference-by-reference basis to learn how district courts rely on prior art. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be highlighting some of the more interesting things we’ve uncovered. In this post, I’ll start by sharing some of our top-level findings and briefly explaining our collection methodology. (If you’d like to see our full results right away, a draft of the paper is available for download here.)

    • Ford wants to eliminate odor from new cars by baking them

      Ford Motor Co. has filed a patent application for an odor-removal process that eliminates the new car smell after a vehicle has been purchased.

    • Judge Awards Enhancement of Damages to $268 Million in Cochlear Implant Patent Case

      On Sunday, November 4th, U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin of the Central District of California signed an order regarding pending motions in a patent infringement case between Australian medical device firm Cochlear Corporation and the medical non-profit organization Alfred E. Mann Research Foundation for Scientific Research. Among the motions decided by Judge Olguin included a motion for enhanced damages granted by the judge which doubled the damages award to the research foundation up to a reported $268 million.

      In the lawsuit, the Alfred E. Mann Foundation asserted two patents which it alleged Cochlear had infringed upon through its sale of cochlear implant technology: U.S. Patent No. 5938691, titled Multichannel Implantable Cochlear Stimulator; and U.S. Patent No. 5609616, titled Physician’s Testing System and Method for Testing Implantable Cochlear Stimulator. The jury in the case found that claims of both patents were infringed by Cochlear and that Cochlear engaged in willful infringement.

    • FWP IP ApS v. Biogen MA, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      Last month, in FWP IP ApS v. Biogen MA, Inc., the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board granting Biogen’s motion that FWP’s U.S. Application No. 11/576,871 did not provide an adequate written description under 35 U.S.C. § 112 for claims directed to a method for treating multiple sclerosis. The MS treatment at dispute involves administering a specific daily dosage (480 mg) of fumarates, specifically dimethyl fumarate (DMF) and/or monomethyl fumarate (MMF), to a subject.

      The appeal arose from an interference proceeding involving the above method for treating multiple sclerosis. U.S. Patent No. 8,399,514, owned by Biogen, describes and claims such a method. The ’871 application, which was assigned to FWP by original Appellant Forward Pharma A/S after the appeal was docketed, discloses controlled release compositions of fumarates. In the interference proceeding, Forward argued that the ’871 application describes the treatment method in dispute. Although the Board determined that the ’871 application had an earlier priority date than the ’514 patent, it granted Biogen’s motion that the MS treatment method Forward sought to claim was not supported by an adequate written description.


      In affirming the Board’s decision, the Federal Circuit stated that “[g]iven the brief references to MS and the lack of recognition of 480 mg/day as a therapeutically effective daily dosage, we agree with the Board’s finding that there ‘is no discussion [in the '871 application] that would guide one skilled in the art to treat MS with a therapeutically effective dose of 480 mg/day. . . .’” The Court was also unpersuaded by Forward’s attempt to use the prior art to supply the link between the therapeutically effective dose of 480 mg/day and MS, noting that “even if we allow Forward to rely on the prior art for establishing a prior, known link between MS and fumarates, the prior art does not teach the key limitation of the count: the 480 mg daily dosage.”

    • Comparative study on the stay of proceedings in Europe

      Malte Köllner, Eric Sergheraert and Mihnea Hanganu compare the frequency of stays in patent infringement proceedings in Germany with the frequency of stays in other European countries, and conclude the German practice of staying proceedings gives serious cause for concern

    • Trademarks

      • How to establish secondary meaning

        In Converse v ITC, the Federal Circuit clarified the value of evidence to prove unregistered marks have acquired secondary meaning

        Converse brought suit against 31 shoe manufacturers at the International Trade Commission (ITC) in 2016, alleging they infringed Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Star design.

    • Copyrights

      • Labels Sue PokerNews over Copyright-Infringing Tracks in Podcasts

        A group of record labels and music publishers, including UMG Recordings and Universal Music, has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the company behind the poker website PokerNews. The music companies note that several podcasts published through PokerNews use unlicensed recordings. They request damages that could add up to several million dollars.

      • A verified email address will be required to publish to crates.io starting on 2019-02-28

        To comply with DMCA, we need a guaranteed way to contact publishers of content on crates.io. We’ve added the ability to verify your email address associated with your crates.io account, and we’re going to require a verified email address to be able to cargo publish to crates.io starting on 2019-02-28 (coinciding with the release of Rust 1.33.0).

        Starting with stable Rust 1.32.0 that will be released on 2019-01-17, if you run cargo publish using stable Rust and you have not verified an email address, the publish will work but you’ll see a warning encouraging you to verify an email address before 2019-02-28. We’ll warn for that whole release cycle. The warning will look something like this (exact wording is yet to be determined):

Appalling Patent Quality at the European Patent Office, More Lies About the Unified Patent Court (UPC), and Assault on Those Who Warned About It All Along

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MoU signed by Bergot

Summary: The EPO’s management prioritises the litigation ‘industry’ and promotes its interests at the expense of those of science, technology, health and so on; in the meantime it also attacks scientists whom it employs or employed as examiners while severely harming their health

THE European Patent Office (EPO) is so deeply defunct; had it not enjoyed a monopoly in Europe (there’s no competition), it would be out of business already. António Campinos has made things worse by further advancing the agenda of software patents in Europe in defiance of courts, European authorities and even the EPC. Yesterday the Office published (warning: epo.org link) this “online consultation on increased flexibility in the timing of the examination process”; they intentionally conflate or mistake timeliness with “quality”; by that standard, no examination at all (instant grant) would be perfect quality. The EPO generally dodges a discussion about the actually important question/matter: the declining quality of European Patents (EPs) that leads to fake EPs.

We needn’t go too far back to see the EPO promoting software patents in Europe; the EPO keeps calling software patents “AI” and similar buzzwords. From yesterday’s tweet:

Patenting #artificialintelligence: how do EPO and industry experts view this fast-growing phenomenon? Find out here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents pic.twitter.com/sevayr2g1W

Here’s another one from yesterday:

New study by @EPOorg shows a sharp rise in patent applications for self-driving vehicles in Europe. Full study available here: http://bit.ly/SDVstudy #AI #AItech #SelfDriving #FutureOfCars pic.twitter.com/jEb9ripgKq

Valea AB’s Anne Keysan has also just promoted this ‘study’ (for software patents “on a car”). That’s just what law firms do, knowing they can profit from overpatenting, at least in the short term.

“That’s just what law firms do, knowing they can profit from overpatenting, at least in the short term.”Team UPC meanwhile spreads the relatively recent lie about the UPC starting in a few months. They keep saying, without any proof and without naming a single source, that a decision from Germany is expected by year’s end even though this false rumour has been refuted by the court itself. Yesterday this lie was noted rather than promoted in a propaganda site which promotes patents on life and nature. It said this:

Turning to the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement and the unitary patent, Schaffner outlined potential scenarios, such as one where the German Constitutional Court rejects a UPC-centred constitutional complaint filed last year.

In June last year, the court announced that it was delaying Germany’s ratification of the UPC Agreement because of the complaint, which was filed by Düsseldorf-based attorney Ingve Stjerna.

“I’m almost sure we won’t get a decision by the end of this year,” said Schaffner during the conference, before adding that the court may “strategically withhold” from making a decision until issues surrounding Brexit are resolved.

As my father once explained to me (in general terms about Germany), in order to save face they’ll never openly admit the abuse, the corruption and the merit of the complaint; they’ll just let time pass and let the subject age, hoping nobody will notice as it fades away. It’s something about pride. So we predict the court will delay the decision just enough for all the UPC hopefuls to lose hope. And for the decision to no longer be relevant. The UPC(A) will die, eventually.

“Team UPC meanwhile spreads the relatively recent lie about the UPC starting in a few months.”In the meantime, those who have long warned about the decline in patent quality (and at the times the UPC as well) are still reprimanded, unemployed, or both. SUEPO has just pointed out yesterday’s article from Barney Dixon; it deals with a letter Techrights published and wrote about last week and to quote Dixon:

In its letter, the CSC remarked on other disciplinary cases against staff representatives and staff union of the EPO (SUEPO) officials and said it “cannot see that the office has learnt from the other cases”.

The CSC specifically referred to the case of Elizabeth Hardon, which was also heard at the ILOAT.

She was dismissed by the EPO, but the ILOAT reversed this, returning the case to the EPO’s disciplinary committee. The tribunal requested that the EPO president consider the possibility of an external reviewer for arbitration or mediation.


Requests for the letter to be published on the CSC announcement area of the EPO’s intranet were denied by EPO principal director of human resources, Elodie Bergot, who said that the letter included the names of individual staff members whose prior explicit consent is required before such publication could take place.

Elodie Bergot is still being Elodie Bergot (threatening staff representatives) and Campinos is totally tolerating it; he didn’t advertise a job opening to replace her and her husband. The Office gossip is that this “infernal” couple runs the Office and Campinos is just an empty face.

Recent releases of old material:

Germany Likes EPO in Munich, Litigation Factory in Düsseldorf and Mannheim (Like Eastern District of Texas)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO money diagram

Summary: The architectural design of Germany as Europe’s patents capital, with billions of euros flowing into the pockets of German law firms, more so with a defunct and unjust Unitary Patent (UPC), which is unconstitutional

THE management of the European Patent Office (EPO) loves or at least tolerates/assists patent trolls. It never even mentions the word “trolls”; in other words, it denies the existence of such abuse/nuisance or simply doesn’t view it as abuse/nuisance. António Campinos and Mr. Iancu might soon meet and have a laugh about the ‘myth’ of patent trolls, then proceed to discussing new buzzwords for software patents in Europe (e.g. “AI”).

We are deeply concerned about the status quo, which Florian Müller is investigating and will report on quite soon. It’s about Germany. His constitutional rights are so far being denied on the face of it. There’s stonewalling.

In the US, unlike in Europe, patent trolls are viewed as a very big deal, not celebrated in so-called ‘IP’ blogs like IP Kat (yes, they actively express support for patent trolls, who are also their clients, albeit without disclosure). As we recently noted, the most vocal people in Team UPC are also working for patent trolls, even the biggest ones in the US.

Stopping trolls isn’t easy. They cannot be (counter)sued because they don’t have any products. The least and the best one can do is target (intercept) their patents. Some months ago Mr. Jain from Unified Patents mentioned Epic IP (IP Edge) and he has just referred to this patent troll as “an IP Edge subsidiary and well-known NPE.” It looks like the inter partes review (IPR) at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is succeeding. To quote:

On November 16, 2018, Unified filed a petition for inter partes review (IPR) against U.S. Patent 6,434,599 owned and asserted by Epic IP, LLC, an IP Edge subsidiary and well-known NPE. The ’599 patent, directed to a system and method for online chatting, has been asserted in district court litigation against Backblaze, Blue Jeans Network, AutoNation, Sharp Electronics, JAND, and Fareportal.

Going back to Europe, the appeal boards (like PTAB) have lost their independence and earlier today Müller published the first of what we expect to be a series of posts about patent trolls in Germany (and Europe as a whole). I had explained to him that the financial benefits of the EPO being based in Germany might be why the top German officials let the EPO abuses carry on, even according to SUEPO, the EPO’s staff union.

He has just published “Call to action: Munich should remain a leading patent litigation venue in Europe” [via Twitter] and “while extorting businesses Europe-wide,” I responsed, “even German businesses that actually make something [...] [Germany is] attracting lots of patent litigation to enrich German lawyers” (or those based in Germany, having come from another country like EPO staff did).

Here are some interesting statistics from Müller, who has been dealing with underlying data recently (top plaintiffs for example):

Roughly two thirds of all European patent infringement cases are brought in Germany. Unlike in the U.S., where patent cases can be filed with any district court in the country, only a limited number of German courts have in rem jurisdiction over such cases, and only three of them really matter: Düsseldorf (this venue gets most cases, but not in the smartphone industry), Mannheim (the primary smartphone venue, where some judges almost deserve an honorary doctorate in radio frequency electronics), and Munich, where I grew up though I’m westbound by now.

Munich has two regional courts. Munich I has in personam jurisdiction over cases involving actions or persons within the city border, and in rem jurisdiction over patent cases; Munich II serves the outskirts (and doesn’t try patent cases).


While the government of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, regardless of whether the state is run by conservatives in name only (as it is now) or by the self-declared political left (as it was before), recognizes patent infringement litigation as a regional economic development factor, the party that has been in government in the state of Bavaria for half a century (CSU) appears to be pretty clueless, which is irreconcilable with its “Laptop und Lederhose” (laptop and Oktoberfest-style leather pants) slogan. Instead of strengthening the “civil law chambers” (“Zivilkammern”) that hear patent cases in Munich, the court’s former chief judge even reduced staff size by one judge, which sounds like a minor difference but has huge practical implications whenever one of the three judges (and they need three to form a panel that can hear and adjudicate a case) is on vacation or ill.

That’s why I’m asking those of you who have a professional interest in Munich remaining a major patent litigation venue, also with a view to the future Unified Patent Court (UPC), to help those provincial folks figure out the problem and, more positively speaking, the potential.


None of this is meant to criticize the work performed by the court’s patent judges. It’s all about what the state government should do in order to let those specialized judges do their work as efficiently as their peers in other major German patent litigation venues.

“Better call for action,” I told him, would “reduce patent litigation by making patents more about information sharing, less about global tax that lawyers pocket billions from…”

Remember that the EPO came into being to advance science and technology, not to make “fat cat” lawyers (like IP Kat writers) even more “fat”; the UPC is a culmination of lawyers’ greed and their goal is to bring litigation magnitude (number, value, reach) to unprecedented levels.

Links 19/11/2018: Linux 4.20 RC3, New Fedora ISO, GNU OrgaDoc 1.0

Posted in News Roundup at 12:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Windows 10’s October Update Breaks Apple’s iCloud

      Windows 10’s October 2018 Update has more bugs. Microsoft won’t offer the update if you have iCloud installed, and Apple won’t let you install iCloud if you’ve already upgraded. You’ll also have trouble if you have F5 VPN software installed.

      This information comes from Microsoft’s own Windows 10 Update History page, where Microsoft is publicly tracking the October Update’s bugs.

      According to Microsoft, Apple iCloud version has an incompatibility with the latest update. You’ll have trouble updating or synchronizing Shared Albums after upgrading. If you try installing iCloud on the October Update, you’ll see an error message saying “iCloud for Windows requires Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10 (April 2018 Update) and earlier.”

    • Microsoft limits functionality for older versions of the Office: Enterprise users to suffer additional subscription costs

      Initially launched as a whole suite for businesses of all kinds, Microsoft Office 365 came out back in 2011, introducing a cloud based software service. Before this, Microsoft only focused on corporate software on the cloud, which was very limited. Since then, Office 365 has gained quite the customer satisfaction, considering it is used in almost all universities for education, in corporate firms, in households, with their sharing plans and otherwise. While this was a good way of revenue generation, Microsoft went a step further, when it launched the new Office 2019 this past September.

      While this new Office opens up features for the users, it also puts a nail in the way for Corporations that have found ways around office subscriptions, limiting them to an older version in order to get full functionality. Microsoft steps in this time around, with the release of their latest version of the Office platform.

  • Server

    • Silicon Sky enhances its managed Linux service

      Silicon Sky, an IT infrastructure provider, has enhanced its managed Linux service for customers who require Linux management and administration skills.

      The Linux managed services will benefit customers that have limited Linux skills.

      Silicon Sky provides the necessary skill set to manage Linux workloads on-premises or in a hosted environment. This service is a remote managed service, operated out of Silicon Sky’s Network Operation Centre.

    • Three Things IBM Must Do To Keep Red Hat Acquisition From Sinking The Company
    • Quickly try Red Hat Decision Manager in your Cloud

      It’s been some time since I last talked with you about business logic engines and using them in application development cloud architectures. At that time, I showcased running JBoss BRMS in a container on Red Hat OpenShift. This gives you the cloud experience, one that’s portable across private and public clouds, but on your own local laptop using Red Hat Container Development Kit.

      The world continues to move forward, a new product has been released which replaced JBoss BRMS with the Red Hat Decision Manager, so now I want to provide a way for you to install this on OpenShift, in the same easy to use demo format.

    • Open for Good: How open source software can unlock the world’s potential for humanitarian good

      In August 2017, I participated in a cross-departmental design thinking session with our Global Services vice president, John Allessio, our vice president of marketing communications, Leigh Day, and numerous other leaders from our design, brand and marketing teams. After a face-to-face, all-day session where ideas burst out of our collective heads left and right, one thing was certain: we were collectively passionate about using open source technology, along with Open Innovation Labs’ focus on people and process, to help solve the world’s grand challenges and to positively impact people in need. We just needed to find the right project to prove it would work.

      Fast-forward to New York City, late that same year. I was attending Red Hat Forum, an amazing event where our customers, partners and communities come together to share what we’re doing, and find new ways to leverage Red Hat to great advantage. I presented on Open Innovation Labs and talked with Red Hat users from Cigna, Marriott, Deutsche Bank, and more.

    • What being a catalyst looks like when you’re CIO

      Last month, along with more than 12,000 Red Hat co-workers across the globe, I celebrated We Are Red Hat Week. It’s a special time for us to recognize and honor the values and spirit that make Red Hat truly unique.

      At Red Hat, our mission is to serve as the catalyst in communities of customers, contributors, and partners making better technology the open source way. We’re unabashedly an open organization, which means we excel by – as our CEO Jim Whitehurst puts it in his book, “The Open Organization” – “engaging participative communities both inside and out.”

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Enters Beta with Hardened Code and Security Fixes

      Red Hat Inc. announced the availability of the beta version for its upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 operating system series, which will be available for sale sometime next year.

      Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 is the next major step in the evolution of Red Hat’s Linux-based, enterprise-ready operating system, promising lots of new features and numerous improvements, along with much-needed hardened code and security fixes to make RHEL more stable, reliable, and supported across all infrastructures.

      “In the four years since Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 redefined the operating system, the IT world has changed dramatically and Red Hat Enterprise Linux has evolved with it. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta once again sets a bar for how the operating system can enable IT innovation,” writes Stefanie Chiras for Red Hat.

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Hits Beta With Improved System Performance

      It has been three and half years since Red Hat last issued a major new version number of its flagship Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform. A lot has happened since RHEL 7 was launched in June 2014, and Red Hat is now previewing its next-generation RHEL 8 platform in beta.

      Among the biggest changes in the last four years across the compute landscape has been the emergence of containers and microservices as being a primary paradigm for application deployment. In RHEL 8, Red Hat is including multiple container tools that it has been developing and proving out in the open-source community, including Buildah (container building), Podman (running containers) and Skopeo (sharing/finding containers).

      Systems management is also getting a boost in RHEL 8 with the Composer features that enable organizations to build and deploy custom RHEL images. Management of RHEL is further enhanced via the new Red Hat Enterprise Linux Web Console, which enables administrators to manage bare metal, virtual, local and remote Linux servers.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux as a Library: Unikernels are Coming

      If you think about it, an operating system kernel is really just a very powerful shared library that offers services to many programs. Of course, it is a very powerful library, but still — its main purpose is to provide services to programs. Your program probably doesn’t use all of the myriad services the kernel provides. Even a typical system might not fully use all the things that are in a typical kernel. Red Hat has a new initiative to bring a technology called unikernels to the forefront. A unikernel is a single application linked with just enough of the kernel for it to execute. As you might expect, this can result in a smaller system and better security.

      It can also lead to better performance. The unikernel doesn’t have to maintain devices and services that are not used. Also, the kernel and the application can run in the same privilege ring. That may seem like a security hole, but if you think about it, the only reason a regular kernel runs at a higher privilege is to protect itself from a malicious application modifying the kernel to do something bad to another application. In this case, there is no other application.

    • Linus Torvalds Comments On STIBP & He’s Not Happy – STIBP Default Will End Up Changing

      It turns out that Linus Torvalds himself was even taken by surprise with the performance hit we’ve outlined on Linux 4.20 as a result of STIBP “Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors” introduction as well as back-porting already to stable series for cross-hyperthread Spectre V2 protection. He doesn’t want this enabled in full by default.

      All of the benchmarking I’ve been doing the past few days to shine the light on the Linux kernel’s STIBP addition appears to be paying off. My tests have found Linux 4.20 to incur significant performance penalties in many workloads — in fact, more so than some of the earlier Spectre and Meltdown mitigations — and STIBP is already being back-ported to stable series like Linux 4.19.2. PHP, Pythom, Java, and many other workloads are measurably affected and even the gaming performance to some extent.

    • Linux 4.20-rc3

      The only unusual thing last week was my travel – not any code issues.
      That caused a few pulls to be delayed by a day or two, but nothing

      And now I’m back home, and 4.20-rc3 is out there.

      The changes in rc3 are pretty tiny, which means that the statistics
      look slightly different from the uysual ones – drivers only account
      for less than a third of the patch, for example. But that really isn’t
      because of anything odd going on anywhere else, it all looks like just
      random noise in the distribution of patches. So we have about one
      third driver updates, one third arch updates, and one third “core”
      (kernel, mm, fs, networking).

    • Linux 4.20-rc3 Kernel Released
    • Feral Interactive Announces Total War: WARHAMMER II to Be Released for Linux Tomorrow, Uber Joined The Linux Foundation, Security Bug Discovered in Instagram, Fedora Taking Submissions for Supplemental Wallpapers and Kernel 4.20-rc3 Is Out

      Linux kernel 4.20-rc3 is out. Linus says the only unusual thing was his travel and that the changes “are pretty tiny”.

    • There Is Finally A User-Space Utility To Make EROFS Linux File-Systems

      Back when Huawei introduced the EROFS Linux file-system earlier this year, there wasn’t any open-source user-space utility for actually making EROFS file-systems. Even when EROFS was merged into the mainline tree, the user-space utility was still non-existent but now that issue has been rectified.

    • The State Of Heterogeneous Memory Management At The End Of 2018

      Heterogeneous Memory Management is the effort going on for more than four years that was finally merged to the mainline Linux kernel last year but is still working on adding additional features and improvements. HMM is what allows for allowing the mirroring of process address spaces, system memory to be transparently used by any device process, and other functionality for GPU computing as well as other device/driver purposes.

      Jerome Glisse at Red Hat who has spearheaded Heterogeneous Memory Management from the start presented at last week’s Linux Plumbers Conference on this unified memory solution.

    • An attempt to create a local Kernel community

      Now I am close to complete one year of Linux Kernel, and one question still bugs me: why does it have to be so hard for someone in a similar condition to become part of this world? I realized that I had great support from many people (especially from my sweet and calm wife) and I also pushed myself very hard. Now, I feel that it is time to start giving back something to society; as a result, I began to promote some small events about free software in the university and the city I live. However, my main project related to this started around two months ago with six undergraduate students at the University of Sao Paulo, IME [3]. My plan is simple: train all of these six students to contribute to the Linux Kernel with the intention to help them to create a local group of Kernel developers. I am excited about this project! I noticed that within a few weeks of mentoring the students they already learned lots of things, and in a few days, they will send out their contributions to the Kernel. I want to write a new post about that in December 2018, reporting the results of this new tiny project and the summary of this one year of Linux Kernel. See you soon :)

    • Linux kernel Spectre V2 defense fingered for massively slowing down unlucky apps on Intel Hyper-Thread CPUs

      Linux supremo Linus Torvalds has voiced support for a kernel patch that limits a previously deployed defense against Spectre Variant 2, a data-leaking vulnerability in modern processors.

      Specifically, the proposed patch disables a particular Spectre V2 defense mechanism by default, rather than switching it on automatically. And here’s the reason for that suggested change: code runs up to 50 per cent slower on Intel CPUs that use Hyper-Threading with the security defense enabled.

      For those not in the know, Hyper-Threading is Chipzilla’s implementation of simultaneous multi-threading (SMT), which splits individual CPU cores into two hardware threads. Thus, each core can mostly run two strands of software at the same time. That means a, say, 12-core processor would have 24 hardware threads, effectively presenting itself as a 24-core chip to the operating system and software.

    • Linux 4.20 kernel slower than its previous stable releases, Spectre flaw to be blamed, according to Phoronix
    • Spectre Patches Whack Intel Performance Hard With Linux 4.20 Kernel
    • Linux Foundation

      • Uber joins Linux Foundation in further nod to open source commitment

        Uber has joined the Linux Foundation as a gold member, firming up a long-standing commitment to open source technologies.

        The ridesharing firm, which is working on more than 300 open source projects, said it was looking forward to collaborate with other open source leaders to solve problems and further promote open source adoption globally.

      • Uber Joins Linux Foundation

        Uber has joined the Linux Foundation as a Gold member, making an annual contribution of $100,000. In addition it has become a member of the TODO Group, an open group of companies that run open source programs.

        Uber may seem an odd recruit to the Linux Foundation but it is in fact an active and committed member of the open source community and is well-known for making use of open source in its core tools.Data provided by company records that it is working on over 320 open-source projects and repositories with 1,500 contributors making over 70,000 commits. The Uber Open Source page at GitHub has details of some of its most important projects.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Vulkan 1.1.93 Released With Two New Extensions, Adds ID For Google “Pastel”

        Continuing to make Sunday mornings more entertaining are new Vulkan documentation updates on their weekly-ish update cycle.

        Vulkan 1.1.93 brings a lot of the usual fixes/clarifications to the growing documentation. There are though some interesting bits: two new extensions and the driver ID being added for “Pastel”.

      • Wayland Secure Output Protocol Proposed For Upstream – HDCP-Like Behavior

        Collabora developer Scott Anderson sent out a “request for comments” patch series that would add a Secure Output Protocol to the Wayland space.

        The Secure Output Protocol is for allowing a Wayland client to tell the compositor to only display if it’s going to a “secure” output, such as for HDCP-like (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) configurations, but there is no mandate at the protocol level about what is the definition of secure — if anything.

        This does not impose any DRM per se by Wayland but is mostly intended for set-top-boxes and other closed systems where a Wayland client can reasonably trust the compositor. The Wayland Secure Output Protocol is based upon the work done by Google on their Chromium Wayland code.

      • RADV Lands Another Fast Clear Optimization, Helping An Operation 18x

        Samuel Pitoiset of Valve’s open-source Linux graphics driver team has landed a patch providing another optimization around fast clears for the Radeon “RADV” Vulkan driver within Mesa 19.0.

        This latest nearly 300 line patch allows for fast clears on the depth part of a surface or the stencil part when HTILE is enabled. For now though it’s only enabled on Vega/GFX9 due to no testing on GFX8 hardware.

    • Benchmarks

      • 20-Way AMD / NVIDIA Linux Gaming Benchmarks For The 2018 Holidays

        If you are hoping to pick-up a new graphics card during the upcoming holiday sales, here is a 20-way NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon Linux gaming benchmark comparison using a wide assortment of GPUs while using the very newest graphics drivers and a variety of OpenGL/Vulkan titles.

        In preparation for the Radeon RX 590 launch this week, I’ve been re-testing my available graphics cards on the latest AMD/NVIDIA drivers and newest kernel (unlike some Windows sites that may regurgitate their existing data points for months at a time, Phoronix tests are always done fresh on the current/latest components). But with the Radeon RX 590 currently being a dud on Linux with the current AMDGPU kernel code, I decided to keep testing including some older graphics cards to make for this twenty-way comparison ahead of Black Friday sales and the holidays.

      • Void Linux, Solus, Manjaro, Antergos, Sabayon & Clear Linux Put To A Performance Battle

        Given last week’s new images release of the rolling-release, systemd-free, original-creation Void Linux I decided to take it for a spin with some fresh benchmarking as it had been two years or so since last trying out that Linux distribution with its XBPS packaging system. For seeing how the performance compares, I benchmarked it against some of the other primarily enthusiast/rolling-release/performant Linux distributions including Antergos, Clear Linux, Debian Buster Testing, Fedora Workstation 29, Manjaro 18.0, Sabayon Linux, Solus, and Ubuntu 18.10.

        These nine Linux distributions were tested on the new Intel Core i9 9900K eight-core / sixteen-thread processor. The i9-9900K was running at its stock speeds with the ASUS PRIME Z390-A motherboard, 2 x 8GB DDR4-3000 memory, Samsung 970 EVO 256GB NVMe SSD, and Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Best Linux Desktop Environments: Strong and Stable

      A desktop environment is a collection of disparate components that integrate together. They bundle these components to provide a common graphical user interface with elements such as icons, toolbars, wallpapers, and desktop widgets. Additionally, most desktop environments include a set of integrated applications and utilities.

      Desktop environments (now abbreviated as DE) provide their own window manager, system software that controls the placement and appearance of windows within a windowing system. They also provide a file manager which organizes, lists, and locates files and directories. Other aspects include a background provider, a panel to provide a menu and display information, as well as a setting/configuration manager to customize the environment.

      Ultimately, a DE is a piece of software. While they are more complicated than most other types of software, they are installed in the same way.

    • eDEX-UI: A Fully Functioning Sci-Fi Computer Interface Inspired By TRON Legacy

      eDEX-UI is an application that resembles a Sci-Fi computer interface, which creates the illusion of a desktop environment without windows. It’s inspired by the DEX-UI project (which hasn’t been updated since the beginning of 2015), and the TRON Legacy movie effects. The application uses Electron, and runs on Linux, Windows and macOS.

      eDEX-UI runs a real terminal and displays real, live system information like the CPU and memory usage, temperature, top processes, public IP address and a live network traffic graph, and more, on top of a movie-like futuristic desktop interface. A file browser is included, which is synchronized with the embedded terminal: navigating to any folder in the embedded file browser makes the terminal navigate to that folder, and vice-versa.

      An on-screen keyboard is also incorporated in its GUI, because eDEX-UI is meant to be used with a touchscreen, though multitouch doesn’t currently work. The application works without any issues with regular displays – when using a physical keyboard, pressing keys will illuminate the virtual keyboard.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • libqaccessibilityclient v0.3.0

        Hi, I’ve been asked to make a new release of libqaccessibilityclient, which seemed like a good idea. So here we go: https://download.kde.org/stable/libqaccessibilityclient/ – version 0.3.0 is now available. I’d like to say thanks to the KDE sysadmins for being super fast.

        Now if I wasn’t involved with the accessibility project, I’d have no clue what this is about… so What is libqaccessibilityclient?

      • Video Editing for foss-gbg

        Editing videos for foss-gbg and foss-north has turned into something that I do on almost a montly basis. I’ve tried a few workflows, but landed in using kdenlive and, when needed, Audacity. I’m not a very advanced audio person, so if kdenlive would incorporate basic noise reduction and a compressor, I stay within one tool.

        Before I describe the actual process, I want to mention something about the hardware involved. There are so many things that you can do when producing this type of contents. However, all the pieces that you add to the puzzle is another point of failure. The motto is KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Hence, we use a single video camera with an integrated microphone. This is either an action cam, or a JVC video camera. In most cases this just works. In some cases the person talking has a microphone and then we try to place the camera close to a speaker. It has happened that we’ve recorded someone whispering just by the camera…

        As we don’t have a dedicated microphone for the speaker, we get an audio stream that includes the reaction of the audience. That is in my opinion a good thing. It captures the mood of the event. However, we also get quite a lot of background noise which is bad. For this, I rely on this workflow from Rich Bowen. Basically, I extract the audio stream from the recording, massage it in Audacity, and then re-introduce it.

      • KDE Plasma, Dolphin & Discover Pick Up More Features Ahead Of The Holidays

        It’s been another busy week in the KDE development space ahead of the holidays and developer Nate Graham has done another great job detailing all of the changes made over the past week for this open-source desktop environment.

      • KDE neon upgrade – From 16.04 to 18.04

        I am quite happy with the KDE neon upgrade, going from the 16.04 to the 18.04 base. I think it’s good on several levels, including improved hardware support and even slightly better performance. Plus there were no crashes or regressions of any kind, always a bonus. This means that neon users now have a fresh span of time to enjoy their non-distro distro, even though it’s not really committing to any hard dates, so the LTS is also only sort of LTS in that sense. It’s quite metaphysical.

        On a slightly more serious note, this upgrade was a good, positive experience. I semi-accidentally tried to ruin it, but the system recovered remarkably, the post-upgrade results are all sweet, and you have a beautiful, fast Plasma desktop, replete with applications and dope looks and whatnot. I’m happy, and we shall bottle that emotion for when the need arises, and in the Linux world it does happen often, I shall have an elixir of rejuvenation to sip upon. KDE neon, a surprisingly refined non-distro distro.

      • Contributing to the kde userbase wiki

        This is the story about how I started more than one month ago contributing to the KDE project.

        So, one month ago, I found a task on the Phabricator instance from KDE, about the deplorable state of the KDE userbase wiki. The wiki contains a lot of screenshot dating back to the KDE 4 era and some are even from the KDE 3 era. It’s a problem, because a wiki is something important in the user experience and can be really useful for new users and experienced ones alike.

        Lucky for us, even though Plasma and the KDE applications did change a lot in the last few years, most of the changes are new features and UI/UX improvements, so most of the information are still up-to-date. So most of the work is only updating screenshots. But up-to-date screenshots are also quite important, because when the user see the old screenshots, he can think that the instructions are also outdated.

        So I started, updating the screenshots one after the other. (Honestly when I started, I didn’t think it would take so long, not because the process was slow or difficult, but because of the amount of outdated screenshots.)

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Unite Shell: Making GNOME Shell More Like Ubuntu’s Unity

        If you are/were a fan of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment, Unite-Shell is one of the most promising efforts to date for making the current GNOME 3 stack more like Unity.

        The Unite Shell is an extension to GNOME Shell for configuring it to look just like Ubuntu’s Unity 7. While it made waves a bit earlier this month, a Phoronix reader reported in over the weekend just how good it looks and works that it’s worthy of an extra shout-out.

      • GNOME 3.32 Mutter Should Perform A Lot Better For DisplayLink/USB-Display Type Setups

        An improvement was merged today to GNOME’s Mutter compositor / window manager that should allow it to perform much better in multi-GPU setups, particularly for scenarios where the display is driven via a USB-based DisplayLink adapter.

        The change to Mutter’s renderer code uses Cogl for the CPU copy path rather than the OpenGL glreadPixels() function. Plus it adds some pixel format conversion tables between DRM and Cogl formats.

  • Distributions

    • Fedora

      • Testers needed for New Fedora 29 updated isos

        The Fedora Respin Sig has been working on being able to produce Fedora 29 updated isos. This past week we have been able to produce updated isos. We are looking for Testers to help test the isos for release. If you are willing to help please join us in #fedora-respins on the Freenode irc network tomorrow 20181119.

      • Video: Container Security

        Red Hat’s Dan (Mr. SELinux) Walsh gave a talk about Container Security at the USENIX LISA 2018 conference.

      • Submissions now open for the Fedora 30 supplemental wallpapers

        Each release, the Fedora Design team works with the community on a set of 16 additional wallpapers. Users can install and use these to supplement the standard wallpaper. Submissions are now open for the Fedora 30 Supplemental Wallpapers, and will remain open until January 31, 2019

        Have you always wanted to start contributing to Fedora but don’t know how? Submitting a supplemental wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to start as a Fedora contributor. Keep reading to learn how.

      • F29-20181119 updated isos released

        The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F29-20181119 Live ISOs, carrying the 4.19.2-200 kernel.

        This set of updated isos will save about 850MBs of updates after install. (for new installs.)

    • Debian Family

      • Lars Wirzenius: Retiring from Debian

        I’ve started the process of retiring from Debian. Again. This will be my third time. It’ll take a little while I take care of things to do this cleanly: uploading packages to set Maintainer to QA, removing myself from Plant Debian, sending the retirement email to -private, etc.

        I’ve had a rough year, and Debian has also stopped being fun for me. There’s a number of Debian people saying and doing things that I find disagreeable, and the process of developing Debian is not nearly as nice as it could be. There’s way too much friction pretty much everywhere.

        For example, when a package maintainer uploads a package, the package goes into an upload queue. The upload queue gets processed every few minutes, and the packages get moved into an incoming queue. The incoming queue gets processed every fifteen minutes, and packages get imported into the master archive. Changes to the master archive get pushed to main mirrors every six hours. Websites like lintian.debian.org, the package tracker, and the Ultimate Debian Database get updated at time. (Or their updates get triggered, but it might take longer for the update to actually happen. Who knows. There’s almost no transparency.)

        The developer gets notified, by email, when the upload queue gets processed, and when the incoming queue gets processed. If they want to see current status on the websites (to see if the upload fixed a problem, for example), they may have to wait for many more hours, possibly even a couple of days.

      • Derivatives

        • deepin 15.8 GNU/Linux Download Links, Mirrors, and Torrents

          On 15 November 2018, deepin 15.8 has been released. The ISO size is now reduced one more time to 2.1GB compared to the previous release of 2.5GB. It includes new design on the dock and the right panel. Here’s download links with mirrors and torrents. Enjoy!

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Linux: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will be supported for a full decade

            Mark Shuttleworth has announced that Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for ten years. Long Term Support releases of Ubuntu usually enjoy just five years of support, so this doubling is highly significant.

            Shuttleworth — the founder of Canonical and Ubuntu — made the announcement at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, and the change is a tactical maneuver that will help Ubuntu better compete against the likes of Red Hat/IBM. It is also an acknowledgement that many industries are working on projects that will not see the light of day for many years, and they need the reassurance of ongoing support from their Linux distro. Ubuntu can now offer this.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS comes with 10 years of support

            If you are worried about the manufacturer of your operating system not providing Long Term Support (LTS) it might be time to ditch it and jump over to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS which will be supported for 10 https://www.geeky-gadgets.com/ubuntu-18-04-lts-19-11-2018/years into the future. The 10 year support cycle has been created by the development team at Canonical to make Ubuntu a more attractive option for hardware developers creating Internet of Things appliances and specific industries including financial services and telecommunications, says Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.

            “Ubuntu is an open source software operating system that runs from the desktop, to the cloud, to all your internet connected things. From home control to drones, robots and industrial systems, Ubuntu Core provides robust security, app stores and reliable updates. Ubuntu makes development easy, and snap packages make Ubuntu Core secure and reliable for widely distributed devices.”

          • Mark Shuttleworth Says Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Will Be Supported for 10 Years

            Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth announced last week at OpenStack Summit Berlin 2018 that his Linux company will support the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system for no less than ten years.

            During a keynote at the OpenStack Summit 2018 conference, which took place last week in Berlin, Germany, at CityCube, from November 13th to 15th, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth revealed the fact that the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) operating system series will be supported with software and security updates for 10 years, until April 2028.

            “I’m also delighted to announce that Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for a full 10 years. In part because of the very long time horizons in some of those industries, financial services and telecommunications, but also in the IoT where manufacturing lines are being deployed that will be in production for at least a decade,” said Shuttleworth.

          • OpenStack 2018: Mark Shuttleworth chats to The Reg about 10-year support plans, Linus Torvalds and Russian rockets

            Mark Shuttleworth delivered an unashamed plug for Ubuntu while cheerfully throwing a little shade on the competition at the OpenStack Berlin 2018 summit last week.

            If Nick Barcet of Red Hat had elicited gasps by suggesting the OpenStack Foundation (OSF) might consider releasing updates a bit more frequently, Shuttleworth sent eyebrows skywards by announcing that the latest Long Term Support (LTS) edition of Ubuntu, 18.04, would get 10 years of support.

          • Tuning your Intel Graphics Card in Ubuntu 18.04

            In the computing world things move at a brisk pace. To appeal to business users and conservative types like me Ubuntu releases the Long Term Support (LTS) versions of Ubuntu the latest of which is Ubuntu 18.04 which came out early this year. Ubuntu 16.04 for which I wrote the guide, is the LTS version prior to 18.04.

            It’s a little bit late to say this now but Ubuntu 18.04 came with a lot of changes including the infamous switchback to GNOME and the subsequent death of Unity. Another not so famous change was the fact that Intel drivers now ship with the kernel. This is not an Ubuntu specific change per se which explains why it was more of a footnote and not a headline in the Ubuntu world.

          • 4 Best open source & free YouTube Downloader for Ubuntu Linux

            Downloading YouTube Videos on Ubuntu Linux is not that much difficult as it appears. Lots of newbies think that Windows is the only platform to download online Youtube videos due to the availability of tons of free YouTube downloader software for it. However, after going through this article their opinion would be changed forever because not only normal videos but 4K videos can be downloaded on the Linux platforms as easy as on Windows.

          • Beginner’s Guide: How To Install Ubuntu Linux 18.10
          • Canonical Outs New Kernel Security Updates for All Supported Ubuntu Releases

            Available for Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish), Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver), Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus), Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr), and Ubuntu 12.04 ESM (Precise Pangolin) on 32-bit, 64-bit, Raspbbery Pi 2, AWS (Amazon Web Services), GCP (Google Cloud Platform), and cloud environments, the new Linux kernel security updates fix multiple issues that might put your computer and data at risk.

            Affecting both Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) and Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) releases, the kernel security patch address just one issue, namely a vulnerablity (CVE-2018-15471) discovered by Felix Wilhelm in Linux kernel’s Xen netback driver, which improperly performed input validation under certain circumstances, thus allowing an attacker to crash the vulnerable system via a denial of service (DoS attack) or possible execute arbitrary code.

          • Running Ubuntu 18.04 on the One Mix 2S Yoga mini laptop

            The One Netbook One Mix 2S Yoga looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the One Mix Yoga. But the new model supports USB Type-C charging, has a fingerprint sensor, and sports a much faster processor and speedier storage — and the upgrades result in significantly better performance.

            It turns out that’s not the only thing that’s different — the new model also has slightly better out-of-the-box support for Ubuntu 18.04 Linux.

          • egmde: a project that uses Mir

            Display servers solve a large and complex problem. Mir provides a broad and powerful library to solve those problems, but there is a learning curve to use Mir effectively. It is really helpful to have a step-by-step example that covers enough of the issues to get a decent start.
            To address this need there’s a set of blog posts based around the development of “egmde” [Example Mir Desktop Environment]: a very simple shell that can either form the basis of further development or provide a platform for experimentation. Note that egmde is not a complete desktop: the tutorials (and the code in egmde) don’t cover aspects of a desktop environment that are not related to using Mir. Missing functionality includes: integrating into the system for screen locking & suspend, policy kit integration, internationalization, etc.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 554
          • Ubuntu 18.04 Gets 10 Year Lifespan Ahead of Canonical IPO

            At a keynote in Berlin, Canonical’s founder Mark Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is getting a 10 year support period, which is 5 years longer than normal. This extension is specifically aimed at the IoT, financial services and telecommunications market, where products will often operate for many years without significant changes. He also reiterated “Canonical’s promise to easily enable OpenStack customers to migrate from one version of OpenStack to another,” and promised to support versions of OpenStack from 2014 and on. Interestingly, these promises come ahead of Canonical’s planned IPO in 2019. Mark seems to think that Ubuntu is a real competitor with Red Hat now, which IBM just recently acquired, and he’s quite enthusiastic about the future of Ubuntu. The full Canonical keynote can be seen on Ubuntu’s blog here. Thanks to dgz for the tip.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Development Setup: Ubuntu MATE 19.04 + Ayatana Indicators

              This is a quick HowTo that shows how to setup a Ubuntu MATE 19.04 development setup in which Ubuntu System Indicators [1] get replaced by Ayatana System Indicators [1].

              The current development strategy is to use nightly DEB packages provided by the Arctica Project and Ayatana Indicators upstream on top of Ubuntu MATE 19.04 and see what details still require work.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenCV 4.0 Released As The Overhauled Computer Vision Library, Adds Experimental Vulkan

    OpenCV 4.0 is now officially out as the widely-used real-time computer vision library.

    This is a big update for OpenCV and also marks converting it into a C++11 library. Besides shifting more to a C++ focus, OpenCV 4.0 also has performance improvements, DNN improvements, a QR code detector, a Kinect Fusion module, and various other additions.

  • Google’s Move To Open Source BERT May Change NLP Forever

    In 1954, with the success of the Georgetown experiment in which the scientists used a machine to translate random sentences from Russian to English, the field of computational linguistics took giant strides towards building an intelligent machine capable of recognising and translating speech. These models were even used in translations during the Nuremberg trials. Nonetheless, the future of machine translation was nowhere close to the forecast due to sluggish computational devices and scarcity of data to train on.


    Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or BERT, which was open sourced earlier this month, offers a new ground to embattle the intricacies involved in understanding the language models.

    Pre-training a binarised prediction model helps understanding common NLP tasks like Question Answering or Natural language Inference.

    Unidirectional models are efficiently trained by predicting each word conditioned on the previous words in the sentence. However, it is not possible to train bidirectional models by simply conditioning each word on its previous and next words, since this would allow the word that’s being predicted to indirectly “see itself” in a multi-layer model.

  • Stumbling into Linux and open source from Vietnam to Amsterdam

    Since the beginning of time… no, really, just the beginning of Opensource.com in 2010, our writers have shared personal stories of how they got into open source or Linux (many times both).

    Some had friends in school remark “You don’t know Linux? What’s going on with you, dude?” Some came in through the gateway of gaming, and others were simply looking for alternatives.

    When I came on the scene in 2012 as a newcomer to open source and Linux, I saw these stories as pure gold. They get to the heart of why people are so passionate about it and why they love talking about it with other people who “get it.” Now I’m one of those people, too.

  • Open Source 2018: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

    Recently, IBM announced that it would be acquiring Red Hat for $34 billion, a more-than-60-percent premium over Red Hat’s market cap, and a nearly 12x multiple on revenues. In many ways, this was a clear sign that 2018 was the year commercial open source has arrived, if there was ever previously a question about it before.

    Indeed, the Red Hat transaction is just the latest in a long line of multi-billion dollar outcomes this year. To date, more than $50 billion dollars have been exchanged in open source IPOs and mergers and acquisitions (M&A); and all of the M&A deals are considered “mega deals” — those valued over $5 billion.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • 5 Best Chrome Extensions For Reading News In 2019

        The internet is the major source of news for many of us, and we spend a lot of time reading articles to stay updated. There are many news sources available that offer various categories of news. However, it is a time-consuming task to open each of those websites.

    • Mozilla

      • Daniel Stenberg: I’m leaving Mozilla

        It’s been five great years, but now it is time for me to move on and try something else.

        During these five years I’ve met and interacted with a large number of awesome people at Mozilla, lots of new friends! I got the chance to work from home and yet work with a global team on a widely used product, all done with open source. I have worked on internet protocols during work-hours (in addition to my regular spare-time working with them) and its been great! Heck, lots of the HTTP/2 development and the publication of that was made while I was employed by Mozilla and I fondly participated in that. I shall forever have this time ingrained in my memory as a very good period of my life.


        I had worked on curl for a very long time already before joining Mozilla and I expect to keep doing curl and other open source things even going forward. I don’t think my choice of future employer should have to affect that negatively too much, except of course in periods.

        With me leaving Mozilla, we’re also losing Mozilla as a primary sponsor of the curl project, since that was made up of them allowing me to spend some of my work days on curl and that’s now over.

        Short-term at least, this move might increase my curl activities since I don’t have any new job yet and I need to fill my days with something…

      • 6 Essential Tips for Safe Online Shopping

        The turkey sandwiches are in the fridge, and you didn’t argue with your uncle. It’s time to knock out that gift list, and if you’re like millions of Americans, you’re probably shopping online.

      • Elementary Bugs

        Mozilla is a well-known open-source organization, and thus draws a lot of interested contributors. But Mozilla is huge, and even the more limited scope of Firefox development is a wilderness to a newcomer. We have developed various tools to address this, one of which was an Outreachy project by Fienny Angelina called Codetribute.

        The site aggregates bugs that experienced developers have identified as good for new contributors (“good first bugs”, although often they are features or tasks) across Bugzilla and Github. It’s useful both for self-motivated contributors and for those looking for starting point for a deeper engagement with Mozilla (an internship or even a full-time job).

        However, it’s been tricky to help developers identify good-first-bugs.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Google, Amazon and Facebook Embrace Open Source Software As Future

      Open source coding lets users collaborate on software code, giving them the ability to store and edit code independently. It is designed to make projects built with its software publicly accessible, and has been the key to success for companies like Airbnb and Uber, which have made their fortunes by offering services, rather than the software itself.

      “The previous generation of developers grew up in a world where there was a battle between closed and open source,” said GitHub’s Ben Balter, a researcher with the web-based hosting service for source code and open source software projects. “Today, that is no longer true.”

    • AWS Developing New Services Amid Open-Source Tensions

      Companies that manage open-source software have a message for cloud computing providers like Amazon: pay up, share your code or stop using our technology for free.

    • AWS develops new services amid open-source pushback

      Last month, MongoDB changed its licensing to put the Community Server software under a SSPL license, which lets cloud providers offer MongoDB as a service but only if they open source all of the related code or create a commercial agreement.

    • Urvika Gola: Attending ReactConf’18 in Henderson, Nevada

      Day 2 of React Conf, started with talking about how performance is integral to UX. Code Splitting, a concept were instead of sending the whole code in the initial payload, we send what’s needed to render the first screen and later, lazily loading the rest based on subsequent navigation. A most common problem while implementing code splitting can be ‘what do you display to the user if the view hasn’t finished loading?’ Maybe a spinner, loader, placeholder…?? But lot of these degrades the UX. Then came Concurrent React into the picture, Concurrent React can work on multiple tasks at a time and switch between them according to priority. Concurrent React can partially render a tree without committing the result and does not block the main thread.

    • OpenStack Rebranding Infrastructure Team as OpenDev

      OpenStack is one of the largest open source efforts in the world, with a large infrastructure that is used to build, develop and test the cloud platform. The infrastructure effort is now being rebranded as OpenDev as OpenStack continues to evolve.

      In a session, at the OpenStack Summit in Berlin, Germany last week, Clark Boylan team lead for the OpenStack Infrastructure team outlined how things are set to change as OpenStack moves beyond its core project to embrace a broader group of Open Infrastructure efforts.

      “We basically act as beta testers for the infrastructure and make sure things work,” Boylan. “If it works for us, it’ll probably work for you too.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Enters Beta with New User Interface Design Called “Notebookbar”

      Expected to arrive next year on February, LibreOffice 6.2 will be the second semi-major update to the LibreOffice 6 office suite series, bringing a bunch of enhancements and new features to make your daily office tasks easier and more enjoyable. One of these new features is an optional UI design called the Notebookbar.

      The Notebookbar UI is included in the beta version of LibreOffice 6.2 if you want to take it for a test drive (details below), along with the KDE Plasma 5 integration and numerous other improvements we talked about in a previous article. Of course, LibreOffice 6.2 will also include lots of stability and reliability updates.

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Branched, The Beta Dance Begins & x86 32-bit Builds Are Deprecated

      LibreOffice 6.2 was branched from master this weekend and the first beta release tagged for this open-source, cross-platform office suite.

      LibreOffice 6.2 Beta 1 is now being spun while a possible second beta may come in early December. At least three release candidates will be coming over the next two months while these open-source office suite developers hope to have out LibreOffice 6.2 either at the very end of January or in early February.

      The beta one tag and latest 6.2 bits are available from libreoffice-6-2. The branching also marks the hard feature freeze for this release. LibreOffice 6.2 was branched from master this weekend and the first beta release tagged for this open-source, cross-platform office suite.

      LibreOffice 6.2 Beta 1 is now being spun while a possible second beta may come in early December. At least three release candidates will be coming over the next two months while these open-source office suite developers hope to have out LibreOffice 6.2 either at the very end of January or in early February.

      The beta one tag and latest 6.2 bits are available from libreoffice-6-2. The branching also marks the hard feature freeze for this release.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Review: NetBSD 8.0

      NetBSD, like its close cousins (FreeBSD and OpenBSD) does not do a lot of hand holding or automation. It offers a foundation that will run on most CPUs and we can choose to build on that foundation. I mention this because, on its own, NetBSD does not do much. If we want to get something out of it, we need to be willing to build on its foundation – we need a project. This is important to keep in mind as I think going into NetBSD and thinking, “Oh I’ll just explore around and expand on this as I go,” will likely lead to disappointment. I recommend figuring out what you want to do before installing NetBSD and making sure the required tools are available in the operating system’s repositories.

      Some of the projects I embarked on this week (using ZFS and setting up file sharing) worked well. Others, like getting multimedia support and a full-featured desktop, did not. Given more time, I’m sure I could find a suitable desktop to install (along with the required documentation to get it and its services running), or customize one based on one of the available window managers. However, any full featured desktop is going to require some manual work. Media support was not great. The right players and codecs were there, but I was not able to get audio to play smoothly.

      My main complaint with NetBSD relates to my struggle to get some features working to my satisfaction: the documentation is scattered. There are four different sections of the project’s website for documentation (FAQs, The Guide, manual pages and the wiki). Whatever we are looking for is likely to be in one of those, but which one? Or, just as likely, the tutorial we want is not there, but is on a forum or blog somewhere. I found that the documentation provided was often thin, more of a quick reference to remind people how something works rather than a full explanation.

      As an example, I found a couple of documents relating to setting up a firewall. One dealt with networking NetBSD on a LAN, another explored IPv6 support, but neither gave an overview on syntax or a basic guide to blocking all but one or two ports. It seemed like that information should already be known, or picked up elsewhere.

      Newcomers are likely to be a bit confused by software management guides for the same reason. Some pages refer to using a tool called pkg_add, others use pkgsrc and its make utility, others mention pkgin. Ultimately, these tools each give approximately the same result, but work differently and yet are mentioned almost interchangeably. I have used NetBSD before a few times and could stumble through these guides, but new users are likely to come away confused.

      One quirk of NetBSD, which may be a security feature or an inconvenience, depending on one’s point of view, is super user programs are not included in regular users’ paths. This means we need to change our path if we want to be able to run programs typically used by root. For example, shutdown and mount are not in regular users’ paths by default. This made checking some things tricky for me.

      Ultimately though, NetBSD is not famous for its convenience or features so much as its flexibility. The operating system will run on virtually any processor and should work almost identically across multiple platforms. That gives NetBSD users a good deal of consistency across a range of hardware and the chance to experiment with a member of the Unix family on hardware that might not be compatible with Linux or the other BSDs.

    • 2018 LLVM Developers’ Meeting Videos Now Online

      For those wishing to learn more about the LLVM compiler stack and open-source compiler toolchains in general, the videos from October’s LLVM Developers’ Meeting 2018 in San Jose are now online.

    • OpenBSD in Stereo with Linux VFIO

      Now, after some extensive reverse engineering and debugging with the help of VFIO on Linux, I finally have audio playing out of both speakers on OpenBSD.


    • GNU OrgaDoc 1.0 Released

      I am pleased to announce GNU OrgaDoc version 1.0, a stable release. Version 1.0 is the first release of a rewrite from Eiffel to C89.

    • GNU OrgaDoc 1.0 Released For Managing Documents Between Computers

      GNU OrgaDoc is a means of copying and maintaining a pool of documents between a set of computers. Document synchronization is handled by rsync or unison and is done without needing a database server or other components.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Open Source Cloudify 4.5 Extends its Cloud Native Orchestration to the Network – from Core to Edge [Ed: Another example of proprietary and "Community" edition for openwashing purposes]
    • Why some open-source companies are considering a more closed approach

      “I would put it in a very blunt way: for many years we were suckers, and let them take what we developed and make tons of money on this.”

      Redis Labs CEO Ofer Bengal doesn’t mince words. His company, known for its open-source in-memory database, has been around for eight years, an eternity in the fast-changing world of modern enterprise software.

      Cloud computing was very much underway in 2011, but it was still a tool for early adopters or startups that couldn’t afford to bet millions on servers to incubate a promising but unproven idea. Most established companies were still building their own tech infrastructure the old-fashioned way, but they were increasingly realizing that open-source software would allow them to build that infrastructure with open-source components in ways that were much more flexible and cheaper than proprietary packages from traditional enterprise software companies.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Envoy and gRPC-Web: a fresh new alternative to REST

      Personally, I’d been intrigued by gRPC-Web since I first read about it in a blog post on the Improbable engineering blog. I’ve always loved gRPC’s performance, scalability, and IDL-driven approach to service interaction and have longed for a way to eliminate REST from the service path if possible. I’m excited that gRPC-Web is ready for prime time because I think it opens up some extremely promising horizons in web development.

    • RcppMsgPack 0.2.3

      Another maintenance release of RcppMsgPack got onto CRAN today. Two new helper functions were added and not unlike the previous 0.2.2 release in, some additional changes are internal and should allow compilation on all CRAN systems.

      MessagePack itself is an efficient binary serialization format. It lets you exchange data among multiple languages like JSON. But it is faster and smaller. Small integers are encoded into a single byte, and typical short strings require only one extra byte in addition to the strings themselves. RcppMsgPack brings both the C++ headers of MessagePack as well as clever code (in both R and C++) Travers wrote to access MsgPack-encoded objects directly from R.


  • Sole and Despotic Dominion: Fiction
  • Hardware

    • New iPad Pro Reportedly Suffering From Bending Issues

      It has not been one month since Apple launched its latest iPad Pro models. It has been found that the nearly bezel-less iPad Pro models are prone to bending issues.

      In a durability test video by the famous YouTuber JerryRigEverything, iPad Pro models bent when a slight force was applied to it. Many new iPad owners also took to MacRumor’s forum to complain about the bending of the latest iPad.

    • How Apple tricked me into buying a new MacBook Air

      I have been using MacBook Air laptops for several years now and I like them much better than anything in the Windows space. However, my experience has been far from problem-free and I am angry at what I believe is a deceptive business practice designed to screw money out of loyal users.


      So for $175 I got my computer completely fixed after being told by both Apple and an Authorised Apple repairer that it could not be salvaged. Furthermore, I subsequently discovered through online inquiry that this particular keyboard had a design fault and that I was not to blame at all for the damage. I had been tricked into buying a new computer needlessly.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Anti-Choice Politicians Are Taking Direct Aim at Roe v. Wade

      Anti-abortion politicians wasted no time going after Roe v. Wade after the midterm elections. Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed a ban on abortion starting at six weeks in pregnancy, which would effectively ban almost all abortions given that most people don’t know they are even pregnant at that time.

      The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is likely to pass. If it does, the outgoing governor could veto it, but the legislature may have enough votes to override it. And if the legislature doesn’t override the veto, the incoming governor has said he would sign it.

      The bill is blatantly unconstitutional. If it passes, we will challenge it, and it will likely be blocked by the lower courts. But make no mistake: This bill is designed to directly challenge the fundamental constitutional right to abortion. As the bill’s author said, “We literally crafted this legislation to be the arrow in the heart of Roe v. Wade. It is made to come before the United States Supreme Court.”

      In other words, the bill’s supporters know this bill is unconstitutional, but they passed it anyway in hopes that it will make its way through the courts, eventually arriving at the Supreme Court.

      Anti-abortion politicians at the state level are clearly emboldened by the Trump administration’s extreme anti-abortion and anti-woman policies. Just like Ohio, the Trump administration wasted no time to unleash more attacks on reproductive health care access after the midterms.

  • Security

    • 50 countries vow to fight cybercrime – US, Russia don’t

      Fifty nations and over 150 tech companies pledged Monday to do more to fight criminal activity on the internet, including interference in elections and hate speech. But the United States, Russia and China are not among them.

      The group of governments and companies pledged in a document entitled the “Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace” to work together to prevent malicious activities like online censorship and the theft of trade secrets.

    • Researchers Find Critical Vulnerability In Optical In-Display Fingerprint Sensors, Allowed Attackers To Unlock Devices Instantly

      In-Display Fingerprint sensors seem like an upcoming trend in smartphones. Conventional fingerprint sensors have become quite reliable over the years, but it’s still limited by design. With conventional fingerprint sensors, you need to locate the sensor and then unlock your phone. With the scanner placed under the display, unlocking the device feels much more natural. The technology is still in its infancy and hasn’t really matured yet, but a few companies like OnePlus have already put out phones with In-Display fingerprint sensors.

      Optic sensors used in most of the In-Display fingerprint scanners these days aren’t very accurate and some researchers even discovered a big vulnerability in them, which was patched recently. The vulnerability discovered by Tencent’s Xuanwu Lab gave attackers a free pass, allowing them to bypass the lock screen completely.

      Yang Yu, a researcher from the same team stated that this was a persistent problem present in every In-Display Fingerprint scanner module they tested, also adding that the vulnerability is a design fault of In-display fingerprint sensors.

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 123 – Talking about Kubernetes and container security with Liz Rice

      Josh and Kurt talk to Liz Rice about Kubernetes and container security. How did we get where we are today, what’s new and exciting today, and where do we think things are going.

    • New Instagram Bug Raises Security Questions
    • Instagram’s Data Download Tool Accidentally Leaked Users’ Passwords

      As reported by The Information, the photo-sharing app had a security flaw which unknowingly led to the revelation of some users’ passwords. The new bug seems to have affected a recently-introduced security tool by Instagram- ‘Download Your Data’ which allows users to download his or her data from the app.

    • You Know What? Go Ahead and Use the Hotel Wi-Fi

      This advice comes with plenty of qualifiers. If you’re planning to commit crimes online at the Holiday Inn Express, or to visit websites that you’d rather people not know you frequented, you need to take precautionary steps that we’ll get to in a minute. Likewise, if you’re a high-value target of a sophisticated nation state—look at you!—stay off of public Wi-Fi at all costs. (Also, you’ve probably already been hacked some other way, sorry.)

      But for the rest of us? You’re probably OK. That’s not because hotel and airport Wi-Fi networks have necessarily gotten that much more secure. The web itself has.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Beyond Passwords: 2FA, U2F and Google Advanced Protection
    • Dependencies in open source

      The topic of securing your open source dependencies just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. I always expect it to get less attention for some reason, and every year I’m wrong about what’s happening out there. I remember when I first started talking about this topic, nobody really cared about it. It’s getting a lot more traction these days, especially as we see stories about open source dependencies being wildly out of date and some even being malicious backdoors.

      So what does it really mean to have dependencies? Ignoring the topic of open source for a minute, we should clarify what a dependency is. If you develop software today, there’s no way you build everything yourself. Even if you’re writing something in a low level language there are other libraries you rely on to do certain things for you. Just printing “hello world” calls into another library to actually print the text on the screen. Nobody builds at this level outside of a few select low level projects. Because of this we use code and applications that someone else wrote. If your business is about selling something online, writing your own web server would be a massive cost. It’s far cheaper to find a web server someone else wrote. The web server would be a dependency. If the web server is open source (which is probably is), we would call that an open source dependency.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Drone could have caused police helicopter ‘catastrophe’ in Guyhirn as man sentenced in first UK case

      A drone which passed narrowly under a police helicopter could have brought about ‘catastrophic’ consequences similar to the recent tragedy in Leicester which killed five people, a court heard.

      Sergej Miaun became the first person in the UK to be prosecuted for flying a drone which interfered with a police vehicle after he disrupted a search for a missing woman in the River Nene in Guyhirn.

    • A Tale of Two Marines

      These two young men may have an infinite number of things in common, but the actions they took this week do not.

      One used a pro-war ceremony at a professional basketball game to reject the celebration of militarism, and to protest war-profiteering advertising in sports.

      One became the latest “mass shooter” — which I put in quotation marks only because he had already been a mass shooter, but he had been an acceptable kind of mass shooter.

      On Tuesday evening, former U.S. Marine Josuee Hernandez was scheduled to be honored for his so-called service at a Portland Trailblazers game. He unzipped his jacket to reveal a shirt with a protest message shaming the team for accepting money from a weapons dealer. He rejected the bag of prizes being given him. “We should not feel honored by being gifted a bag of trinkets and then paraded in front of an audience,” Hernandez said. He acted righteously and bravely, and perhaps (I know nothing about him, but have known a lot of veterans) therapeutically as well.

    • Yemen’s Houthis say ready for ceasefire
    • Yemen’s Houthis halt missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, UAE; say ready for peace
    • Yemen’s Houthis Halt Missile Attacks on Saudi Coalition
    • Life in fear: Report says 1 in 3 US drone-strike deaths in Yemen are civilians, including children
    • Yemen war: Houthis ‘halting drone and missile strikes’

      Yemen’s Houthi rebels say they are halting drone and missile strikes on the Saudi-led military coalition after a request from the United Nations.

      The move comes after the coalition ordered a halt in its offensive on the key Yemeni port of Hudaydah.

      The UN is attempting to revive talks to end a three-year war which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      So far, the war has killed thousands and pushed millions more Yemenis to the brink of starvation.

    • Yemen’s Houthis say they are ready for a ceasefire

      Pressure has mounted on warring parties to end war that killed thousands and pushed the country to verge of starvation.

    • Ottawa, Yemen and Guardian

      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.

    • The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace

      Are we forever doomed to be warriors, wired from birth to be belligerent? Or is there, deep inside our species, an equal propensity toward peace?

      I found a tentative answer to these questions that have vexed humanity through the ages when I was no more than a child growing up in Queens in the late 1940s. At about the time when it turns out that Donald Trump, a mile or so away, was taking his first steps in life, I found myself at the age of 7 or so, fiercely engaged in a street-level cult of war that he would might well approve of today, given his militaristic posturing and bellicose language.

      But Trump’s Queens was, in that era of rampant discrimination, almost entirely white, whereas I resided — thanks to my Argentine father’s work for the fledgling United Nations –in an apartment complex called Parkway Village, a multicultural, multinational, multiethnic enclave. And the most unlikely place in the world for any sort of conflict between children or adults, for that matter, to find fertile ground, because it was thought of as a unique experiment in diversity — international, linguistic, racial — supposedly projecting a utopian vision of planetary harmony.

      Alas, it was not harmony I sought as I roamed the gardens and open spaces of Parkway Village where confrontations had broken out between rival groups of the young sons of diplomats and staff, who were so fervently dedicated to amity among nations and cultures. The clashes had started with an insult of some kind, soon escalating to fists and stones and, eventually, sticks.

      The pugnacious kids were recent immigrants to the States, perhaps eager to hold onto some form of nativist identity by bashing the heads of anyone who spoke strangely or looked different.

    • Trump, World War I and the Lessons of Poetry

      Poets are all too human, and some of them are moral and political imbeciles. Some poets, however, are so deeply troubled by their times that that they both extend and challenge the culture they inherit.

    • Declassified 1949 CIA manual gives warning to disinformation on social media

      No need for Google — it turns out that finding a blueprint to launch an effective disinformation campaign on social media can be found in a CIA manual from 1949.

      Declassified in 2012, “Strategical Psychological Warfare” was written in response to World War II. While the CIA did not predict a medium like social media, the communication strategies it outlines are eerily similar to what the U.S. has witnessed from Russia during and since the 2016 election.

      As a refresher, a 2017 U.S. intelligence community report concluded that “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.” U.S. intelligence also concluded that a major goal for the Kremlin was to undermine public faith in the American democratic process.

    • The Fatal Flaws in a Congressional Resolution to End US Support for the Saudi-Led Yemen War
    • US will be hostage to partisan bickering for next two years – CIA veteran

      As the rift between the US and the rest of the world grows wider, at home, Democrats are now in control of Congress. How big of a game changer is the result of the US midterms for the rest of the globe? We talked to two-decade CIA veteran Rolf Mowatt-Larssen.

    • Shattering Europe? Why Trump’s Paris Fiasco Really Matters
    • Bullhorns: CIA confidence

      Brexit and high drama – the saga continues. Also, the CIA says it has high confidence they know who killed Khashoggi. And is it high noon for Julian Assange?

    • Report: 1 in 3 Deaths Caused by US Drone Strikes this Year in Yemen Were Civilians

      SANA’A, YEMEN — At least one third of those killed by U.S. drone strikes in the war-torn country of Yemen over the past year have been civilians, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.

      The troubling statistic comes amid a three-year-long bombing campaign of Western Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which the U.S. aids by providing weapons as well as targeting and logistical assistance despite the fact that the airstrikes frequently target civilians and civilian infrastructure. The recent AP investigation reveals that U.S. drones are yet another deadly but often overlooked threat to Yemen’s civilians.

      The investigation begins by noting that a comprehensive count of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes is nearly impossible, given the difficulty in confirming the identities and allegiances of those killed. However, examination of the available information on U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, allegedly conducted to combat the presence of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), found that at least 30 of those killed by the strikes this year were not al Qaeda members but civilians, including a 14-year-old boy and five members of a family looking for their lost child.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Pursuing Julian Assange – and the President

      When the history of American foreign policy and the misery Washington has caused throughout its tenure as world policeman is written, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks will have many entries in the footnotes, not to mention the index. The publication of Chelsea Manning’s treasure trove of US diplomatic history – thousands of cables describing the interactions of US decision-makers with world leaders through the decades – alone gives WikiLeaks the title of most important journalistic outlet of the new millennium. And that is just the crown jewel in a diadem of journalistic triumphs – stinging exposures of the War Party and their corrupt enablers — no other outlet can hope to match. It is therefore with very little surprise that one reads the news that the Justice Department has secretly indicted Assange – and please pay special attention to how that has been revealed.

      The New York Times had the scoop: in an unrelated case, the geniuses over at the Justice Department had mistakenly copied phrases from the secret indictment in publicly available court documents.

      Really? That doesn’t seem very credible, and the specific document the Times refers to throws the whole matter into serious question: the mention of Assange is simply inserted into text that is about someone who is alleged to have coerced a child, and asks for the documents in the case to be sealed. The insertion reads:

      “Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”

    • Who is Julian Assange? Everything you need to know about the WikiLeaks founder

      Julian Assange, 47, is a computer programmer and hacker best known as the founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes confidential and classified government information. Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006, and the site drew headlines in 2010 for publishing secret U.S. military information related to the Iraq War, which had been provided to Assange by Chelsea Manning.

      Assange was born in Australia and now resides in Ecuador’s embassy in London under political asylum. He became an Ecuadorean citizen in 2016.

    • Julian Assange Isn’t Worth It

      If the U.S. government can prosecute the WikiLeaks editor for publishing classified material, then every media outlet is at risk.

    • Prosecuting Wikileaks, Protecting Press Freedoms: Drawing the Line at Knowing Collaboration with a Foreign Intelligence Agency

      The inadvertent disclosure of the likely existence of a sealed indictment against Julian Assange raises the question of what the constitutional implications of such an indictment might be. Only an indictment narrowly focused on knowing collaboration with a foreign intelligence agency, if in fact the evidence supports such a finding, would avoid the broad threat that such a prosecution would otherwise pose to First Amendment rights and press freedoms.

      Any prosecution for the publication of the Chelsea Manning disclosures (war logs; embassy cables) or for involvement in the Edward Snowden disclosures would meet the same constitutional difficulties that arose at that time. As I argued in detail in 2011, and then as a witness for the defense in the Manning trial, for purposes of constitutional protection it is impossible to distinguish Wikileaks from more traditional media on stable grounds that cannot be leveraged against all manner of media organizations over time, including both partisan and mainstream media. No distinguishing line can usefully be drawn in organizational terms. Central to this discussion are federal cases concerning journalists’ privilege under state law, as well as the Supreme Court’s clear statement that “Liberty of the press is the right of the lonely pamphleteer who uses carbon paper or a mimeograph just as much as of the large metropolitan publisher who utilizes the latest photocomposition methods” from Branzburg v Hayes.

    • US has filed secret charges against Julian Assange, reports say

      The Committee to Protect Journalists is closely monitoring news reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has secretly filed charges against the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.

      “We are closely monitoring reports that prosecutors have prepared a sealed indictment against Julian Assange,” said Alexandra Ellerbeck, CPJ’s North America program coordinator. “While the charges are not known, we would be concerned by a prosecution that construes publishing government documents as a crime. This would set a dangerous precedent that could harm all journalists, whether inside or outside the United States.”

      In 2010, CPJ sent a letter to the Obama administration urging officials not to charge Assange for the publication of classified materials. This year, CPJ reported on experts’ concerns over a civil lawsuit filed by the Democratic National Committee, which argues that Assange and WikiLeaks were involved in a criminal conspiracy to hack the committee’s servers during the 2016 election.

    • We can detest Assange but don’t lock him up

      As his lawyers might put it, Julian Assange’s best defence against extradition to America is that there is no law yet against being really annoying. Remarkably it is now a little over six years since he went into the embassy of Ecuador — the longest anybody like him has spent out of the sunlight since they last bought a particularly gripping computer game.

    • Court Filing Suggests Prosecutors Are Preparing Charges Against Julian Assange
    • Bokhari: Rise of the Western Dissidents

      We’re used to Russian dissidents, Chinese dissidents, Iranian dissidents, and Saudi Arabian dissidents. But those who rightly believe the west is superior to authoritarian regimes must now contend with a troubling trend — the rise of the western dissident.

      Chief among them is Julian Assange, who for a half-decade has been forced to live in the tiny Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has claimed political asylum since 2011. Assange claimed that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges over his work at WikiLeaks if he left the embassy, and was routinely mocked as paranoid for doing so.

      This week, we learned that Assange was right and his critics were wrong. Thanks to a clerical error by the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria, Virginia, reporters were able to confirm the existence of sealed criminal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Appears To Have ‘Been Charged’ In Federal Court
    • Secret Charges Against WikiLeaks Chief a Threat to Free Press

      In a case with potentially massive implications for freedom of the press and government secrecy, federal prosecutors have seemingly filed secret charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (shown), court filings suggest. It was not immediately clear what exact charges the advocate of transparency may be facing. But some conspiracy theorists making allegations about a supposed link between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin — many of whom claim to believe Russian authorities delivered incriminating e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign to WikiLeaks — are hyping the case as a potential turning point in the Special Counsel “investigation.” More than a few experts and insiders have suggested the leaked Democrat e-mails were actually released by a campaign insider, potentially even murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. But so far, the actual source remains a mystery to the public. Assange denies it was a state source at all. But he is facing the wrath of Deep State outrage either way.

      From across the political spectrum, a wide range of voices — including some traditionally associated with the Left, the far-left, and even the establishment — have vigorously protested the effort to prosecute and destroy Assange as an all-out assault on free speech, freedom of the press, and government transparency. The biggest concern among critics, perhaps, is that the prosecution of Assange could set a precedent that would eventually be used to prosecute anyone publishing government secrets. Trevor Timm, executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, for instance, noted that the precedent against WikiLeaks could “easily be turned around” and used against more conventional and “mainstream” reporters. “Hard to overstate how dangerous it would be for press freedom,” he added, echoing concerns by free speech and free press advocates across America and worldwide.

    • The Case Against WikiLeaks Is a Crisis for the First Amendment
    • 5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Julian Assange founder of Wikileaks

      From TV appearances to surprising supporters here are five facts you didn’t know about the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

    • Did a copy-paste error reveal the US’s secret case against Assange?

      What a rough few weeks it’s been for WikiLeaks founder/Ecuadorian embassy poltergeist Julian Assange: Ecuador told him that if he wants to stay wrapped up in his asylum cocoon, he needs to shut up about politics, clean his own damn bathroom and scoop the poop from his cat’s litter box lest the kitty be given to somebody who knows how to take care of it.

      Then last week there were rumours that the US finally, after six long years, filed charges against him for publishing stolen information.

      It’s a big “maybe.” The supposition that the US secretly charged Assange comes from a mistake on a court filing that could have been a slip-up or might have been just a copy-paste error.

    • Julian Assange must be brought to justice [Ed: “brought to justice” means being brought back home to Australia to be with family and friends. Jealous corporate media against Wikileaks and Assange because the latter do a better job.]

      I remember groaning a few years ago when the pale Australian hacker weirdo accused of sexual assault was winning awards left and right from so-called human rights groups and peace foundations, prestigious journalism prizes, and gushing tributes from Michael Moore and Oliver Stone. It didn’t matter that Assange was an obvious charlatan — what kind of sane person trademarks his name? — and that the so-called philosophy of radical transparency undergirding WikiLeaks was just the teenaged nihilism of a million pimply 4chan users applied to politics. He was a cool guy, and the Obama administration’s half-hearted attempts to bring him to justice like the terrorist he is were doomed to fail thanks to the public-spiritedness of the Ecuadorian government.

    • Assange Charges Worry Free-Press Advocates

      The revelation that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been secretly charged has prompted fears among free-press advocates that the Justice Department is targeting those who publish classified information

    • Criminal Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Are Sealed But Not For Long

      WikiLeaks is the Robin Hood-type tech company that exposes dark and hidden government secrets. WikiLeaks spills the corrupt beans so people around the world can understand how corrupt some political actors and their agendas can be. But that Robin Hood image doesn’t fit WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Sasse thinks Assange should go to prison for life. Senator Sasse believes WikiLeaks spreads foreign propaganda in order to compromise the government of the United States.

      But Donald Trump didn’t share that description of WikiLeaks when Assange was working behind the scenes to expose Hillary Clinton’s emails. Trump told his followers he loved WikiLeaks. Mr. Trump wasn’t the only conservative singing the praises of WikiLeaks. Conservatives came out of the woodwork back in 2016, and they all thought Julian Assange was on their side. They gave Assange the title of whistle-blower, and Fox News congratulated Australian-born Assange for showing the world how phony, dishonest, and corrupt the American government is.

    • Why the Trump administration stepped up pursuit of Julian Assange

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

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

    • DOJ Mistake Reveals Secret Assange Indictment
    • EXCLUSIVE: Lawyer for Wiki leaks founder Julian Assange speak out on possible US government charges

      Jennifer Robinson, lawyer for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaks exclusively with MSNBC’s Keir Simmons about his possible arrest and extradition to the U.S.

    • Justice Dept. filing alludes to charges against WikiLeaks founder Assange

      The assistant U.S. attorney wrote the other suspect’s charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.” The document did not explain any connection or association between Assange and the other man.

    • The Dangerous Rush to Judgment Against Julian Assange

      After years of speculation, we now know that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been accused by the Justice Department of committing crimes against the United States. We know this because an assistant U.S. attorney named Kellen S. Dwyer screwed up and inadvertently disclosed in a motion filed on Aug. 22 in an unrelated case that Assange has been secretly charged in an accusation that has been placed under seal.

      The unrelated case is pending in the Eastern District of Virginia against Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, 29, who, according to The Washington Post, is linked to international terrorism and whose father in-law has been convicted of committing terrorist acts.

      What we don’t know about the prosecution of Assange is virtually everything else.

    • Evidence the Australian government knew of US charges against Assange since 2010

      Charges could include “conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act”. Regarding the latter, former CIA director Mike Pompeo explained that WikiLeaks had allegedly “directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States”. And the late Michael Ratner (Assange’s US lawyer) was certain that the most likely charge Assange could face was “conspiracy to commit espionage”.

    • Pamela Anderson lashes out at Scott Morrison over ‘smutty’ comments

      Actress Pamela Anderson has taken a swipe at Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, accusing him of making “smutty, unnecessary” comments about her.

      The former Baywatch star made the remarks in an open letter which she posted to twitter today, after Mr Morrison reportedly laughed about her plea to help bring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange back home to Australia.

    • Government’s contempt for a free press on display with Assange

      In case you missed it, last week Julian Assange and his decision to remain within the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 was vindicated — entirely so.

      Assange and his legal team have always argued that his refusal to leave — even after the dropping of prosecution for sexual offences in Sweden — is because of the threat of the US government seeking to extradite him based on charges relating to WikiLeaks’ release of US government information. So central was this argument to his case that opponents, like Bob Carr, (briefly Australia’s foreign minister under Julia Gillard) tried to dispute it, insisting in the face of extensive evidence that the Americans had no prosecutorial interest in Assange.

    • The Australian government needs to protect its citizen: Assange Lawyer
    • Pamela Anderson criticises Australia PM for ‘smutty’ comment

      Earlier this month Ms Anderson, a former Baywatch star and long-time advocate for Mr Assange, had called on the Australian government to help him.
      “Get Julian his passport back and take him back home to Australian and be proud of him, and throw him a parade when he gets home,” she told Australia’s 60 Minutes programme.
      Mr Morrison’s comment was made soon afterwards on a radio programme. He also reiterated Australia’s position that it would not intervene in Mr Assange’s case.
      On Sunday, Ms Anderson wrote in an open letter: “You trivialized and laughed about the suffering of an Australian and his family.

    • Netizens Back Anderson in Crushing ‘Smutty’ Australia PM for Abandoning Assange

      Appearing on a radio program, the Australian prime minister publicly chuckled at the Baywatch icon’s proposal, claiming in response that he has a number of “envoys” close at hand who would eagerly deal with the Pamela issue.

    • Pamela Anderson accuses Scott Morrison of making ‘smutty’ comments about her
    • All The Weirdest Auspol Vs Celebrity Fights
    • Lisa Wilkinson: Why ScoMo Should Apologise To Pamela Anderson. And Every Woman.
    • Australia PM slammed for ‘smutty’ comment

      Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison faced criticism following his “smutty” remarks about actress Pamela Anderson, after she asked him to help Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
      Anderson had urged Scott Morrison to bring Assange to Australia. Rejecting her plea, Morrison said he had “plenty of mates who have asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort out the issue with Pamela”.

      Several politicians backed the actress slamming the politician saying it was high time men stopped using a woman’s sexuality and appearance to denigrate her political arguments.

    • Pamela Anderson criticises Australian prime minister’s ‘lewd’ and ‘smutty’ comments in Assange spat

      Pamela Anderson, the American actress, has attacked Australian prime minister Scott Morrison for his “lewd” and “smutty” comments about her after she asked him to assist Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

      Following Anderson’s appeal to Mr Morrison to help Mr Assange return to Australia, the prime minister discussed the request on commercial radio, saying: “Well no, first of all, but next, I’ve had plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson.”

      Responding to the comments, Anderson, a former Baywatch star and Playboy model and a friend and supporter of Mr Assange, wrote an open letter to Mr Morrison and condemned his “unnecessary” comments.

    • Female MPs blast Scott Morrison over ‘smutty’ Pamela Anderson remark
    • Pamela Anderson slams Australian PM Scott Morrison for ‘smutty’ comments
    • Pamela Anderson is trying to rescue from prison, Julian Assange

      Now the star of Playboy living in Paris with footballer Adil Rami, but your ex still remembers, even tries to participate in his life. For six years the ex-beloved star of “Baywatch” hiding from law enforcement. It is published on the website WikiLeaks has provided him with a prison sentence in many countries.

      Many prominent figures, including politicians and colleagues, spoke out in defense of Assange. They were joined by Pamela Anderson. She tries to rescue a former lover from prison. Celebrity encourages the Australian government to rescue Julian from prison and drop charges against him. However, members of the government “Green continent” the actress refused and even laughed at her attempts. Among the mockers was and 50-year-old Scott Morrison. Directly on one of the Australian TV show he was denied Pamela’s request.

    • Report: Mueller Will Meet Again With Roger Stone’s Alleged Link To WikiLeaks

      Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to meet again with Randy Credico, the New York comedian who was revealed this week as having tipped off Trump confidant Roger Stone to WikiLeaks’ plans to release information that would harm the Clinton campaign.

      Credico’s attorney, Martin Stolar, told The Daily Beast that his client will meet with Mueller’s team at some point after Thanksgiving.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Change Is the Product of How Capitalism “Values” Nature

      Climate change is the greatest existential crisis facing humanity today. Capitalist industrialization has led us to the edge of the precipice, and avoiding the end of civilization as we know it may require the development of a view in direct opposition to the way in which capitalism “values” nature, according to John Bellamy Foster, professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review.

    • How to Help California Wildfire Survivors

      California’s grim year of record-breaking wildfires continues this month. The Camp Fire in Northern California’s Butte County claimed 113,000 acres and 42 lives and counting as of Tuesday morning, while the Woolsey Fire in Southern California tore through 96,000 acres. Watching these fires race through the landscape can be scary, especially when it may feel like there’s nothing you can do.

      Fortunately, a lot of people are working on the ground to fight these fires and support survivors as they return home — or find new housing, in the case of thousands who have lost their residences.

      Whether you’re a local or live across the country, there are a number of ways to help.

    • Louisiana Teachers Mobilize Against ExxonMobil Tax Exemption

      Sometimes the boss offers us a fight that directly exposes the destructive effects of corporate power.

      In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that moment came when ExxonMobil asked for yet another handout from taxpayers—property tax exemptions totaling $6 million.

      For the ninth-largest corporation in the world, it was a routine request. ExxonMobil is accustomed to receiving such perks from obedient state officials. But teachers saw it differently: as a $6 million theft from the local schools budget.

      Educators and other school employees voted 445-6 on October 23 to stage a one-day walkout the following week. Teachers planned to pack a hearing on ExxonMobil’s requests.

      Within hours of the union vote, the company’s exemption bids were off the Board of Industry and Commerce’s agenda.

    • Yellowstone investigating illegal drone photo taken in park

      Yellowstone National Park officials say they’re investigating after a photo was posted online showing one of the park’s geothermal features from a drone, which is illegal.

      The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported Wednesday the photo of Grand Prismatic Spring was posted on Instagram and then deleted after criticism from other users.

      Drones are banned in Yellowstone and many other parks.

    • Why Trump is Wrong About the California Wildfires

      With the shocking loss of thousands of homes and dozens of lives in the Camp and Woolsey fires in Northern and Southern California, people are looking for answers as they try to understand how a tragedy such as this can be prevented in the future.

      As people struggled to evacuate, President Donald Trump in a tweet blamed the fires on poor forest management and repeated the claims before his visit to California. While Trump did not explicitly call for an expansion of logging in his latest response, he has previously touted this strategy as a way to curb fires. Meanwhile, the federal government is moving to allow commercial logging in areas such as the Los Padres National Forest outside Santa Barbara, claiming it will prevent fires. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has also blamed “environmental terrorist groups” for preventing the government from properly managing forests.

      It is deeply troubling that Trump and his administration would support logging as a way to curb fires when studies have shown it’s ineffective. In the most comprehensive scientific analysis conducted on the issue of forest management and fire intensity — which looked at more than 1,500 fires on tens of millions of acres across the Western United States over three decades — we found that forests with the fewest environmental protections and the most logging actually tend to burn much more intensely, not less.

    • Protest Song Of The Week – ‘MutterERT’ By Chuck D (Featuring Jahi)

      Chuck D recently released his fourth studio album, “Celebration of Ignorance.” The album is rooted in a classic 1980s throwback style. The lyrics are as hard-hitting as ever, and he tackles subjects such as racism, toxic masculinity, gun violence, dangers of technological advances and the hateful rhetoric of President 45.

      “MutterERT” addresses the issue of climate change and the damage we are doing to the planet. Lyrics such as “Forgetting future generations gonna be regretting” highlights how future generations will suffer from the sinful short-sighted greed of those in power.

      The song also features contributions from Jahi of P.E. 2.0, who on his verse adds the pointed observation, “The land of my birth. Some treat her like a prostitute. Some know her worth. Some help her stay clean. Some shelling out the hurt.”

    • Making Visible the Globe-warming Gases of the Permian Fracking Boom

      There is an LED sign at a Chase Bank in downtown Midland, Texas, the heart of the Permian Basin, which quantifies the current oil boom. It alternates between current rig count, the price of oil, and the price of gasoline. On October 30, the day I arrived, the sign informed me there were 1,068 drilling rigs across the United States, of which 489 — nearly half — are in the Permian Basin.

      Though the flashing sign is meant to celebrate the fracking boom, Sharon Wilson, Texas coordinator of Earthworks, sees it as a warning sign of the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change.

  • Finance

    • Pelosi’s Deceptive Plan: Blocking any Tax Rise Could Rule Out Medicare-for-All and Bolstering Social Security

      In the surreal alternative reality world of the US Congress, there are many bills passed each year that on the surface may sound like good ideas — they even give them high-sounding names like the US PATRIOT ACT or Better Care and Reconciliation Act, that in fact are the opposite of what they claim to be (the former actually being an unpatriotic undermining of the Bill of Rights and the latter actually being an unsuccessful attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (itself a deceptively named bill that forced middle-income families to buy hugely expensive insurance plans or pay a tax penalty).

      But few of these deceptions are as egregious as one being pushed by embattled incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who is advocating a bill that would require any legislation that would raise taxes on incomes in the bottom 80% to be passed with a 60% majority of the House.

      That bill, while promoted by Pelosi as protecting the middle class from future tax rises, actually would make impossible passage of any bill expanding Medicare to cover all Americans, creating a kind of Canadian-model national health system, and might even prevent efforts to strengthen and improve Social Security benefits as called for by progressive Democrats.

      The thing is, a broad majority of Americans, including many Republicans, and an overwhelming majority of Democrats, favor Medicare-for-All, a program that would extend and expand Medicare coverage making it a government insurance plan for covering all medical care for all Americans of any age — exactly what Canadians have had since 1971, and which they have overwhelmingly supported through both Liberal and Conservative governments since then.

    • “Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers

      Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, wouldn’t seem to need the money. Nonetheless, huge sums of money will be diverted from social needs to line his pockets — a cost that won’t stop there, as gentrification will be accelerated still more in New York City and the Washington area.

      In all, Mr. Bezos scooped up nearly US$3.7 billion worth of subsidies this week. Does someone worth $112 billion and owner of a company that has racked up $7 billion in profits for the first nine months of 2018 really need such largesse? Corporate subsides are hardly unique to Amazon, but this to all appearances represents the most blatant example yet seen.

      Incredibly, these astronomical sums of money don’t represent the biggest giveaway offers, even in the “winning” areas’ metropolitan areas. The state of New Jersey, then under the governorship of Chris Christie, offered $7 billion to Amazon to build its second headquarters in Newark, and the state of Maryland offered $8.5 billion to Amazon to build in Montgomery County, which borders Washington on the opposite side of the Potomac River from Arlington, Virginia.

      Many other locations across the United States offered gigantic subsidies, as Amazon did all it could to initiate a bidding war. But as the two locations chosen (splitting in two the original proposal to create a single “second headquarters”) were picked because of the available workforces and city amenities, were these gargantuan subsidies necessary? It would seem not, making them all the more hideous. One strong clue is that Google is rapidly expanding its presence in New York City without, as far as the public knows, any subsidies.

    • What Amazon Taught the Cops

      The future of policing, it seems, will look a lot like the present of policing, just faster and with more math. Instead of using inherent bias and simplistic statistics to racially profile individuals on a street, cops of the future will be able to use complicated statistics to racially profile people in their homes.

    • European lawmakers ask Amazon to stop selling Soviet-themed merchandise

      The MEPs point out that “the total number of victims of the Soviet Regime is estimated at more than 60 million” while the Soviets also deported “over 10 million people” to camps in Siberia where they endured “inhumane living conditions, forced labour, starvation and physical violence”.

    • Amazon Doesn’t Just Want to Dominate the Market—It Wants to Become the Market

      The problem wasn’t so much that customers had made a conscious decision to buy their running gear elsewhere, Lampen-Crowell says. Rather, a number were doing more of their overall shopping on Amazon—and as the online giant became a pervasive, almost unconscious habit in their lives, they had started dropping into their Amazon shopping carts some of the items they used to buy from Gazelle Sports. Lampen-Crowell’s initial response was to double down on marketing his company’s own website. But while that helped, there were many potential customers who still had little chance of landing on it. That was because, by 2014, nearly 40 percent of people looking to buy something online were skipping search engines like Google altogether and instead starting their product searches directly on Amazon.

    • Postal-Service Workers Are Shouldering the Burden for Amazon

      Amazon was able to make a deal to ship its packages through USPS at cut-rate prices, because the company preemptively sorts and labels packages by postal route. But transporting and distributing these packages still takes clerks like Amanda much longer than sorting letters, which can be fed through a machine. If the clerks are delayed, the station’s carriers will be delayed in starting routes, which are already longer than ever thanks to the packages filling up their satchels and trucks. Many won’t deliver their final box until well after the sun has set.

      “If there’s a lot of Amazon, it just gums up the works,” Amanda said. “Things get backed up by two, three hours.”

    • A Socialist Response to Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers’ Report

      In October, the Council of Economic Advisers, which counsels the president on economic matters, published a far-from-moderate report attacking socialism. Producing large-scale economic studies about socialism can be considered to be progress on the Washington establishment’s part, considering its usual practices of invading countries and instituting embargos that force entire populations into starvation (as in the cases of Nicaragua and Cuba).

      Ultimately though, the report reveals conservative, bourgeois economists’ ignorance about constructive political discourse. These economists — the very people who have much to lose from a transition to socialism — employ a paternalistic attitude toward the “careless masses,” one that resembles economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek’s approach in his bestselling book The Road to Serfdom. They desperately aim to prove that, as Hayek stated, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

      These conservative economists, Trump and all the other members of the Washington establishment are ignorant of current political discourse. Their blurry definition of socialism and incoherent comparisons between the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong’s China, Nordic social democracy and Bernie Sanders’s proposals throughout the report demonstrate as much. More specifically, they enmesh “here-and-now” demands with transitional socialist demands. In turn, they call the “here-and-now” demands “socialist” (as opposed to social-democratic) and focus their criticisms on them. This is evident on page 39 of the report where they refer to Medicare for All as a “socialist proposal.”

    • How Tammy Baldwin, Target of $14 Million in Outside Spending, Sent the Koch Brothers and Their Minions Packing

      Baldwin, the top target of early Koch Brothers attack ads, won big in the state of Wisconsin, crushing her opponent Republican State Senator Leah Vukmir by 11 points. She also garnered 150,000 votes more than Tony Evers, the Democratic nominee for governor who beat Scott Walker by 31,000 votes. This, in a state that had elected Walker three times and gave Trump the 23,000 votes he needed to capture Wisconsin and the White House.

      By February, Baldwin had already been the target of $4.5 million in ads from just one Koch front group, Concerned Veterans of America, claiming she dropped the ball on the over-prescription of opioids at the Tomah veteran’s clinic, which resulted in the death of a U.S. Marine. The group ladled on another $1.5 million in July, claiming that she failed to attend important committee meetings. Other ads by the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners groups attacked Baldwin over taxes and for “rigging the system against us.”

    • Poverty Isn’t Neglect, But the State Took My Children Anyway

      As I write this, I’m sitting in a small, humid room in Plantation, Florida. I’m from Seattle, and I know almost nobody in this area, but I can’t leave. That’s because my three- and four-year-old daughters were taken from me by the state last April. Until that case is overturned, or my parental rights are restored, this is where I’ll stay.

      When most people hear “the state took my kids,” their minds jump to the worst conclusions. These cases are quiet and the courtrooms are closed, so I don’t blame you for assuming I was beating them up, or looking the other way while they were abused, or some other such nightmare scenario you see on the Lifetime channel. Those kinds of cases happen, but far more common are the ones where parents do their very best but still come up short on money for the heat, or the rent, or a licensed babysitter. My case is one of those, in which a little more cash and sympathy would have kept my daughters with me.

      Three-quarters of substantiated child maltreatment cases are related to neglect, and the kind of neglect that triggers a CPS case is almost always the result of poverty. Although each state gets to set its own specific definitions for neglect, they typically center around deprivation of things like food, shelter, clothing, or medical treatment, which are problems almost totally exclusive to poor people.

      The accusation that brought child services into my family was related to drug use. My mother-in-law, with whom I’ve never really gotten along, called the child abuse hotline and told them she suspected I was out using heroin while she watched the kids. After a series of urine and hair panels tested negative, child protective services broadened their investigation. They raised concerns about the fact that I was living with my in-laws, and that I had been unable to attend trauma therapy for a month while I waited for my new state insurance to go into effect.

    • Amazon Deal: New York Taxpayers Fund World Biggest Sex-Toy Retailer

      For decades, shoppers for sex-related products and services were mostly men, often dubbed the “raincoat crowd,” who slinked into XXX-rated shops in a down-market part of town to purchase a risqué magazine, porn flick, a vibrator, a special costume or hookup with a sex worker.

      Those days are over!

      The commercial sex industry is now mainstream. Old-time sex toys have been rebranded “sex-wellness products” and are available at specialty outlets like Gotham’s Pleasure Chest, San Francisco’s Good Vibration and Seattle’s Babeland as well as major retailers, ranging from high-end specialty chains like Nordstrom and Brookstone, to mass-market outlets like Walgreens and Target, and even crusty down-market Wal-Mart.

      But the big one is Amazon! It’s the nation’s largest retailer of sex-wellness products offering around 60,000 items.

      And its sex-toys business will become even bigger with the support of the New York taxpayer.

    • Don’t Be Duped by Corporate Spin: Regulation Protects Us All

      High regulatory standards protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. They safeguard our homes, workplaces, wallets, health, environment and economy from corporate recklessness, greed and lawbreaking.

      Yet every year, regulated industries, trade associations, corporate PR firms and industry-funded lobbying groups spend billions to turn lawmakers and the media against regulation. Much of their spending is aimed at making journalists unwitting accomplices in their decades-long campaign to dismantle the US’s system of public protections. That is why it is crucial for journalists to be aware of the vast amount of misinformation spread by regulated industries aimed at distorting the debate, and for news outlets to avoid editorial choices that carry water for big corporations and harm the public.

      Consider that the financial crisis of 2008 was caused by weakening and repealing regulations, leading to the Great Recession, which cost Americans up to $14 trillion, destroyed 8.7 million jobs and caused pension funds for workers to lose nearly a third of their value.

      Meanwhile, weak drilling safety standards resulted in the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers, cost nearly $62 billion and disrupted small businesses, working families and ecosystems all along the Gulf Coast.

    • Will Progressives Ever Think About How We Structure Markets, Instead of Accepting them as Given?

      The right would like us to believe that the inequality we see in the United States, and increasingly in other countries, is a natural outcome of market processes. Unfortunately, many on the left seem to largely share this view, with the proviso that they would like the government to alter market outcomes, either with tax and transfer policy, or with interventions like a higher minimum wage.

      While redistributive tax and transfer policies are desirable, as is a decent minimum wage, it is an incredible mistake to not recognize that the upward redistribution of the last four decades was brought about by conscious policy, not any sort of natural process of globalization and technology. Not recognizing this fact is an enormous mistake from both the standpoint of policy and politics.

      From the policy standpoint, we give up a huge amount by not examining the policies that have caused before-tax income to be redistributed upward. As a practical matter, it is much easier to prevent all the money from going to the top in the first place than trying to tax it back after the fact.

      On the political side, we should never have our argument be that somehow the big problem is that the Bill Gates of the world were too successful. The big problem is that we have badly structured the rules of the market so that we gave Bill Gates too much money. With different rules, he would not be one of the world’s richest people even if he had worked just as hard.

      Since we’re on the topic of Bill Gates, patent and copyright rules are a good place to start. For some reason, it is difficult to get people to accept an obvious truth: there is a huge amount of money at stake with these rules. By my calculations, patent and copyright monopolies could well direct more than $1 trillion a year, a sum that is more than 60 percent of after-tax corporate profits.

    • Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs

      Plato has a bad reputation in many circles because his most famous work, The Republic, appears to defend all sorts of ideas that are unpalatable to most contemporary readers, ideas such as that people need to be protected from the truth, that large-scale censorship and even the deliberate dissemination of false and misleading information by governments is defensible as a means of ensuring order in a society. I believe, however, as I have argued elsewhere, that such a view of Plato is mistaken.

      There’s a lot of talk these days about the positive value of a liberal arts education. I couldn’t agree more. There is much we could learn, for example, from Plato’s Republic. Despite the fact that it disparages what it calls “democracy,” the democracy it describes is not one that I believe would be recognizable as such to any Enlightenment thinker. More importantly for the purposes of the present reflections, the Republic takes nearly as dim a view of societies that value money above everything else. Such societies are generally referred to as “plutocracies,” which literally means “government by the wealthy.” Interestingly, however, Plato calls them “oligarchies” which means “government by the few,” because he believes that societies that value money above everything else will inevitably end up concentrating the wealth in the hands of a very small number of people.

      I love teaching The Republic for many reasons. It is a beautiful and deeply moving book. One of the things that makes it such a joy to teach, though, is how it engages students. The city on which the book focuses is what Socrates calls an aristocracy, or “government by the best individuals.” Even this city, he acknowledges, however, in Book VIII, will inevitably succumb to a process of dissolution into a series of increasingly degenerate states, first to a timocracy, or “government in which love of honor is the ruling principle,” then to an oligarchy, which values money above everything else, from there to a democracy, which according to Socrates, values nothing at all except freedom from restraint, and finally, to a tyranny.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • “Senator, Why Are You Being Arrested?”

      The morning of Tuesday, November 13, started out like many others for Nikema Williams. The Democratic state senator, who since 2017 has represented a diverse district covering a broad swath of Atlanta, showed up to work at the Georgia State Capitol for a special legislative session. A few hours later, the day became one she’ll never forget. “I keep replaying this in my mind over and over,” she told me. “Never did I imagine my day was going to end in jail.”


      On her arrest: Shortly thereafter, my arm was pushed behind my back and I was placed in the same zip ties that I just asked the officers about upstairs, and they put me in restraints. There were so many cameras and people—even media was present—and they said, “Senator, why are you being arrested?” [The police] knew I was a senator and it didn’t matter to them that I was there for a special session, that I was supposed to be in the building, that I wasn’t even a part of the protest. I came down to monitor and make sure that my constituents have the right to voice their concerns with what happened around the election.

      I was taken out of the building in handcuffs, escorted by Capitol police, and put in a van. The vans had been out there waiting. They were waiting to arrest people all day. I was taken over to the Fulton County Jail where I was held for hours without ever [knowing] what I was being charged with or why I was being detained.

      On almost being strip searched: I had on a dress, and I didn’t know that if you wear a dress that you are asked to remove your clothes. But that’s what happened to me. An officer at the Fulton County Jail actually told me to remove my dress because she needed to make sure that I was not hiding anything in my vaginal cavity. I refused, because at that point I told her I didn’t even know if I was being lawfully detained. And this felt incredibly invasive, and I was not stripping in front of everyone standing here. I went in and I saw all the other people that were arrested with me sitting there all waiting to know what they were actually charged with and why they were escorted out of their state Capitol. We finally learned that everyone there, including me, got one charge of disrupting the General Assembly. But apparently I was special and someone wanted to make a point with me because I got two charges: Disrupting the General Assembly as well as obstruction.

    • Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections

      Well, the mid-term elections are over, but the fallout from them, the constant verbal diarrhea from newscasters, pundits and other self-proclaimed experts, continues.

      And what are they saying? For many of them on whatever passes for ‘leftist’ in the U.S. today (there is really no such thing in the two major parties or the so-called ‘mainstream’ news media), the glee is overwhelming. Democrats won control of the House and now, finally, we are told, much needed brakes will be applied to the speeding Donald Trump train wreck-in-the-making.

      Ho hum. Is there really any cause for thinking people in the U.S., or anywhere in the world, for that matter, to suddenly think that the U.S. has begun to climb out of its long decline? Does any reasonable person actually think that Democrats controlling the House of Representatives will change anything?

    • Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss

      The Irish just elected their President. But who cares? No one – least of all the Irish. History has ruthlessly disappeared the Irish nation state, so the idea of an Irish President is anachronistic.

    • Authoritarian Rule to Revolution: What Can the US Learn From Mexico?

      The distinct features of our current moment in politics have left many grasping for analogies. Are we living in the second iteration of the Weimar Republic? A new Cold War? The return of high-imperial great power competition?

      The problem with this is that it often represents more an exasperated flailing for solid guidance about what to do next than an authentic assessment of historical similarities and differences.

      If there is a consensus on anything, though, it is that the pronouncements made in the immediate post-Cold War period about the “end of history” having been decided in a definitive fashion were simply wrong. The socioeconomic form of what was once called “democratic capitalism” has not definitively triumphed over all others, with many who live under it now questioning its systemic legitimacy.

      The key indicator of a crumbling socioeconomic form is whether certain questions, which were previously not politically operative, now are. In this respect, the doors have been thrown open to radical solutions to systemic problems that were previously not even considered as such. For instance, in recent years, income inequality has been defined as an issue worthy of political concern such that even United Nations bodies now consider it a global challenge.

    • Nearly 3,000 Votes Disappeared From Florida’s Recount. That’s Not Supposed to Happen

      Nearly 3,000 votes effectively disappeared during the machine recount of Florida’s midterm races, according to election records, calling into question whether officials relied on a flawed process to settle the outcome of three statewide contests.

      With extremely narrow gaps separating candidates in the still-undeclared races for both governor and United States Senate, the results of the machine recount of all votes cast in the Nov. 6 election, posted by the Florida secretary of state’s office, showed 900 fewer votes than those reported in the original statewide tally.

      The discrepancy was expected to grow by an additional 2,000 votes when updated numbers from Broward County, whose results initially were disqualified because they came in two minutes late, are added to the statewide results on Sunday.

    • How Newly Elected Attorneys General Could Thwart Trump’s Worst Moves

      Election Day, it might have been overlooked that there were attorney general races in key states. Attorneys general can make a real difference, particularly if they are willing to consistently bring lawsuits against the presidential agenda both to protect their state and the country as a whole. The election of several progressives last week means that might soon be in the cards.

      We’ve already seen the power of progressive attorneys general banding together. On Election Day, the attorneys general of 18 states sent a joint comment on proposed U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations that would undermine the settlement agreement in Flores v. Reno. Flores requires the federal government to favor the release of immigrants who are minors, even if they arrive with their parents. After 20 days, the children must be released and placed in foster or shelter care. The administration has proposed undercutting the Flores settlement so drastically as to render it defunct.

      Similarly, attorneys general in Maryland and Washington, D.C. are the plaintiffs in an emoluments lawsuit against President Donald Trump. A federal court recently ruled that lawsuit could proceed, which means the litigation discovery process might soon lay bare one facet of Trump’s corruption.

    • How Workers Of Color Helped Democrats Defeat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

      The midterm elections may have been a mixture of jubilation and disappointment for progressives, but Wisconsin was certainly a story worth celebrating, as voters ousted Republican Governor Scott Walker, who was notorious for his attacks on labor unions.

      Walker’s attempt at a third term was thwarted by Democratic challenger Tony Evers. Organized labor strongly backed his campaign.

      The most striking component of Walker’s loss was the turnout. Almost 60 percent of eligible Wisconsin voters made it to the polls, which is about 2.6 million people. That’s more than any previous midterm in the state and more than the amount that showed up for the recall election in 2012, which Walker won.

      However, record numbers certainly did not produce a slam dunk for Evers: he beat Walker by a mere 1.2 points, a little more than 30,000 votes.

      Wisconsin’s exit polls point to yet another noteworthy election take away—that black and Latino voters likely were a definitive force in electing Evers.

      Although such polls are never completely accurate, it seems clear that black voters outperformed white voters proportionally. This fact is even more staggering when one considers that the state’s black voter turnout declined by 19 percent in 2016, over four times the national average.

    • Native Voters Made Decisive Impact on Elections in Battleground States

      Nearly a week after ballots were cast in contentious midterm elections primarily seen as a referendum on the Trump administration, the race for Arizona senator was called in favor of the Democratic candidate, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (now senator-elect) — the first Democratic win for this seat in three decades. In the final tally, Sinema won by about 53,000 votes out of more than 2.36 million votes cast — an incredibly close race that fell well within the reach of Native American voters in the state to deliver. The bulk of these Native American voters reside in just three counties (Coconino, Navajo and Apache Counties) that encompass the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the United States, with a reservation that is slightly larger than New England and extends into three states. Based on US Census 2017 population estimates for those counties and 2010 Census ethnic/racial statistics, some 40,000 of the 65,858 votes cast for Sinema in those counties likely came from Native American voters.

      Sinema’s victory points to a larger pattern shaping elections: In counties with Native American-majority populations in North Dakota, Montana and Arizona (all states that had closely contested Senate races this year), Democrats won upwards of 80 percent of the vote. Contrasted with neighboring white-majority rural counties which vote overwhelmingly Republican, Indian country is indeed another country. Moreover, in battleground states in the West where the push and pull between historically rural red voters and a growing population of urban blue voters leaves contests as close as a few thousand votes, the Native American electorate is often left to choose the winner.

    • Judge Blocks White House From Pulling Jim Acosta’s Press Pass, But The Battle Continues

      Last week I wrote about the case that CNN and its reporter Jim Acosta had filed against the White House for the removal of his press pass over some trumped up claims that he had “assaulted” a White House intern (he did not, he simply resisted returning the microphone to her after she attempted to grab it from him). As we noted, the removal of the pass was clearly based on the content of his questioning and it seemed fairly obvious that the White House would lose the lawsuit, especially based on the existing precedent in Sherrill v. Knight, which gave CNN clear basis under both the 1st Amendment and the 5th Amendment.

      Perhaps not surprisingly, a bunch of Trump supporters quickly ran to the comments to screech at me about how wrong and biased I was against them. Let’s be clear: this is bullshit. I would have written the same article had Obama removed the press pass of a Fox News reporter under identical circumstances (and, frankly, the Trump supporters here should learn to think beyond their obsession with defending “dear leader” in everything he does, because the same rules will apply when other Presidents are in charge, and they may not always like it in the other direction). The Constitutional elements here are pretty clear. The White House is allowed to set non-content-based rules for who gets a press pass, but once they do that, they absolutely cannot remove a press pass for anything having to do with content, and they can’t simply make up rules to remove someone without any form of due process.

    • ‘We Need New Leaders, Period’: Embracing Primary Challenges and Bold Agenda, In-Coming Progressives Did Not Come to Play

      “All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the representative-elect from New York, on the call organized by Justice Democrats. “I don’t think people who are taking money from pharmaceutical companies should be drafting health care legislation. I don’t think people who are taking money from oil and gas companies should be drafting climate legislation.”

      Becky Bond, a political strategist and veteran of the 2016 presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, applauded Justice Democrats as being” founded by some of the best strategists in the progressive movement” and said she believes “the group’s young, vibrant leaders are going to recruit and usher in the next generation of diverse working-class leaders into Congress.”

    • Shithole Countries: Made in the USA

      In two years, the world has become accustomed to being shocked by the words and actions of United States President Donald Trump. In January of this year, he again showed his lack of diplomacy, tack and common decency, when he referred to many poorer countries as “sh*ithole countries”, asking “Why do we want all these people from sh*thole countries coming here?” Former member of the House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, in her new book, How the US Creates ‘Sh*thole’ Countries, has gathered a collection of essays, including one of her own, that clearly shows that it is the U.S. that is responsible for the poverty and suffering in these very nations.

      The first series of essays describes U.S. foreign policy, and its true motives. In the essay, “The End of Washington’s ‘Wars on the Cheap’,” The Saker sums of U.S. foreign policy as follows: “Here’s the template for typical Empire action: find some weak country, subvert it, accuse it of human right violations, slap economic sanctions, trigger riots and intervene militarily in ‘defense’ of ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’ and ‘self-determination’ (or some other combo of equally pious and meaningless concepts).” The hypocrisy of such a policy is obvious. A weak and vulnerable nation is victimized by a far more powerful one. The U.S. has done this countless times in its ugly history, and there appears to be no appetite in the government to change.

      This introduction and explanation of U.S. foreign policy is followed by essays on some, but certainly not all, of the countries that have been victimized by the United States, usually following the ‘template’ previously mentioned. As McKinney states in her essay, “Somalia: Is Somalia the U.S. Template for All of Africa,” “…while mouthing freedom, democracy, and liberty, the United States has denied these very aspirations to others, especially when it inconvenienced the US or its allies. In Mozambique and Angola, the US stood with Portugal until it was the Portuguese people, themselves, who threw off their government and voted in a socialist government that vowed to free Portugal of its colonies.”

    • Filipino Reporter Maria Ressa on Duterte’s Targeting of the Press & How Facebook Aids Authoritarians

      As Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte amps up his attacks on the free press, we speak with renowned Filipino journalist Maria Ressa about Duterte’s deadly “war on drugs,” his affinity for Donald Trump, and his weaponization of social media. Ressa is the CEO and executive editor of the leading independent Filipino news site The Rappler, which Duterte has repeatedly tried to shut down. Last week, the Filipino government indicted her for tax evasion in what is widely seen as the government’s latest attack on the website. We speak with Maria Ressa in New York City. She has received the 2018 Knight International Journalism Award and the Committee to Protect Journalists 2018 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award.

    • An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections

      Henry Wallace said the 20th should be the ‘century of the common man’. It wasn’t. Nor is this one.
      This one opened with a ‘war on terror’ whose only legacy (and perhaps, only goal) was to curb whatever rights and protections the common man had secured before September 11, 2001. Including privacy, free-speech, trial, and status as civilians.

      Wallace was a sincere and able politician. So the alleged party of the common man -then, the Democrats- made sure it wasn’t his century, either. Trump, in contrast, is as fake and incompetent as it gets. He rules by tantrum, and thinks the world should pout with him. And he’s willing to gas us all for a few coal-dollars more. Despite what they say, the Democrats want to let him cry it out. After all, he’s only there because he appealed to the common man. It’s easier just to clear the room (particularly the chat room), than upstage him.

      Of course, Democrats prefer their stalled occupation, to the Right’s total war. Paradoxically, the last few weeks they spent all they could, convincing us these midterms would decide, in absolute terms, the future of democracy, perhaps even -with our climate-chances narrowing- humankind, itself. So, show faith in the stalled party?

      This remarkably-indecisive war to end all wars just happened to coincide with the anniversary of peace in WWI. With the midterms now over, the trenches seem as much advanced now as in 1918. The ‘Blue Wave’, which I doubt anyone really expected, gently rocked the House -the ‘lower’ branch. Meanwhile, the Senate got worse, the court and cabinet had already, hence, so can Trump.

      Mind, a Pyhrric loss is still a win for the DNC, as it highlights their only excuses for running -Trump and the Republicans- without raising hopes that a Democratic majority also wouldn’t fulfill. But what sucks is all the liberal hype about him marching us up to 1939 does 1) squat to contain the horror he actually brings. 2) invites the few horrors he doesn’t. Namely, the ones the Democrats had mastered, already.

    • Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America

      If they’re Latinos and Hispanics, as they go to the polls they are aware their choice is either Trump Republicans who consider them enemies, criminals and drug pushers; or Democrats who, in the past under Obama, deported their relatives in record numbers and repeatedly abandon programs like DACA (‘Dreamers) as a tactical political necessity, as they say. Who will they trust least? One shouldn’t be surprised if they too largely sit it out, harboring a deep sense of betrayal by Democrats and concern they may soon become the next ‘enemy within’ target of Trump and his White Nationalist shock troops who are being organized and mobilized behind the scenes by Trump’s radical right wing buddy, Steve Bannon, and his billionaire and media friends.

      If they’re African Americans, they know from decades of experience that nothing changes with police harassment and murders, regardless which party is in power.

      If they’re union workers in the Midwest, they know the Democrats are the party of free trade and job offshoring, while Republicans are the party favoring low minimum wages, elimination of overtime pay, privatization of pensions, and cuts to social security.

      All these key swing groups of Millennials, Hispanics, African-Americans, and union workers in the midwest—i.e. those who gave Obama an overwhelming victory in 2008, gave him one more chance in office in 2012 despite failure to deliver, and then gave up on the unfulfilled promises in 2016—will likely not be thinking about the real ‘issues’ as they go to the polls. For the ‘Great Distraction’ is underway like never before.

    • Trump’s Military Deployment to the US-Mexico Border Is Illegal

      Donald Trump’s decision to send thousands of troops to the US-Mexican border to intercept migrants who intend to apply for asylum is not just a bald-faced political stunt — it is also illegal.

      Passed in 1878 to end the use of federal troops in overseeing elections in the post–Civil War South, the Posse Comitatus Act forbids the use of the military to enforce domestic US laws, including immigration laws. For this reason, Trump’s decision to deploy the military to the border to enforce US immigration law against thousands of desperate migrants from Central America — who have undertaken the perilous journey over 1,000 miles through Mexico to the US border in order to apply for asylum — is an unlawful order.

      Kathleen Gilberd, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild’s Military Law Task Force, told Truthout, “The deployment of US troops to the Southern border is an illegitimate political ploy and a serious misuse of the military. This action casts shame on a government that treats refugees seeking asylum as enemies.”

      The illegality of Trump’s order to the military opens the door to the possibility that service members will resist it: Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Nuremberg Principles and Army Field Manuals, service members have a duty to obey lawful orders and a duty to disobey unlawful orders.

      Before the midterm elections, pandering to his nativist base, Trump began the deployment of 5,200 active duty troops to Texas, California and Arizona at the southern US border, with the promise of nearly 10,000 more. On October 29, describing the impending arrival of migrants seeking asylum as an “invasion,” Trump tweeted, “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

    • What We Must Do Now: Abrams, Georgia & Something Extraordinary

      Abrams, in her I-won’t-concede speech on Friday, cited one victim of the purge: 92-year-old Christine Jordan. I filmed Jordan on Election Day at the polling station she’d voted at for fifty years. Until this year, when her name was simply wiped off the voter rolls.

      That should give “Governor-elect” Kemp pause. Because that’s the signal that this heartbreaking story will become the hammer to smash the Kemp-created Jim Crow machine.

      (And Ms. Jordan is up to the task, telling me she’s willing to take the fight into federal court, “If somebody will help me walk there.”)

      The immediate weapon will be litigation against the State of Georgia to show that the election was hopelessly tainted, which, under Georgia statute, could result in a court throwing out the whole rotting dung-heap of an election. That is why Abrams technically did not concede, but rather dropped her claim to office. (Lawyers will understand that she has to maintain “standing.”)

      Abrams vocally took up the issue of the massive purge of voters — and intends to defend those purged. This is what’s really historic about her candidacy. Yes, Abrams is the first African-American woman nominated for governor by the Democratic Party. More revolutionary is that she is the first Democratic candidate to demand an end to racist ethnic cleansing of the voter rolls. (If Al Gore had taken that stance in 2000, maybe Stacey would be Governor today — and, hey Al, they’d be calling you Mr. President.)

      Our investigation produced the facts — and the names and addresses of the 340,134 voters wrongly purged for supposedly moving out of Georgia or out of their congressional districts — but never moved an inch.

      We are now free to hand over those lists to the Abrams litigation team, the NAACP, the SCLC, ACLU and others who are opening courtroom fronts. We are working with them all.

    • Donald Trump’s fascist politics and the language of disappearance

      In an age when speed overcomes thought, a culture of immediacy blots out any vestige of historical memory and markets replace social categories, language loses its critical moorings and becomes what Chris Hedges has called “a gift to demagogues and the corporations that saturate the landscape with manipulated images and the idiom of mass culture.”

      No longer a vehicle for critique, doubt or possibility, language in the age of Donald Trump upholds the cultural and political workstations of ignorance and paves the way for a formative culture ripe with the death-saturated practices and protocols of fascist politics. As a species of neoliberal fascism eradicates social bonds and democratic communal relations, vulgarity parades as political wisdom and moral cowardice becomes a mark of pride. In a neoliberal age that has a high threshold of disappearance, the sins of a Vichy-inspired history have returned and are deeply rooted in a Republican Party that is as criminogenic as it is morally irresponsible and politically corrupt.

    • What Can We Expect From the Democrat “Alternative” in California?

      Will the victories of the Democrats in 2018 be the beginning of a brighter and more hopeful period? One might have doubts given that large majorities of Democrats in both the House and Senate recently voted for a defense budget that is more than $80 billion higher than the previous one, and higher than what was requested by the Trump regime.

      Looking at what Democrats do when they are in power, as they have been in California during the last eight years, might reveal what they will do if they gain control of Congress and the Presidency in 2020. Since 2011, the Democrats have had close to total dominance of California’s politics–holding every executive office and having large majorities in both houses of its state legislature, a time when a simple majority vote in each body is needed to pass the state budget. Have California Democrats robustly funded public education, an issue presumably dear to the heart of supporters of the Democrats? No.

      Among all states, in 2015-16, California ranked 41stin spending per K-12 student, 37thin spending as a share of the economy, and had the highest number of students per teacher in the nation.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Prosecutors Charge Suspect With Evidence Tampering After A Seized iPhone Is Wiped Remotely

      Grant now faces three felonies: two counts of evidence tampering and one count of hindering prosecution. One count of evidence tampering related to the alleged phone wipe. The other two counts listed are related to concealing the shooter’s identity and disposing of the weapon used.

      Grant purchased a new iPhone some time after her other one was seized. It could be her logon from a new device erased files on her old one, but that seems unlikely and the dates don’t really line up. Her lawyer says she got a new phone “days after” the cops took her first one, but the documents alleging evidence tampering says it happened less than 24 hours after the alleged drive-by. Supposedly, Grant isn’t a “computer-savvy person,” according to her attorney, but it’s not all that tough to do even for someone with limited tech skill

      The easiest method for remote wiping would be using Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature, which has “Erase iPhone” right on the landing page. This seems to be the likeliest explanation for what happened, although it may be Grant herself did not trigger the remote wipe.

    • After Being Hit With A ‘Motion For Return Of Property,’ Gov’t Agrees To Delete Data Copied From A Traveler’s Phone

      A couple of months ago, Rejhane Lazoja, an American Muslim, sued (sort of… ) the DHS over the search of her iPhone at the border. According to her allegations, CBP officers detained her and demanded she unlock her phone for them. She refused. The CBP seized her phone and searched it anyway, copying all the data it could from her device. It returned the phone to her over three months after it had taken it.

      Lazoja didn’t allege civil rights violations in her courtroom motion. In fact, it wasn’t even technically a lawsuit. Instead, with the help of CAIR, Lazoja filed a Rule 41(g) motion — something normally used to challenge seizures and forfeitures. In this case, Lazoja wanted her data back — the data CBP had copied from her phone.

      Lazoja leveraged CBP’s own policies against it, pointing out its internal guidelines say seized data must be destroyed unless it is determined there’s probable cause to retain it. Since this search occurred at the border, it’s safe to say the CBP did it because it could, not because it could be justified under the more-stringent standard required further inland.

      Apparently, the CBP agrees with this assessment. Or, at least, it has decided this isn’t the hill it’s going seek precedent on. As Cyrus Farivar reports for Ars Technica, the government has agreed to delete — i.e., “return” — Lazoja’s phone data.

    • Yet Another GDPR Disaster: Journalists Ordered To Hand Over Secret Sources Under ‘Data Protection’ Law

      When the GDPR was being debated, we warned that it would be a disaster for free speech. Now that it’s been in effect for about six months, we’re seeing that play out in all sorts of ways. We’ve talked about how it was used to disappear public court documents for an ongoing case, and then used to disappear a discussion about that disappearing court document. And we wrote about how it’s been used against us to hide a still newsworthy story (and that leaves out one other GDPR demand we’ve received in an attempt to disappear a story that I can’t even talk about yet).

      When I wrote about all of this both here on Techdirt and on Twitter, I had a bunch of “data protection experts” in Europe completely freak out at me that I had no idea what I was talking about, and how any negative impact was simply the result of everyone misreading the GDPR. I kept trying to point out to them that even if that’s true in theory, out here in the real world, the law was being used to disappear news stories and was creating massive chilling effects and burdens on journalists. And the response was the same: nah, you’re reading the law wrong.

      And now we have an even more horrifying story of the damage the GDPR is doing to journalism. There’s a Romanian investigatory journalism publication called RISE Project that has reported on corruption in Romanian politics. Not surprisingly, not everyone is happy about that. OCCRP — the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project — a partner to RISE Project has the worrisome details about how the very Romanian government that RISE Project has been breaking corruption stories on has magically found the need to use the GDPR to demand the journalists turn over their sources.

    • Microsoft slips ads into Windows 10 Mail client – then U-turns so hard, it warps fabric of reality
    • With Facebook at ‘War,’ Zuckerberg Adopts More Aggressive Style

      Mark Zuckerberg gathered about 50 of his top lieutenants earlier this year and told them that Facebook Inc. was at war and he planned to lead the company accordingly.

      During times of peace, executives can move more slowly and ensure that everybody is on board with key decisions, he said during the June meeting, according to people familiar with the remarks. But with Facebook under siege from lawmakers, investors and angry users, he needed to act more decisively, the people said.

    • Things Are Really, Really Bad At Facebook; Zuckerberg Turns Aggressive

      A report by The Wall Street Journal has pointed out that Zuckerberg’s new aggressive approach has forced many top executives to leave the company. Facebook CEO also blamed Sheryl Sandberg for the public fallout over the Cambridge Analytica scandal and reportedly got her to wonder about the security of her job at Facebook.

    • The Next Data Mine Is Your Bedroom

      If this sounds invasive, it’s important to recognize this is already happening, just online. Google and Facebook both record and analyze user behavior, use it to sort people into categories, then target them with ads and other content. Facebook likely knows your race and religion, while Google uses your emails and search history to sort you into ad-ready brackets. Netflix infers all types of data on users based on what they watch, then serves back hyper specific movie and TV categories. This patent simply expands the areas in which your behavior is already mined and recorded from your phone and laptop to your bedroom.

      And your children’s bedrooms. The second patent proposes a smart home system that would help run the household, using sensors and cameras to restrict kids’ behavior. Parents could program the device to note if it overhears “foul language” from children, scan [I]nternet usage for mature or objectionable content, or use “occupancy sensors” to determine if certain areas of the house are accessed while they’re gone— for example, the liquor cabinet. The system could be set to “change a smart lighting system color to red and flash the lights” as a warning to children or even power off lights and devices if they’re grounded.

    • Why are people so poor at making privacy choices? What can be done about it?

      Privacy News Online explores a rich mix of information about privacy. Things like threats to privacy, privacy wins, ways to enhance privacy. One common thread is how bad people are at protecting their privacy. So why is that? That’s not a topic explored much, which makes a recent feature in the Harvard Business Review particularly valuable. It goes beyond pointing out that people make poor choices when it comes to protecting their personal data, and attempts to understand the key reasons for that failure. Here are the main categories discerned by the article’s author, Leslie K. John, who is an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘We are capitulating to extremists’

      Asia Bibi is currently in a state of limbo. She had spent eight years in prison, on death row, by the time Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned her conviction for blasphemy. But since her acquittal, protests have erupted across Pakistan. The government has prevented her from leaving the country until a petition calling for her acquittal to be overturned can be heard in the courts.

      Even if Bibi does manage to leave, there is one country that has refused to offer her asylum: Britain. Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, who is in contact with Bibi and her family, revealed last week that British officials had fears of unrest if Bibi came here. spiked caught up with Chowdhry to discuss the ramifications of the Bibi case in Pakistan and Britain.

    • Meet the Prisoners Being Paid $1 an Hour to Battle the Deadly Climate-Fueled Fires of California

      As the death toll from the Camp Fire rises to 77, California is combatting its deadliest fire in state history using prison labor. Some 1,500 of the 9,400 firefighters currently battling fires in California are incarcerated. They make just a dollar an hour, but are rarely eligible to get jobs as firefighters after their release. According to some estimates, California saves up to $100 million a year by using prison labor to fight its biggest environmental problem. In September the Democracy Now! team traveled to the Delta Conservation Camp in Northern California, a low-security prison where more than 100 men are imprisoned. We interviewed incarcerated firefighters who had just returned from a 24-hour shift fighting the Snell Fire in Napa County.

    • Indiana State Police Turn Down Elkhart Mayor’s Request for Broad Review of City’s Police Department

      The Indiana State Police have declined a request by Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese to investigate his city’s Police Department in the wake of reporting by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica that revealed a handcuffed man’s beating by Elkhart officers and examined the disciplinary records of higher-ranking officers.

      Capt. David Bursten, a state police spokesman, said in a statement Monday the agency would not participate in the criminal case against officers Cory Newland and Joshua Titus, or in the type of broader review of the Elkhart police that Neese requested last week. He instead suggested that the mayor approach the U.S. Department of Justice.

      Elkhart County prosecutors have filed a single misdemeanor count of battery against each officer in the Jan. 12 beating of Mario Guerrero Ledesma.

      The prosecutor’s office was “very well engaged” in the case and there was no reason for an investigation by the state police, Bursten said.

      The mayor also called Thursday for a “very thorough and far-reaching” investigation by the state police of any patterns of excessive force and “anything that relates to the Elkhart Police Department.” At the time, Neese said he had spoken with Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter about his request. But on Monday, Bursten said in his statement the state police had declined to undertake such a review.

    • Police Misconduct, Data Breaches, And The Ongoing Lack Of Accountability That Allows These To Continue

      Two of the most damaging breaches in recent years involved millions of people who were given little or no choice in how much personal data of theirs was held by these entities. One was the Office of Personnel Management. Those seeking government jobs turn over a lot of info to the government, which then handles it carelessly.

      The other — Equifax — was even worse, at least in terms of consent. There was none. No one voluntarily hands information to Equifax. It’s gathered by Equifax which sells access to any number of companies seeking credit records. No one opts in and, more importantly, there’s no way to opt out.

      No one can hold these entities accountable, at least not to the extent it will deter future breaches. Because of that, the only thing we’re guaranteed is more breaches. These companies and agencies will continue to exist, hoovering up even more personal data, and, eventually, leave it exposed where criminals can make the most of other people’s finances.

    • The Institutionalization of Social Justice

      A few months ago, mathematician Theodore Hill described in a Quillette essay how progressive groups were able to get a research paper of his on a biological phenomenon known as the “Greater Male Variability Hypothesis” removed from two separate journals, as well as to intimidate his co-author into silence.

      Hill’s article was published just a week after another article by endocrinologist Jeffrey Flier, former dean of Harvard Medical School, who described how social justice activists had managed to get an academic journal to initiate a review of an already-published research paper by Brown University medical researcher Lisa Littman on gender dysphoria. Brown also deleted a reference to the paper from its website.

      Both Hill and Flier point out that they’ve never experienced anything like this before. Hill wrote: “In my 40 years of publishing research papers I had never heard of the rejection of an already-accepted paper.” Flier noted: “In all my years in academia, I have never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal within days of publishing a paper that the journal already had subjected to peer review, accepted and published.”

    • What a Portrait of General Robert E. Lee Means for One Man’s Capital Trial

      Racial bias can affect a capital punishment case at every legal step. The result of that bias can be deadly.
      Anyone walking into the sole courtroom in the town of Louisa, Virginia, is met by an array of portraits covering nearly every square inch of the walls. Overwhelmingly they feature white men. Though on first glance, most of them are not recognizable, one is unmistakable. It’s a looming image that dominates the back wall of the courtroom, directly across from the judge. The portrait is of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, in uniform, sword unsheathed at his side.

      The presence and prominence of Lee’s portrait in a courthouse in Louisa County speak to the kinds of bias found in courts of law across the country, and it demands reflection on and analysis of those biases.

      Since the end of the Civil War, Lee has come to symbolize a society premised on white supremacy that intrinsically promotes the dehumanization of people of color, specifically of Black people. Lee’s image and name blemish public spaces throughout the United States, but they are particularly prevalent in the former slave states of the Confederacy. When a symbol of white supremacy appears in a public space charged with the administration of justice, it visually endorses a two-tiered legal system premised on differentiating the value of lives based on race.

      This warped weighing can have a particularly disastrous consequence in a case where the death penalty is on the table. In Louisa, Darcel Murphy, a Black defendant, is facing a trial for his life in the courtroom housing this menacing reminder of our nation’s legacy of racialized violence. As Murphy’s attorney argued last week, in support of his previously filed motion, he should not be forced to endure a proceeding tainted by the insidious effect of Confederate symbols, memorials, and iconography.

      Unless the judge grants the motion, Murphy will be tried in an environment ripe for improper considerations of race.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Cord Cutting Sets More Records, Yet Many Cable Giants Still Refuse To Compete On Price

      Despite the obvious realities that ratings are sharply down and consumers are cutting the cord, there’s a vibrant and loyal segment of cable and broadcast executives and analysts who still somehow believe cord cutting is a myth. Every few months, you’ll see a report about how cord cutting is either nonexistent or overstated. Often, they’ll try to claim that cord cutters are just lame weirdos they didn’t want anyway, or that this is just a temporary trend that stops once more Millennials procreate.

      Newsflash: it’s not stopping.

      The latest data from Kagan indicates traditional pay TV providers lost another 1.3 million subscribers last quarter as users continued to flock to streaming alternatives, embrace the use of over the air antennas, or embrace piracy (something analysts traditionally never mention, as if acknowledging this fact somehow condones it). A big part of this latest surge in losses were courtesy of Dish Network, which saw a record 367,000 departures as its satellite TV customers flocked to greener and cheaper pastures, including Dish’s cheaper Sling TV alternative.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Koh rules Qualcomm is Obligated to License SEPs to Competitors

      On Tuesday, November 6th, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California entered an order in the antitrust case brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against San Diego, CA-based semiconductor developer Qualcomm Inc. Judge Koh’s order granted a motion filed by the FTC for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether a pair of industry agreements obligates Qualcomm to license its standard essential patents (SEPs) to competing suppliers of modem chips.

      This case was initiated by the FTC in January 2017 when the trade regulator filed suit against Qualcomm alleging antitrust claims including exclusionary tactics in violation of fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) obligations which Qualcomm is subject to under agreements signed with standard-setting organizations (SSOs). The FTC alleged that Qualcomm is a dominant supplier of modem chips, holds several SEPs which are essential to widely adopted cellular standards and has violated Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. § 45). These alleged violations include Qualcomm’s refusal to sell modem chips to a customer unless the customer pays what the FTC termed “elevated royalties” for a license to Qualcomm’s SEPs, Qualcomm’s refusal to license SEPs to competing modem chip suppliers and Qualcomm’s “exclusive dealing arrangements” with consumer tech giant Apple.

    • The Bumpy Road To Selection Patents In India [Ed: IP Watch has been reduced to propaganda platform of law firms today. Or "patentability of selected novel species."]

      The patenting of selection inventions is not plain sailing in India. The patentability of such inventions must be determined in accordance with the general provisions of the Indian Patents Act, as there is no separate provision for the same in the Act. Of the said general provisions, the assessment of inventive step and testing under section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act can be perceived as the most critical to patentability of selected novel species. Additionally, the concepts of ‘implicit disclosure’ and the contrasting views on ‘coverage vs disclosure’ frequently makes it challenging for applicants to defend their novel selection under the Indian scenario. Given the lack of enough precedents in India on this aspect, to date the fate of selection patents depends mostly on the judgement of the patent controllers. Not all hope is lost, however, since not only the Indian Patent Office, but also the IPAB and higher Courts have time-and-again acknowledged the existence of selection patents in India.

    • Trademarks

      • Red Bull Fails To Block Trademark Registration In EU Over Logos That Aren’t All That Similar

        While it is by no means the most litigious beverage company ever, Red Bull is not a complete stranger to trademark bullying. The last we heard from the iconic energy drink company, it was making legal arguments over bovines and their castrated status somehow rising to the level of trademark infringement. It seems that Red Bull typically likes to do its bullying during the trademark application status rather than in legal proceedings, but the universe is currently running an experiment to see just how hard and fast a rule this is for the company.

        That experiment takes the form of Red Bull attempting, and failing, to oppose the trademark registration for a beverage company called “Big Horn” over the following logos.


        Red Bull has suffered a painful defeat. On 23 May, the Opposition Division of European Trademark Office EUIPO ruled that the device mark Big Horn did not infringe Red Bull’s logo and could therefore be registered as a European trademark for energy drinks.

    • Copyrights

      • Cyberpolice Raid Pirate Site For Infringing Universal’s Copyrights

        Officers from Ukraine’s cyberpolice unit have raided the home of the alleged operator of a pirate streaming portal suspected of infringing the rights of Universal City Studios and many other entertainment companies. A 24-year-old man, who is also believed to be behind another 10 pirate sites, now faces up to six years in prison.

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