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11.22.18

Thanksgiving EPO Roundup: UPC Lies, Software Patents Considered Harmful and SUEPO Condemns Union-Busting Activities (Which Carry on Under António Campinos)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 7:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Minnoye MAGA

Summary: The latest EPO news, including the habitual lies about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) courtesy of those looking to increase litigation rates

TODAY is a relatively calm day (Thanksgiving in the United States), but that does not mean that EPO scandals can be ignored. There are some bits — not necessarily news — that need highlighting today.

First of all, Bristows LLP has just woken up. It wrote a UPC blog post for the first time in several months (they used to write several times per week). It was published at least 4 times throughout the day (different revisions due to their lousy CMS). As usual, Bristows (Gregory Bacon in this case) is maintaining the illusion, lie and fiction that the UPC is about to happen. But no ‘unitary’ patents exist and UPC is basically dead; even Team UPC nearly quit mentioning that (it’s hard to find mentions of it any longer and EPO management almost never utters those words). The final words from Bristows: “The Italian Ministry of Justice announced in 2016 that a local division of the UPC will be in Milan (in an existing court building at via San Barnaba 50).”

Will? Would? In 2016 or thereabouts Bristows also advertised UPC jobs in the UK — jobs that never existed and will never exist. Is that not against the law?

But it wasn’t just Bristows; “Not to be confused with the much delayed Unitary Patent,” Novagraaf wrote some hours ago as if the UPC is “delayed” rather than dead. This help perpetuate those infamous old lies about inevitability. They belittle the court and show disdain for justice.

Speaking of disdain for justice, how about the EPO granting software patents in Europe in defiance of courts, Parliament and the EPC?

The EPO resumed advocacy of this abomination earlier today (as it does every day). By “emerging technologies” the EPO nowadays means abstract software patents (described using much-hyped words and acronyms). The referenced page is all about “AI” and other such buzzwords.

“One easy solution is to outright forbid patents on software,” Benjamin Henrion noted today, citing and quoting Jonathan Rosenberg’s new article titled “Software Patents Considered Harmful” (in Medium).

It’s quite long and here are the opening words:

Friends and relatives who are not in the technology industry always ask me if I’ve ever gotten a patent. For them, a patent has this sheen of accomplishment. They believe it means you invented something, that you are an innovator, that you’ve done something no one has done before. I give a little chuckle, tell them that yes, I have a few patents (I actually have 90 issued U.S. patents), but that it’s not really a big deal, and thank you for asking. In reality, I’m being polite. I don’t want to burst their bubble, nor do I want to launch into a long tirade. Because, the reality is, that patents — and in particular — software patents — are a plague upon the industry. They hamper innovation. They cost companies millions and millions of dollars in frivolous law suits. They waste time and energy from people who just want to build products. They are anathema to the Internet. Software patents are harmful.

Software patents have three key characteristics which have resulted in their harmfulness. They are vague in terms of what is actually invented. They can be passed along as property. You can sue for infringement without making the product to which the patent applies. Lets cover each in turn.

Software patents may be the subject we’ll focus on this weekend in relation to the American system.

Last but not least, Märpel wrote at around 8PM on Thanksgiving, just to share the following item from Tuesday:

RESOLUTION

SUEPO members in Munich, gathered in a General Assembly, note that:
- The President, Mr Campinos has decided to face Elizabeth Hardon, former Chairman of SUEPO Munich and Chair of the Local Staff Committee Munich, with a new disciplinary committee instigated by the same old Administration which is still in place, and apparently with the same old charges.
- The Tribunal has already castigated the Administration’s behaviour in the cases of Ion Brumme (Judgment 4043) and Malika Weaver (Judgment 4042).
- The President did not take into account the instructions contained in the Resolution CA/26/16 dated 16 March 2016 to inform the Administrative Council of any new disciplinary proceedings concerning a staff representative and to consider the possibility of involvement of an external reviewer for arbitration or mediation.

Further noting that:
- Laurent Prunier, as Secretary of SUEPO The Hague and member of the Central Staff Committee, was dismissed for extraneous motives, similarly to Elizabeth, Malika and Ion.
- Staff representatives face difficulties accommodating their workload in the Appeals Committee with the workload in their other duties, mostly patent examination. Judgments 3971 and 4050 made public these difficulties, resulting in disciplinary measures against Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund, which the Tribunal considered “within the range of acceptability” or “not to be disproportionate”. It is now absolutely clear that those disciplinary measures were politically motivated as part of an intimidation campaign against staff representatives.

Expresses its disappointment about the continuation of the attacks initiated by former President, Mr Battistelli.
Expresses its deep concern that the President’s decision will prevent the restoration of social dialogue and further damage the reputation of the Office.

Urges the President:
- to drop the charges raised against Elizabeth Hardon,
- to reinstate Laurent Prunier in full,
- to provide reparation of the torts inflicted on Aurélien Pétiaud and Michael Lund

Munich, Tuesday 20 November

Union-busting activities have arguably exacerbated under António Campinos, who seemingly uses Bergot as his main attack dog. Less than a week ago SUEPO removed a sort of blog post that it had published a day earlier even though Bergot’s name was removed from the cited page. Nobody could ever explain to us whether this removal was due to another threat like the one in summer or in March (we wrote about that several times back then, even in February).

Update: SUEPO resolution voted by the SUEPO General Assembly held in Munich on Tuesday 20.11.2018 (with slight grammar-related edits)

Pressure is increasing on Campinos. The situation at EPO remains utterly negative: Campinos, who was said to be nominated by the Administrative Council because of his alleged proven record of good performance in the field of social partnership at Alicante, has done absolutely nothing concrete since his arrival last July, to redress the situation of the abusively sanctioned staff representatives all union officials (e.g. whilst solving the pending cases and redressing the past ones).

In reality he is protecting Elodie Bergot who as principal director HR at EPO is personally responsible for the social mess of the past five years. Bergot was behind the abusive sanctioning of all staff representatives and SUEPO officials and will do her best to torpedo “amicable settlements” she hates more than anything else.

Campinos is thus not acting bona fide when he on the one hand, claims to EPO staff he wishes to foster “amicable settlements” over litigations, but on the other hand since months, does nothing concretely to find solutions to the few pending cases of abusive sanctions which destroyed the life of those impacted.

The next step should thus be to involve the Administrative Council and the EU Institutions in Brussels to inform them that nothing has changed at the EPO and how within a few months, Mr Campinos seems to develop into a “mini Battistelli”, apparently happy to finish the work of his mentor.

Campinos’ lack of action is not going to improve the deteriorated reputation of the EPO as an employer as long as Rule of Law and the respect for the Duty of Care owed to all EPO staff are not re-established and seen to be re-established.

Links 22/11/2018: More Microsoft Woes, Release of GNU Bison 3.2.2

Posted in News Roundup at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Linux Apps Will Soon Get Access to Android Folders on Chrome OS

      As part of its commitment to make Chrome OS the right operating system for everyone and for everything, Google is now planning another major update that would provide Linux apps with access to Android folders.

      As things are right now, Chrome OS devices can run Chrome apps, Android apps from the Google Play Store, and Linux apps thanks to support for Debian.

      However, each platform runs in its very own closed sandbox for obvious security reasons. The only location you can access from all three platforms is the downloads folder, which obviously makes sense given users need to always be able to reach the files they get from the web.

    • Chrome OS might soon let Linux apps dip into Android folders
    • New era for Japan, familiar problems: Microsoft withdraws crash-tastic patches

      Stop us if you’ve heard this one, but Microsoft has pulled a couple of buggy patches in Office. It also left a crash-worthy Outlook security fix in place.

      The two non-security patches were part of this month’s Patch Tuesday, both for Office 2010. The patches in question were supposed to support Japan’s upcoming epochal turnover.

      Last year, Japanese Emperor Akihito announced that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Naruhito. As Microsoft explained in this blog post, that will bring the “Heisei era”* to a close, something that’s never happened “in the history of .NET” – meaning a calendar transition would be needed.

    • Microsoft leaks cause of Windows 10 October Update File Deletion bug

      A week ago Microsoft posted a two thousand word self-congratulatory blog post on how each bi-yearly Windows Update was better than the last, with happier users and fewer issues each time.

      This is despite users becoming increasingly wary of updating their PCs with more and more reports of serious and crippling bugs end users are often left to deal with.

      The blog post was exactly the opposite of what users were expecting – an explanation of what happened and of how Microsoft would prevent it from happening again.

  • Server

    • ​NZ Customs turn to Red Hat for eGate system upgrade

      New Zealand accepts around 25,000 international travellers through its borders each year, and with visitor arrivals forecasted to increase by 4.8 percent each year over the next five years, the country’s Customs Service upgraded its technology to keep pace.

      New Zealand Customs Service (NZ Customs) embarked on an eGate upgrade project, turning to Red Hat for a new automated way to get through passport control.

      NZ Customs developed a solution architecture based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP), Red Hat Fuse, and Red Hat AMQ.

      “Customs has been on a bit of a journey in the technology space, reinventing ourselves to address the challenges that a significant and on-going increase in passenger and trade poses to us,” NZ Customs chief architect Mat Black told Red Hat Forum 2018 in Sydney on Wednesday.

    • ANZ Bank and New Zealand Customs Service Honored as Red Hat Innovation Awards APAC 2018 Winners in ANZ
    • Yo Red Hat — OpenStack Platform 14 based on Rocky

      Red Hat appears to be continuing with its normal course of business (and product roll out programme) under the ownership of its new IBM parent — the firm’s OpenStack Platform 14 has been launched this month.

      This is Red Hat’s cloud-native (and indeed apps-ready) Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

      Based on the OpenStack “Rocky” community release, version 14 is said to more tightly integrate with Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, its Kubernetes platform.

      The new version is also shaped for better bare-metal resource consumption and enhanced deployment automation.

      The mission statement for this software (if there were an official one) would be Red Hat OpenStack Platform 14 aims to deliver a single infrastructure offering that can act as a foundation for traditional, virtualised and cloud-native workloads.

  • Kernel Space

    • Patches For The Better Spectre STIBP Approach Revised – Version 7 Under Review

      Version 7 of the task property based options to enable Spectre V2 userspace-userspace protection patches, a.k.a. the work offering improved / less regressing approach for STIBP, is now available for testing and code review.

      Tim Chen of Intel sent out the seventh revision to these patches on Tuesday night. Besides the Spectre V2 app-to-app protection modes, these patches include the work for disabling STIBP (Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors) when enhanced IBRS (Indirect Branch Restricted Speculation) is supported/used, and allowing for STIBP to be enabled manually and just by default for non-dumpable tasks.

    • Graphics Stack

      • More NIR Optimizations En Route, “Soft FP64″ Still Being Worked On

        When it comes to letdowns for Mesa in 2018, sadly OpenGL 4.6 support didn’t reach mainline. Another unfortunate feature not making it into the Mesa 18.x release series is the “soft FP64″ support to allow some older GPUs to work with OpenGL 4.x. While we haven’t seen any new soft FP64 patches in a while, not all hope is lost.

        It’s been a while since any exciting soft FP64 work was presented, but this work is notable in it will let AMD Evergreen GPUs expose OpenGL 4.3 with the open-source driver stack. This FP64 emulation support will also help out older Intel and NVIDIA (via Nouveau) GPUs as well that lack native hardware double precision floating point capabilities.

      • More DRM Changes Queued Ahead Of Linux 4.21

        Another batch of drm-misc-next changes has been staged ahead of the Linux 4.21 kernel merge window that will open at the end of December or early January.

        This latest round of drm-misc-next code includes more core changes as well as changes to the smaller Direct Rendering Manager drivers that don’t otherwise send in their own pull requests direct to DRM-Next.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Krita Updated on Steam

        We have finally figured out how to update Krita on Steam to the latest version. We’re really sorry for the long delays, but we plan to keep Krita up to date from now.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME’s Mutter On Wayland Will Now Support GPU Hot-Plugging

        GNOME’s Mutter compositor native back-end will now deal with GPU hot-plugging at run-time and begin managing its display outputs.

        GPU hot-plugging isn’t particularly common but this Mutter backend work was done to improve the USB DisplayLink graphics support. This GPU hotplug code may also help external GPUs like those connected via Thunderbolt.

      • Rust loves GNOME Hackfest

        Last week I was in Thessaloniki, Greece for the GNOME+Rust Hackfest #4. I liked the city, but sadly during the weekend we had really bad weather, and it was much colder then I excepted. The hackfest itself was awesome though. The thing I liked the most was starting to contribute to new projects. I guess it’s so much easier to get started when you have the maintainer sitting next to you and you can bother them with your silly questions ;).

        I had some time to do sightseeing as well. The city has a long and interesting history. Everybody who goes to Thessaloniki should go to one of the most known monuments of the city: the white tower. It gives you a pretty good overview of the history of the city. And also the panorama view you get on top of the building is really good.

      • Federico Mena-Quintero: Propagating Errors

        Lately, I have been converting the code in librsvg that handles XML from C to Rust. For many technical reasons, the library still uses libxml2, GNOME’s historic XML parsing library, but some of the callbacks to handle XML events like start_element, end_element, characters, are now implemented in Rust. This has meant that I’m running into all the cases where the original C code in librsvg failed to handle errors properly; Rust really makes it obvious when that happens.

        In this post I want to talk a bit about propagating errors. You call a function, it returns an error, and then what?

      • Zeeshan Ali: GNOME+Rust Hackfest #4

        Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 4th GNOME+Rust hackfest in Thessaloniki, Greece. While other folks were mainly focused on the infrastructure work, with my Rust being extremely rusty as of late, I decided to do something that tests the infra instead. More specifically, I took up on Sebastian’s challenge of “Maybe someone should write a gst-inspect replacement in Rust”. I am happy to report that by the end of the hackfest, I already have an implementation that covers 30% of the typical usage of gst-inspect. This implementation also comes pre-built with paging by default (which I only recently added to the current gst-inspect) and colored output (MR on existing gst-inspect still pending review).

        I did run into some rather interesting issues though but there was always someone who could help me out. One specific one was on how best to pipe the output in Rust to a pager. This took more than a day and my implementation was mostly very similar to the one I did in C. Then I consulted Alex Crichton, who was able to come up with a much cleaner solution in 5 minutes. Another issue was that I wanted to name the binary ‘gst-inspect-1.0′ but turned out Cargo currently doesn’t allow that. It’s not big deal and I went with ‘gst-inspect’ (which might be a better name anyway to avoid conflict with existing binary) for now but me hitting this issue at the hackfest, resulted in Alex providing instructions on how someone would go about fixing this issue.

  • Distributions

    • Arch Family

      • What’s New in Manjaro 18.0 KDE Edition

        Manjaro 18.0 KDE Edition is latest release of Manjaro Linux ships with KDE Plasma 5.14 desktop include KDE Applications 18.08.2 and KDE Framework 5.51. There’s a new Display Configuration widget for screen management which is useful for presentations. Switching primary monitor when plugging in or unplugging monitors is now smoother.

        Powered by the latest Long-Term Support of Linux Kernel 4.19, Octopi grapical interface of pamac updated to version 0.9. in manjaro 18.0, The Manjaro Settings Manager (MSM) now provides an easy-to-use graphical interface for installing and removing the many series of kernels. At the time of this release, eight kernel-series are available directly from our binary repositories, from 3.16 series to the latest 4.19 release.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu, security & compliance

            Security, regulations and compliance are everyday issues for businesses, whether global or not.
            HIPAA, GDPR, MiFID II, and a whole host of other regulations, security and compliance demands are shaping the way businesses operate and the technologies that they can use.
            Although technological choices are not always able to completely solve particular regulatory or compliance hurdles, they are capable of easing the path to being a compliant business, say for PCI for example.
            In other cases, technology can provide peace of mind. Take GDPR, it has become one of the most hotly debated regulatory issues in recent history. GDPR has touched people of all walks of life, many of whom would never have thought it applicable to them. Many of those that hold GDPR responsibilities choose to run older versions of the Ubuntu operating system on their servers, with LTS and ESM, Ubuntu makes sure that those older versions are covered, while technologies such as Landscape can help ensure that there is no case for gross negligence under GDPR if you are hacked, because it will have ensured the latest patches are in place.
            For Ubuntu, helping our customers to be compliant, meet regulatory requirements, and helping them to be secure is built into everything that we do because we know that protecting your customers and avoiding the significant financial and reputational ramifications that threaten non-compliant organisations, is a must, and this starts with the technology powering your enterprise.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Goodbye OpenStack, hello Open Infrastructure Summit

      We have reached the end of an era, the end of the OpenStack Summit, but we’ve started a new era – the beginning of the Open Infrastructure Summit.
      Canonical has been with the OpenStack Summit since its inception, designing, building, operating and supporting OpenStack private clouds on Ubuntu. We understand the importance of certainty, stability, performance and economic efficiency for private cloud infrastructure and that has helped us to become the company that manage more OpenStack clouds for more different industries, more different architectures than any other company.
      We make sure that we support every single OpenStack release with upgrades because we know that what matters isn’t just day 2, it’s every day, living with OpenStack, scaling it, upgrading it, growing it, that is important to master in order to really get value for your business.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla VR Blog: Updating the WebXR Viewer for iOS 12 / ARKit 2.0

        Last year, we created an experimental version of an API for WebXR and built the WebXR Viewer iOS app to allow ourselves and others to experiment with WebXR on iOS using ARKit. In the near future, the WebXR Device API will be finalized and implementations will be begin to appear; we’re already working on a new Javascript library that allows the WebXR Viewer to expose the new API, and expect to ship an update with the official API shortly after the webxr polyfill is updated to match the final API.

        We recently released an update to the WebXR Viewer that that fixes some small bugs and updates the app to iOS 12 and ARKit 2.0 (we haven’t exposed all of ARKit 2.0 yet, but expect to over the next coming months). Beyond just bug fixes, two features of the new app highlight interesting questions for WebXR related to privacy, friction and platform independence.

        First, Web browsers can decrease friction for users moving from one AR experience to another by managing the underlying platform efficiently and not shutting it down completely between sessions, but care needs to be taken to not to expose data to applications that might surprise users.

  • BSD

    • Intel Making Improvements On FreeBSD Power Management

      After working on the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver for nearly a decade, Ben Widawsky of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center shifted roles to focus on Intel enablement for FreeBSD. In this role over the past several months he has been focusing on FreeBSD power management improvements for Intel hardware.

      Ben Widawsky shared that for the past half-year he has been focusing on FreeBSD power management improvements. He has been doing general work on FreeBSD power management, implements suspend-to-idle support, working on s0ix support during suspend-to-idle, and initial work on Intel Speed Shift support (hardware P-States).

    • FreeBSD Is Squaring Away Its 64-bit Linux Gaming Capabilities With NVIDIA Driver Support

      The FreeBSD desktop with NVIDIA graphics driver support is about to become more viable for gaming with the 64-bit Linux compatibility layer.

      Recent FreeBSD updates have improved the FreeBSD NVIDIA driver around the 64-bit Linux compatibility code while in the past few days it appears to be all squared up so 64-bit Linux binaries are running atop the latest FreeBSD development packages while enjoying NVIDIA OpenGL acceleration.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Intel Cascade Lake Support Posted For The GCC Compiler

      Intel developers have submitted their GCC compiler enablement patch for the Cascade Lake 14nm CPUs due out starting in early 2019.

      The GNU Compiler Collection patch adds support for the -march=cascadelake target for generating optimized code for these upcoming server and enthusiast class processors.

    • Bison 3.2.2 released [stable]

      Bison 3.2 brought massive improvements to the deterministic C++ skeleton,
      lalr1.cc. When variants are enabled and the compiler supports C++11 or
      better, move-only types can now be used for semantic values. C++98 support
      is not deprecated. Please see the NEWS below for more details.
      Many thanks to Frank Heckenbach for paving the way for this release with his
      implementation of a skeleton in C++17, and to Nelson H. F. Beebe for testing
      exhaustively portability issues.

    • Give the gift of freedom this year!

      As the end-of-the-year gift-giving season approaches, we have a dilemma: how do we give the people in our lives the gifts they want without subjecting them to software that violates their user freedoms? So many new gadgets are loaded with digital gremlins that can take all of the fun out of the holidays, using proprietary software to sneak in surveillance, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), and other malware in along with the functions we actually want these items to serve.

      Every year, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) offers you an easy solution: our Ethical Tech Giving Guide! The Giving Guide is back with version 9, and loaded with tech you can feel good about giving your loved ones — and it also highlights some dangerous devices that are better left on the shelf.

      We create resources like the Ethical Tech Giving Guide because software freedom is necessary to our overall freedom. Will you propel the free software movement to new frontiers by supporting the FSF? Our annual fundraiser is happening right now, and we want to welcome 400 new Associate Members before December 31st. As a special bonus, all new and renewing Annual Associate Members ($120+) can choose to receive a set of enamel pins. Become a member or make a donation today.

  • Public Services/Government

    • SA govt’s DPTI shifts to open source, cloud hosted databases

      South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure is embracing open source, cloud-hosted database infrastructure in a bid to oust expensive proprietary systems from its environment.

      It’s the latest move in what has become an extensive migration into public cloud to cut the cost of running geospatial information and traffic management systems in the state.

      The geospatial data systems fall under the auspices of Location SA, for which the department – known as DPTI – is the lead technical agency.

      “Location SA is a group of government agencies that willingly and collaboratively want to adopt the services that we provide,” DPTI business and location services manager Greg van Gaans told the recent AWS public sector summit in Canberra.

  • Programming/Development

    • Getting started with Jenkins X

      Jenkins X is an open source system that offers software developers continuous integration, automated testing, and continuous delivery, known as CI/CD, in Kubernetes. Jenkins X-managed projects get a complete CI/CD process with a Jenkins pipeline that builds and packages project code for deployment to Kubernetes and access to pipelines for promoting projects to staging and production environments.

      Developers are already benefiting from running “classic” open source Jenkins and CloudBees Jenkins on Kubernetes, thanks in part to the Jenkins Kubernetes plugin, which allows you to dynamically spin-up Kubernetes pods to run Jenkins build agents. Jenkins X adds what’s missing from Jenkins: comprehensive support for continuous delivery and managing the promotion of projects to preview, staging, and production environments running in Kubernetes.

Leftovers

  • My hiring experience as a submarine sonar operator in the Norwegian Navy

    By putting unrealistic or inaccurate proxy requirements in your job ad you are likely to get miss out on good candidates. You will be more successful at hiring if you make sure what you put under the Requirements heading in your job ad are actual requirements, and leave anything negotiable under the “nice to have” section.

  • Being Thankful for Montana

    The pre-dawn darkness faded as we crested the Deep Creek divide headed for a whitetail hunt on a friend’s ranch at the foot of the Crazy Mountains. By the time we hit Wilsall the sky had exploded in a stunning display of color as the not-yet-risen sun backlit the rugged snow-capped peaks. Low-hanging clouds were infused with intense reds, oranges, purples and yellow against the lighter blue of Montana’s famous big sky as my hunting partner and I gazed in awe at the sunrise spectacle before us.

    The softly gurgling Shields River wound through the bottomlands so beloved by whitetail deer and, like the sunrise itself, the colors of autumn persisted in the reds of willows, the yellows of the few remaining leaves and the soft brown of the closely mown hay fields.

    While quietly walking through the cottonwoods trying to avoid patches of crunchy early snow, a huge great horned owl left its low perch in a dead tree and silently flew a few feet above me on enormous gray wings through the now leafless grove. Seconds later its mate followed, equally silent, equally majestic.

    A shot rang out and my partner’s good luck and accurate shooting brought his hunt to an end in less than a half hour since we left in separate directions from the truck. It would take me a while longer, but by noon we were heading home with our whitetails cooling in the back and the satisfied smiles of successful hunters on our faces.

    [...]

    Yet, while the realities of our current national condition continue to assail our daily lives, there are still Montana’s mountains, rivers, forests and fertile plains to hold us in their embrace as life goes on. In the end, political turmoil plays an almost non-existent role in our daily lives. For that — and Montana’s natural beauty and kind citizenry — we should be truly thankful.

  • Big Mouthed Blue-Eyes: Frank Sinatra in Australia

    During the trip, it became clear that the press vultures down under were distinctly untutored on matters of a private realm. There was no sense of a cordon sanitaire, nor even a mild acceptance of a celebrity’s privacy. The press crew, scum crusted and emboldened, were not briefed of the Sinatra demi-god status, nor of his desire for solitude. Nor did they have an inkling of his desire to stay on Olympus. He was flesh, quarry and show.

    Tabloid allure proved irresistible, and journalists such as Gail Jarvis of Channel Nine are reminiscent of assassins who recount the tale of stalking then slaying their victims. This was, according to Jarvis, a country “starved of personalities”. (No larrikins? No characters worthwhile mentioning?) It made Sinatra necessary dynamite.

    There was chase from Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport on the freeway; there were moments of vulnerability for Sinatra in his car at specific points when he might be ambushed. The Australian public were none too impressed either. They were paying to see a performer expected to perform and make room to be accessible. They could not understand why a figure of such stature would issue injunctions on media appearances, or even see the fans.

  • Science

    • Enough Thanksgiving Myths. Schools Should Teach Indigenous History.

      On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as I have for the past 20 years, I will see a parade of elementary school students pass by my house wearing construction paper headdresses created at school and arrowhead-shaped name tags emblazoned with their whimsical “Indian names.” This practice will constitute a large portion of their education about Native peoples and cultures.

      As a Wisconsin Ojibwe woman, I have nothing against Thanksgiving; we celebrate it annually in our adopted home here in Ohio. Giving thanks and feasting with friends and relatives is a longtime Ojibwe tradition that spans the entire year.

      I am deeply ambivalent, however, about the national holiday of Thanksgiving. The ongoing practice by many public schools of using the Thanksgiving myth as a basis for “teaching” students about Native history and culture continues to exasperate the hell out me.

      Even with the rich resources available to educators from the National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Knowledge 360° project, my local schools continue their outdated love affair with Thanksgiving.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Take a Moment to Thank Your Food

      Eating is a reciprocity that we experience multiple times each day. Being mindful of it opens us to a greater understanding of our place in this complex world. Simply reflect on the beauty of the lives given to become ingredients that feed us—seeds from stalks of rice or wheat, fruits of blossoms, flesh from furred, feathered, and finned beings.

    • Paradise Lost: Wildfire Chases Seniors From Retirement Havens To Field Hospitals

      After barely getting out of Paradise alive before the Camp Fire turned her town to ash, Patty Saunders, 89, now spends her days and nights in a reclining chair inside the shelter at East Ave Church 16 miles away.

      It hurts too much to move. She needs a hip replacement and her legs are swollen. Next to her is a portable commode, and when it’s time to go, nurses and volunteers help her up and hold curtains around her to give her some measure of privacy.

      “Never in my life did I think I would end up in a situation like this, but when it’s time to go, you got to go,” Saunders said. Under the circumstances, she is in good spirits, with a rotating cast of people stopping by to chat and take care of her.

      Most of the fire victims here are older folks like her. They rest on cots, inflatable beds and recliners in a pop-up community of nearly 200 evacuees displaced by the Camp Fire and an army of volunteers.

    • Romanticism’s Revenge: From Vegetarianism to Nazi Animal Rights

      With the surge in meat-eating associated with industrial capitalism came-particularly from city-dwellers-a swelling of the vegetarian cause, hitherto confined to a relatively few Pythagoreans, radicals and eccentrics. Compassion for animals also surged, particularly in Britain where Queen Victoria lent her name to the issue and where anti-vivisection movements drew increasing adherents, as they did in Germany and France.

      The ideological groundwork had been prepared as early as the first century ad with Seneca, and the third century, in the writings of the neo-Platonist Porphyry. By the seventeenth century there were vociferous advocates of the view that consumption of animal flesh was aesthetically repulsive, productive of spiritual grossness and unhealthy besides. (Even earlier, Shakespeare caused Thersites to deride Ajax as ‘thou mongrel beef-witted lord.’)

      In the seventeenth century, Thomas Tryon rejected flesh-eating in part because he was against ‘killing and oppressing his fellow creatures,’ in part because flesh gave man ‘a wolfish, doggist nature.’ (Both Shakespeare and Tryon were themselves being doggist here, in modern usage.) When Adam and Eve began to eat their fellow creatures after expulsion from Eden, quarrelling and war among humanity began. Tryon was also against slavery, ill-treatment of the insane and discrimination against left-handed people. The eighteenth century continued to produce an array of arguments in favor of vegetarianism. Scientists argued that man was not made to be carnivorous, given the arrangement of teeth and intestines. Moralists continued to invoke the violence done by animal slaughter to the traits of benevolence and compassion.

  • Security

    • Big foreign cyber attack targets Italian certified email accounts

      [Intruders] could have accessed data from around 500,000 accounts, including those of some 9,000 magistrates as well as members of a top inter-governmental security agency.

    • Linux on Microsoft Azure? Disable this built-in root-access backdoor (wa-linux-agent)

      Are you running Linux on Microsoft Azure? Then by default anyone with access to your Azure portal can run commands as root in your VM, reset SSH keys, user passwords and SSH configuration. This article explains what the backdoor is, what it is meant to do, how it can be disabled and removed and what the implications are.

    • Now it’s Office’s turn to have a load of patches pulled
    • Amazon ‘technical error’ exposed customer names, email addresses
    • Amazon customers’ names and email addresses disclosed by website error

      Wednesday’s email doesn’t say how long customers’ personal details were disclosed or precisely where on the site the disclosure took place. It’s also not clear how many customers received the email and whether a geographic location, specific purchase, or other common thread caused certain customers to be affected.

    • Amazon Exposed Customer Names & Email IDs In A ‘Technical Error’

      The biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday is almost here, but the largest online retailer Amazon seems to have suffered from a data breach.

      Some Amazon customers received mail from the company on Tuesday, stating that their names and email IDs were “inadvertently disclosed” due to a “technical error.”

    • Mirai Evolves From IoT Devices to Linux Servers [Ed: This affects already-cracked servers and has nothing to do with Linux; it's about unpatched software and components that just happen to run on top of GNU/Linux]

      Netscout says it has observed at least one dozen Mirai variants attempting to exploit a recently disclosed flaw in Hadoop YARN on Intel servers.
      Researchers from Netscout Alert have discovered what they believe are the first non-IoT versions of Mirai malware in the wild.

      The new versions are very similar in behavior to the original version of Mirai written for Internet of Things devices, but they are tailored to run on Linux servers instead. Unlike the original Mirai, the new versions do not try and propagate in a worm-like fashion. Instead, attackers are delivering them via exploits in a more targeted manner.

      Netscout researchers say they have observed what appears to be a relatively small number of threat actors attempting to deliver the malware on Linux servers by exploiting a recently disclosed vulnerability in Hadoop YARN. The YARN vulnerability is a command injection flaw that gives attackers a way to remotely execute arbitrary shell commands on a vulnerable server. Many of the servers running Hadoop YARN are x86-based.

    • Mirai botnet exploiting Hadoop vulnerability on Linux servers: Report
    • Malware scum want to build a Linux botnet using Mirai [Ed: This is about Hadoop YARN, it's not about GNU/Linux, but corporate media likes to call Windows "PC" and everything else is just "LINUX". Blaming "LINUX" for holes in Hadoop YARN is the same as 1) blaming Apple for holes in PhotoShop on "MAC" PCs; 2) blaming Microsoft for holes in Firefox or Chrome. But one should just realise media works to increase "hits" and headlines with "LINUX" 'sell' better.]
    • Open Source vs. Proprietary Security Software [Ed: Proprietary means secret, so you cannot tell what the program is even doing, so that program in its own right is a security risk.]

      The standoff between open source and proprietary software simply depends on the needs of your organization. If cost is a big issue, then walking the open source path will be wise. On the flip side, proprietary software will be great enough for organizations looking for convenience.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • CIA has recording of MbS giving instructions to “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible”
    • Turkish paper says CIA had recording of Saudi prince demanding Khashoggi be ‘silenced’
    • CIA had Recording of Saudi Prince Salman Demanding Khashoggi be ‘Silenced’: Report
    • CIA Has Recording of Saudi Crown Prince Ordering Khashoggi Silenced, Turkish Media Reports
    • Turkish news: CIA has recording of Salman saying ‘silence Khashoggi’
    • CIA has recording of bin Salman giving instructions to ‘silence Jamal Khashoggi’, Turkish media reports
    • Report claims CIA has ‘smoking gun phone call’ connecting Saudi crown prince to Jamal Khashoggi killing
    • Donald Trump Mocked by Former CIA Head for Not Catching ISIS and Al-Qaeda Leaders
    • Is Trump backing Saudi Arabia over CIA?
    • Ex-CIA chief calls on Congress to declassify CIA findings on Khashoggi killing
    • In unusual statement disputing the CIA and filled with exclamation points, Trump backs Saudi ruler after Khashoggi killing
    • America’s Spies Won’t Let Trump Shield MBS
    • CIA holds ‘smoking gun phone call’ of Saudi Crown Prince on Khashoggi murder: Columnist
    • Saudis use Trump’s Khashoggi statement to cast doubt on CIA assessment
    • Turkey attacks Trump’s ‘comic’ stance on Khashoggi killing

      Turkey on Wednesday accused the US of trying to turn a blind eye to the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, and dismissed comments from Donald Trump on the issue as “comic”.

    • In Pardoning Saudi Arabia, Trump Gives Guidance to Autocrats

      President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey sees himself as a rival to Prince Mohammed to be the rightful leader of the Islamic world, and the Turkish security services have continually leaked lurid details from their investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s killing to implicate Saudi Arabia and damage Prince Mohammed’s reputation. Mr. Erdogan himself has heavily hinted that he holds Prince Mohammed responsible, though without directly naming the young prince.

    • Ken Perrin recalls his years with the CIA in Vietnam

      The first stop after San Francisco was Taipei, Taiwan, formerly Formosa. “And from there it was super secret stuff,” he confided. At that time, Taipei was the CIA’s headquarters in Southeast Asia. “So we went through indoctrination there,” he continued, “and then we were flown to a little base in Thailand. It was a busy busy place with all kinds of reconnaissance. The US was there, all the hub bub people, the ones that create the trouble – I created a little bit myself.”
      “I didn’t care for being there too much,” he admitted. “It was a little too busy, and I like to be in charge. I kind of still do,” he laughed. “Don’t tell anyone!”

    • Whatever the CIA says about the Khashoggi case, the West has a long history of not defending reporters

      The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has put a strain on political and economic relations between Saudi Arabia and the West, but around the world scores of journalists have been detained, gone missing or been murdered in recent years and the Western world has turned a blind eye.

      On Sunday, word came that the CIA blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder, with sources close to the agency saying it had assessed the evidence in detail. The kingdom again denied any involvement in the death. President Donald Trump said the CIA’s assessment was “premature” and that there was “no reason” for him to listen to an audio recording purportedly of Khashoggi’s murder.

      On Tuesday, Trump threw his weight behind the Saudi regime wholeheartedly, despite an apparent difference of opinion with his intelligence agency. In a lengthy statement, Trump said “we may never know all of the facts surrounding” Khashoggi’s death, but “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

    • Extreme hunger has killed 85000 Yemeni children during civil war

      An estimated 85,000 children under five may have died from extreme hunger in Yemen since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in the civil war in 2015, a humanitarian body said on Wednesday, as the UN special envoy arrived in Yemen to pursue peace talks.

      Western countries are pressing for a ceasefire and renewed peace efforts to end the disastrous conflict, which has unleashed the world’s most urgent humanitarian crisis with 8.4 million people believed to be on the verge of starvation.

    • Hunger has killed tens of thousands of children in Yemen – report
    • Estimate: 85000 child malnutrition deaths in wartorn Yemen

      Save the Children said its figures were based on historically verified mortality rates for untreated cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition or SAM. These show that up to 30 percent of under-5′s die if their malnutrition is neglected.

      “For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it’s entirely preventable,” said the charity’s Yemen director Tamer Kirolos. “Children who die in this way suffer immensely as their vital organ functions slow down and eventually stop.”

    • This Thanksgiving, Donald Trump Is Thankful for the House of Saud

      The government of Saudi Arabia is deliberately starving the Middle East’s poorest country. One recent estimate suggests that 85,000 children under 5 years old have died from malnutrition as a result of Riyah’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war. If the Saudi’s bombing and blockade continues, Yemen is poised to collapse into the worst famine humanity has seen in 100 years, according to the U.N.

      The United States bears much of the responsibility for all of this: Our nation’s steadfast commitment to an alliance with the Saudis has led America to support Riyadh’s monstrous campaign by supplying it with weapons, logistical support, and midair refueling services for Saudi fighter planes. The U.S. has no real interest in the outcome of Yemen’s civil war — whether that impoverished country is ruled by Shia rebels or a Saudi client is of a little consequence to a global superpower based in the Western hemisphere. On the other hand, allowing the Saudis to drop American-made bombs on school buses — and to commit other crimes against humanity with our visible assistance — significantly increases the risk of terroristic blowback against the U.S.

    • 85,000 children have starved to death during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, says new report
    • Yemen crisis: 85,000 children ‘dead from malnutrition’

      An estimated 85,000 children under the age of five may have died from acute malnutrition in three years of war in Yemen, a leading charity says.
      The number is equivalent to the entire under-five population in the UK’s second largest city of Birmingham, Save the Children adds.

      The UN warned last month that up to 14m Yemenis are on the brink of famine.
      It is trying to revive talks to end a three-year war which has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

    • For Trump it’s America First, morality last

      The world is slowly finding out what naked American power unsheathed from the usual platitudes looks like.

      In an unsurprising statement entitled “America First!” made by US President Donald Trump on Monday night, the leader completely backed Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (better known as MBS) despite the brutal and savage killing of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

      Trump declared that although it “could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event”, the US would continue to recognise its “relationship is with Saudi Arabia” to ensure the continued interests of the US, Israel and “all other partners in the region”.

      Trump summarised his position with his final sentence: “Very simply it is called America First!”.

    • Saudi king makes no mention of Khashoggi in first comments since murder

      Despite ongoing international pressure on Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi King Salman made no mention of the journalist in a wide-ranging speech before Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council on Monday.

      Instead, the king used his first public comments since Khashoggi’s murder last month to condemn the actions of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region, in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

      “The Iranian regime has always intervened in the internal affairs of other countries, sponsored terrorism, created chaos and devastation in many countries in the region,” said the 82-year-old monarch during an address before the top governmental advisory body.

      “The international community has to work to put an end to the Iranian nuclear programme and stop its activities that threaten security and stability.”

    • US army says Somalia air raids target al-Shabab, kill 37 fighters

      US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump approved expanded operations against al-Shabab early in his term. Dozens of drone attacks followed, while this year there have been more than 20 air raids against the group.

    • Killers, drinkers & traumatized for life: What it means to be a US drone operator in ‘war on terror’

      They sit in rooms resembling hi-tech shipping containers. Joysticks in hand, they spend hours watching grainy screens, displaying people in faraway lands going about their daily life — and they hold life and death in their hands.
      They are the men and women who operate the United States’ controversial drone warfare program — and they frequently get it disastrously wrong.

      A newly-released report by the Associated Press claims that one third of people killed by US drones in Yemen this year were civilians with no association to terror groups like Al-Qaeda, the intended targets.

      But intention and reality often diverge sharply when it comes to death by US drones — and the horror is not confined to Yemen. From Pakistan to Afghanistan, to Iraq, Syria and Somalia, US drone strikes — which are often hailed by the US military and government as “precise” and even “surgical” — have killed scores of innocent civilians.

    • CIA, Mafia, Cubans: Top Five JFK Assassination Theories 55 Years On

      US President John F. Kennedy was shot dead as he was riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. The official investigation determined that he was killed by a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, yet this conclusion remains widely disputed 55 years since his death.
      JFK’s assassination is considered one of the biggest mysteries of the 20th century. Many still believe that there is not enough credible evidence pointing to Lee Harvey Oswald’s guilt — or at least that he did not act alone. The list of potential paymasters includes the mighty CIA, mobsters, and even Kennedy’s right-hand man.

    • ACTION ALERT: What NYT Called Israel’s ‘1st Incursion’ Was at Least Its 263rd

      Such incursions are a regular occurrence, but are rarely reported by media or known to the general public. Chacar’s article (which was reposted by Lobe Log—11/14/18) quotes retired Israeli Gen. Tal Russo: “Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region.”

      Operations by the Israeli military can have a devastating effect on ordinary Palestinians in Gaza. Combined with the ever-changing “buffer zone” declared by the IDF, they make it difficult for nearby farmers to grow crops or raise livestock, worsening the area’s already tenuous economic situation.

      Errors like the New York Times’ minimize the degree to which Israel continues to occupy Gaza, despite claiming to have “disengaged” in 2005, and aid a media narrative in which the IDF is reacting defensively rather than acting as an aggressor.

    • Lurching Toward Catastrophe: The Trump Administration and Nuclear Weapons

      In this context, the Trump administration has no interest in pursuing the nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements, discussed or signed, that have characterized the administrations of all Democratic and Republican administrations since the dawn of the nuclear era. Not only are no such agreements currently being negotiated, but in October 2018 the Trump administration, charging Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, announced a unilateral U.S. withdrawal from it. Signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the treaty removed all medium range nuclear missiles from Europe, established a cooperative relationship between the two nations that led to the end of the Cold War, and served subsequently as the cornerstone of U.S.-Russian nuclear arms controls.

    • “It’s a Mean & Nasty World Out There,” Declares Trump in Defense of Khashoggi Murder. “Happy Thanksgiving to All!”

      Continuing his multi-day public relations blitz to insulate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from accountability over its brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump issued a pair of tweets early Thursday—the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States—that began by quoting Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo’s line that “it’s a mean & nasty world out there” in order to qualify the brutal assassination.

      Less than four minutes later, Trump followed it up with this all-caps declaration: “HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!”

    • Nothing Adds Up When You do the Alternative Math

      A disgruntled, off his meds, “lone wolf” gunman walks into a bar. We all know how that story ends: He orders 300 rounds. The actual punchline is that we are all shocked that a hired killer for the US military would bring the slaughter home and murder a dozen or so of his compatriots for no apparent reason. Or rather, for reasons having nothing to do with “geopolitics”. In fact, questions surrounding the wholesale massacre of civilians, infrastructure, even forests and oceans are best left to the “experts” overseeing their destruction. If the logic of that particular irony is lost on you, perhaps you have not yet mastered “alternative math”, which, like “alternative facts”provides falsified outcomes based on lies and delusions.

      Funnier still, is how we view military violence as somehow less disturbing than a single ‘crazy’ guy, even when lone gunman and soldier serve the same master, guided by the same imperative: Serve and protect neoliberalism. One killer obeys a direct and explicit order to kill, while the other is driven to homicide, compelled by the murderous dog whistle implicit in every aspect of life under capitalism – from its banking services, healthcare and housing policies (or lack thereof) farms, food production, political parties, infrastructure – all the way down to its dating rituals and coffee chains. The “invisible hand” that guides the market also pulls the trigger.

      Meanwhile, we are left to grapple with deliberately planted red herrings such as “mental illness, Donald Trump and gun control”. Notice how “capitalism” is never a grapple-worthy subject, even if its abolishment would greatly diminish the demand for automatic weapons, politicians and antidepressants. Capitalism has dispensed with the need for math, replacing it with a paradox: When wealth accumulates, nothing adds up.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Ecuadorian Embassy Sours on Julian Assange

      Even public attorneys make mistakes. Take, for instance, Kellen Dwyer, a U.S. prosecutor from Alexandria, Virginia, who suffered a particularly embarrassing mishap in August. While assembling an official document, Dwyer copied and pasted blocks of text from another document he had previously produced — and twice forgot to remove the name Assange. As in Julian Assange, the founder of the whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks.

      The document in question was a government motion to keep a criminal indictment sealed. Such secrecy, the document notes, is the only way to “keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” It goes on to say that “the complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested” and can no longer evade arrest and extradition.

      This is something that Assange has always suspected but could never prove, namely that U.S. prosecutors have already filed or are close to filing charges against him and will soon issue a warrant for his arrest.

      For the last six-and-a-half years, Assange has essentially been stuck in London, living in the Ecuadorian Embassy, a dignified brick building just a few steps from the world-famous department store Harrods in Knightsbridge. He doesn’t get much sun and his hair has turned white as snow, as has his skin.

      In early November, the 47-year-old Australian was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of a fire extinguisher tipping over. He had placed the object in front of the open window of his raised-ground-floor bedroom. Was it just another bout of psychological warfare against Assange on the part of the Ecuadorian government?

    • Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters urges Ecuador to protect WikiLeaks publisher against U.S. charges

      Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters leveraged an appearance in Ecuador to lobby for President Lenin Moreno to continue shielding WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange from U.S. charges, urging his administration to ensure the embattled Australian native avoids being extricated from Quito’s embassy in London and extradited abroad.
      The British-born Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and activist made the plea Tuesday during a press conference in Quito held while meeting with Amazonian settlers between tour dates.
      “He needs to be protected,” Mr. Waters, 75, told reporters. “We cannot let the United States and the U.K. and all the other acolytes of the evil empire incarcerate this great man and kill him — which is what they will do.”
      The musician’s comment came as uncertainties swell surrounding the WikiLeaks publisher’s future in the Ecuadorian Embassy on the heels of a recent court filing suggesting he was secretly charged by U.S. prosecutors and wanted for extradition.

    • Trump Claims He Knows “Nothing” About the Julian Assange He Cited Hundreds of During in His Campaign

      Footage of Trump mentioning WikiLeaks and its releases over 140 times in October 2016 alone has since resurfaced, suggesting that Trump’s recent claims of ignorance in regard to Assange and WikiLeaks are insincere at best.

    • The Case Against WikiLeaks is a Threat to All Journalists

      The Justice Department has prepared criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is working behind the scenes to have him extradited to the United States. Press freedom and the right to dissent may hang in the balance.

      The criminal charges were accidentally revealed last week when Assange’s name was found on the court filing of an unrelated case, suggesting that prosecutors had copied a boilerplate text and forgotten to change the defendant’s name.

      Barry Pollack, a U.S. lawyer on Assange’s team, told the New York Times: “The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed.” Pollack continued, “The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”

      Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after seeking protection against sexual assault allegations in Sweden. While the initial arrest warrant has since been revoked, if Assange leaves the embassy he runs the risk of being apprehended by UK authorities and extradited to the United States, a process greatly facilitated by the recent criminal charges.

      “Using free speech against us”

      The U.S. government has targeted WikiLeaks and Assange for years. A confidential U.S. Army document from 2008 recommends “legal actions” and attacks on the livelihood and reputation of “current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers” connected to WikiLeaks in order to “damage or destroy” its “trust as a center of gravity.”

      WikiLeaks enjoyed a brief heyday among Republicans when it released hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails during the 2016 presidential election. Then-candidate Donald Trump mentioned WikiLeaks over 160 times during the final month of the campaign, calling it “amazing” and saying “We love Wikileaks. Wikileaks. They have revealed a lot.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Coal-to-Diesel: Economic Development or Not?

      In a welcome move for the future of our community, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is about the hold a public hearing on December 5, 2018 at Heritage Hill High school in order to receive input from the public on a controversial economic development project proposed by Riverview Energy. The proposal is on the construction and operation of a massive coal-to-diesel conversion plant in Dale, Indiana.

      A state analysis has concluded that the proposed coal-to-diesel plant in southern Indiana will not significantly affect air quality or residents’ health. State environmental officials have said that the facility wouldn’t significantly contribute to pollution and poses very little cancer risk. The department found that the plant would emit a total of 30 tons per year of various hazardous air pollutants. According to the company’s air permit application, the plant would have annual emissions rates of about 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, 225 tons of carbon monoxide and 120 tons of sulfur dioxide. (https://www.wthr.com/article/state-indiana-coal-diesel-project-wont-harm-air-quality) “This means if an individual was exposed to these hazardous air pollutants continuously for 70 years, the risk of getting cancer from this exposure would be 4.6 in 10 million,” the state’s analysis stated.

      According to the Greg Merle, CEO of Riverview energy: “The point of this project is not to build one plant,” he said, “it’s to create a new industry in our country.” Creating new industries that resulted in extremely negative environmental consequences is not unprecedented in American industrial history.

      [...]

      In addition to the significant efforts made by the Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life and the NOC2D Coalition in opposition to the proposed coal-to-diesel plant on Dale, the December 5 Idem hearing will provide an excellent opportunity for concerned citizens for letting their voice heard in the decision-making process.

      In conclusion, real economic development efforts in finding contemporary use for Indiana’s coal resources may benefit from concentrating on truly innovative projects that could also mitigate the negative environmental effects of the past 100 years of industrial pollution and careless use of natural resources. The health and well-being of future generations would also greatly benefit from a proactive yet restorative economic development policy that balances immediate interests with future ones.

    • The War for Survival

      Well here it is, sorry to say, another year, and I’m still writing to you from a prison cell. I am still in pain from my illnesses with no knowledge of whether I will ever get treatments for them. But I’m alive and still breathing hoping, wishing, praying for not just my pains, but for all Native Nations and the People of the World who care and have positive feelings about what is happening to Mother Earth and against the evils committed by Wasi’chu in their greed for HER natural resources .

      It doesn’t seem as if any changes for the good or safety of Mother Earth will happen soon. But the good-hearted People are fighting back, and some good People are winning in the struggles to beat back some of this evil and to make THE Changes, the safety networks, we need for our grandchildren and great grandchildren so that they will be able to live happy successful lives, at least decent lives, that most of the poor underprivileged in my generation never got to experience or enjoy in our short lives.

      So, I sit back and look at the world, and I wonder if I will ever get to see the outside world again, free from this prison cell? At 74 it is not looking too good for that to happen. But I keep my hopes alive and pray as hard as I can that it will happen. If not, when they bury me I want to be laid to rest face down and with a note pinned to my ass with the words in large bold letters, ‘KISS MY ASS!!’… just in case someone wants to study my bones years from now :)!!

      On a more pleasant issue one of my grandaughters Ashley is in college at University of Arizona, Flagstaff, and she wants to be a Medicine Woman! How awesome is that? My baby, a doctor! Wow! How proud am I! You would not believe just how much I am! I could use a little help now and then for her; don’t send it to me, but send it to ILPDC earmarked for her use ONLY!! She is going on a long hard journey, so she will need help now and then. One day, if she continues her studies to be a Medicine Woman, I know things can change as time goes by, but if she makes it, she will be an enormous help to Native Nations’ hospitals.

    • Minimal Media Attention Helped Sink Crucial Climate Initiatives

      Climate change took a backseat to other issues in this year’s midterm elections, and humanity may end up paying the price. The majority of climate change-related ballot measures failed, many climate deniers in the Republican party won or kept their seats, and even Democratic winners were not pressed on their commitment to climate change legislation during their campaigns. In their minimal and skewed coverage of climate change issues, the media deserve a share of the blame for these losses.

    • Industrial Forest Science: Industry’s Bitch

      Back in the late 1980s, the good people of Minnesota, alarmed by heavy logging, asked that an impact analysis be done. Jaakko Poyry, an international forestry consulting firm, was hired to produce a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS), and in 1992, the draft of the million dollar analysis was released for public scrutiny. In essence, it read “There will be ecological damage, we’re not sure how much, but industry rules.”

      At even the lowest level investigated [the level that had caused public concern], there were projected declines in species of rare trees; declines of tree species within their ranges; unavoidable destruction of rare plant communities; loss of genetic diversity in many plants, including trees. The authors wrote “The lack of data … make it difficult to interpret impacts with any degree of certainly”; “Projections assume no natural disturbance” [Really!]; “Implicit assumptions [are] unrealistic”; “Loss of genetically unique ecotypes is irreversible.”; “Knowledge [is] not sufficient for detailed analysis of effects of fragmentation on biodiversity.”

  • Finance

    • Our new column from inside Amazon: ‘They treat us as disposable’

      The inverted pyramid has stuck with me as an Amazon fulfillment associate. In some ways it’s on point. It’s important to take a step back and realize what an Amazon fulfillment center really is. Prior to Amazon, the sale of stuff largely took place through physical stores. Enter a store and there can be dozens of employees, stocking shelves, managing the check-out counter, controlling inventory. The pace and rhythm of the day, at least compared to fulfillment centers, can be relatively relaxed.

      At Amazon, by contrast, we are not retail workers. We are factory workers.

    • IKEA Group plans to cut 7,500 administrative jobs

      The expected redundancies amount to almost five percent of the company’s current workforce.

    • Brexit bankroller Arron Banks, Cambridge Analytica and Steve Bannon – explosive emails reveal fresh links

      Brexit bankroller Arron Banks’s close relationship with the controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica – and the key role played by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon in the early days of Banks’s Brexit campaign – have been laid bare in explosive new emails obtained by openDemocracy.

      Banks, who is currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency over the sources of his £8.4m Brexit donation, told parliament in June that he had “initial discussions” with the controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica but “did not take up their services”.

      Emails and documents obtained by openDemocracy show that:

      - Far-right guru Steve Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chief, personally introduced Cambridge Analytica to Banks’s Brexit campaign, which is now under criminal investigation.

      [...]

      Commenting on openDemocracy’s revelations, Damian Collins, chair of the inquiry said: “This is more evidence that Arron Banks misled the select committee when he gave evidence to parliament.

      “Here we can glimpse how these secret connections were being planned and discussed; the incubation of a political virus involving key people, data, money and consultancies like Cambridge Analytica.

      He added: “Why was (Banks) seeking support from Cambridge Analytica with fundraising in America if all the money for Leave.EU came from his own resources? These emails should form part of the NCA investigation into Arron Banks’s finances.

      “The emails also show that contact between key Trump aides like Steve Bannon, and men like Arron Banks, was not just passing, but that they were working together through and involving common businesses, like Cambridge Analytica.”

    • Caguas, Puerto Rico: Squatter City

      Against a backdrop of gentrification, austerity and hurricane wreckage, these activists aren’t just rebuilding their city, they’re reimagining it.

      [...]

      Hurricane Maria hit Caguas, 19 miles south of San Juan, with the same devastating force that met other municipalities on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast. But for locals, it was a common sentiment that life in Caguas was already careening in an unsustainable direction well before last year’s hurricanes — Irma, followed by the even more devastating Maria — were even on the radar.

      City blocks abound with vacant apartments, a situation caused not only by Maria but also in large part by landlords who are holding out for a flood of foreign investment. Puerto Ricans have long expected an influx of wealthy mainlanders in what some activists characterize as the island’s “third invasion.” Post-Maria, Puerto Rico is struggling under a new wave of austerity measures imposed by the Financial Oversight and Management Board — set up by Congress in 2016 to restructure its debt.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The spread of low-credibility content by social bots

      Here we analyze 14 million messages spreading 400 thousand articles on Twitter during ten months in 2016 and 2017. We find evidence that social bots played a disproportionate role in spreading articles from low-credibility sources. Bots amplify such content in the early spreading moments, before an article goes viral. They also target users with many followers through replies and mentions. Humans are vulnerable to this manipulation, resharing content posted by bots. Successful low-credibility sources are heavily supported by social bots. These results suggest that curbing social bots may be an effective strategy for mitigating the spread of online misinformation.

    • Study: It only takes a few seconds for bots to spread misinformation

      That’s according to a new study by researchers at Indiana University, published in Nature Communications. They examined 14 million messages shared on Twitter between May 2016 and May 2017, spanning the presidential primaries and Trump’s inauguration. And they found it took just six percent of Twitter accounts identified as bots to spread 31 percent of what they term “low-credibility” information on the social network. The bots managed this feat in just two to 10 seconds, thanks in large part to automated amplification.

    • Information Attacks against Democracies

      In other words, the same fake news techniques that benefit autocracies by making everyone unsure about political alternatives undermine democracies by making people question the common political systems that bind their society.

    • Facebook says it asked Definers to do work on Soros
    • Sorry Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a “positive force”

      It’s not surprising that Zuckerberg would defend his own company. But Zuckerberg is wrong: there’s no reason to think Facebook is a “positive force” and a lot of reasons to think the opposite.

    • Facebook CEO says he’s not stepping down over political controversy

      The remarks came during Zuckerberg’s first interview since the New York Times reported on Facebook’s ties to the Definers Public Affairs communications firm, which sought to link critics of the company to liberal financier George Soros, a favorite target for conservative criticism.

    • Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Military Enlistment Policy

      Last year, the Pentagon implemented a background investigation process that effectively banned green card holders from serving in the military.
      Despite attacking family members of fallen war heroes, criticizing Sen. John McCain for being captured in war, and recently deploying troops to the border for a costly and unnecessary political stunt, President Donald Trump has nonetheless boasted about his supposed support for military service members. During his presidential run, Trump even went so far as to say that, “There’s nobody bigger or better on the military than I am.” And yet, the Trump administration has quietly been taking action against immigrants who have wished for nothing more than to serve in the personnel-starved U.S. armed forces.

      Last week, a federal court in San Francisco issued a ruling that blocks a discriminatory Trump administration policy that has prevented hundreds of lawful permanent residents — immigrants who possess green cards — from serving in the U.S. military. U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar found that the Trump administration provided no rational justification for the policy, which bars lawful permanent residents from serving in the military until unspecified background investigations are completed. “If there was no evidence that LPRs posed a greater security risk, this policy change is by definition arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Tigar wrote.

      In October 2017, Secretary of Defense James Mattis instituted the policy, which forces lawful permanent residents to pass new, undefined, and vague background investigations and requirements before even shipping out to basic training. The policy does not explain what these background investigations entail, how long they are expected to take, or why they are necessary. Indeed, lawful permanent residents are heavily vetted before getting their green cards, and the Trump administration has never provided evidence indicating that lawful permanent resident enlistees posed more of a risk than U.S. citizens.

    • Shielding Hogan From the Democratic Wave – How the Washington Post, Big Money and a bit of racism re-elected a GOP governor in Deep Blue Maryland

      The votes were hardly in when the Washington Post (11/6/18) started explaining why Republican Gov. Larry Hogan won reelection in deep blue Maryland. It was largely due “to his moderation,” the Post claimed.

      As it shilled for Hogan, the Post—which is influential in much of Maryland—simultaneously painted his opponent, Democrat Ben Jealous, as too extreme, even though most Marylanders supported his platform, which included Medicare for all, free state college tuition and a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

      Nevertheless, the Post, a fiscal hawk when it comes to spending tax dollars on public needs, said Jealous lost because he “opted for an expansive leftist platform that included so much spending on so many new, pie-in-the-sky programs.”

      The paper was noticeably less concerned when Hogan offered an eye-popping $8.5 billion to Amazon, whose founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the world’s richest man, and owner of the Post.

      For the Post, Hogan’s win demonstrates the appeal of “moderation,” but the real lesson is this: Money is king, and the Post is kingmaker.

    • Force President Trump to Give Daily Press Conferences

      News conferences are a double oxymoron. Pressers aren’t conferences; conferences involve back-and-forth communication. Nor do they have anything to do with news. News is neither created nor conveyed at a press conference.

      The one place in the world where news is least likely to happen is a press conference. If I were in charge of a media organization the last thing I’d spend money on would be a White House correspondent whose role is to sit politely holding up his or her hand, hoping like a compliant schoolchild to be called upon, begging for the privilege of being lied to.

      Though there was that time an Iraqi journalist tried to bean George W. Bush with his shoe. Muntadhar al-Zaidi. He’s a journalist. And that was a news-making press conference.

      Whatever CNN paid Jim Acosta to transcribe Donald Trump’s BS was too much. Even so, we owe Acosta for pushing the president so far that he yanked his reporter’s press pass in a fit of pique. With a brusque instruction to his despicable minister of propaganda Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump simultaneously exposed his authoritarian personality so that none could deny it. Even Fox News was alarmed, joining CNN’s (probably doomed) lawsuit against the president. “Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized,” quoth Fox’s Chris Wallace.

    • I Am Thankful for … My Rakes

      Today is Thanksgiving Day 2018, and I am especially thankful that a quintuple heart bypass surgery performed five years ago next month has allowed me to celebrate five additional birthdays and five seasons of serious rakings.

      While I am especially thankful to be celebrating my 73rd birthday today, I am especially thankful for my rakes.

      Since I am an avid supporter of Donald Trump, I am always heeding his fantastic advice. Unfortunately, my gradually balding black hair is not sufficiently grown to smart an orange grove of wavy pulled-back tresses cemented together with a special Ivanka cosmetic hair-bonding gel. Because the rain doesn’t affect my hairdo, I don’t mind getting it wet, especially when I am raking the underbrush in our backyard. I’ve also discovered that a bit of hairspray helps keep my thinning tresses from exposing my scalp.

      I own five fantastic rakes, each of which serves a particularly amazing purpose. Four rakes have huge wooden handles, and the fifth one has an amazing aluminum handle the top of which is covered with a foamy jacket which cuddles the hands and obviates the need for gloves. Fortunately, I am very comfortable with the size of my fingers, and I’ve never seen the need to make puerile comments about others’ hands and fingers. While one rake is narrow and designed specifically for flower beds, the others are wide and are intended for yards, gardens and, of course, forests. One of the latter, made in America, has huge prongs.

    • A Radical Strategy for Democrats: 2020 and Beyond

      Having breathed one or more sighs of relief now that Democrats control the House, consider this: Republicans have manipulated the electoral system and the law to win one, possibly two, presidential elections this century. Republican-controlled state legislatures are less laboratories of democracy than laboratories of minority voter suppression. Methods vary from gerrymandering voting districts to outright voter intimidation. These machinations have proven effective in hamstringing the democratic process; we are left with a national epidemic of voter suppression that extends throughout the system.

      Over the next two years we can expect more of the same from a Party desperate to retain power. The most honest Republican slogan in 2020 would be “Win by Any Means Necessary.” Trumping Trumpism will not be an easy task; options are few and political courage a rare commodity. Democrats may be the only obstacle between a rogue nationalist president and another electoral coup in 2020. The Party’s dismal record of capitulating to gerrymandering, voter suppression and rigged elections does not inspire confidence. But the stakes are higher than ever, for both the Democratic Party and the country. Thoughtful Democrats understand this, but the question is what, if anything, they are willing to do about it.

      The dark cloud of neo-fascism that hangs over Washington will not self-destruct. Republicans know that the electoral system contains key weaknesses they can exploit to thwart the will of the electorate. A contested election, or even a narrow win for Democrats, would be seen by Trump loyalists as an invitation to a quick and dirty power grab. The country would face a constitutional crisis or worse. Democrats should be asking themselves now how they would respond to such circumstances. A radical approach to countering Trumpism is necessary if they are serious about restoring the fundamental values and practices of democracy.

    • Europeans Are Thankful Americans Left

      400–500 years ago, Europe’s unwanted social outcasts and religious extremists began relocating to Virginia and Massachusetts. Grateful crowns back in London, Amsterdam and Strasbourg rejoiced as their most ungovernable and unwanted subjects self-exiled to the new world. There, waste people and pilgrims set about recreating the same intolerance they sought to flee. Puritan Christianity was so intolerant that they were unable to coexist anywhere – neither with their own kind back in the old world, nor with the natives of the new.

      These first settlers thought the Inquisition ended too soon and eagerly sought to reproduce it – burning heretics and accused witches, perpetuating the cruel and unusual medieval tortures discarded by their European forebears, and forcing abused wives to wear the scarlet letter. Women and children had no rights; men were vicious tyrants. Colonial promoter Richard Hakluyt back in England neatly summarized the first settlers’ goals in 1585: “The ends of their voyage are these: to plant Christian religion; to trafficke; and to conquer.”

      Fleeing class and religious persecution in an overpopulated Europe suffering widespread disease and crushing poverty, early settlers did not amicably live long with the new land’s old inhabitants. Things soon went bad and ersatz 300-year genocide of indigenous Americans began as they built a new white world on the back of the blacks, in the ashes of the red. Emerging from humble beginnings at Roanoke, Jamestown, Plymouth and America’s oldest European settlement la Florida, a 17th century arc of instability spread over the continent.

      Coldblooded Indian killers, fugitives, loners and drunks led the way, as squatters inched forward across 3k miles of hostile terrain and even hostiler natives. From sea to shining sea, we wiped them out and took their land. The last holdout Apaches finally surrendered in Arizona in 1924. Throughout, the wretched refuse of all Europe’s teeming shore arrived; their sheer numbers overwhelming the native tribes, who never lasted long after fatal first encounters with the white man – an estimated 90% died within five years of first contact with European settlers.

    • Giving Thanks at the Precipice

      Today, something feels different. This country has spent the last two decades in a defensive crouch. The 21st century has been freighted with so many unspeakably awful moments, and I believe enough people have grown weary enough of it, or angry enough about it, to actually fix it rather than hide from it entirely or use the worst parts against each other.

      Consider this: The nation greeted the new millennium tensed beneath the inflicted fear that all the computers would stop working at once, causing airplanes to melt in the sky in a moment of perfect apocalypse. That didn’t happen, of course, but it was a rotten way to start the century. A year later, we bore witness to a gut-churning spectacle as our national election system collapsed into a polarizing Floridian fiasco that tattooed an asterisk next to George W. Bush’s name for all time.

      Over the course of the next eight years, President Asterisk presided over the worst terrorist attack in US history. He lied the nation into two ongoing failed wars that killed, maimed or displaced millions of people while costing trillions of dollars. The deliberate use of torture in those conflicts remains a permanent stain, and the Guantánamo Bay prison still exists. He and his Republican allies constantly deployed the use of fear to control public opinion and win elections.

    • Nationalism, Religion and Sports Have Captivated the Working Class. Why Hasn’t Socialism?

      In the closing section of my course Brainwashing Propaganda and Rhetoric: Dark Psychology in the 20th Century, I ask my students to compare organized religion, nationalism and sports, not only to determine the kind of propaganda they are (black, gray or white), but also the devices and artifacts that are used. This includes the use of architecture, statues, rites of passage, liturgy, sacred music, pilgrimages, holy days, use of visual symbols, language manipulation and techniques for altering states of consciousness. The world religions have used these processes for at least 3,500 years to exploit, control and distract people from their misery on earth and direct us instead to variations of ‘you’ll get pie in sky when you die’.

      The history of nationalism over the last 400-500 years has closely followed the techniques of organized religion. In fact, I think it is fair to say that nationalism is more powerful than moderate and liberal religion in motivating people. I doubt whether most people of liberal or moderate religion in the West would sacrifice their life for their religion. But at least among the working class who sign up for the military, nationalism can motivate people to fight and die to kill strangers in other countries who share the same social class.

      Sports, as opposed to religion or nationalism, is a more joyous escape from the difficulties of life. If I were a betting person, I would bet most Americans might go to the barricades if the AFC and NFC championships were not televised. A championship playoff game such as the World Series could certainly outdraw any religious or patriotic ceremony in TV ratings. And what is the result? Who wins the game ultimately has little effect on the lives of the fans. Yet they continue to watch. This is some mighty potion going’ on. Do the socialists understand it? Do we use similar techniques to win the working classes to socialism? Not on your life!

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Return to Soviet-Style Censorship in Russia — and Beyond?

      For almost a week now, Sergey Golubok, a prominent Russian lawyer based in St. Petersburg, has been trying to collect a book he ordered online on Amazon. The book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, is by Masha Gessen, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin and his policies.

      According to Golubok, instead of handing the book over once it had arrived, the local DHL office requested a written statement that the book does not contain “incitement to extremist or terrorist activities or public excuse of terrorism, … [or] information that may harm political or economic interests of member states of the Eurasian Economic Union, their national security, public health or morals of their citizens.” Golubok complied but DHL, indicating it was acting upon instructions from the Russian customs office, sent another request, this time to confirm that the book did not contain “propaganda of certain views or ideology.” DHL then sent a third request as to whether the book was available for purchase in the Russian Federation. Human Rights Watch has contacted DHL for its comments on this issue, but has not yet received a reply.

    • Friendly Reminder: China’s Movie Censors Are Also Censoring American Movies

      As part of their fascinating “China Rules: How China Became a Superpower” series, the New York Times has an entry that’s a must-read for American filmgoers: “How China Is Rewriting Its Own Script,” in which Amy Qin and Audrey Carlsen succinctly track how Hollywood studios are bending over backward to get along with Chinese censors—in effect, letting Chinese officials determine the content of American movies.

      That can mean everything from digitally scrubbing out images that Chinese censors could find offensive (as was the case in the Red Dawn remake, in which a Chinese army was turned into a North Korean army) to tiptoeing around controversial political topics (there are probably a few reasons Marvel altered “The Ancient One” character in Doctor Strange, but the fact the character was originally Tibetan is almost certainly one of them). This goes hand-in-hand with Chinese funding affecting films’ content (one of the first examples of which was in Rian Johnson’s excellent Looper, which took a detour to Shanghai for no clear reason) and American studios tailoring films from the ground-up to appeal more to Chinese audiences, often by including more Chinese actors. As the Times points out, there’s also a relatively new development: The Chinese government taking a more active role in the financing and revenue sharing of internationally produced movies. As Orville Schell of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society tells the Times, “There is a notion that its propaganda has not worked well enough. So this is where the film industry comes in. There’s a real sensitivity to the blockbuster power of Hollywood.”

    • Tumblr’s censorship update hits Android, Safe Mode turn off not workin
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Snowden Legacy, part one: What’s changed, really?

      Digital privacy has come a long way since June 2013. In the five years since documents provided by Edward Snowden became the basis for a series of revelations that tore away a veil of secrecy around broad surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency, there have been shifts in both technology and policy that have changed the center of gravity for personal electronic privacy in the United States and around the world. Sadly, not all of the changes have been positive. And Snowden’s true legacy is a lot more complicated than his admirers (or his critics) will admit.

      Starting with that first article published by the Guardian that revealed a National Security Agency program gathering millions of phone records from Verizon—which gave the agency access to metadata about phone calls placed by or received by everyone in America—the Snowden leaks exposed the inner workings of the NSA’s biggest signals intelligence programs. Coming to light next was the PRISM program, which allowed the NSA, via the FBI, to gain access directly to customer data from nine Internet companies without notifying the customers. And then came Boundless Informant, a tool for visualizing the amount of signals intelligence being collected from each country in the world. By the time the Snowden cache had been largely mined out, hundreds of files—ranging from PowerPoint presentations to dumps of Internal Wikis and Web discussion boards—had been reviewed and revealed by journalists.

    • Facebook should give you the creeps

      If corporations are people, then Facebook is a creepy stalker guy.

    • Facebook appeals UK data watchdog’s £500k Cambridge Analytica fine

      Their intent had been to build psychographic profiles of US voters. Although Kogan shared the harvested Facebook data more widely — and the UK regulator is still looking into all the places it ended up.

    • Facebook appeals ICO’s £500k fine for role in Cambridge Analytica scandal

      The ICO handed down the maximum £500,000 fine – the equivalent of about 18 minutes of quarterly profit at Facebook – last month, after concluding that the embattled social network failed to ensure the data misused by Cambridge Analytica to influence the 2016 presidential election was deleted.

    • Zuckerberg says no plan to step down as Facebook chairman

      Zuckerberg controls about 60% of Facebook voting power, effectively leaving the chairmanship question up to him.

    • Washington Post offers invalid cookie consent under EU rules – ICO

      The Washington Post newspaper’s online subscription options don’t comply with European Union data protection rules – but the UK’s privacy watchdog can only issue it with a firm telling off.

    • You snooze, you lose: Insurers make the old adage literally true

      From his bedside, the device was tracking when he was using it and sending the information not just to his doctor, but to the maker of the machine, to the medical supply company that provided it, and to his health insurer.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Briton Matthew Hedges jailed for life on UAE spy charge

      In a statement, Hedges’ family said that during the first six weeks of his detention he was interrogated without a lawyer and consular access was unavailable.

      During this time he was made to sign a document in Arabic which transpired to be a confession, they said.

      “Matthew does not speak or read Arabic,” the family added.

    • A British academic is jailed for life in the United Arab Emirates

      The UAE has not offered a shred of evidence, nor even named the state for which Mr Hedges was supposedly spying. But the case is thought to be connected to neighbouring Qatar, which the UAE and three other Arab states have kept under an 18-month embargo. Mr Hedges’s wife says he was not allowed access to a lawyer until mid-October, and that his appointed counsel did not speak fluent English. He was also allegedly made to sign a confession in Arabic, which he does not read. He has 30 days to appeal against the verdict.

    • “They Should Have Been Fired on the Spot”: In Elkhart, Indiana, the Talk Is All About the Police and a Video

      One after another, speakers at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Elkhart, Indiana, criticized the city’s Police Department after recent revelations about officers who beat a handcuffed man and the disciplinary records of the agency’s supervisors.

      The town hall was the third public forum hosted by the mayor in a week, each one dominated by talk of the police. Last week, the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica reported that 28 of the department’s 34 supervisors, including Police Chief Ed Windbigler, had been previously disciplined. Fifteen have been suspended. Seven have been involved in at least one fatal shooting. Early this month, the news organizations published video of two officers punching a suspect in the face in the police station’s detention area.

    • Court To Law Enforcement: You Can’t Seize A House For 15 Hours Before Obtaining A Warrant

      The Third Amendment says you can’t be forced to quarter troops in your house. What about around your house? Here agents of the government took over a man’s residence for over 18 hours — 15 of them without a warrant — refusing to even allow him to enter his own home for accompanied bathroom breaks.

      The timeline above, taken from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision [PDF], followed the discovery of the defendant’s wife dead in his home around 5:00 a.m. The defendant, Walter Shrum, was the one who discovered her and it was he who called law enforcement. Three hours later, after being forbidden to enter his home, Shrum signed a limited consent form allowing a Sheriff’s Office investigator to enter the home to retrieve his wife’s medication prior to an autopsy. The investigator saw a bullet in a closet. Later, the same investigator recalled Schrum was a convicted felon.

    • CA10: 17 hour seizure of def’s home while investigating wife’s OD was unreasonable; consent was product of the illegal seizure; exclusion required

      Defendant’s wife had a seizure and stopped breathing at 5 am. He called 911. The police secured the home and denied him access. They obtained alleged consent after a few hours. They didn’t get a search warrant until 10 pm and didn’t execute it until 11:28 pm. In the interim, a bullet was seen in the house and defendant was a felon. The search warrant yielded more, a gun, and some meth. The house was unreasonably seized for the duration.

    • Member of White Supremacist Group Pleads Guilty to Assaults at 2017 Rally

      One of the eight members or associates of a violent California white supremacist group arrested on federal riot charges has pleaded guilty to assaulting protesters and others at a political rally in Huntington Beach, California, in 2017.

      Tyler Laube, 22, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in central California to a single count of conspiracy to violate the federal riots act over his role in a March 25, 2017, attack on protesters and others, including a journalist, at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington Beach.

      Laube admitted to participating in the attack with other members of the Rise Above Movement, what prosecutors describe as a militant white supremacist group. In the plea agreement, Laube admitted that he had engaged in combat training with the group in the months before the 2017 rally in support of President Donald Trump.

    • CIA Truth Drugs Revelations Not Surprising: Tested in Guantanamo – Psychologist

      “We know that CIA used blood thinning drugs to prolong standing sleep deprivation,” Kaye said. “We also know that a drug long considered to be one of the ‘truth drugs,’ scopolamine, was administered to all prisoners rendered to Guantanamo.”

      The use of such drugs would constitute torture or cruel, inhumane treatment, by temporarily taking away a person’s free will, the psychologist added.

      One drug mentioned in the CIA report was midazolam, commonly known as Versed, Kaye noted.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • US Has Some Of The Most Expensive Mobile Data Prices In The Developed World

      While the U.S. wireless industry likes to talk a lot about how ultra-competitive it is, that’s generally not the case. While there’s more competition in wireless than in the fixed-line broadband sector (where there’s virtually no competition at faster speeds due to upgrade-phobic telcos and cable’s growing broadband monopoly), much of the competition in wireless tends to be theatrical in nature. Most of the major four carriers still usually outright refuse to compete on price, something you don’t get to have a choice about in a truly competitive market.

      While T-Mobile’s disruption of the market (which has its limits) has certainly helped improve some of the worst aspects of US wireless (like long term contracts and international roaming price gouging), Americans have long paid more money for mobile data than most of the developed world. A new report out of Finland by Rewheel has once again driven that point home. According to the firm’s latest data, U.S consumers pay the fifth-highest rate on average per gigabyte for smartphone plans across OECD and European countries, and the highest prices on average for mobile data services provided via things like mobile hotspots.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • African Civil Society Outcry Over ARIPO’s Closed Decision-Making On Health And IP

      The letter [pdf] to ARIPO was co-signed by 62 African civil society and public interest groups. It says that although the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) includes public health safeguards through flexibilities to IP rights, “many of these public health safeguards are not implemented and are even undermined due to existing gaps with the provisions of the Harare Protocol.”

      Among those gaps, the letter identifies the exclusion of all least-developed countries from the requirement to grant or enforce pharmaceutical patents until 2033, and the adoption of more stringent standards of patentability that exclude patents on new uses, new formulations and new forms of known medicines and health technologies.

    • Copyrights

      • Article 13: If You Want To Force Google to Pay Artists More, Force Google to Pay Artists More

        The European Union is fumbling towards a final draft of the new “Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive,” including the controversial “Article 13,” which requires all but the smallest online platforms to set up crowdsourced databases of copyrighted works and censor anything a user posts that matches (or partially matches!) the contents of these databases.

        This is a system that’s ripe for abuse. Where more modest versions of these blacklist systems exist, artists find themselves targeted by fraudsters who remove their work from the platforms they rely on to earn their livings, impersonating them and sending copyright takedowns in their names.

        And yet, Article 13 has no penalties for this kind of abuse. It doesn’t even let tech companies refuse to accept future database entries from fraudsters who get caught repeatedly abusing the system.

      • Corel Manages To Accuse A Totally Legit Customer Of Piracy

        While piracy and ways to combat it may be weighing heavily on the minds of many a software producer, it’s quite unfortunate that more of them don’t consider conversely how their anti-piracy efforts will impact their legit customers. You can see this sort of thing all over the place in the software world, most prominently when it comes to DRM, which tends to stop almost no piracy but manages to annoy legit customers.

        But DRM isn’t the only method out there for combating piracy. Corel came up with a patented approach that detects pirated versions of its software and attempts to get the pirate to pay up.

      • Cloudflare Sued for Failing to Terminate Repeat Infringers

        In a new complaint filed at a California federal court, Cloudflare stands accused of contributing to, aiding, and abetting copyright infringements. The company fails to terminate customers who are repeatedly called out and is therefore liable, the argument goes. The case in question was not filed by Hollywood or the major record labels, but by two manufacturers of wedding dresses.

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