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11.25.18

Links 25/11/2018: DXVK 0.93 and Frogr 1.5 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 1:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Kubernetes in production vs. Kubernetes in development: 4 myths

      We recently cleared up some of the common misunderstandings people have about Kubernetes as they start experimenting with it. One of the biggest misunderstandings, though, deserves its own story: Running Kubernetes in production is pretty much the same as running Kubernetes in a dev or test environment.

      Hint: It’s not.

      “When it comes to Kubernetes, and containers and microservices in general, there’s a big gap between what it takes to run in the ‘lab’ and what it takes to run in full production,” says Ranga Rajagopalan, cofounder and CTO of Avi Networks. “It’s the difference between simply running, and running securely and reliably.”

      There’s an important starting point in Rajagopalan’s comment: This isn’t just a Kubernetes issue, per se, but rather more widely applicable to containers and microservices. It is relatively “easy” to deploy a container; operating and scaling containers (and containerized microservices) in production is what introduces complexity.

    • Community is key to open source success and possibly profit

      Open source companies like Redis Labs and MongoDB may be looking to cordon off code to ensure commercial success, but the correct path to open source project success is openness. Thus spake Kubernetes co-founder Brendan Burns, and thus it is. As he noted in a recent interview, “…especially in the infrastructure space, the [open source projects] that make room for other people to be successful are the ones that ultimately win.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Action News 80

      Mark Shuttleworth announced 10 years support of Ubuntu 18.04, but there’s a catch. Why we’re buying the new Raspberry Pi, and we have a laugh at folding Android screens.

      Plus the new Red Hat Enterprise beta has modularity, why Canonical might be ready for investors, and the bad week for cryptocurrencies.

    • Deconstructed Dialog | User Error 53

      There’s something almost intangible about the way Linux presents itself and Popey tries to explain it, the balance between living for the moment and planning for the future, and doing it wrong with social media.

  • Kernel Space

    • Benchmarking The Work-In-Progress Spectre/STIBP Code On The Way For Linux 4.20

      Due to the performance fallout from the introduction of STIBP for cross-hyperthread Spectre Variant Two mitigation in the Linux 4.20 kernel, the stable Linux kernels are reverting those patches after originally being quickly back-ported to those branches. For Linux 4.20, STIBP on by default for all processes remain in place until the revised STIBP code is ready for merging that is still expected to happen before the stable Linux 4.20 debut in about one month’s time. Here are some initial benchmarks of those preliminary improvements.

      The improved STIBP heuristics have gone through several rounds of public review on the kernel mailing list in recent weeks. The patches are now queued in tip/tip.git’s new WIP.x86/pti Git branch. With that work-in-progress code now in Thomas Gleixner’s tree, I figured I would run some performance tests of that code to see if there was anything unexpected and to verify the restoration of the performance drops that could be easily in double digit losses.

    • Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux November status update

      Since our previous update back in September, we continued the work to reach the goals set by our crowdfunding campaign and made a number of steps forward. First, we are happy to announce that the core of the Cedrus driver was approved by the linux-media maintainers! It followed the final version of the media request API (the required piece of media framework plumbing necessary for our driver).

      Both the API and our driver were merged in time for Linux 4.20, that is currently at the release candidate stage and will be released in a few weeks. The core of the Cedrus driver that is now in Linus’ tree supports hardware-accelerated video decoding for the MPEG-2 codec. We have even already seen contributions from the community, including minor fixes and improvements!

    • Allwinner “Cedrus” Driver Moving Ahead With H.264 & H.265 Video Decode Support

      Merged last month for the Linux 4.20 kernel was The Cedrus VPU driver for Allwinner SoCs that was developed by Bootlin. Initially the video format supported with this kernel is MPEG-2, but H.264 and H.265 support is moving closer to mainline too.

      Bootlin’s Paul Kocialkowski shared an update on the state of the Allwinner VPU support. There are patches still under review for H.264 and H.265 hardware video decoding. Hopefully we’ll see these patches merged for the Linux 4.21 kernel cycle so the Cedrus VPU driver becomes usable for more than just MPEG-2.

    • Linux is reverting the STIBP support due to major slowdowns in Linux 4.20

      Linux 4.20 has shown major performance issues and the reason behind this regression was Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP), as shared by Phoronix yesterday. This support is being reverted from the upcoming releases Linux 4.19.4 and 4.14.83 kernel points.

    • Linux 4.19.4 & 4.14.83 Released With STIBP Code Dropped

      On Friday marked the release of the Linux 4.19.4 kernel as well as 4.14.83 and 4.9.139.

      Greg Kroah-Hartman issued this latest round of stable point releases as basic maintenance updates. While these point releases don’t tend to be too notable and generally go unmentioned on Phoronix, this round is worth pointing out since 4.19.4 and 4.14.83 are the releases that end up reverting the STIBP behavior that applied Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors to all processes on supported systems. That is what was introduced in Linux 4.20 and then back-ported to the 4.19/4.14 LTS branches, which in turn hurt the performance a lot. So for now the code is removed.

    • Logitech High Resolution Scrolling Support Dropped From Linux 4.20

      Yet more fallout from the Linux 4.20 development kernel is over the newly-added Logitech “high resolution scrolling” functionality that is now being disabled until a better solution is in place.

      The past few months there has been patches working on high resolution scroll wheel support that is more precise than the standard behavior offered for Logitech mice on Linux up ot this point. This code was worked on by Google’s Chrome OS team and intended to vastly improve the scroll wheel experience with Logitech’s high-end mice. The code was merged to Linux 4.20.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Tegra194 Xavier Gets Plumbed For Open-Source Display Support

        With the Linux 4.20 kernel there is the initial display code for NVIDIA’s Tegra194 “Xavier” SoC while the next kernel cycle, Linux 4.21, will bring the rest of the display enablement code and enough to light up the HDMI output on the Jetson AGX Xavier.

        Thierry Reding of NVIDIA sent out the latest seven patches on Friday for working on the Tegra194 display support. The code includes adding Tegra194 support to the host1x GPU driver (host1x is the DMA engine for register access to Tegra graphics/multimedia modules), Video Image Composer (VIC) support for Tegra194 within the Tegra DRM driver, and enabling display support for Tegra194 via the DeviceTree additions in the kernel.

      • Marek Takes To Possible AMDGPU Winsys Memory Optimizations

        AMD’s Marek Olšák known for his many additions and performance optimizations to RadeonSI and who is leading Mesa development this year with the most commits has been working on some AMDGPU winsys optimizations.

        The Winsys in the Gallium3D space is what sits between the Gallium3D user-space driver and the operating system / DRM kernel driver. Marek’s latest work in this area are slab allocation improvements and changes around memory address translation.

      • Meson DRM Driver Getting Support For HDMI 2.0 4K

        Should you be using the Meson DRM/KMS Linux driver for Amlogic hardware support, HDMI 2.0 4K @ 60Hz support is on the way.

    • Benchmarks

      • Gaining eBPF vision: A new way to trace Linux filesystem disk requests

        When Brendan Gregg gave his Performance Analysis superpowers with Linux BPF talk during the Open Source Summit in Los Angeles last year, he wasn’t messing around. Using the new eBPF tracing tools really feels like you gained some x-ray vision powers since, suddenly, opening the program’s hood is no longer necessary to see in details how it is behaving internally.

        I had the chance of applying these new gained powers last month, when I was asked to develop a small tool to trace when and what parts of each file was being accessed for the first-time during a program initialization. This request came with a few constraints, like the information had to be available independently of the kind of buffered I/O method being used (synchronous, aio, memory-mapping). It also should be trivial to correlate the block data with which files were being accessed and, most importantly, the tracing code should not result in a large performance impact in the observed system.

      • AMDGPU+RADV Linux Gaming On GCN 1.0/1.1, 25-Way Warhammer II GPU Benchmarks

        With Feral Interactive’s modern Linux game ports that rely upon the Vulkan graphics API for rendering, the company usually lists the Radeon R9 285 as the minimum requirement. That’s generally because the R9 285 “Tonga” is the first graphics card officially supported by the AMDGPU kernel driver, which is necessary for RADV Vulkan driver support, but with non-default options it’s possible to get AMDGPU+RADV working on GCN 1.0 Southern Islands and GCN 1.1 Sea Islands graphics cards. Here are some benchmarks of that experimental GCN 1.0/1.1 Vulkan support using Feral’s newest Linux game port, Total War: Warhammer II, in a 25-way AMD/NVIDIA graphics card comparison for Linux gaming.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Latte bug fix release v0.8.3

        Latte Dock v0.8.3 has been released containing important fixes and improvements!

      • Change in Professional Live

        We build software for the next generation Heidolph devices based on Linux and C++/Qt. Both technologies are in the center of my interest, over the years it has become more than clear for me that I want to continue with that and deepen my knowledge even more.

        Since the meaning of open source has changed a lot since I started to contribute to free software and KDE in particular, it was a noticeable but not difficult step for me to take and move away from a self-proclaimed open source company towards a company that is using open source technologies as one part of their tooling and is
        interested in learning about the processes we do in open source to build great products. An exciting move for me where I will learn a lot but also benefit from my experience. This of course that does not mean that I will stop to contribute to open source projects.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • What about Gnome apps then?

        Strangely, if we look at the Gnome desktop applications, it comes short, but not that much more than KDE, albeit for very different reasons. Gnome does a few areas really well, like accessibility, image editing, instant messaging, mail, and screenshots. But all these happen to be applications designed before Gnome 3, which makes for a curious pitch. In other areas, the desktop environment is severely lacking, like the office suite, browser and education. Much like Plasma, it also struggles with media and package management.

        Again, you may think I’m being negative. Nope. My overall usage arsenal is a mix between Gnome and Plasma, which shows that neither of these desktop environments fully satisfies my needs, and I’m sure the same is true for the needs of many other users. The Gnome desktop environment has lost a big part of its popularity and edge recently, whereby visual minimalism also impacts functionality. This would be fine if there was a range of excellent, complete programs to compensate for the desktop shell changes, but this is not the case. In turn, this makes Gnome 3 feel fragmented, bland and with sub-par software that does not really excite. Except the hardy veterans that still march on, years and years later, a testament of smart, elegant design and wicked functionality.

        Much like KDE – in fact more so – Gnome comes with a lot of small, single-purpose programs that are just inadequate, so you’re most likely to just ignore them. All in all, the Gnome application stack is need of some serious revamp. Most of the new programs aren’t that exciting or useful, the old ones are pretty robust and just need some visual realignment, but the rest of the stuff is unnecessary. Also, Gnome needs to work hard in creating content in some of the categories, as it does not exist today, making the whole desktop experience rather disjointed.

        The solution would be to unite all the different desktops and projects, eliminate all the overhead of developing the same thing nine times over, and create an ultimate punch that has everything, alas this is not likely to happen any time soon. Which means that most people will end up using curious recipes, with something like 30% Plasma, 15% Gnome, and 55% third-party stuff. That’s fine, but that’s also 55% missed opportunity to create a unique and lasting identity with the users. One can dream, though.

      • Frogr 1.5 released

        Not many changes this time, but some of them hopefully still useful for some people, such as the empty initial state that is now shown when you don’t have any pictures, as requested a while ago already by Nick Richards (thanks Nick!), or the removal of the applications menu from the shell’s top panel (now integrated in the hamburger menu), in line with the “App Menu Retirement” initiative.

        Then there were some fixes here and there as usual, and quite so many updates to the translations this time, including a brand new translation to Icelandic! (thanks Sveinn).

        So this is it this time, I’m afraid. Sorry there’s not much to report and sorry as well for the long time that took me to do this release, but this past year has been pretty busy between hectic work at Endless the first time of the year, a whole international relocation with my family to move back to Spain during the summer and me getting back to work at Igalia as part of the Chromium team, where I’m currently pretty busy working on the Chromium Servicification project (which is material for a completely different blog post of course).

  • Distributions

    • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Deepin 15.8 Promo Video Proves Distro Deserves ‘Blingiest Desktop’ Crown

          The recent Deepin 15.8 release impressed many on its arrival — now a new promo video published by the team behind demonstrates precisely why.

          The five-minute clip, which we’ve embedded above, showcases the distro’s recent crop of UI changes and UX tweaks, including a new boot menu, disk encryption feature, and optional ‘dark mode’.

          And call me sucker for eye candy but it all looks terrifically bling-bling. Whether the blurred ‘fluent design’ aesthetic is to your own personal tastes or not, isn’t it great to see that such a distinctly different desktop available?

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • HTML Conversion Software ‘HTMLDOC’ Available as Snap

            The latest HTMLDOC, open-source HTML conversion software, now can be easily installed in Ubuntu 16.04 and higher via Snap package.

            HTMLDOC is a program that reads HTML and Markdown source files or web pages and generates corresponding EPUB, HTML, PostScript, or PDF files with an optional table of contents.

            While Ubuntu universe repository provides an old software package, the HTMLDOC developer offers the Snap (containerized software package) which is always updated.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Picam360-SurfaceWalker: The Open Source Aquatic Drone

    Features called OpenCoralMap and OpenCyanoMap are currently being developed, which automatically upload underwater images filmed during autonomous navigation and data collected with the drone’s measuring devices to a server, and display the collected data on a map.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Acumos AI

    Last week, the LF Deep Learning Foundation announced the first release of its Acumos AI Project. Acumos AI is an open-source framework for building, sharing, and deploying AI applications. It provides a standardized stack and components so that data scientists can “focus on the core competencies and accelerate innovation.”

    Dubbed Athena, this release offers one-click deployment via Docker or Kubernetes, the ability to deploy models into public or private cloud infrastructures, a design studio, security tokens to allow simple onboarding of models into an Acumos AI repository, and an advanced user portal.

  • Metrics for test suite comprehensiveness

    In a previous post I discussed a few FOSS specific mentalities and practices that I believe play a role in discouraging adoption of comprehensive automated testing in FOSS. One of the points that came up in discussions, is whether the basic premise of the post, that FOSS projects don’t typically employ comprehensive automated testing, including not having any tests at all, is actually true. That’s a valid concern, given that the post was motivated by my long-term observations working on and with FOSS and didn’t provide any further data. In this post will try to address this concern.

  • OECD: open-source software pivotal in artificial intelligence

    Open-source software plays an important role in artificial intelligence (AI). This includes specific software libraries, editors and development environments, and machine learning platforms. So say the authors of the latest OECD Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Outlook (2018), who identified AI and (big) data as the most prominent disruptive developments in innovation.

  • Events

    • Why Aren’t There C Conferences?
    • KDE Itinerary – Last week in France

      A week ago Benjamin Port presented our work around KDE Itinerary at Capitole de Libre in Toulouse, and Thursday I did the same at the Paris Open Transport Meetup. Here’s some of the feedback we got.

      First of all, I’m very happy with the interest we saw in this, it seems people are aware of and care for the privacy issues there and are very eager to use a free software alternative to the proprietary services, that’s very motivating.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • No More Tab Clutter On Chrome, Engineer From Google Confirms Work On Scrollable Tabstrips

        Google Chrome is undoubtedly one of the more used and popular browsers to the common man. One huge problem that Chrome suffers from is tab cluttering. Tab cluttering happens when a user opens new tabs, one after another, and after a certain number of tabs Chrome automatically reduces the width of all the open tabs in the browser’s UI to make space and accommodate all the new tabs that are being opened.

        This often leads into hiding the webpage header which you would normally see on your tab and then switching between these tabs and looking for your desired tab can become annoying and even mildly infuriating at times.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.4 RC1 Available For Testing Of This Leading BSD Operating System

      Release preparations continue for DragonFlyBSD 5.4 that will officially premiere in the days ahead.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4 is introducing many improvements and new features as the latest six month operating system update for this long ago fork from FreeBSD. There is a lot of work in the Intel/AMD CPU space this release as well as other new hardware support, maturing of their homegrown HAMMER2 file-system, and more.

    • A Thoughtful Episode | BSD Now 273

      Thoughts on NetBSD 8.0, Monitoring love for a GigaBit OpenBSD firewall, cat’s source history, X.org root permission bug, thoughts on OpenBSD as a desktop, and NomadBSD review.

    • FreeBSD for Thanksgiving

      I’ve been working on FreeBSD for Intel for almost 6 months now. In the world of programmers, I am considered an old dog, and these 6 months have been all about learning new tricks.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free Software Messiah Richard Stallman: We Can Do Better Than Bitcoin

      Richard Stallman, the fervently committed founder of the free software movement, is discussing the term “libertarian,” when he stops talking abruptly and says, “Hello?”

      I tell him I’m still listening, but he explains that the confused greeting wasn’t intended for me. Instead, he says a man’s voice – neither mine nor an echo of his – had just cut in with one word: “liberty.”

      “Does that sort of thing happen a lot?” I ask. I hadn’t heard anything.

      “Yes,” he says. “It wasn’t a voice I recognize.” He added, “It could be … ”

      Then a quick burst of static made his next words inaudible.

      [...]

      If that’s surprising, keep in mind that fine distinctions matter a great deal to Stallman. For example, he wrote a 9,000-word explainer on the difference between the terms GNU and Linux.

      In 40-ish words: GNU, which Stallman proposed in 1983, is an operating system using exclusively free software. Linux, created years later by Linus Torvalds, is a kernel. Many refer to packages combining the two as “Linux,” but Stallman insists that the proper term is GNU/Linux or just GNU.

      He also wrote 3,000 words on the differences between free software and open source software. Advocates of both push for the freedom to use, study, change and redistribute software, but Stallman said that those similarities conceal “a deeply important moral disagreement” centered on freedom and human rights, which the free software movement stresses.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Raptor Blackbird Micro-ATX POWER9 Motherboard Pre-Orders Open Up At $799 USD

        At the start of October, Raptor Computing Systems announced Blackbird as a lower-cost POWER9 motherboard built on a micro-ATX footprint. We now have the firm specs on this motherboard as well as the current pricing as the pre-order window has just opened.

        Raptor Blackbird is the lowest-cost POWER9 board we’ve seen to date while being quite promising on the feature front. Earlier this month they probed their customer base about Blackbird potentially coming in at just under $900 USD while today the pre-order period has begun. Raptor is running a Black Friday / Cyber Monday special where this micro-ATX motherboard can be pre-ordered for $799 USD.

  • Programming/Development

    • PHP 7.3 Performance Benchmarks Are Looking Good Days Ahead Of Its Release

      Released on Thursday was PHP 7.3 RC6 as the last planned pre-release for the upcoming PHP 7.3. Here are some benchmarks looking at the PHP 7.3 performance compared to PHP releases going back to the v5.5 series on a Linux server.

      PHP 7.3 RC6 is the last expected release candidate before the general availability expected around 6 December. The RC6 changes are outlined by the release announcement.

    • Regular Expressions using Python 3

      Regular Expressions are often seen as this really obscure series of hieroglyphs that one typically copies from the Internet and pastes into his/her code. This mysterious spell then shows magical capabilities of finding patterns inside strings of text and if we ask it nicely it will even do us the favor of replacing a given pattern within a string with something nicer.

      For example, when you are writing handlers for URL (and God help you if you are writing one from scratch) then you often want to display the same result regardless of the trailing ‘/’ in the URL. E.g https://example.com/user/settings/ and https://example.com/user/settings should both point to the same page despite the trailing ‘/’.

    • Migrating from Bazaar to Git on Launchpad just got easier!

      Debian recently switched from Alioth to Salsa offering only Git hosting from now on and that simplifies the work of exiting contributors and also helps newcomers who are most likely already familiar with Git if they know at least one version control system. (Thanks to everyone involved in the transition!)

    • 22 Essential Git Commands

      Git has become the quintessential version control system. The rise of Git’s popularity can be attributed to its speed, agility and versatility. Whether you are a freelancing web developer or a software designer for enterprise-level applications, you can benefit from using Git. It helps you keep track of your files through systematic versioning. Git makes it easier to roll-back to older versions of code or create new branches to experiment on the current codebase. Also, Git is a distributed version control system which means you don’t have to always connect to a central server to get your work done.Below are the essential Git commands that will help in your day-to-day tasks. The simple examples will give you an understanding of the commands, so you can easily remember the syntax when you need to use them.

    • RcppEigen 0.3.3.5.0

      Another minor release 0.3.3.5.0 of RcppEigen arrived on CRAN today (and just went to Debian too) bringing support for Eigen 3.3.5 to R.

      As we now carry our small set of patches to Eigen as diff in our repo, it was fairly straightforward to bring these few changes to the new upstream version. I added one trivial fix of changing a return value to void as this is also already in the upstream repo. Other than that, we were fortunate to get two nice and focussed PRs since the last release. Ralf allowed us to use larger index values by using R_xlen_t, and Michael corrected use of RcppArmadillo in a benchmarking example script.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • The Destruction of Higher Education Today

      It was recently revealed how British universities are imitating the Premier League football in procuring star names in academia to boost their REF (Research Excellence Framework) rankings. First used in 2014 to assess the academic period of 2008 to 2013, the REF was to provide accountability for public investment in research as well as to establish “reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE [higher education] sector and for public information.” Yet, many of its critics argue that it places too much emphasis of extra-academic impacts of research which has no relevance to the quality of research. Others suggest that it increases mediocrity with the emphasis of these assessment are on impacts, not intellectual or academic value. Add to this the creation of the managerial-bureaucrat within academia rose in British institutions by over one-third between 2003 and 2008, the end result is that working in British universities is having severe repercussions on the mental health of junior and senior scholars and even more negative effects on the qualities of learning.

      Such policies should also be of great concern to those of us in the United States despite having an entirely different structure. The REF in the UK, to quote one critic, has imposed “increasingly ridiculous administrative burdens on researchers, inventing increasingly arbitrary assessment criteria and wasting increasing amounts of money on red tape which should actually be going to fund research.” But such bureaucratization strategies are not limited to the UK since American universities have similarly seen a rise in the managerial class such that between 1987 and 2012, American “universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators and professional employees, or an average of 87 every working day, according to the analysis of federal figures.” And like the UK in recent years, American institutions have incessantly courted star academics since the late 1980s which drove up university costs as the humanities became this area to access education with intellectual pop stars.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Gene Editing: Fears Lead To Call For Moratorium At CBD, Discussions Ongoing

      Gene editing techniques have opened the way to a new world of innovations. One of them is the potential eradication of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. What appears as a very attractive way to help with malaria eradication is denounced by civil society groups arguing that the technology is in its infancy. Wiping out entire species could have unforeseen environmental, health, and social consequences, they say. They are calling for a moratorium preventing the release of gene drive organisms in the wild. They also describe the gene drive mosquitoes as a Trojan horse, hiding broader interests of agricultural multinational corporations.

    • UN Committee Adopts ‘Landmark’ Declaration Reinforcing Peasants’ Rights To Seeds

      The social, humanitarian and cultural committee of the United Nations meeting this month adopted a UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. The declaration includes the right to save, exchange, and sell farm-saved seeds, a contentious issue for which small farmers have been campaigning for years.

      [...]

      The non-binding resolution was adopted after a vote [pdf], with 119 for, 7 against, and 49 abstentions. Voting against the resolution were: Australia, Hungary, Israel, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Those who abstained included most European Union nations, such as Germany, France, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, and Spain, along with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

      China and India, as well as a number of Latin American, Asian, and African countries voted for the resolution, along with Switzerland, and Monaco.

      The declaration calls for countries to “respect, protect and fulfil the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas,” and says “they shall promptly take legislative, administrative and other appropriate steps to achieve progressively the full realization of the rights of the … Declaration that cannot be immediately guaranteed” (Article 2).

      [...]

      The right to save, use, exchange and sell farm-saved seeds is related to intellectual property issues, in particular the royalties on the harvested material if it is further used on a commercial basis by farmers.

      States “shall ensure that seeds of sufficient quality and quantity are available to peasants at the most suitable time for planting and at an affordable price,” Art. 19 says.

  • Security

    • New Linux crypto-miner steals your root password and disables your antivirus [Ed: Yes, well, when a machine gets totally cracked it can get totally trashed; but that does not mean GNU/Linux is inherently not secure as Catalin Cimpanu always wants us to think]

      The latest example of this trend is a new trojan discovered this month by Russian antivirus maker Dr.Web. This new malware strain doesn’t have a distinctive name, yet, being only tracked under its generic detection name of Linux.BtcMine.174.

    • New Linux malware mines cryptocurrency and steals your password

      Linux.BtcMine.174 is the current name of the new strand which mostly aims to mine the Monero cryptocurrency. But, in addition to that, this piece of malware which contains over 1,000 lines of code also tries to set itself up to shut down running services, hide files, and potentially steal your password.

      Among the many steps it takes in rooting itself into a system, the malware tries to move itself into a folder where it has write permissions, gain root access, and escalate its own privileges using known exploits. It also adds itself to the autorun list and installs a rootkit.

    • New Linux Trojan Can Disable Your Antivirus and Steal Root Passwords

      Linux is known to be a much safer OS compared to other desktop alternatives, but it is nowhere near perfect. A new trojan has been discovered by Russian antivirus company Dr. Web. The Linux.BtcMine.174 malware comes with a number of malicious features and has a gigantic amount of code in its shell script.

    • Nasty New Linux Crypto Malware Compromises Root, Launches DDoS Attacks

      With the value of Bitcoin once again experiencing a big drop this past week, you may begin to think that malware developers would begin shifting focus elsewhere. Unfortunately, that’s far from being the case. Even if crypto seems to have modest value, that value becomes substantial when you multiply it by every infected machine; it really is easy money for attackers.

      In case we needed a reminder that Linux is in fact susceptible to viruses, this latest malware targets that platform specifically. Ultimately, two vulnerabilities need to be exploited (CVE-2016-5195 and CVE-2013-2094) to gain root access, and in effect, full control over the system.

    • Password Hashing And Why We Need It

      Password hashing is the process of encrypting a user’s password before storing it into a database. The encryption is one way and passwords once hashed cannot be decrypted to their original text value.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • DoS Vulnerabilities Found in Linux Kernel, Unpatched

      Two denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerabilities found in the Linux Kernel by contributor Wanpeng Li could allow local attackers to exploit null pointer deference bugs to trigger DoS conditions.

      The first vulnerability, which received the CVE-2018-19406 ID in the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures database, resides in the kvm_pv_send_ipi function of the Linux kernel, defined in the arch/x86/kvm/lapic.c file.

    • Google, Mozilla working on letting web apps edit files despite warning it could be ‘abused in terrible ways’

      However, the group says the biggest challenge will be guarding against malicious sites seeking to abuse persistent access to files on a user’s system.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Two Numbers That Explain Why Trump Won’t Sanction Saudi Arabia

      “[W]e may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” US president Donald Trump told the nation on November 20, but “[t]he United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

      Many find the president’s statement curious indeed given the seeming consensus among the Turkish and US intelligence communities that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But two simple numbers clarify just how much importance successive administrations, including Trump’s, have placed on the US-Saudi relationship.

      The first number is the number one.

      Jamal Khashoggi was one man. He was a Saudi citizen, and considered an enemy of the state by “his” government to boot. He was neither a US citizen, nor was he killed on US soil. In fact, he was technically killed on Saudi soil — consulates enjoy the same “sovereign” status as embassies. His murder, while evil and tragic, was really not any more the business of the US government than the execution of an American in Texas would be Mohammed bin Salman’s concern.

      The second number is 2,977.

    • Ex-CIA Officer’s Brief Detention Deepens Mystery in Montenegro

      When a former CIA officer was detained overseas recently, Montenegrin officials thought the answer to a question that their country has been obsessed with for two years might be within reach: How did Russia try to topple Montenegro’s government?

      On the eve of a parliamentary vote in 2016 viewed as a referendum on membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Montenegrin police broke up what they claimed was a Russian-backed coup. The investigation and court proceedings over the ensuing two years have riveted the country, including the sensational, and head-scratching, allegation that the coup backers recruited a former CIA officer to help ferry its plotters out of Montenegro.

    • Afghanistan is Collapsing. Get Out: Now!

      November has been quite a month, so far, in Afghanistan. The level of violence has been appalling and the most serious recent atrocity was yet another suicide bombing in Kabul. It killed over fifty people and injured twice that many but didn’t merit a Trump tweet, which isn’t surprising because he doesn’t seem to be interested in the place. Further, as reported by the Washington Post on November 19, he hasn’t visited a single country in which his troops are fighting.

      The reason he hasn’t visited his troops in such areas is because he is a coward. He is a physical yellow-belly who lacks the courage to go anywhere near a war zone. He is below contempt, but he could gain a little bit of respect if he ordered the US and NATO to get out of Afghanistan.

    • Saying Goodbye to UN Sanctions Against Eritrea

      It isn’t often the UN Security Council votes unanimously to remove sanctions against a country, but this past Wednesday, November 14 they did just that by saying goodbye to nine years of UN just punishment against the small, socialist, east African country of Eritrea.

      It was Christmas Eve, 2009 when the USA forced through UN Security Council sanctions against Eritrea, with Ambassador Susan Rice storming out into the hallway and ordering a tardy South African Ambassador back into the room so she would have enough votes to pass her edict which would falsely accuse Eritrea of supporting terrorism in Somalia.

      It turns out, thanks to Wikileaks, the whole purpose of the sanctions was to sabotage the Eritrean economy by preventing German banks from funding the fledgling Eritrean mining industry.

      We know, again thanks to Wikileaks, that, in the words of the senior US diplomat in east Africa and later acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Don Yamamoto way back in 2007, that Eritrean involvement in Somalia was “insignificant”. Remember, one of the instigators of this classic piece of “fake news” was the Queen of Chaos herself, Hillary Clinton, who alongside her erstwhile enemy, Susan Rice, used their paid minions in the human rights organizations such as HRW’s hitman Tom Malinowski (just elected to the US Congress) to get the ball rolling, spreading their fake news across the media. Guilty as charged, no matter the complete lack of
      evidence, full speed ahead with the smear campaign. Eritreans must kneel down and give up our socialist way of life, with brutal consequences to be borne if Pax American was not obeyed.

      Nine years later Eritrea has survived crippling sanctions and emerged victorious by bringing peace to the Horn of Africa, concluding a peace deal and ending twenty years of no-war-no-peace with our neighbor Ethiopia.

    • Syria: A Moment to Reflect

      The death of Raed Fares in Syria reminds us that there was a moment in Syria when protest was led by secular democrats keen to see the end of decades of one family rule. That he was killed by the Islamist rebels the West is now actively supporting – and the fact that all the western news reports have sought to elide that fact – is sign of how horribly it has all gone wrong.

      The assault on Hodeidah appears finally to have focused some Western leaders on the appalling horrors of the bombing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi/UAE led coalition. Hodeidah is abhorrent not just because of the direct effect of the assault, but because the aim is to close the port which is the only supply route standing between further millions and death by starvation. When you add to Hodeidah the hideous killing of Khashoggi and the dreadful imprisonment of the unfortunate Matthew Hedges by Saudi satellite the UAE, and you realise that all of these deaths and injustices including that of Raed Fares are orchestrated by the same people, you would hope the pause to reflect would be general.

    • Thieves Like Us: the Violent Theft of Land and Capital is at the Core of the U.S. Experiment

      The United States has been at war every day since its founding, often covertly and often in several parts of the world at once. As ghastly as that sentence is, it still does not capture the full picture. Indeed, prior to its founding, what would become the United States was engaged—as it would continue to be for more than a century following—in internal warfare to piece together its continental territory. Even during the Civil War, both the Union and Confederate armies continued to war against the nations of the Diné and Apache, the Cheyenne and the Dakota, inflicting hideous massacres upon civilians and forcing their relocations. Yet when considering the history of U.S. imperialism and militarism, few historians trace their genesis to this period of internal empire-building. They should. The origin of the United States in settler colonialism—as an empire born from the violent acquisition of indigenous lands and the ruthless devaluation of indigenous lives—lends the country unique characteristics that matter when considering questions of how to unhitch its future from its violent DNA.

      The United States is not exceptional in the amount of violence or bloodshed when compared to colonial conquests in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. Elimination of the native is implicit in settler colonialism and colonial projects in which large swaths of land and workforces are sought for commercial exploitation. Extreme violence against noncombatants was a defining characteristic of all European colonialism, often with genocidal results.

    • Will the new House Dems take on the War Lobby?

      A new Democratic majority will take charge in the U.S. House of Representatives in January, thanks to a remarkable rebound in public participation in U.S. elections. Based on early data, it appears that over 49% of eligible voters showed up at the polls this year, compared to a 70-year low of 36.4% in the last mid-term in 2014. More than ever before, the Democrats should thank young voters for their success, as 18-39 year olds appear to have voted for them by a two to one margin.

      An incredible 71.6% of 18-29 year olds voted for Senator Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016. So it should be no surprise that the 2018 “Blue Wave” in the House is the youngest, most diverse and most progressive new class of Democratic House Members in many years, ready to fight for the issues that Sanders ran on in 2016 and that many of them have been working on in their own communities.

      But an issue that will seriously affect young people for decades to come, i.e. the direction of U.S. foreign policy, hardly featured in the 2018 campaign. Few new Members of Congress have a background in foreign affairs, so the new House Dems may face a bit of a shock when they discover that all their domestic priorities are held hostage by a huge “war tax” that drains off well over 60% of federal discretionary spending for weapons, war and military spending.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Joe Emersberger on the Prosecution of Julian Assange

      Joe Emersberger, contributor to teleSUR English, ZNet, Counterpunch and FAIR, discusses the prosecution of Julian Assange, its implications and the media coverage.

    • A Wikileaks for Everything?

      That organization was Wikileaks. Julian Assange’s whistleblower outlet was guarded behind layers of code and digital securitizations, ensuring that the political sovereign could not take down the site.

    • Assange Under Siege… Where Is Justice? Ron Paul Talks With Lew Rockwell

      What kind of justice system do we have in the US when publishers of the truth that government does not want you to know are threatened with imprisonment and even the death penalty? Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell discuss the terrible and shameful treatment of publisher, journalist, and truth-teller Julian Assange:

    • Julian Assange: Charges in the US, trial by the Media?

      Last week, in court papers filed in the US, in a case completely unrelated to Julian Assange, there was a paragraph confirming that a secret indictment has been filed against the Wikileaks founder. A supposed clerical error confirmed something that Assange had always feared, but that the US Department of Justice never admitted: it wants him in jail. It’s been more than six years since Assange was granted asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      An investigation into sexual assault-related allegations made by two women in Sweden has long since been dropped. However, British police say Assange will be arrested the moment he steps out of the embassy for breach of bail.

      Less than a decade ago, Assange had media outlets eating out of his hand and governments with secrets to hide on high alert. Now, he’s at the mercy of an Ecuadorian government that’s running out of patience and he may be running out of time.

    • Julian Assange: Bad guy, yes. Criminal? Not so fast.

      Love him or hate him, Julian Assange shouldn’t be prosecuted by the United States.

      The WikiLeaks founder, a divisive figure who’s either a transparency hero or a Russian pawn who helped elect Donald Trump, depending on whom you ask, has been living inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London for the past six years. Assange has been afraid to leave the embassy, fearing authorities would arrest him and extradite him to the United States to face charges related to releasing a vast amount of US government documents in 2010.

      It turns out those fears were well founded. Last week, it emerged that there is a secret indictment of Assange, which was accidentally revealed in an unrelated legal filing.

      We don’t know what the charges are, when they were filed, or what evidence the government has to support them. It’s always possible that there’s more to the Assange case than meets the eye — and if there is credible evidence that he hacked e-mail accounts, conspired with others to do so, or committed other crimes, he should be charged. But based on what is known publicly, there are good reasons to be skeptical of his prosecution, and to fear it could set a damaging precedent that would weaken press freedom.

    • Julian Assange Faces Federal Charges. But Let’s Not Forget What We’ve Learned From WikiLeaks.

      The United States is reportedly closing in on prosecuting Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has spent over six years holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London avoiding extradition.

      But while the ethics of WikiLeaks’ operations and its motives are contested, the organization has revealed undeniably newsworthy information that authorities sought to keep from the public. These are some of the biggest stories that came from WikiLeaks.

    • Julian Assange: Charges in the US, trial by the Media?
    • We got the government to reverse its longtime policy to get Silicon Valley diversity data

      Federal labor officials have decided to reverse their longtime policy and release diversity numbers for government contractors such as Oracle and Palantir Technologies in response to a lawsuit filed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

    • Julian Assange Lawyers Refused Entry to Ecuadorian Embassy

      Members of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team were blocked from entering the Ecuadorian embassy in London this weekend, WikiLeaks’ official Twitter account said Saturday.

      Ecuadorian officials turned away attorneys Jen Robinson and Aitor Martinez scheduled to meet with Assange, who is preparing for a court hearing at a “national security court complex at Alexandria, Virginia,” according to the whistleblowing non-profit organization. The aim of the hearing is to “remove the secrecy order” concerning the U.S. charges Assange faces, the group tweeted.

    • The Fate of Julian Assange: Chris Hedges Interviews Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria

      On his program “On Contact,” journalist and author Chris Hedges interviews Joe Lauria, CN editor, on the moves to prosecute Julian Assange using the Espionage Act; the media’s cravenness and the latest on Assange’s condition in London.

    • ON CONTACT: CRUCIFYING JULIAN ASSANGE

      Chris Hedges and Joe Lauria, journalist and editor-in-chief, Consortium, discuss efforts to force #WikiLeaks publisher, #JulianAssange, out of the Ecuador Embassy in London and extradite him to the USA to stand trial.

    • Assange’s lawyers blocked from entering Ecuadorian embassy

      Earlier this week, Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno terminated the credentials of Ecuador’s London ambassador Abad Ortiz. No explanation was given for the prompt recall, and WikiLeaks contextualized it by tweeting, “All diplomats known to Assange have now been transferred away from the embassy.”

      Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since he sought asylum there in June 2012. The WikiLeaks editor feared being extradited to Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations, where he believed he would then be sent on to the US to face charges for his role in publishing thousands of US government cables leaked by whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Can a Few People Save the World?

      In both presentations I summarized my knowledge and experience. I worked on Capitol Hill for two years and for the US Environmental Protection Agency for twenty-five years. I supplemented my remarks with images from the industrialization of agriculture and the destructive administration of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s: the model for the harmful environmental deregulation of the Trump administration.

      Of course, twenty-five years cannot be brought back, much less captured in a story. But I did my best in telling the truth with fragments of memories, some of which I documented in Poison Spring.

      The overarching idea that explains the tragedy of today is this: America lost its soul with the winning of WWII. The country became an empire and, slowly, began discarding its democratic traditions.

      From democratic family farms to imperial plantations

      In agriculture, this metamorphosis was monstrous. Family farmers, most of whom had farms rarely exceeding 160 acres in size, became a target of government indifference. Most government subsidies and scientific knowledge generated by government-funded research at the land grant universities has been building up agricultural giants now controlling rural America.

    • Climate Change Is Threatening Many Species, But One Is Getting a Boost

      towering elm tree stands 30 meters tall, somewhere near the border between England and Scotland, defying the fate that so many of its cousins met when Dutch elm disease ravaged the species in the 1970s. One of relatively few elm trees left, it is a haven for wildlife. Look closely and you can see the erratic fluttering of a small brown butterfly, with a W-shaped white streak across its wing.

      This butterfly is making history: It’s crossed the border into Scotland, where it has settled happily in a native wych elm tree and been sighted in the country for the first time in 133 years. The white-letter hairstreak — Satyrium w-album — has been squeezed slowly out of its habitat over the last 40 years, but now it seems to be getting a helping hand from an unexpected source: climate change.

      Although numbers were up slightly in 2017, the white-letter hairstreak isn’t doing well in the United Kingdom — the population has fallen 93 percent in the last 42 years, according to the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, with a 59 percent reduction in the last decade alone.

    • YouTube Lets California Fire Conspiracy Theories Run Wild

      The conspiracy theorists use doctored or out-of-context images in order to falsely argue that directed energy weapons, or laser beams, caused the wildfires in California—not climate change. By incorrectly claiming that the houses were consciously struck, these theorists ignore ecological science which explains that the arrangement of homes and topography of the land makes wildfires prone to destroy some homes and not others.

      But the point isn’t that these conspiracy theorists are wrong. They obviously are. The point is that vloggers have realized that they can amass hundreds of thousands of views by advancing false narrative, and YouTube has not adequately stopped these conspiracy theories from blossoming on its platform, despite the fact that many people use it for news. A Pew Research survey found that 38% of adults consider YouTube as a source of news, and 53% consider the site important for helping them understand what’s happening in the world.

    • Google Searches Reveal Public Interest in Conservation Is Rising

      OK, Google: Has the general public lost interest in biodiversity conservation? Has people’s interest in environmental issues been overshadowed by climate change alone?

      The answer to both questions, according to Google searches at least, is “No.” Public interest in both conservation and climate change seems to be rising, a new study has found.

      At first, Zuzana Burivalova, a tropical forest ecologist at Princeton University who was also the lead researcher on Mongabay’s Conservation Effectiveness series, and Rhett Butler, Mongabay’s founder and CEO, wanted to find out which conservation strategies were getting more popular over time, and which ones were simply fads.

      But then, some conservation scientists echoed a common sentiment: public support for conservation had been waning in general, and what limited “bandwidth” the public had for environmental issues was being dominated by climate change.

    • Better forest management won’t end wildfires, but it can reduce the risks – here’s how

      President Donald Trump’s recent comments blaming forest managers for catastrophic California wildfires have been met with outrage and ridicule from the wildland fire and forestry community. Not only were these remarks insensitive to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in California – they also reflected a muddled understanding of the interactions between wildfire and forest management.

      As scientists who study forest policy and community-based collaboration, here is how we understand this relationship.

  • Finance

    • Amazon accidentally streams Doctor Who episode before BBC broadcast

      BBC Studios have made a statement on this issue: “We’re aware that an upcoming episode of Doctor Who was made available to Amazon Prime users in the US in error. We are investigating how this happened and have taken the steps to remove it. BBC Studios would like to apologise if anyone’s enjoyment of the series has been spoiled by this mishap.”

    • Amazon staff in Europe protest to coincide with Black Friday

      The union argues Amazon employees receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and employees earn relatively high wages for that industry.

    • Amazon Warehouse Workers Protest in Europe on Black Friday

      “What we’re saying is Jeff Bezos, you’re the richest man in the world, you have the wealth and ability to make sure your workers are treated with respect and dignity,” Rix said. “You as the wealthiest man in the world would prefer to spend your wealth on space travel rather than on the people who create your wealth.”

    • Amazon’s European workers go on strike for Black Friday

      Protesters left Amazon.com facilities all over the continent, including Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy.

    • The human costs of Black Friday, explained by a former Amazon warehouse manager

      Last year, Amazon accounted for 45 percent of all Thanksgiving Day online purchases and 60 percent of purchases on Black Friday, according to Hitwise. The Seattle e-commerce giant is expecting similar numbers this year, and has been making an even more aggressive push, offering free shipping to all shoppers during the holiday season, with no minimum purchase.

      While this may be great for Amazon’s bottom line, all this shopping has a real human cost. As plenty of Amazon employees have attested, working in the company’s warehouses is grueling. Earlier this summer, a former Amazon fulfillment center manager from California reached out to me after I wrote about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sparring with Amazon over worker rights and pay rates. (The battle ended in Amazon raising the hourly rate to $15 an hour but cutting company stock grants and bonuses.) The former Amazon employee, a US Air Force veteran, requested anonymity for fear of professional repercussions.

      [...]

      Yes, it’s a pretty typical thing for Amazon. It’s easy for Amazon to hire us because they know vets are willing to shut up and cooperate. In my opinion, Amazon is preying on the work-life balance issue that the military has, and feeds off the rigid order the Army teaches. The military is known for being a bastion of sexism, but I had a worse experience at Amazon. It’s way more cutthroat.

    • Amazon warehouse workers in Europe stage ‘we are not robots’ protests

      Amazon warehouse workers in several countries in Europe are protesting over what they claim are inhuman working conditions which treat people like robots. It’s the latest in a series of worker actions this year.

      They’ve timed the latest protest for Black Friday, one of the busiest annual shopping days online as retailers slash prices and heavily promote deals to try to spark a seasonal buying rush.

      [...]

      In a statement on Wednesday announcing the Black Friday protest, Tim Roache, the GMB’s general secretary, said: “The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman. They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances. We’re standing up and saying enough is enough, these are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay — they’re not robots.”

    • ‘We Are Not Robots’: Amazon Workers Across Europe Walk Out on Black Friday Over Low Wages and ‘Inhuman Conditions’

      Eduardo Hernandez, a 38-year-old employee at an Amazon logistics depot in Madrid, Spain—where about 90 percent of staff walked off the job—told the Associated Press that the action was intentionally scheduled on the popular shopping day to negatively impacting the company’s profits.

      “It is one of the days that Amazon has most sales, and these are days when we can hurt more and make ourselves be heard because the company has not listened to us and does not want to reach any agreement,” he said.

    • A New Economic Model for the South: Ditch Corporate Welfare and Fund Agricultural Co-ops

      A set of statistics from a new report provides a window into how misplaced economic priorities perpetuate poverty in the rural South.

      Since opening a plant in Canton, Mississippi 15 years ago, auto manufacturer Nissan has been awarded at least $1.3 billion in tax subsidies.

      Meanwhile, since 2010, small and cooperative farmers across Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi have received just $2.3 million from the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program, their primary source of economic support.

      A report from the Institute for Policy Studies, titled “Agricultural Cooperatives: Opportunities and Challenges for African-American Women in the South,” makes the case that redirecting governmental support from corporate welfare to agricultural co-ops could provide an alternative vision for economic development in the South.

      Despite promises made when they open shop in the South, companies like Nissan often fall short when it comes to providing safe, living-wage jobs in the predominantly African-American communities where they operate. And the enormous subsidies they receive end up, directly or indirectly, starving alternative models that could actually support the health and economic prosperity of rural communities across the South.

    • Medieval Europe: Power and Splendor

      I went with my wife Carmen to the Ottawa Museum of History to see the exhibition on “Medieval Europe: power and splendour.” Stunningly beautiful, the Museum of History majestically overlooks the Ottawa River with the back of the parliament buildings visible. It is a wonderful host for presentations of humanity’s (and of course Canada’s) past. After wandering through an exhibition or two, one can gently stroll along the walk that follows the river. One can sit on the rocks and dangle one’s feet if so desired, or simply sit on a bench and delight in the steps of the canal across the river.

      We can speak of the pedagogics of exhibition design. This exhibition on Medieval Europe is the first collaboration with the British Museum. It is a superb example of creating the ethos of medieval spaces. The light and colours are muted, music playing in each of the galleries cultivates one’s sensibility and heightens perception. One is nudged to view close-up. And each specific gallery (Heavenly treasures and Courtly life are instances) focuses our attention through stylized symbols of the court or cathedral.

      We need all the help we can get. The medieval period is usually dated from the fall of Rome in 400 A.D. to the advent of the Italian Renaissance and Protestant Reformation in the early 1500s. Historians warn us that when we dwell in the past we enter a strange and often unfamiliar and puzzling land. And we may carry our own strange ideas about these medieval creatures. Wasn’t it a dark age? The symbols so exquisitely etched on a coin or sword leave us scratching our minds.

      This exhibition organizes itself around the themes of power and splendour. Power adores splendour. The more splendour, the more status. Power displays its riches on every object imaginable. Coins and sword hilts are decorated to speak power to the lowly. For the wealthy woman wearing the “Wingham brooch” (575-625, England) made of gilded silver, garnet, blue glass and shell, and shaped as a four-point star, power has embroidered its magnificence (and our lowly insignificance). Look, I am rich, and you do not appear so.

    • Evrémonde in New York: The Amazon Deal

      Meanwhile New York’s homeless population has hit 60,000, including 10 percent of the city’s school children. All in all half the city’s population is considered poor or near poor. The argument that the wealth of tech companies, and their much coveted big spending, tax paying engineers, is only positive for a city strains credulity. Though New York was the first city to impose a cap on Uber, halting the issue of new for-hire vehicle licenses for 12 months in the aftermath of several high publicized suicides by medallion cab drivers, the city is still jammed with overworked Uber drivers. The awful conditions in Amazon warehouses are well documented (Amazon has a distribution center in Staten Island), and despite Amazon recently being shamed to raising pay to $15 per hour (offset by cutting other benefits), its warehouse jobs have a ways to go. The tech industry remains a pillar of subcontracting and anti-unionism. Every ballyhooed innovation in recent years, from just-in-time inventory to the overhyped ‘gig economy’ has hit the working class directly.

      The past few years there has been much ink spilled about the ongoing sparring match between Governor Cuomo and Mayor deBlasio, with Cuomo allegedly representing the pragmatic ‘centrist’ wing of the Democrats, with deBlasio being the ‘progressive’. If such nonsense was in any way credible before, perhaps the sight of both men together at the same press conference fronting the Amazon deal will break the spell. New York remains very much a tale of two cities, with the same half still calling most of the shots.

    • Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order

      Neo-Liberalism has infiltrated all areas of society and permeated life in virtually every corner of the world; it is a dysfunctional system that instead of serving human need is designed to provide wealth ‘beyond the dreams of Avarice for a privileged few,’ as Noam Chomsky puts it. Its very existence denies the manifestation of real democracy.

      Flowing from this paradigm of injustice is extreme inequality leading to a wide range of social ills, high levels of unemployment – particularly among the young in many parts of the world – low investment in public services and, as the political/economic scientist C. J. Polychroniou, says, “rapidly declining standards of living, dangerously high levels of both public and corporate debt, a financial system that remains out of whack, and ecological collapse.” It is a decrepit global system propped up by the guardians of the status-quo, who are intellectually bankrupt, have no answers to the issues of the day but, desperate to cling on to power, use all their tools of control to resist change.

      Within the existing forms political influence is concentrated in the hands of a tiny group of people and institutions — they run the corporate organizations and stock the governing executive, these are the wealthy and powerful — the ruling elite; Corporations and their masters dominate this entitled ensemble; huge tyrannical institutions, unaccountable bodies with enormous power. As Noam Chomsky states, corporations are “one of the most tyrannical systems human beings have ever devised”. Control is concentrated at the top from where policy is made and orders are issued, managers pass on instructions and workers are expected to obey, conform, and be thankful to the beneficent company for buying their labor, albeit for a pittance compared to the pay checks of the boardroom. This is little more than wage slavery.

    • NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden agrees ‘Bitcoin is a new form of money’

      Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who copied and leaked classified information from the US National Security Agency, and who has been granted political asylum in Russia after he made his getaway from the US, shares his views on Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology.

      According to the Daily Hodl, Snowden shared his views with his lawyer Ben Wizner, through loose transcripts and text exchanges, which were published by the American publishing comapany, McSweeney’s.

    • Rapprochement at APEC: Japan and China Trade Insults for Trade

      Strange. A White House never shy about proclaiming its achievements, real or imagined, has been uncharacteristically reluctant to inform the world about one of its major successes.

      Modesty? No, more likely those who toil on Pennsylvania Avenue were probably blindsided by the speed with which China and Japan overcame their mistrust and decided to trade insults for, well, more trade.

      The rapprochement, occurred before the Papua New Guinea Apec summit that ended in rancor after its failure to produce a joint communique because of tensions between the United States and China over trade and security issues. This was the first time that Apec leaders were unable to agree on a formal written declaration. Officially, this was because the US wanted the declaration to call for the World Trade Organization to be reformed putting China in the position of championing the status quo. Unofficially, the two countries view each other with growing mistrust. They were never going to agree.

      Both view the Indo-Pacific region as their battleground. At the moment the battle is for ideas and influence but could at some future date live up, literally, to its description.

      Mike Pence, the US vice-president demanded at Apec that China “change its ways” on trade, intellectual property and human rights, and ridiculed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “one belt, one road” multinational infrastructure initiative as a “debt trap” for the greedy and unsuspecting.

      But Xi will not be too bothered. Unlike Barack Obama, who “pivoted” to Asia, China realises Trump is pivoting on the golf course. His commitment to Asia is less than wholehearted.

      No one knows this better than Xi who has gone out of his way to improve relations with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Mark Zuckerberg criticised for ducking international grilling on fake news

      In a letter sent to the committee on Monday but only just made public, Facebook said Mr Zuckerberg was “unable to accept” the invitation and would instead send its European head of policy, Richard Allan, to a hearing on Tuesday.

    • Facebook looks like it’s preparing for war with Trump after hiring a top Department of Justice antitrust lawyer

      Facebook has hired one of the top antitrust lawyers in Silicon Valley in a sign that the company could be preparing for war with Donald Trump’s administration.

      Kate Patchen, the chief of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in San Francisco, has joined Facebook as director and associate general counsel of litigation.

    • Thankstaking in the Trumpfederacy: Terminate the Tribe That Aided the Pilgrims

      As elementary school kids across the US don gaudily dyed chicken feathers and hop around like the fowl themselves for no discernible reason other than it’s what they’ve been told “Indians did,” their classmates watch on with stoicism in cardboard capotain hats, before together they fall upon plates of factory-farmed turkey. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving, and the same white privilege that enables Dan Snyder to claim that the racial slur his football team is known by “honors” tribal people, is once more transmitted to children who know no different but deserve far better in perpetuation of the quintessential American myth. Possibly in preparation for Roger Stone, Jared Kushner or Don, Jr., President Donald Trump kept his pardon-hand hot by adhering to at least one White House norm, granting the annual Thanksgiving pardon to a turkey, a skill he honed just three-months earlier on Joe Arpaio who, like Stone and Don, Jr., exhibits traits not dissimilar to those found in Galliformes.

      “History and culture – so important,” Trump has mused, while enlightening the likes of Brinkley, Goodwin and Beschloss that “Indian Killer,” President Andrew Jackson, could have stopped the Civil War. “He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this,’” Trump famously blathered. Putting aside that Jackson had been entombed for sixteen-years before the first volleys of the Civil War, the architect of the Indian Removal Act and the Trail of Tears was also a slave owner and slave trader, so, had he been alive, he would have known exactly the reason for the war. However, in fairness to Trump, Jackson’s view from six-feet under was significantly impaired. With such a stellar grasp of history, Trump would likely validate the first-graders presentation of Thanksgiving. The specter of Trump as a Pilgrim is more in keeping with Halloween, his oafish form in stockings and drawers a horrifying thought, but not nearly as terrifying as the real-world carnage he is unleashing on Tribal Nations, something Jackson no doubt approves of from the grave, as Trump sits beneath his portrait in the Oval Office.

    • Chasing Down Fascists in Europe

      Polish government officials openly marching in a fascist parade along with tens of thousands of their country men and women. Police and city officials in the supposedly liberal city of Portland OR provoking antifascist protesters while protecting fascists and their sympathizers. An openly racist president of the United States declares that he is a nationalist. This writer figures he knows his followers will implicitly understand that the word “white” precedes the word “nationalist.” The modern fascist group Proud Boys marches in Philadelphia; when confronted by a much larger crowd of antifascists, the Proud Boys call cabs on their cell phones. The taxi drivers overwhelmingly refuse to give them rides. In Boston, the local Proud Boys are chased away from a book fair they hoped to disrupt.

      We live in a time when humanity’s most hateful members have once again garnered public attention. Fascist and white supremacist groups across the world are marching proudly. Some of their allies are gaining ground in legislative bodies. In Hungary, a fascist runs the government. His supporters engage in crimes of hate against their fellow humans, now legitimized by the creatures who rule them. Refugees from capital’s wars struggle to make their way towards a new life, their journey impeded by police and civilians motivated by a fear and hatred legitimized by the fascist elements now making headway in Europe—a continent that seems to have forgotten the essential inhumanity of Nazism. Although intolerance is gaining ground, so is resistance.

    • End Times for American Liberalism

      Despite the most blatant violations of civil liberties in American history by a Republican Southern evangelical president fighting a never-ending crusade against “evil” itself, the three leading Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards make almost no mention of civil liberties as a campaign issue on their websites. The most liberal candidate, the Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, does include it at the very bottom of his list of issues, just underneath animal rights. Senators Clinton, Obama, and Edwards outdo each other speaking of their faith in their Lord and Savior, without whom they couldn’t have gotten through difficult times, and bend over backwards to “respect” the different opinions of evangelical voters, on such issues as “intelligent design” or the preservation of adult stem-cell embryos. Clinton voted not only to authorize the Patriot Act (which gutted civil liberties in 2001), but to reauthorize it in 2006. The Democratic candidates vow to hunt down the terrorists and kill them, and to show no tolerance for illegal immigrants, as they speak a language of economic populism focused on the anxieties of the declining middle-class. And all this comes at a time when the self-destructive acts of the radical neo-conservatives in power couldn’t possibly have created a more propitious time for the revival of liberal individualism in America.

      The label “liberal” is avoided like the plague by all the Democrats, who prefer to be called “progressives” these days. Turn-of-the-century Progressivism, whose two leading presidential avatars were Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, was a heady blend of moralistic intervention in public and private life, extending the reach of the regulatory state to areas well beyond the imagination of the nineteenth-century American laissez-faire state. It arose from the earlier Populist movement, which was nostalgic and backward-looking, harkening to a bygone era of agrarian independence no longer possible in rapidly industrializing late-nineteenth-century America.

    • The Politics of the Viciousness: the US After the Midterms

      There was a huge turnout in the 2018 election, with the number of voters up by almost 30 percent from the last mid-term in 2014. Both parties managed to effectively motivate their base and get them out to vote. While the outcome was not the decisive victory that the Democrats had hoped for, it did give them many wins that will substantially change the course of politics over the next two years.

      First, and most importantly, the Democrats won enough votes to retake the House of Representatives.

      This matters because it means there will be an effective check on Donald Trump’s power. In a wide variety of areas, beginning with his personal finances, Trump has ignored longstanding precedents and procedures. The Republican-controlled House and Senate were prepared to say that all manner of conflict of interest and abuse of power were fine.

      The Democrats may also be in a position to force the Trump administration to confront the truth in many areas. For example, Trump made one of the major issues in this election a “caravan” of several thousand people walking up from Central America, through Mexico, seeking asylum in the United States.

      Trump convinced millions of his followers that this group of unarmed people, which included many whole families with children, posed a major threat to national security. He even deployed ten thousand troops to the border to protect the country from this groups of asylum seekers.

    • Business as Usual: Washington’s Regime Change Strategy in Venezuela

      For those who have been following Venezuela closely in recent years there is a distinct sense of déjà vu regarding US foreign policy towards that South American nation. This is because Washington’s strategy of regime change in Venezuela is almost identical to the approach it has taken in Latin America on numerous occasions since World War Two. This strategy involves applying economic sanctions, extensive support for the opposition, and destabilization measures that create a sufficient degree of human suffering and chaos to justify a military coup or direct US military intervention. Because this strategy has worked so well for the United States for more than half a century, our elected leaders see no reason not to use it regarding Venezuela. In other words, from Washington’s perspective, its regime change policies towards Venezuela constitute business as usual in Latin America.

      Despite US rhetoric, this regime change strategy does not take into account whether or not a government is democratically elected or the human rights consequences of such interventions. In fact, virtually all of the Latin American governments that the United States has successfully overthrown over the past 65 years were democratically elected. Among the democratically-elected leaders that have been ousted were Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1954), Salvador Allende in Chile (1973), Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti (2004) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009). Washington targeted all these leaders with economic sanctions and destabilization campaigns that created the economic chaos and humanitarian crises required to justify a military solution.

    • After Bright Blue Wave, Wisconsin’s Gerrymandered Legislature Already Up to Dirty Tricks

      It was a bright blue wave in Wisconsin. More than 2.6 million people voted, more than in any previous midterm, more than in the 2012 recall election, and roughly 60 percent of the state’s voting-age population. Democrats swept constitutional offices, winning Governor, Lt. Governor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and a U.S. Senate seat for the first time since 1982.

      A former school science teacher, Tony Evers, sent Scott Walker packing.

      But before Democrats could strike up the band at the inaugural ball, Wisconsin Republicans, the beneficiaries of an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, were already preparing a lame-duck session and a slate of dirty tricks.

      Wisconsin Republicans, led by Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, are considering enacting voter suppression rules, seizing control over key state boards, and changing the date of the next Supreme Court election to thwart the will of the voters.

      “And there is no reason to think they will stop there,” said Jay Heck director of Common Cause Wisconsin.

    • Trump Silent as His Critic and Ex-CIA Chief Hayden Hospitalised After Stroke

      Ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden suffered a stroke at his home earlier this week, Hayden’s family said in a statement Friday.

      Hayden has been taken to a hospital, where he is getting “expert medical care” and attempting to recover from the stroke, the family said but hasn’t provided any further information about the severity of his condition.

    • Meeting Comrade Pasang, Nepal’s Vice President

      Quickly changing the subject, the Vice President asks if there is peace in Venezuela, to which I say, yes, for more than a year there has been relative peace. It soon becomes clear from Pasang’s manner that we are in a very official context and will not be delving deeply into either revolutionary military practice or politics. In fact, during the whole meeting, the only indication that the VP comes from a Marxist background are a few fleeting remarks made about the shared struggle of Nepal and the Latin American countries against capitalism…

      The formal courteousness of this one-time revolutionary commander is itself food for thought. Unlike other key Maoist leaders, who have separated from Prachanda’s hegemonic tendency, Pasang has followed the latter in forming Nepal’s new ruling party through a fusion with UML, the traditional communist party. Pasang was probably the most impressive military leader to emerge in the People’s Liberation Army. He is famous for brilliantly haranguing his troops before battle. These were often informal, even “green” troops, who are said to have maintained high morale and carefully followed their commander’s instructions in the most difficult battles.

    • Whatever Happened to Resigning on Principle?

      This past spring the president met with his White House counsel to discuss an idea. Donald Trump wanted to order the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey, the FBI director he fired. “It is not clear which accusations Mr. Trump wanted prosecutors to pursue,” reported The New York Times.

      The counsel, Don McGahn, argued against it. He won the day. Trump shelved his boneheaded plan to Lock Them Up. Hillary remains free to collect six-figure speaking fees from ethically-challenged organizations and threaten to run for president again.

      That worked out OK. After all, it would be hard to overstate the political crisis that would result if a precedent were established in which the perils of running for political office were to include getting thrown into prison should you lose.

      But what about what was supposed to come next: the principled resignation?

      Don McGahn stared into the face of the Leader of the Free World and Keeper of the Launchcodes and saw—there’s really no more precise way to put it—a lunatic.

      “Mr. McGahn apparently was able to dissuade Mr. Trump from issuing the order to prosecute political enemies by telling him that the plan was so antithetical to American political values that it could trigger impeachment proceedings,” former U.S. attorney Harry Litman wrote in the Times.

    • Deval Patrick, the Compassionate Corporatist?

      For Democrats, the 2020 primary season could come right out of their 2008 playbook, with a black man contesting a white woman for nomination to the highest office in the land.

      It’s unlikely that the name Deval Patrick does more than ring a bell for most Americans, yet he is seriously considering running against Donald Trump in 2020 and just might garner considerable corporate cash. Democrat Patrick succeeded Mitt Romney as Governor of Massachusetts in 2006, beating Republican Kerry Healey in the general election to become the first black governor of the Commonwealth. Healy had been Romney’s Lieutenant Governor who became Acting Governor when Romney resigned to run for President. Cherchez la femme, as we shall see.

    • How Liberals Got Seduced By Trump’s Gifts To Private Prisons

      It didn’t take long. Just weeks after securing a House majority, Democrats had Donald Trump on the ropes for the first time. But Donald Trump, whose only game is a con, always remains a step ahead of his audience. Trump hasn’t turned on his liberal charm in a while. Once a bonafide star and certified Democrat, Trump played the bad boy on television and on magazine covers. Liberals ate him up as he swindled and conned his way to the top in the cultural capital of the world. Resentful to the core, this was never enough for Donald Trump. The insecure and small-handed man needed more love than the liberals could give to him. After NBC gave Gwen Stefani a bigger television contract than him, Don had enough of playing second fiddle. If you can’t join em, beat em. Don’s new audience became those who hate liberals, and the rest is history.

      So when the Democrats made up some grounds, I just assumed Donald would unleash his blood-thirsty base, openly calling for violence across the country. Oh wait, he actually did this, as he threatened Antifa with violence shortly after the election. But the Democrats wouldn’t care about that. Donald though went a step further. To counter the Democrats, he knows his base won’t be enough. Trump hasn’t seduced Democrats for years, but his magic touch remains.

      The Donald knows that to land the liberals, one must play to their guilt. The biggest disgrace by a Democrat was Bill Clinton’s transformation of the United States prison system. Clinton created arguably the most wide-scale human rights violation in the world today through his expansion of a truly diabolical system that featured prison firefighters saving our sorry lives for a dollar a day during the recent California fires. Surely (hopefully) embarrassed by Mr. Clinton, some Democrats took Trump’s bait. Liberal guilt and conservative profits unite!

    • NPR Infomercial for Its Sponsor Amazon Omits Labor and Environmental Criticisms

      There are dozens of reports detailing how Amazon’s shipping policies negatively effects both the environment and workers, but one wouldn’t have any idea either was a concern after listening to NPR’s sexed-up report (Morning Edition, 11/21/18), “Optimized Prime: How AI and Anticipation Power Amazon’s 1-Hour Deliveries.”

      The report, detailing the “Artificial Intelligence” behind Amazon’s delivery systems, relies entirely on interviews with Amazon flacks. The only people NPR speaks to are Brad Porter, the head of robotics for Amazon operations; Jenny Freshwater, director of software development; and Amazon VP Cem Sibay. No outside parties were sought for comment, let alone anyone remotely adversarial, such as labor organizers or environmental activists.

      Indeed, the words “labor,” “worker” or “employee” are nowhere to be found in the six-minute report: Christmas packages simply deliver themselves with the help of brilliant Amazon execs and this mysterious AI technology. If Amazon’s marketing department wrote and produced a segment on their AI technology for NPR, it’s difficult to see how it would have been any different.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • IMDb Battles Actions Union Over Age Censorship Law

      A California law requiring entertainment industry site IMDb.com to hide actors’ ages at their request is unconstitutional, the company argues in new court papers.
      “The First Amendment does not permit a wholesale prohibition of truthful speech (in this case, age information) in order to prevent its misuse by others,” Amazon’s IMDb.com writes in legal papers submitted Wednesday to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    • Censorship Offensive Takes Down More Conservatives

      Loomer is the latest prominent figure on the right to have her access to Twitter and Facebook revoked due to comments that contradict the progressive agenda. Still, the accounts belonging to Nation of Islam founder and notorious anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, and journalist Sarah Jeong, who posted racist tweets against whites are still intact.

      When Infowars content was removed from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, many on the left justified it, arguing that the channel’s penchant for dealing in conspiracy theories and heated rhetoric necessitated its removal. They claimed that this move was not an indicator of active movement against conservative voices on the internet.

      However, many on the right knew better, and they recognized the writing on the wall. There is no question that Loomer is a controversial figure, but she is clearly no different from many of the rabble-rousers on the left, who enjoy nearly unlimited access to the major social media platforms.

    • Atlus Addresses Catherine: Full Body Censorship Concerns in Light of Sony’s Policies

      Sony Interactive Entertainment’s censorship policies were recently thrust into the limelight after the company banned the Western release of Omega Labyrinth Z, forced the removal of Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal‘s Intimacy Mode, and reportedly had several Japanese releases – including Nekopara Vol. 1 – censored. Although a censorship policy isn’t explicitly stated anywhere, it’s evident that Sony has been tightening the reins, leaving fans to wonder how these policies will impact upcoming releases.

    • Will Sony Censor Catherine: Full Body? Developer Can’t Give a Definitive Answer

      This whole censorship thing has been rumbling on for around a month now, and at first, it looked like Sony was only targeting relatively niche Japanese developers. However, more recently, it was confirmed by Koei Tecmo that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet would have certain aspects removed on PlayStation 4. In other words, Sony may be widening the net.
      The aforementioned Studio Zero has responded to fan questions on Twitter, many of them asking whether Catherine: Full Body would be censored as per Sony’s policy. “There are no mysterious lights in Catherine: Full Body. (We went as far as we could go without the light shining.) To everyone worried about that, we love you. (We received about 10 more of the same question),” the tweet reads, as translated by Gematsu.
      In this case “mysterious lights” refers to the obscuring of a visual’s sexualised areas. It’s a reasonably common form of censorship in Japanese media.

    • Censor board is deaf, says Vishal Bhardwaj

      Vishal Bhardwaj on Saturday said that the censor board gives a “deaf” ear to the concerns of the filmmakers.

      The writer-director, who has faced troubles with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in the past, said films are a “soft target” for anything and everything that goes wrong with the society.

      When asked for his reaction on the possibility of censorship creeping into the digital medium, Bhardwaj said, “Did they listen to us when they put the ‘no smoking’ ticker on a running visual? Do they hear us even now? They (censor board) are deaf. They do whatever they want to do. We are the only nation in this world that has ‘no smoking’ on a running visual. How more ridiculous can it be?”

    • Bitcoin User Edward Snowden Talks Passionately on Crypto and Blockchain Benefitting Censorship

      Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who had said he used BTC to pay for various activities online before leaking NSA documents, recently talked about BTC. He said there was no way to take down the blockchain. He added that decentralization was going to challenge the status quo of monopolization and censorship.

    • Censorship: The Current Regulatory Framework And The Future Of Digital Content

      The applicable law concerning pre-censorship of films in India has historically been tested on the basis of freedom of speech and expression for the reason that it is the heart of any artistic expression. In the earliest instance, when censorship of films was challenged on the grounds that it violated freedom of speech and expression, the Supreme Court2 held that the social interest of people overrides individual freedom and thus justified the censorship of films on the basis that it is a powerful medium of expression. However, in the same judgment the Supreme Court also recognised the importance of setting a standard for censors to ensure that a substantial allowance is made in favour of artistic freedom, thus leaving a vast possibility and opportunity for creativity.

    • No, Ubisoft Didn’t ‘Pander’ To Entitled Gamers Over ‘Rainbow Six Siege’ Censorship
    • Kuwaiti Artist Creates ‘Cemetery of Banned Books’ in Censorship Protest
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook patents software that will even record family members, their interests

      Despite facing flak for leakage of personal data of millions of its users in recent times, Facebook is seeking to patent a software that could help it build profile of a user’s household – the number of people in the household, the interests that they share, nature of their relationships or even the devices that they use.

      The software, which could be used to target ads, would analyse images posted to Facebook or Instagram, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

    • Who lives with you? Facebook seeks to patent software to figure out profiles of households

      Facebook Inc. is applying to patent software that it could use to create profiles of users’ households by making educated guesses about how many people live in the household, what their relationships to each other are, what interests they share and what electronic devices they use.

      The system would draw on the wealth of information Facebook already has about its users—including their photos, comments, messaging history and web browsing activities—and could be used to help target ads, according to the patent application.

    • Facebook seeks to patent software to figure out profiles of households

      Facebook Inc. is applying to patent software that it could use to create profiles of users’ households by making educated guesses about how many people live in the household, what their relationships to each other are, what interests they share and what electronic devices they use.

      The system would draw on the wealth of information Facebook already has about its users — including their photos, comments, messaging history and web browsing activities — and could be used to help target ads, according to the patent application.

    • Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020
    • China’s dystopian social credit system set to begin rollout in 2021

      Bloomberg reports that Bejing residents will be targeted first, with their starting score based on their standing at the end of 2020.

      The scheme will reward as well as punish citizens by combining data from several departments including credit reference and crime agencies.

    • NordVPN Shares Results of ‘No-Log’ Audit

      NordVPN shared the results of an audit into its ‘no-logs’ policy with customers yesterday. The audit, conducted by one of the Big 4 accounting firms, was triggered by damaging allegations earlier this year. The results, however, suggest that NordVPN is living up to its no-logging promises.

    • [Older] Surveillance Kills Freedom By Killing Experimentation

      In my book Data and Goliath, I write about the value of privacy. I talk about how it is essential for political liberty and justice, and for commercial fairness and equality. I talk about how it increases personal freedom and individual autonomy, and how the lack of it makes us all less secure. But this is probably the most important argument as to why society as a whole must protect privacy: it allows society to progress.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Can Imran Khan Rein in the Extremists Challenging Pakistan?

      Aasia Bibi, a Christian farm worker who had been accused of blasphemy by Muslim co-workers and sentenced to death by a Pakistani court in 2010, was finally acquitted by the Pakistan Supreme Court on 31 October. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court reasoned that she was innocent as those accusing her of insulting the Prophet Mohammed could not present sufficient evidence against her. It was a bold decision on the part of the Supreme Court justices, as blasphemy cases and accusations are often toxic in Pakistan.

      A former governor, Salman Taseer, and a Christian cabinet minister, Shahbaz Bhatti– two politicians who were vocal in supporting Aasia Bibi– were both assassinated in 2011, the former by his own bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. And although Qadri was executed for murder in 2016, many hail him as a hero. In 2014, Rashed Rehman, a lawyer and human rights activist, who dared to defend, Junaid Hafeez, a college lecturer accused of blasphemy, was shot dead in Multan. Hafeez languishes in jail and in January this year, his case was transferred to yet another judge, having changed hands six times since his trial began.

      It is therefore not surprising that the recent Supreme Court decision was met with fierce resistance. What was surprising however was the extent to which the Tehreek-e-Labaik- Pakistan (TLP), a newly formed political party with little to show in terms of seats but much formidable street power, threatened the power structure of the state. Sparing no one, its leadership attacked the Prime Minister, judges of the Supreme Court, and even the army chief, with choice expletives and death threats. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a televised address, on the eve of the verdict, had forewarned those opposing the judicial decision that if they dared to take on the state, the state will not hesitate to use its full force against them.

    • CIA Ditched Truth Drugs for Direct Torture of Prisoners After 9/11 – Analysts

      The CIA found the use of truth drugs ineffective and appears to have fallen back on more direct methods of torture, or enhanced interrogation in its so-called Global War on Terror (GWOT) after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks against the United States, analysts told Sputnik.

      The CIA appeared to have relied more on outright methods of torture or so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques rather than using truth drugs after the September 11 terror attacks, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle said.

    • I’ve Been in Prison for 24 Years and I Feel Dead

      have thought almost daily, since July 8, 1994, about suicide. Not because I want to die — I just do not want to live like this: imprisoned. The longing and loneliness of being away from family, friends, and from all that is dear to my heart; constantly being denigrated by prison officials; the use of physical force to control my life — handcuffs, shackles, and belly chains everywhere I go.

      I do not want to live like this because this is not living.

      The state regards prison not as an institution of rehabilitation, but as an instrument of retribution. Not as an institution to prepare me to lead a respectable and industrious life, but to punish and debilitate me so that I should never again have the strength and courage to proclaim my innocence.

    • Beyond Prisons: Jail Free NYC feat. Nabil Hassein

      Nabil is a technologist, organizer and educator based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He has worked professionally as a software developer and a teacher in both public schools and private settings. Nabil also works with grassroots police and prison abolitionist campaigns in NYC including Shut Down Rikers, Abolition Square and No New Jails NYC.

      Nabil talks about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to spend tens of billions of dollars on new jails at a time when money is desperately needed for housing, education, health care, food, and more. He talks about what the plan for new so-called “modern” jails will and won’t do about gentrification and broken windows policing. And Nabil gives an idea of what it’s like inside the various community meetings held by the city to promote the new jails and (allegedly) hear input from the public.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Leading Home Appliances Manufacturer Granted Preliminary Injunction Against Competitor

      Last year, Turkey’s leading home appliance manufacturer filed two patent infringement actions, claiming the determination, prohibition and prevention of a patent infringement and seeking a preliminary injunction against an international company in the same sector for its coffee machine products.

      The infringement actions were based on two patents protecting different features and methods of a Turkish coffee machine – the first electronic coffee machine dedicated solely to making traditional Turkish coffee.

    • How to Defend Unsearched Dependent Claims in Prosecution

      EPO Examiners sometimes urge Applicants to delete dependent claims considered to relate to “unsearched subject-matter” after having raised a unity a posteriori objection. We are investigating in how far the EPC justifies forcing an Applicant to delete dependent claims as well as possible counter-arguments for defending them.

    • Copyrights

      • Book review: Cross-Border Copyright Licensing: Law and Practice

        Copyright is not the simplest of intellectual property rights and when you add licensing to the mix the combination of contract and competition law plus cross border questions can provide complex considerations for even the most experienced practitioner.

        Cross-Border Copyright Licensing: Law and Practice, edited by Carlo Scollo Lavizzari and Rene Viljoen aims to guide you through some of these complexities, particularly as they relate to China, the EU, India, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the US.

        The book gives a handy and comprehensive overview of the legal issues to consider when licensing copyright in each territory. This includes the approach of the national courts to important questions such as jurisdiction and choice of law. More practical considerations such as collecting societies are considered as well as related rights such as image rights, moral rights and performers rights. In some cases, other rights such as patents get a special mention, particularly where the law is still developing and the likely approach toward copyright can be seen from patent law developments.

      • Non-Pirate Kodi Add-On is Copyright Infringing, Denuvo Owner Says

        Third-party add-ons for the popular Kodi platform are perhaps best well-known for their ability to provide free access to otherwise premium movies and TV shows. However, according to Denuvo-owner Irdeto, a Kodi add-on that provides access to legally paid-for subscription content is also copyright-infringing and must be taken down.

      • US Judge Slams Copyright Troll For Using His Court “Like an ATM”

        A judge in the U.S. has issued one of the most scathing opinions ever seen in a copyright troll case. In response to an early discovery request by porn troll Strike 3 Holdings, Judge Royce C. Lamberth describes the plaintiff as a “cut-and-paste” serial litigant whose lawsuits “smack of extortion”. The company runs away at the first sign of a defense, he added, while noting his court is being used “as an ATM”.

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  19. Links 9/12/2018: New Linux Stable Releases (Notably Linux 4.19.8), RC Coming, and Unifont 11.0.03

    Links for the day



  20. Links 8/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.0, Mageia 7 Beta, WordPress 5.0

    Links for the day



  21. The European Patent Organisation is Like a Private Club and Roland Grossenbacher is Back in It

    In the absence of Benoît Battistelli quality control at the EPO is still not effective; patents are being granted like the sole goal is to increase so-called 'production' (or profit), appeals are being subjected to threats from Office management, and external courts (courts that assess patents outside the jurisdiction of the Office/Organisation) are being targeted with a long-sought replacement like the Unified Patent Court, or UPC (Unitary Patent)



  22. Links 7/12/2018: GNU Guix, GuixSD 0.16.0, GCC 7.4, PHP 7.3.0 Released

    Links for the day



  23. The Federal Circuit's Decision on Ancora Technologies v HTC America is the Rare Exception, Not the Norm

    Even though the PTAB does not automatically reject every patent when 35 U.S.C. § 101 gets invoked we're supposed to think that somehow things are changing in favour of patent maximalists; but all they do is obsess over something old (as old as a month ago) and hardly controversial



  24. The European Patent Office Remains a Lawless Place Where Judges Are Afraid of the Banker in Chief

    With the former banker Campinos replacing the politician Battistelli and seeking to have far more powers it would be insane for the German Constitutional Court to ever allow anything remotely like the UPC; sites that are sponsored by Team UPC, however, try to influence outcomes, pushing patent maximalism and diminishing the role of patent judges



  25. Many of the Same People Are Still in Charge of the European Patent Office Even Though They Broke the Law

    "EPO’s art collection honoured with award," the EPO writes, choosing to distract from what actually goes on at the Office and has never been properly dealt with



  26. Links 6/12/2018: FreeNAS 11.2, Mesa 18.3 Later Today, Fedora Elections

    Links for the day



  27. EPO, in Its Patent Trolls-Infested Forum, Admits It is Granting Bogus Software Patents Under the Guise of 'Blockchain'

    Yesterday's embarrassing event of the EPO was a festival of the litigation giants and trolls, who shrewdly disguise patents on algorithms using all sorts of fashionable words that often don't mean anything (or deviate greatly from their original meanings)



  28. The Patent Litigation Bubble is Imploding in the US While the UPC Dies in Europe

    The meta-industry which profits from feuds, disputes, threats and blackmail isn't doing too well; even in Europe, where it worked hard for a number of years to institute a horrible litigation system which favours global plaintiffs (patent trolls, opportunists and monopolists), these things are going up in flames



  29. Links 5/12/2018: Epic Games Store, CrossOver 18.1.0, Important Kubernetes Patch

    Links for the day



  30. Links 4/12/2018: LibrePCB 0.1.0, SQLite 3.26.0, PhysX Code

    Links for the day


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