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12.01.18

Links 1/12/2018: 4MLinux 27.0, GNU Wget 1.20 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 2:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The crusade against open-source abuse [Ed: Corporate media comparing FOSS to militarism and religion]
  • De-facto closed source: the case for understandable software

    Code is the only thing you can trust, and by not reading it, you’ve forfeited the most important benefit provided by this ecosystem: the choice of not having to trust the authors regarding behavior or continuity.

    You want to download thousands of lines of useful, but random, code from the internet, for free, run it in a production web server, or worse, your user’s machine, trust it with your paying users’ data and reap that sweet dough. We all do. But then you can’t be bothered to check the license, understand the software you are running and still want to blame the people who make your business a possibility when mistakes happen, while giving them nothing for it? This is both incompetence and entitlement.

    Plus how is this any different from using proprietary software? If you’re not going to take full advantage of FOSS, maybe you’re better off spending your money on support contracts anyway. At least then, you are entitled to complain until you’re blue in the mouth. Maybe you can even take someone to court!

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • A Tale of Two Commits

        I’ve discussed and linked to articles about the advantages of splitting patches into small pieces to the point that I don’t feel the need to reiterate it here. This is a common approach at Mozilla, especially (but not just) in Firefox engineering, something the Engineering Workflow group is always keeping in mind when planning changes and improvements to tools and processes.

        Many Mozilla engineers have a particular approach to working with small diffs, something, I’ve realized over time, that seems to be pretty uncommon in the industry: the stacking of commits together in a logical series that solves a particular problem or implements a specific feature. These commits are generally authored, reviewed, updated, and even landed as a set. They tell a complete story; indeed, you could view this process as similar to writing a novel: the book is written, edited, and published as a complete unit.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12.0-RC3

      The third RC build for the FreeBSD 12.0 release cycle is now available. ISO images for the amd64, armv6, armv7, arm64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, powerpcspe and sparc64 architectures are available on most of our FreeBSD mirror sites.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC Compiler Picks Up New Option To Help With Live Kernel Patching

      Adding to the list of new features for GCC 9 due out early next year is a new -flive-patching= flag to help with scenarios like live Linux kernel patching.

      This GCC live-patching support addition was done by Oracle and is about controlling the optimizations/behavior when wanting to compile code for the context of applying it as a live patch. In particular, for Linux kernel live patching to avoid system reboots when applying security/maintenance updates. With Oracle the focus is on their own Ksplice live kernel patching to avoid reboots but this work should also be relevant to the likes of SUSE’s kGraft and Red Hat’s Kpatch kernel live patching.

    • GNU Wget 1.20 Released

      Noteworthy Changes in this release:
      Add new option `–retry-on-host-error` to treat local errors as transient and hence Wget will retry to download the file after a brief waiting period.
      Fixed multiple potential resource leaks as found by static analysis
      Wget will now not create an empty wget-log file when running with -q and -b switches together
      When compiled using the GnuTLS >= 3.6.3, Wget now has support for TLSv1.3
      Now there is support for using libpcre2 for regex pattern matching
      When downloading over FTP recursively, one can now use the

    • [Molly de Blanc] Conservancy Match

      In January I was at Linux Conf Australia and had the idea of forming a group match campaign for the Software Freedom Conservancy. The Conservancy is one of my favorite nonprofits, and I had been interested in trying to level up my giving while not putting myself into dangerous financial straits.

      A match campaign is when an organization, a person, or persons offer/s to give a nonprofit a large(er) sum in the event they can raise an equal amount during their fundraising activities. For example, Private Internet Access has pledged $50,000 to the Conservancy as part of the Conservancy’s matching donation efforts.

    • Free software activities (November, 2018)

      Welcome to what is the first and may or may not be the last monthly summary of my free software activities.

      November was a good month for me, heavily laden with travel. Conferences and meetings took me to Seattle, WA (USA) and Milano and Bolzano in Italy. I think of my activities as generally focusing on “my” projects — that is to say, representing my own thoughts and ideas, rather than those of my employer or associated projects.

  • Programming/Development

    • Amsterdam Python meetup, november 2018

      My summary of the 28 november python meetup at the Byte office. I myself also gave a talk (about cookiecutter) but I obviously haven’t made a summary of that.

    • Trip Report: C++ Standards Meeting in San Diego, November 2018

      A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of the ISO C++ Standards Committee (also known as WG21) in San Diego, California. This was the third committee meeting in 2018; you can find my reports on preceding meetings here (June 2018, Rapperswil) and here (March 2018, Jacksonville), and earlier ones linked from those. These reports, particularly the Rapperswil one, provide useful context for this post.

      This meeting broke records (by a significant margin) for both attendance (~180 people) and number of proposals submitted (~270). I think several factors contributed to this. First, the meeting was in California, for the first time in the five years that I’ve been attending meetings, thus making it easier to attend for Bay Area techies who weren’t up for farther travels. Second, we are at the phase of the C++20 cycle where the door is closing for new proposals targeting to C++20, so for people wanting to get features into C++20, it was now or never. Finally, there has been a general trend of growing interest in participation in C++ standardization, and thus attendance has been rising even independently of other factors.

      This meeting was heavily focused on C++20. As discussed in the committee’s standardization schedule document, this was the last meeting to hear new proposals targeting C++20, and the last meeting for language features with significant library impact to gain design approval. A secondary focus was on in-flight Technical Specifications, such as Library Fundamentals v3.

      To accommodate the unprecedented volume of new proposals, there has also been a procedural change at this meeting. Two new subgroups were formed: Evolution Incubator (“EWGI”) and Library Evolution Incubator (“LEWGI”), which would look at new proposals for language and library changes (respectively) before forwarding them to the Evolution or Library Evolution Working Groups (EWG and LEWG). The main purpose of the incubators is to reduce the workload on the main Evolution groups by pre-filtering proposals that need additional work before being productively reviewed by those groups. A secondary benefit was to allow the attendees to be spread out across more groups, as otherwise EWG and LEWG would have likely exceeded their room capacities.

    • The Future of OpenJDK at Red Hat

      With the release of Java 11, the transition of Java into an OpenJDK-first project is finally complete. The days of most Java installations using the proprietary OracleJDK binaries are at an end. This increased focus on Open and Free Java naturally brings the contributions of companies other than Oracle into greater prominence. InfoQ recently spoke with Rich Sharples, Senior Director of Product Management for Middleware at Red Hat, to discuss OpenJDK and Red Hat’s involvement with it.

    • PyBites: 3 Cool Things You Can do With the dateutil Module
    • Subtleties of Python

      A good software engineer understands how crucial attention to detail is; minute details, if overlooked, can make a world of difference between a working unit and a disaster. That’s why writing clean code matters a lot—and clean code isn’t just about neat indentation and formatting; it’s about paying attention to those details that can affect production.

      In this article, you’ll see a couple of short cases of problematic code in Python and how they can be improved. Please note that these are just examples and in no way must you interpret them to universally apply for real-world problems.

    • Handling Unix Signals in Python

      UNIX/Linux systems offer special mechanisms to communicate between each individual process. One of these mechanisms are signals, and belong to the different methods of communication between processes (Inter Process Communication, abbreviated with IPC).

      In short, signals are software interrupts that are sent to the program (or the process) to notify the program of significant events or requests to the program in order to run a special code sequence. A program that receives a signal either stops or continues the execution of its instructions, terminates either with or without a memory dump, or even simply ignores the signal.

      Although it is defined in the POSIX standard, the reaction actually depends on how the developer wrote the script and implemented the handling of signals.

Leftovers

  • 50 years ago, Star Trek’s history was sealed with the Uhura-Kirk kiss

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, the scene in “Plato’s Stepchildren” was shot one way with the actors’ lips meeting (as the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, wrote it) and another where they don’t. However, actors William Shatner (Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) both flubbed the non-kiss takes so that the director (who was concerned about possible backlash) would be forced to use the real McCoy.

  • Science

    • Who’d go to university today?

      But do universities offer good value for students? Not when you consider the fact less than half the money that students pay in tuition fees is actually spent on teaching, according to a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • CDC warns of new tick species capable of spreading diseases to humans

      A CDC weekly report released Thursday states that the Asian longhorned tick, an arachnid native to Korea and other parts of east Asia, has been found in several states in the eastern and southeastern parts of the United States.

    • US life expectancy continues to move in reverse

      Heart disease and cancer were still the leading causes of death by a wide margin, killing more than 152 people out of every 100,000 in 2017—although deaths from cancer decreased significantly. But deaths from unintentional injuries were up significantly from 2016. Drug overdoses account for slightly less than half of the deaths in this category.

    • The best pollution masks for cyclists block half of bad particles
    • The Science Is Clear: Dirty Farm Water Is Making Us Sick

      For more than a decade, it’s been clear that there’s a gaping hole in American food safety: Growers aren’t required to test their irrigation water for pathogens such as E. coli. As a result, contaminated water can end up on fruits and vegetables.

    • Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer

      At year+2, 42.4% depleted their entire life’s assets, with higher adjusted odds associated with worsening cancer, requirement of continued treatment, demographic and socioeconomic factors (ie, female, Medicaid, uninsured, retired, increasing age, income, and household size), and clinical characteristics (ie, current smoker, worse self-reported health, hypertension, diabetes, lung disease) (P<.05); average losses were $92,098.

    • How Pollution Can Hurt the Health of the Economy

      One argument for rolling back environmental regulations — as is occurring under the Trump administration — is that a lighter touch on industry will lift investment and economic growth.

      But increased pollution can also have long-term negative economic consequences. The effects on health are bad enough on their own, and are well understood.

    • The million-dollar drug

      It is one of this country’s great scientific achievements.

      The first drug ever approved that can fix a faulty gene.

      It’s called Glybera, and it can treat a painful and potentially deadly genetic disorder with a single dose — a genuine made-in-Canada medical breakthrough.

      But most Canadians have never heard of it.

    • We should just start phasing out all of the cigarettes

      So why do we put up with it? Maybe we don’t have to. In 1964, with nearly half of all adults smoking, a cigarette-free world was inconceivable. Thanks to dramatic reductions in smoking through raising the price of cigarettes, marketing restrictions and smoke-free air laws, a world in which cigarettes are no longer sold as a legitimate commercial product is within reach.

      Unfortunately, the FDA cannot end the sale of cigarettes on its own. The 2009 “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act,” which gave FDA authority over tobacco products — explicitly forbade the FDA from doing so.

      The reason is obvious: The tobacco industry has made many friends in Congress and those friends knew that if the FDA applied the same yardstick to cigarettes as it does to every other consumer product, it would have no choice but to ban them. The tobacco industry and their products have enjoyed extraordinary protection for more than half a century, but there is another way forward. The 2009 act also explicitly reserved for the states the power to ban the sale of tobacco products. In states where it is not preempted, local cities and counties can phase cigarettes out of the market on their own. Change often starts at the local level and that’s where this journey can begin.

      There can be little doubt that the age of the cigarette will eventually end. But what are we waiting for?

    • Single-payer health care is better than ObamaCare

      Under single-payer health care, you can see the savings on administrative costs with your own eyes. When you walk into physicians’ offices in Canada, they have a small administrative staff, often consisting of one person behind the counter.

      They don’t need to employ extra people to fill out dozens of different forms for various insurers with multiple plans, all with different copays, deductibles and coverage. There are no copays or deductibles and everyone knows the rules for what is covered and how to bill the provincial insurance plan. They don’t need staff to spend hours fighting with insurers about which services or medications they will cover or how much they will pay.

      Meanwhile, the U.S. pays more than twice as much per capita for health care ($10,348 in 2016) than Canada ($4,752), Australia ($4,708), or the UK ($4,192), but has lower life expectancy and higher infant and maternal mortality rates even compared to some less developed countries.

    • Outgoing Michigan Governor Pushing for Great Lakes Pipeline

      Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder hopes to use the final weeks of his tenure to lock in a deal allowing construction of a hotly debated oil pipeline tunnel beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes, a plan his successor opposes but may be powerless to stop.

      The Republican and his team are working on several fronts to seal an agreement with Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge for replacing the underwater segment of its Line 5. The pipeline carries oil and natural gas liquids between Wisconsin and Ontario, and traverses northern Michigan.

    • This Thanksgiving, US water security falls short

      Given how valuable it has been to be able to measure household food insecurity, it is stunning that we can’t do the same for water. It seems that inadequate access to water of acceptable quality and quantity is likely an enormous issue in the United States.

      While the lead levels in Flint, Michigan’s water became a national issue, similar heavy metal contamination has been reported in Detroit, Newark and Chicago, where recent reports reveal up to 70 percent of Chicago-area homes have lead-contaminated water.

      But lead is only one of many threats to the quality of our water here.

    • There is no such thing as a ‘trans kid’

      It feels like children are being experimented on. Both morally and physically. Morally in the sense that they are having every traditional‍, anchoring view of sex erased from their minds, and physically via drugs and hormone interventions. In order to give more weight to their own preferred lifestyles, some trans activists seem determined to hold up confused children as ‘trans kids’, and, by extension, as proof that transgenderism is perfectly normal and can manifest in early years. They seem to view the disorientation of children as a price worth paying to add the legitimacy of nature to their way of life. Future generations will surely wonder why we behaved like this with children.

    • “All That We Love Is On the Line”: Progressive Coalition Offers Moral Case and Action Plan to Win Medicare for All

      Reminding the audience of the story of Alec Smith, a 26-year-old man who died of diabetes after desperately rationing his insulin when he aged out of his parents’ healthcare plan, Turner called the ongoing U.S. healthcare crisis “a sin and a shame,” pointing out that eight years after the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), millions of Americans are still without health insurance.

      Turner was joined by other organizers, healthcare experts and leaders of National Nurses United (NNU), who make up the core of the nation’s Medicare for All coalition

      “People connect with politics on an emotional and personal basis so we don’t bombard them with statistics,” Jo Beardsmore, a senior adviser at the Social Practice who has worked on NNU’s campaign. “Nurses are the best people in the world for doing this. They do it every day at the bedside of their patients.”

    • Easy to Pay for Something That Costs Less’: New Study Shows Medicare for All Would Save US $5.1 Trillion Over Ten Years

      Confronting the question most commonly asked of the growing number of Americans who support replacing America’s uniquely inefficient and immoral for-profit healthcare system with Medicare for All—”How do we pay for it?”—a new paper released Friday by researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) shows that financing a single-payer system would actually be quite simple, given that it would cost significantly less than the status quo.

    • Medicare for All: As Healthcare Costs Soar, Momentum Grows to Guarantee Healthcare for All Americans

      As Democrats prepare to take control of the House, pressure is growing on the Democratic leadership to embrace Medicare for All. Nearly 50 newly Democratic members of Congress campaigned for Medicare for All. In the last year, 123 incumbent House Democrats also co-sponsored Medicare for All legislation, double the number who supported a Medicare for All bill in the previous legislative session. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical, insurance and hospital companies are paying close attention. As the Intercept’s Lee Fang reports, over the summer the groups formed a partnership to fight the growing support for expanding Medicare. We speak to three proponents of Medicare for All who have assembled in Burlington, Vermont, for a gathering of the Sanders Institute: Kelly Coogan-Gehr of National Nurses United, British anesthesiologist Dr. Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini and organizer Jo Beardsmore.

    • A Chicago Psychiatric Hospital Will Lose Federal Funding Over Safety and Abuse Issues Involving Children in State Care

      Federal authorities announced Friday they were pulling funding from a Chicago psychiatric hospital under investigation following numerous allegations of sexual abuse, assault and patient safety violations, a move that raises questions about the future of the hospital and of the hundreds of children in state care who are treated there.

      The Department of Children and Family Services relies on Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital to treat children with severe mental illness, some of whom have been turned away from other facilities.

      Separately, a federal judge said Friday that he will take the rare step of appointing a “special master,” or monitor, to resolve disputes between DCFS and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which has taken the state’s child welfare agency to court over the problems at Lakeshore.

      The move by U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso marks the first time a judge has agreed to appoint such a ‘special master’ since the ACLU began monitoring the state’s child welfare agency decades ago.

      State inspectors found that Lakeshore failed to ensure patients were free from sexual and physical abuse, did not report abuse allegations to the state Department of Public Health and did not conduct complete investigations of abuse, records show. The hospital’s Medicare agreement is scheduled to terminate on Dec. 15, federal officials said.

    • New anti-gonorrhea drug called “metal as f–k”

      A second paper published last week offers some hope: in a small trial, a new antibiotic did well against gonorrhea. The drug, called zoliflodacin, has a different way of attacking bacteria, making it a useful new option against antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. A much larger clinical trial is now in the cards.

    • As Houston Methodist’s Lung Program Grew, So Did Its Rate of Failed Transplants

      Godfrey “G.W.” Biscamp could barely breathe. After months of struggling with an inflammatory lung disease, his doctor told him he was in need of a transplant, and in 2013, he sent him to Houston Methodist.

      There was no better transplant program in the country for patients in need of new lungs, one physician told him. But by the time Biscamp arrived, the program had begun to change.

      Biscamp spent more than a year as a patient at Methodist, hoping for a lung transplant that never came. Instead, after numerous appointments and tests, he said doctors reversed themselves in early 2015, saying his condition was too perilous to risk a transplant.

      Biscamp did not realize that, behind the scenes, Methodist had been struggling with a high rate of failed lung transplants, or that the hospital had significantly scaled back the number and difficulty of transplants it was willing to perform. Those issues have never before been reported publicly.

    • As St. Luke’s Heart Program Faltered, Deaths After Liver and Lung Transplants Also Ticked Upward

      During the summer of 2017, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center posted a banner on its website, celebrating its liver and lung transplant programs as “#1 in Texas.”

      That declaration was based on the latest publicly available data, which showed stellar one-year survival rates for patients who received liver and lung transplants at St. Luke’s between 2014 and the middle of 2016.

      But soon after the hospital published those marketing materials in August 2017, both of those transplant programs began to see increases in patient deaths, an investigation by the Houston Chronicle and ProPublica has found.

      Of 85 patients who received a liver transplant at St. Luke’s in 2017, at least 15 have died within a year, up from previous years and worse than the national average. That’s according to preliminary data provided to reporters by the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, a Minnesota-based group that measures transplant outcomes on behalf of the federal government.

      Also last year, according to data provided by the registry, at least seven of the hospital’s 54 lung recipients died within a year of their transplants, double the mortality rate at the hospital during the previous two and a half years.

      These figures do not include patients who received livers or lungs as part of multi-organ transplants or those receiving second transplants after having previously received new organs.

    • The Los Alamos Lab Worker Who Started a Year Too Late for Benefits

      For several months in the early 2000s, Gilberto Ulibarri attached a respirator to his face each day to fix pipes in the sewers of Los Alamos National Laboratory. The air was toxic, so he kept his mask on even when he sneezed.

      As the years went on, Ulibarri began to have difficulty breathing. Then, raised red welts sprouted on his face, strange growths that appeared to trace the outline of the respirator he wore. In 2015, doctors found tumors wrapped around his mesenteric artery, which supplies blood to the intestines.

      By August 2017, standing before a panel of federal experts, cancer had stripped more than a hundred pounds of muscle and fat from Ulibarri’s frame.

    • Ill Nuclear Workers’ Benefits Petitions Have to Be Reviewed Within 6 Months. Some Have Languished About a Decade.

      Ten years ago, a security guard at Los Alamos National Laboratory submitted a petition to the federal government seeking compensation and benefits for his fellow lab workers who were sick with cancer and believed that radiation at the lab was to blame.

      Andrew Evaskovich’s petition took advantage of a process put in place by Congress in 2000 that allowed groups of workers to secure benefits if they could show that they worked at a nuclear facility, that they had a cancer linked to radiation and that lab managers failed to accurately keep track of their exposures over time.

      Under the law, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency that makes recommendations on work-related injuries and illnesses, had six months to review Evaskovich’s petition and recommend whether it should be approved or denied.

      A decade later, Evaskovich and his colleagues are still waiting for a final answer.

      In 2009 and again last year, NIOSH recommended that Evaskovich’s petition be denied. Both times, however, outside reviewers found major flaws in its analysis, and a federal advisory board told NIOSH to keep working.

    • In an 18-Year-Old Program to Help Ill Nuclear Workers, a Petition Has Lingered for 10 Years

      Ten years ago, a Los Alamos National Laboratory security guard named Andrew Evaskovich submitted a petition seeking compensation for fellow nuclear lab workers diagnosed with cancer linked to radiation. The government has repeatedly recommended denying the petition, despite evidence of continuing safety and recordkeeping problems at Los Alamos. And today, Evaskovich is still waiting for an answer. (Read our investigation.)

  • Security

    • HTTPS Is Almost Everywhere. So Why Isn’t the Internet Secure Now?

      Chrome used to display the word “Secure” and a green padlock in the address bar when you were visiting a website using HTTPS. Modern versions of Chrome simple have a little gray lock icon here, without the word “Secure.”

      That’s partly because HTTPS is now considered the new baseline standard. Everything should be secure by default, so Chrome only warns you that a connection is “Not Secure” when you’re accessing a site over an HTTP connection.

      However, the word “Secure” is also gone because it was a little misleading. It sounds like Chrome is vouching for the contents of the site as if everything on this page is “secure.” But that’s not true at all. A “secure” HTTPS site could be filled with malware or be a fake phishing site.

    • WannaCry: One year later, is the world ready for another major attack? [Ed: Somehow that neglects to mention that this was largely the result of a collusion involving Microsoft and the NSA]
    • UK gov report to raise fresh security concerns over Huawei’s 5G kit
    • Dell forces password reset on customers after cyber attack but tells them five whole days later

      Apparently, the [intruders] were after customer names, email addresses and passwords, but Dell explained to Reuters that there were no regulatory or legal requirements for it to notify its customers about why they were being forced to change their passwords.

    • Dell.com resets all customer passwords after cyber attack: statement

      The breach occurred as companies come under increasing scrutiny from regulators worldwide to provide quick and accurate disclosure of customer data theft. The European Union implemented strict new privacy regulations in May that punish violators with fines of up to 20 million euros ($23 million), or 4 percent of global revenue, whichever is higher.

    • Marriott Security Breach Exposed Data of Up to 500M Guests

      A security breach inside the Marriott hotel empire compromised the information of as many as 500 million guests worldwide, exposing their credit card numbers, passport numbers and birth dates for as long as four years, the company said Friday.

      [...]

      For as many as two-thirds of those affected, the exposed data could include mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and passport numbers. Also included might be Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, gender, arrival and departure times and reservation dates.

      Credit card numbers and expiration dates of some guests may have been taken, according to the company.

      “We fell short of what our guests deserve and what we expect of ourselves,” CEO Arne Sorenson said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to support our guests, and using lessons learned to be better moving forward.”

      It isn’t common for passport numbers to be part of a hack, but it is not unheard of. Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways said in October that 9.4 million passengers’ information had been breached, including passport numbers.

    • This is big!! – 500 Million Marriott Guest Records Stolen

      The world’s biggest hotel chain Marriott International today disclosed that unknown hackers compromised guest reservation database its subsidiary Starwood hotels and walked away with personal details of about 500 million guests.

      Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide was acquired by Marriott International for $13 billion in 2016. The brand includes St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, W Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Element Hotels, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, The Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton and Design Hotels.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • IT Security Vulnerability Roundup – November 2018
    • Russia’s largest bank just launched a state-of-the-art coding school to ease dependence on Western tech

      Sberbank, which is currently under U.S. sanctions and whose CEO has ties to Trump, launched School 21 in Moscow last week.

    • Microsoft Has a Huge Problem Dealing with Critical Bugs in Its Software [Ed: Even Microsoft's booster Bogdan Popa isn't happy]

      The way Microsoft handles user feedback is a topic that has made the rounds for too many times lately, mostly after the fiasco that Windows 10 version 1809 proved to be.
      In just a few words, Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1809 on October 2 after the company decided to skip the Release Preview ring in the Windows Insider program, essentially bringing the OS update to devices worldwide without getting it through the final testing stage.

      As it turns out, this wasn’t really the best thing to do, as the October update came with a critical bug that removed the user files stored in the Documents folder on some PCs.

      Microsoft eventually decided to pull the update a few days later in order to develop a fix, and this time, it shipped the updated builds to both the Slow and Release Preview rings.

      While software bugs are something we can’t avoid, the worst thing about this whole saga is that insiders reported the data removal issue several months before the October update received the go-ahead for production devices.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Will Congress Stop the Endless Wars?
    • The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East

      On November 28, sixty-three U.S. Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct U.S. Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi last month. Just before the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called current objections to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia “Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.”

      The “caterwaul” on Capitol Hill reflects years of determined effort by grassroots groups to end U.S. involvement in war on Yemen, fed by mounting international outrage at the last three years of war that have caused the deaths of an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under age five.

      When children waste away to literally nothing while fourteen million people endure conflict-driven famine, a hue and cry—yes, a caterwaul —most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

    • Washington is Ramping Up Military Confrontation With Russia and China

      On November 26 the New York Times asserted that “Russia’s seizure [on November 25] of three Ukrainian naval vessels was the first overt armed conflict between the two since 2014, when Russian forces occupied Crimea.”

      There was no armed conflict in Crimea and not a drop of blood was spilled. There was no “occupation” because, under treaty, over 20,000 Russian troops were stationed there.

      Crimea’s citizens have always been Russian-speaking, Russian-cultured and in general pro-Russia. Following the US-sponsored rebellion in Ukraine that went the way the US intended it to go, there was the awkward matter of Crimea which had been part of Russia until, as noted by the BBC, “In 1954 Crimea was handed to Ukraine as a gift by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.” In 2014 the majority of Crimean citizens wanted to rejoin Russia rather than stay with crippled post-revolution Ukraine which would have victimized them because of their Russian heritage. In March 2014 Crimea’s parliament voted to ask to join Russia. A referendum was held and the vast majority of voters were in favor. But you wouldn’t know this from western media or politicians, who continue to refer to Russia’s supposed “annexation” of Crimea.

      The Ukraine revolution of 2014 was encouraged by the United States whose Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, was photographed together with the US ambassador handing out cookies to rebels in Kiev’s Maidan Square in December 2013. (The goodies were taken to the square by her armed US security guards. Then when the time was right for the cameras she was given the bags and doled them out. It was a gruesome but well-orchestrated little pantomime.)

      Nuland was up to her ears in the coup, and the BBC’s record of one of her telephone conversations shows just how deeply the US was involved. She is heard saying “I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea” but that “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.”

      What a sterling supporter of democracy, to be sure.

    • Shameless Hypocrisy: Lessons of the Great Khashoggi Kill Story

      Note the disparity between the huge attention corporate American media gave to Saudi Arabia’s killing of one man and the scant consideration that media granted the Saudi kingdom’s U.S.-funded and U.S.-equipped crucifixion of Yemen. The dominant media was rightly horrified by the murder and vivisection of Khashoggi, ordered by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin-Salman (MbS). But that same media couldn’t (and still can’t) muster more than an occasional hint of indignation over the systematic starvation, sickening, maiming, and murder of hundreds of thousands of Yeminis.

      What’s this discrepancy about? On one side, it’s simple. The Yemeni multitudes are classic “unworthy victims” in U.S. media’s foreign affairs coverage and commentary. They are casualties on the wrong end of the guns and bomb and missile sites owned and operated by the U.S. and its client states and allies.

      As Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky first famously demonstrated in the 1980s, the so-called mainstreamU.S. media “manufactures consent” to U.S. imperialism by reserving “worthy victim” status to U.S.-Americans and to people and nations allied with U.S. foreign policy. The horrific Saudi regime (possibly the world’s most reactionary government) is a critical and longstanding U.S. client. Its Yemini prey are therefore inherently “unworthy victims” (Chomsky and Herman) in reigning U.S. media.

      Things would be different if Yeminis were being attacked by states designated as U.S. enemies or rivals: Iran, Syria, Russia, and/or China. In that case, U.S.-American media consumers would be hearing a great deal about the suffering masses of Yemen.

    • Nicaragua: U.S. Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

      A rather puzzling news item caught the eye of this writer today: “The US has imposed sanctions on Nicaragua’s Vice-President Rosario Murillo, the wife of President Daniel Ortega, accusing her of corruption and serious human rights abuses.”

      As he read further, this bewilderment only increased: “On Tuesday, the US Treasury said it was using a new executive order issued by US President Donald Trump to punish Ms. Murillo, accusing her of undermining Nicaragua’s democracy.”

      One of the crimes Murillo is purported to be guilty of is as follows: “She is believed to have held influence over a youth organization that the US says engaged in extra-judicial killings, torture and kidnapping.”

      Let us all take a look at these brief statements, and see how many examples of hypocrisy can be found in them.

    • The Prospective Gassing of Human Beings in Alabama is an Abomination

      When, in October 2016, I wrote “[d]eath row inmates in Alabama are human guinea pigs” because the state’s capital punishment regime — specifically its barbaric, often bungled lethal injection protocol — is already so dark, so depraved, so outrageously cloaked in lies and officious secrecy, I never could have predicted the situation could get worse. But it has.

      In glaring contrast to the heavily circulated, smiling picture of exonerated former Alabama death row inmate Anthony Ray Hinton, ebullient after voting for the first time in a midterm election since being freed in 2015, after a hellacious 30 years on Alabama’s death row, it’s important to understand: the death penalty in Alabama has gotten far worse since Mr. Hinton’s release — not better.

      First, because of the cynically named “Fair Justice Act,” convoluted legislation hacksawing fundamental constitutional rights of (overwhelmingly indigent) death-sentenced defendants, signed into law last year — over the varied, vociferous, published objections of the ACLU, a highly respected Harvard Law School professor, defense attorneys in the state, myself, and even Mr. Hinton — it is far easier under current Alabama law, for an innocent person like Mr. Hinton, to be convicted and sentenced to death.

      Second, despite a fairly recent slew of patently botched lethal injections, including that of Ronald Bert Smith, Torrey McNabb, and Christopher Brooks — as well as the bloody, horrific, and failed execution attempt of Doyle Hamm, during which, among other atrocities, state executioners repeatedly (and futilely) jabbed multiple needles into Hamm’s groin and pelvis — Alabama has coldly, inhumanely, and, as I wrote elsewhere in June, steadfastly continued “its odious tradition of ducking and dodging transparency and accountability in how the state puts its prisoners to death.” I’d presaged this discomfiting conclusion several months earlier, in October 2017, in a piece for USA Today, after McNabb’s shameful, gruesome torture; in it, I dubbed the Commissioner of Alabama’s Department of Corrections (ADOC) “‘Baghdad Bob’ of Alabama’s death row.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange’s trials

      The fate of Julian Assange is unclear. Washington is determined that he be sent to the USA to face criminal charges, most likely under the 1917 Espionage Act. The British government is more than happy to make this happen. Even the Ecuadoreans are in on the act. What we are watching unfold in front of our eyes is the criminalization of journalism.

    • The Feds Still Don’t Want To Release Details Of Assange’s Arrest Warrant

      A couple of weeks ago we found out about a secret arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange through an “oops” moment in court. Or perhaps I should say, we may have found out because the government is still being quite cagey about the incident. In response to this news, some journalists have gone to court demanding that the Justice Department release the alleged warrant for public inspection. But at least for now, a judge is holding off on that request and the feds want to keep the cloak of secrecy over the affair.

    • WikiLeaks Says Plans To Make Money On Libel Lawsuits Against Outlets For Fake News

      WikiLeaks is planning to start suing media outlets publishing fake news for libel and make it a stable source of income, the organization said via its official Twitter feed, after lashing out at The Guardian newspaper for its “fabricated” story involving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      On Tuesday, WikiLeaks announced that it had launched a campaign to raise money and sue The Guardian for publishing a story alleging that Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump, had held secret talks with Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder is currently residing, in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

    • WikiLeaks determined to sue fake news producers

      WikiLeaks plans to sue the Guardian for a report about secret meetings between the organization’s founder Julian Assange and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort

      [...]

      According to earlier reports, WikiLeaks plans to sue the Guardian for a report about secret meetings between the organization’s founder Julian Assange and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, held in Ecuador’s embassy in London. WikiLeaks rejected the report in a tweet and launched a crowdfunding campaign to sue the newspaper.

    • This Is a Dark Day for Press Freedom

      We thought about starting this editorial with a defiant “journalism is under attack” statement. And that’s true. But what we’re also feeling today is a profound sense of disappointment—that our society has failed to recognize the importance of a free, and independent press.

      This morning the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against VICE Canada and VICE national security reporter Ben Makuch, siding with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s demand to access Makuch’s notes relating to a series of interviews he conducted with an alleged ISIS member in 2014. Prosecutors for Canada’s national police force argued they needed the notes to build a case against Farah Shirdon, a Calgary man who allegedly joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The US military says he was killed in an airstrike in 2015.

      Lawyers for VICE Canada argued unsuccessfully through three levels of court that the RCMP is fishing for information and is effectively forcing a journalist to be an agent of the state. With this court decision hanging in the balance for years, Makuch has continued to produce fearless and important journalism on sensitive and often dangerous topics. Today’s decision will no doubt have a chilling effect on both sources, who may be reluctant to talk to reporters, and on journalists themselves, who could be less inclined to report on sensitive issues.

    • Attack on Wikileaks threatens press freedom everywhere

      My inter­view on RT​.com about yet anoth­er attack against Juli­an Assange, edit­or in chief of Wikileaks, that threatens press free­dom every­where…

    • Former CIA Officer Suggests ‘Guardian’ Was Duped By Russia

      On November 27, The Guardian published a blockbuster report detailing an alleged meeting between Julian Assange and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Reporter Luke Harding’s story went viral almost instantly, but many journalists have expressed doubt, citing Harding’s long-standing personal feud with Assange’s WikiLeaks.

      Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald asserted in an op-ed penned for the Intercept that there should be “ample video and other evidence” of the meeting, since Assange — effectively forced to reside in Ecuador’s London embassy — is subjected to “every form of video and physical surveillance imaginable.” All of Assange’s visitors are not only surveilled by multiple governments, but also required to give their passports and other forms of identification to be logged. The Guardian’s story, however, is based exclusively on anonymous sources’ claims.

      Criticism like Greenwald’s appears to have prompted the publication to edit the story a number of times, according to News Sniffer, which tracks changes outlets make to their news stories. “Why Manafort sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear,” for instance, has been changed to “Why Manafort might have sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear.” As CNN journalist Hadas Gold reported via Twitter, The Guardian subsequently issued a statement about the Assange-Manafort story, claiming to have contacted their representatives prior to publication. Assange and Manafort’s representative, The Guardian argued, “did not respond to deny the visit taking place.” But WikiLeaks, in fact, made a public denial via Twitter, hours before The Guardian published its piece.

    • The Latest Russia Collusion ‘Bombshells’ Are Big, Fat Duds

      A recent blitz of “bombshell” headlines initially appear to show there might actually have been some collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia. First, there was The Guardian claiming that Paul “Manaford” (oops, the source meant Manafort) met with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks in spring 2016, with the obvious implication that it was done to plan or coordinate WikiLeak’s Hillary Clinton email dump.

      Mollie Hemingway ably pointed out holes in the story by mentioning, among other issues, that Manafort would have entered the Ecuadorian embassy to meet Assange in the heart of London, which is blanketed by the most robust network of video cameras in the world. There would be video and it would have leaked. It hasn’t.

    • Provoking New Crimes Rather than Uncovering Past Crimes: Mueller’s Modus Operandi

      The recent guilty plea of Michael Cohen of lying represents the dominant trend in Mueller’s approach to prosecution. The vast majority of indictments and guilty pleas obtained against Americans by Mueller have not been for substantive crimes relating to his mandate: namely, to uncover crimes involving illegal contacts with Russia. They have involved indictments and guilty pleas either for lying, or for financial crimes by individuals unrelated to the Russia probe. If this remains true after the filing of the Mueller report, it would represent a significant failure on Mueller’s part.

      Mueller was appointed Special Counsel not to provoke individuals into committing new crimes, but rather to uncover past crimes specifically involving alleged illegal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. No one doubted that Russia attempted to influence the 2020 election in favor of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton. But Mueller’s mandate was not to prosecute Russians or to point the finger at Vladimir Putin. His mandate was to uncover crimes committed by the Trump campaign with regard to Russia’s attempts to influence the election.

      It was always an uphill struggle for Mueller, since collusion itself is not a crime. In other words, even if he could show that individuals in the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian agents to help elect Trump, that would be a serious political sin, but not a federal crime. Even if Mueller could prove that members of the Trump team had colluded with Julian Assange to use material that Assange had unlawfully obtained, that, too, would not be a crime. What would be a crime is something that no one claims happened: namely, that members of the Trump campaign told Assange to hack the Democratic National Committee before Assange did so. Merely using the product of an already committed theft of information is not a crime. If you don’t believe me, ask the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and other newspapers that used material illegally obtained by Assange with full knowledge that it was illegally obtained. Not only did they use information from Assange, but also from Chelsea Manning and from the stolen Pentagon Papers. The First Amendment protects publication by the media of stolen information. It also protects use of such information by a political campaign, since political campaigns are also covered by the First Amendment.

    • Guardian’s Assange-Manafort Meetings Story Falls Apart
    • WikiLeaks says litigation, not leaks, ‘new business’ model as fundraiser for libel suit gains steam

      WikiLeaks has spun a contentious report alleging ties between its publisher and President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort into a fundraising effort aimed at bankrolling a libel lawsuit against The Guardian newspaper.
      An online fundraiser launched on behalf of the anti-secrecy website received more than $37,000 in donations as of Friday, three days after the effort was announced in response to The Guardian publishing an article that accused Manafort of repeatedly visiting WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London — an allegation forcefully rejected by both.
      “WikiLeaks is going make [sic] suing fake news producers like the Guardian a central part of its business model. Since libels are the most predictable response to the power and accuracy of a WikiLeaks‘ publication, our analysis is that this is a stable, scalable income stream,” WikiLeaks said through its Twitter account.

    • Philosopher Srećko Horvat on Julian Assange & Europe’s Progressive Movement – DiEM25

      In this exclusive interview with philosopher, author, activist and co-founder of the Democracy in Europe 2025 (DiEM25), Srećko Horvat, we talk about the case of Julian Assange. Furthermore we talk in-depth about DiEM25 – how it has evolved since its launch in 2016 and the challenges it has encountered internally along its journey.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Almost Half of Coal Power Plants Seen Unprofitable to Operate

      About 42 percent of the world’s coal generation capacity is losing money, according to Carbon Tracker, an energy researcher that advocates for climate protection. That proportion will rise to 56 percent by 2030, said Matthew Gray, a senior utilities and power analyst at the consultant.

    • The Climate Apocalypse Is Now, and It’s Happening to You

      None of those things necessarily change any minds. They might not move the needles on the Yale climate survey. But maybe they don’t have to. As the New Yorker writer Osita Nwanevu argued recently on Twitter, denialism isn’t a commonly held position. The real problem is an absence of climate policy. Ideally, the constructions of the IPCC reports, the National Climate Assessment, and the Lancet Countdown won’t just make a policy more obvious, but help clear a path to a policy going into effect. The clock’s ticking.

    • Statement by Former Vice President Al Gore on the National Climate Assessment released Friday, November 23

      The President may try to hide the truth, but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible.

    • Al Gore accuses Trump officials of trying to ‘bury’ climate report

      “Unbelievably deadly and tragic wildfires rage in the west, hurricanes batter our coasts — and the Trump administration chooses the Friday after Thanksgiving to try and bury this critical U.S. assessment of the climate crisis,” Gore said in a statement.

      “The President may try to hide the truth, but his own scientists and experts have made it as stark and clear as possible,” the former vice president-turned climate change advocate added.

    • Ranchers Combat Overgrazing to Protect Climate

      One study estimates that optimizing grazing could cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 89 million metric tons, roughly the same as permanently parking 19 million cars.

      Plus, overgrazed land erodes more easily. That’s a double whammy. Ranchers lose fertile soil, and it ends up muddying drinking water downstream, which increases the cost to make it tap-ready.

      On the other hand, healthy grassland soils that store carbon also store and filter water.

    • What if there’s no climate change ‘pill’ to save us?

      Take, for instance, a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center that asked a national sample of U.S. adults whether “new technology will solve most of the problems from global climate change” during the next 50 years (by 2066). Most (55 percent) indicated this would “probably” or “definitely” happen. In comparison, 44 percent indicated this would not happen. This pattern was remarkably consistent across Democrats and Republicans, as well as liberals and conservatives, who are often divided on climate change and what to do about it. Yet, when it comes to solving it, roughly half of Americans, regardless of their political stripes, felt that technology will ultimately protect us.

    • China halts bridge construction after 6,000 rare fish die

      China has halted construction of a bridge in the province of Hubei after it was said to have caused the death of around 6,000 critically endangered Chinese sturgeon, the China Daily said, citing the Agriculture Ministry.

      An investigation team found the construction project in the city of Jingzhou had illegally encroached on a protected national nature reserve, the paper said.

    • Dead Sperm Whale Had 115 Plastic Cups, 1,000 Plastic Shards in its Stomach

      A dead sperm whale that washed up in Indonesia on Monday had more than 13 pounds of plastic waste in its stomach, according to local officials. An autopsy of the whale’s stomach turned up 115 plastic cups, 25 plastic bags, four plastic bottles, two flip-flops, some nylon, and more than 1,000 smaller plastic shards.

    • Indian activist dies during hunger strike over Ganges river pollution

      An Indian environmental activist has died on the 111th day of a hunger strike to pressure the government to clean the Ganges river.

      [...]

      Agarwal, who also went by the monastic name Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, had been fasting since 22 June to protest against the government’s inaction in cleaning the Ganges river.

      [...]

      He was in good health until the 110th day, when he stopped drinking water. He felt he would have to sacrifice his life to focus the country’s attention on the issue.”

    • The EPA Gave Its Website a Pro-Fracking Makeover

      In January this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revamped its webpage on fracking. The page now promotes the interests of the fossil fuel industry at the expense of scientific knowledge and public transparency.

      These edits were documented by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, a coalition that has tracked changes made to federal environmental websites during the Trump administration. The president has vowed to ease restrictions on fracking as part of his fossil fuel-heavy economic plan.

    • Study: Finland could halve emissions by 2030 – and save money

      Emissions reduction could also come more cheaply than expected, and may in fact save money compared to current trends, says the study, entitled ’Cost-efficient emission reduction pathway to 2030 for Finland’.

      [...]

      Sitra’s project director for climate solutions, Janne Peljo, says the long-held idea that combating climate change is expensive is turning out to be incorrect.

    • Trump Greenlights Another ‘Violent, Destructive’ Assault on Marine Life With Seismic Testing Approval

      Defenders of ocean habitats and marine life are up in arms on Friday as the Trump administration is set to approve new abilities for the fossil fuel industry to conduct widescale and “deafening” underwater seismic in federal waters off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

      The decision is expected to come from the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the Commerce Department, but conservation groups say it is a smack in the face to ocean ecosystems and a political nonstarter they vow to fight tooth and nail.

      “This action flies in the face of massive opposition to offshore drilling and exploration from over 90 percent of coastal municipalities in the proposed blast zone,” said Diane Hoskins, campaign director at Oceana. “These permits were already denied because of the known harm that seismic airgun blasting causes. President Trump is essentially giving these companies permission to harass, harm and possibly even kill marine life, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale – all in the pursuit of dirty and dangerous offshore oil. This is the first step toward offshore drilling in the Atlantic and we’re going to make sure coastal communities know what’s happening and fight this.”

      Michael Jasny, director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project at NRDC, said the president’s action is totally detached from the reality of the threats the world’s ecosytems now face.

    • As Number of Dems Backing Green New Deal Swells to 18, Campaigners Demand All of Party ‘Stand Up to Fossil Fuel Billionaires’

      With 18 members of Congress now backing the proposed House Select Committee on a Green New Deal, climate activists expressed hope Friday that the swelling support can push the nation “toward justice and a livable future for all.”

      Some of those lawmakers, including committee-proposer Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joined the campaigners at a press conference on Capitol Hill to highlight that growing support.

      “This is not just about a Green New Deal, this is about a New Deal for the United States of America,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “Because in every moment when our country has reached the depths of darkness, in every moment when we were at the brink, at the cusp of an abyss and we did not know if we would be capable of saving ourselves, we have.”

      “The push for a Green New Deal,” added Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, “is about more than natural resources and jobs. It’s about our most precious commodity—people, families, children, our future.”

    • Naomi Klein on the Urgency of a ‘Green New Deal’ for Everyone

      Progressive journalist and activist Naomi Klein urged sweeping change that tackles the climate crisis, capitalism, racism and economic inequality in tandem on Friday in Burlington, Vt. If that seems challenging, add the fact that the clock is ticking and there might not be another chance.

      “We need to have started yesterday,” Klein said at the three-day Sanders Institute Gathering on a panel moderated by environmental activist Bill McKibben. “What all of us who follow the science know is that we just can’t lose these four years,” she said, referring to the presidency of climate change denier Donald Trump. The conference, organized by the think tank founded by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane, is aimed at forming bold progressive agendas for the future.

    • Scott Morrison urged to raise Australia’s opposition to whaling with Japanese PM

      Abe today becomes the first Japanese leader to visit Darwin since Japan’s deadly 1942 bombing of the city. The visit comes just days after the Japanese whaling fleet departed for the southern ocean for a “scientific” hunt that could see as many as 333 minke whales killed.

    • Palm Oil Was Supposed to Help Save the Planet. Instead It Unleashed a Catastrophe.

      Most of the plantations around us were new, their rise a direct consequence of policy decisions made half a world away. In the mid-2000s, Western nations, led by the United States, began drafting environmental laws that encouraged the use of vegetable oil in fuels — an ambitious move to reduce carbon dioxide and curb global warming. But these laws were drawn up based on an incomplete accounting of the true environmental costs. Despite warnings that the policies could have the opposite of their intended effect, they were implemented anyway, producing what now appears to be a calamity with global consequences.

    • Humanity is Killing the World’s Wildlife Populations, Not ‘Capitalism’

      Most of the anti-capitalist talk of today works just as capitalism originally did: as a justification for humans to claim superiority over the earth and not hold ourselves accountable for the horrifying things we do to her. Humanity is capitalism, and capitalism is humanity. To save our planet we must do a whole lot more than find our own subject relation in the world. We must assert radically, as Karl Marx once did, that capitalism is a natural progression of humanity. And as Marx said, we must not only seek to understand this world, but to change it.

      As long as capitalism remains a primarily exterior force, we will remain rooted in the passivity that our screen age lays out for us. Where we can consume everything, hate everything, blame everything, but never become something greater, precisely because we don’t believe in anything, except maybe ourselves and avocado toast. Coming to age now is a generation that snottily dismisses God (and all those who believe in him) as a construct. A generation that believes in nothing besides the nihilism of the world as embodied by late-stage capitalism. The truth is that throughout human history, life has been challenging, miserable, unjust, and primarily hopeless.

      The inequality in this day and age may indeed be unique, but the suffering is not. Suffering and struggle has been the way of humans and other species during most days, for most times. The only striking thing about this day and age is two factors: 1. the development of the modern subject, who has not only an ego, but an entitlement to ownership of the world around him. 2. the fall of this subject into a place of powerless within the context of mass inequality during the stage of neoliberal late capital. These two factors do create an inconsistency, a heartbroken and demented subject, as best embodied by Donald Trump.

    • The Green New Deal

      Progressive Democrats, by contrast, are largely defined by the Bernie Sanders movement, which, revealingly, calls itself Our Revolution. They are also influenced by the Green party, particularly by its call for a Green New Deal, recently endorsed by Bill McKibben.

      The Green New Deal is remarkable in its focus on the twin problems of climate change and economic justice. So far it’s the only alternative this writer has seen to business as usual (just Google “Green New Deal”).

      The Green New Deal calls for closing overseas military bases and using the savings to help finance domestic renewal. It demands an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel related industries. It insists on an immediate transition to 100% renewables.

      It identifies the financial system, led by too-big-to-fail private banks, as the main obstacle to economic restructuring. It proposes an alternative public banking system to fund infrastructure, guarantee employment, transition to renewables, offer free education through college, and provide single-payer, comprehensive medicare for all.

    • We Can Pay for a Green New Deal

      Across America, calls for climate action are growing louder and more fervent. As Naomi Klein wrote this week, “[we have] been waiting a very long time for there to finally be a critical mass of politicians in power who understand not only the existential urgency of the climate crisis, but also the once-in-a-century opportunity it represents.”

      We’re almost there.

      We understand the problem ― we can’t allow temperatures to rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gives the world 12 years to make substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid severe climate effects later this century ― including in the United States. The urgency of the situation can’t be overstated.

      We need more political courage and less political consternation.

    • Addressing Climate Change Through Degrowth: It May Be Less Contentious Than You Think.

      To address climate change, our society must come to grips with reality. Capitalism’s growth dependency is an insurmountable barrier to environmental sustainability. Economic production is a key source of greenhouse gases and studies continue to find a positive relationship between economic growth and emissions. It is also increasingly clear that there is no magic bullet that can “decouple” the relationship between growth and environmental destruction.

      The potential environmental benefits of green technologies are often partially or completely offset by growth. For instance, the generation of non-fossil fuel energy over the past five decades did not displace the use of fossil fuels across the majority of nations. Economic growth generates the need for more energy, and consequently renewable energy sources are for the most part added to, not used in place of, fossil energy sources.

      Because of these relationships, we cannot sufficiently reduce emissions through individual, community, or technological change alone. We need to begin to shift away from a growth dependent economy.

    • Following Guilty Verdicts for Seven Men but Not ‘Masterminds of Crime,’ Justice for Beta Cáceres Still Missing

      While the verdicts were welcomed by her supporters, they say the trial was highly flawed.

      Since her murder, said U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in a statement reacting to the verdicts, “we have witnessed an attempted cover-up by the Honduran police, an investigation fraught with irregularities, including reports of cell phone and ballistics evidence not analyzed, and a trial laden with delays involving eight defendants who almost certainly do not include the intellectual authors of this despicable crime.”

      That point was echoed by one of Cáceres’ daughters, Olivia Zúñiga. “Justice here was not complete because the DESA business owners have not been investigated or prosecuted, although they are the masterminds of the crime,” she said.

      Moreover, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, “By excluding the victims from the murder trial of human rights defender Berta Cáceres and by having the Public Prosecutor’s Office—an institution that has repeatedly been reported for violating their rights—act as their representative, the path to justice and truth has been blocked for the defender’s family.”

      “Despite the ruling delivered today in this emblematic case, the Honduran justice system must demonstrate its commitment to the truth and identify all those who planned and ordered the murder of Berta Cáceres,” Guevara-Rosas added.

      The men’s sentences, which could be up to 30 years in prison, will be announced in January. Four of the men, Reuters reports, “could spend even longer behind bars as they were also convicted of attempting to kill Mexican activist Gustavo Castro, who was with Cáceres during the attack.”

    • Berta Cáceres: Seven convicted of murdering anti-dam activist

      Two of those convicted had worked for the company building the dam.

    • 7 Convicted in Killing of Honduran Environmental Activist

      In a unanimous ruling released Thursday, three judges found that Elvin Rapalo, Henry Hernandez, Edilson Duarte and Oscar Galeas carried out the killing of Caceres, who was shot inside her home in La Esperanza in western Honduras one year after winning the Goldman Environmental Prize for her leadership against a dam project.

      [...]

      Caceres had reported receiving death threats, and her family said there was collusion between the company and state security forces.

    • John Kerry: Europe must tackle climate change or face migration chaos

      Speaking at a Guardian Live event, at Central Hall in London, he said he was deeply disturbed at how issues such as climate change, cyber wars and the future of the oceans were not ballot box issues, admitting it was hard to translate these issues into an acceptable set of choices for voters.

    • Global warming fight faces major obstacles

      Big autos, big oil and big utilities, which pollute as part of business, lobby against environmental protections. Automakers devote vast sums of their roughly $14 billion marketing budget advertising gas-guzzling SUVs. The oil industry profits by fueling those trucks. And the coal industry enjoys a president who peddles fake news about coal’s rebirth.

    • For-Profit Firefighting Was Terrible for America. Climate Change Is Bringing It Back.

      Meanwhile, public investment in fire management has stalled, and federal funding for disaster relief has plummeted. What’s more, the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge, much less prepare for, the warming scientists say will begin to wreak havoc on the planet by 2040. Climate change already mostly affects the poor — a truth underscored by disasters from Hurricane Maria to the ongoing famine in West Africa. And wealth inequality is sure to determine who suffers in a hotter, more dangerous, and less predictable world.

      Welcome to our climate future: disasters will get worse, and the rich will pay to sit them out.

    • Gilded Age watch: America’s firefighting is turning into a two-tier system, with private services for the 1%

      The project of privatizing firefighting is a libertarian darling, much-loved by think-tankers, who see firefighting as the most emblematic of public services, and thus any evidence of the efficacy of private firefighting can be held up to prove that the state is unnecessary and can be replaced by markets.

      Climate change is increasing the rate and severity of wildfires, even as neoliberal policies and inequality are reducing the budgets for public fire-suppression and increasing the use of private firefighting by the wealthy.

    • Kim Kardashian’s Private Firefighters Expose America’s Fault Lines

      The insurance companies AIG and Chubb have publicly talked about their private wildfire teams. AIG has its own “Wildfire Protection Unit,” while Chubb—and up to a dozen other insurers—contract with Wildfire Defense Systems, a Montana company that claims to have made 550 “wildfire responses on behalf of insurers,” including 255 in just the past two years. Right now in California, the company has 53 engines working to protect close to 1,000 homes.

    • Kim & Kanye Hire Private Firefighters … Save Neighbors’ Homes Too

      Sources tell us Kim and Kanye hired a private team to battle the flames on their property. The team was armed with hoses, and also tirelessly dug ditches to create a fire break.

    • The Fire This Time

      I made it out of the Oakland Hills fire because somebody helped me. We ran down the burning hillside until we hit a road and flagged down a ride. That driver kicked us off—we were sitting on his trunk and he wanted to drive faster—but another car slowed and took us all the way to safety. No one is going to rescue us this time. Which means it’s up to us, as always. We have no choice but to learn to help each other, to tear down the systems that are killing us, to find new ways to live on and with the planet. The light is strange and the skies are getting darker, so we will have to do it fast.

    • Why California’s Wildfires Are So Destructive, In 5 Charts

      Fires aren’t rare in California, and no one thing causes them. But the fires this season have grown to be big and destructive because a confluence of environmental changes, several related to climate change, have made the state more vulnerable. Those changes include drought, higher-than-average temperatures and population growth near wilderness areas, all of which have created favorable fire conditions, exacerbated the blazes and made them more costly.

      Here’s a look at how some of these factors have raised the fire risk in California.

    • California’s Wildfires Could Mean A Generation Of Lung Problems

      The 2008 wildfire season in California was a terrible one. Just like this year, air quality alerts were triggered across the northern part of the state, and even hundreds of miles from the actual fires, the air was filled with smoke. In the midst of this, 50 baby monkeys were born. They spent their first months of life outside, breathing that choking, sooty air. Now, they are one of the best sources we have for information about the long-term effects wildfires can have on public health. The results are … not comforting.

  • Finance

    • US farms are going bankrupt at an alarming rate. Trump’s trade war is partially to blame.

      As Vox’s Tara Golshan explains, the impact on the US agricultural industry is no joke. Prices for agricultural products like soybeans have dropped to a 10-year low since Trump imposed sweeping tariffs on Chinese goods earlier this year. And farmers across different markets have grown increasingly nervous about how their businesses will fare if the trade war continues.

    • Economic Piety Is a Crisis for Workers

      The abandonment of the American worker can be linked with two major developments in midcentury economic thinking, which combined to produce the central metaphor of modern American politics: the economic pie. The first was the overwhelming importance assigned to measurement of the economy’s total size. This had been critical to the federal government’s Keynesian response to the Great Depression, which relied on public spending to boost demand and thus production. Such management of the economy required accurate knowledge of production levels and trends, so the U.S. Department of Commerce developed the system of national accounting that became the Gross Domestic Product, a Herculean effort whose leader, Simon Kuznets, would win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. When the Depression gave way to a global military conflict, the outcome of which would turn on the industrial capacity of the Allied and Axis economies, GDP became an existential concern.

    • Trump’s Budget Director Reveals Plans to Attack Social Security and Medicare

      Opponents of Social Security and Medicare are so eager to end these two overwhelmingly important and popular earned benefits that they can’t contain themselves. Mick Mulvaney, the Trump administration’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, is the latest to make crystal clear the longstanding plan to destroy both programs.

      Speaking at a conference of state legislators hosted by the anti-government American Legislative Exchange Council (“ALEC”), Mulvaney just revealed that he plans first to go after what he sees as more politically achievable cuts. He explained that the next step, presumably after Trump is in his second term, will be for the administration not just to cut these programs but to end them as we know them.

      Mulvaney is apparently so eager to go after our earned benefits that he threw the point into a speech to state legislators, even though both Social Security and Medicare are federal programs.

    • NAFTA 2.0 Signed: A Deal for ‘The Corporate One Percent’

      U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a trade agreement to replace NAFTA on Friday—a deal some lawmakers and advocacy groups say is still fundamentally flawed as it stomps on the rights of workers and the environment and empowers “the corporate one percent at the expense of the rest of us.”

      Simply put, “The NAFTA 2.0 text is not the transformational replacement of the corporate-rigged trade-pact model that progressive activists, unions, and congressional Democrats have long demanded,” wrote Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Dems take new approach in NC gerrymandering suit

      Democratic groups and the state branch of Common Cause filed suit just days after the Nov. 6 midterm elections, challenging the validity of legislative lines established by the GOP-led General Assembly. The suit claims Republicans improperly considered voters’ partisan affiliations when drawing the lines.

      The case will be heard by a three-judge panel, but it is almost certain to be appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 5-to-2 margin.

    • “When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit”: The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg

      The answer won’t be found in the minutes of Facebook board meetings or in Sandberg’s best-selling books, Lean In and Option B, which cemented her position in the corporate firmament as a feminist heroine. Rather, it starts all the way back in 1977, when Sandberg was just eight years old and the U.S. economy was still recovering from the longest and deepest recession since the end of World War II. That’s the year that Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik wrote an article entitled, “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?” in America’s most influential business journal, Harvard Business Review. For years, Zaleznik argued, the country had been over-managed and under-led. The article helped spawn the annual multi-billion-dollar exercise in nonsense known as the Leadership Industry, with Harvard as ground zero. The article gave Harvard Business School a new raison d’être in light of the fact that the product it had been selling for decades—managers—was suddenly no longer in vogue. Henceforth, it would be molding leaders.

      Which brings us back to Sheryl Sandberg, the ostensible exemplar of what Harvard Business professor Bill George calls Authentic Leadership. Before the wheels started to fall off at Facebook, Sandberg was profiled in George’s book, Discover Your True North, as a model of the kind of authentic leader H.B.S. claims to churn out. Sandberg, after all, has led something of a charmed educational and corporate life, palling around with the likes of Larry Summers, working at McKinsey & Company (which also claims to be a leadership-factory nonpareil), then Google, and now Facebook. Indeed, there is no question that Sheryl Sandberg is one of the premier managers of her time—she oversaw stupendous growth of ad-driven sales organizations at both Google and Facebook. But as new evidence emerges regarding Facebook’s maddeningly foot-dragging response to scandals ranging from data abuse to election interference, the pertinent question is whether she was ever really a leader.

    • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg requested research on Soros: report

      Sandberg in an email requested Facebook’s policy and communications executives probe Soros’ financial interests after the billionaire called tech giants a “menace” to society during a World Economic Forum speech.

    • Sheryl Sandberg personally asked Facebook’s staff to look into George Soros, reports claim

      Facebook’s admission marks the latest change in Ms Sandberg’s shifting position on how involved she was in Facebook’s PR efforts and how much she knew about the work that Definers did for the company.

    • Trump Tower trifecta of bad news: Michael Cohen, Deutsche Bank and Trump’s former tax lawyer

      Donald Trump ran into a trifecta of bad news before noon on Thursday, all seemingly related to his Trump Tower business ventures.

      First, his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen made a surprise appearance in federal court to plead guilty to lying to Congress in the Russia investigation, a strong indication that he is still cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller (although they have no official agreement). President Trump, to non one’s surprise, lashed out in anger, calling Cohen a “weak man.”

      Cohen admitted he had lied to Congress about a potential Trump Tower Moscow deal he attempted to negotiate, even after Trump had secured the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, which directly contradicts what the candidate claimed during the campaign.

    • Congress Is Full of Rich People. How Can They Represent Us?

      When I heard the news reports this month claiming that the 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had something like $7,000 in her savings account, my first response was, “Must be nice.”

      I probably wasn’t the only millennial to think that. According to an August survey from the finance website Magnify Money, the median millennial household has just $2,430 in savings. So yes, for a member of Congress, a savings account with only $7,000 definitely sounds weird. But for an average person her age? It’s far from eyebrow-raising news. It’s perfectly normal. In fact, it’s relatable.

      And that’s what makes this story so important. Relatability has become a commodity in the world of electoral politics, with political candidates going to all sorts of lengths to appear like everyday people to their constituencies. Campaign seasons are rife with feigned drawls, political ads featuring candidates chopping wood and shooting rattlesnakes, casual visits to pizza parlors or bars, and manufactured personas that politicians hope will lead people to identify with them.

      Despite the fact that it’s easy to see through, the masquerade goes on. The cameras keep rolling, the music keeps playing, ballots are cast, elections are won and lost. And through it all, many of us have come to accept that the people who hold office are separate from the rest of us — and that the world of electoral politics is not a realm into which everyday people can enter.

    • Free the Free Press From Wall Street Plunderers

      It was, of course, a retort to Donald Trump’s ignorant campaign to demonize the news media as “the enemy of the people.” But when it comes to America’s once-proud newspapers, their worst enemy is not Trump—nor is it the rising cost of newsprint or the “free” digital news on websites. Rather, the demise of the real news reporting by our city and regional papers is a product of their profiteering owners. Not the families and companies that built and nurtured true journalism, but the new breed of fast-buck hucksters who’ve scooped up hundreds of America’s newspapers from the bargain bins of media sell-offs.

      The buyers are hedge-fund scavengers with names like Digital First and GateHouse. They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product—then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.

    • Hightower Up Against the Corporate Wall

      Until this week’s column titled Free The Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers.

      Earlier this week, Creators’s Syndicate informed Hightower they were not going to distribute this one.

      Why not?

      “The big, hedge-fund owned newspaper chains that Hightower calls out in his column are big customers of theirs, and as such, they don’t want to risk offending them,” said Hightower assistant Melody Byrd. “But while Creators’ reluctance to anger these powerful interests is somewhat understandable, the implications are frightening. It’s one more example of this dangerous time for America’s decreasingly-free press that, ironically, Jim lays out in this very column.”

      In a note to newspapers urging them to run the column anyway, Byrd wrote – “the American people deserve to know more about the entities that are squeezing so many of our community newspapers for cash and, in the process, choking our democracy.”

      Byrd said that Creators’ Syndicate told her that while the hedge funds that Hightower fingered in his column don’t own the syndicate, they do own many of the newspapers that the syndicate distributes to.

      “The demise of the real news reporting by our city and regional papers is a product of their profiteering owners,” Hightower wrote in the column. “Not the families and companies that built and nurtured true journalism, but the new breed of fast-buck hucksters who’ve scooped up hundreds of America’s newspapers from the bargain bins of media sell-offs.”

      “The buyers are hedge-fund scavengers with names like Digital First and GateHouse,” Hightower wrote.

    • GOP Voter Suppression Architect Thomas Farr Goes Down After Grassroots Uproar Forces Tim Scott to Reject “Dangerous” Nominee

      With the nomination of vehement voter suppression defender Thomas Farr effectively sunk, voting rights groups on Thursday applauded the constituents of Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the sole black Republican senator, for successfully pressuring him to oppose the confirmation due to grave concerns over Farr’s history of racist and anti-democratic political campaigning.

      After deliberating and dragging his feet following Farr’s nomination, Scott ultimately cited Farr’s role on former Sen. Jesse Helms’ 1992 campaign in which postcards were sent to black voters in North Carolina telling them they were ineligible to vote and would be arrested if they went to the polls. Farr led Helms’ legal team on the campaign.

    • Trumpland: Get Ready for the Storm Ahead

      The feeling is palpable: with the Christmas recess coming to Capitol Hill, and then with Democrats about to take over the House, a whole lot of shit is about to hit the proverbial fan.

      So far, this is only a feeling. It is anybody’s guess in what form (or forms) it will come, and exactly when to start ducking.

      However, the circumstances surrounding the impending shit storm are clear enough, at least in broad outline, despite the miasma Trump and his minions exude.

      For one, the Republican Party, especially but not only at the national level, has become the Party of Trump. The party Ronald Reagan fashioned is done for, finished, kaput.

      This is not to say that Reaganites have gone extinct like, say, Eisenhower or Rockefeller Republicans. If anything, they are thriving like never before. But the Grand Old Party is Trump’s, not theirs.

      Before Trump, practically anything that diminished the power of the Reaganite old guard was welcome news. No longer. The Trump Party is many times more odious than what it replaced.

      It is stupider, more corrupt, more retrograde, and more lacking in fundamental human decency. Witness the family separations and the tear-gassing of asylum seekers and their children along the Mexican border. Being even worse than, the GOP in the Tea Party -Mitt Romney days is no mean achievement, but there it is.

      The pre-Trump and post-Trump GOPs are fruit of the same poison tree – the Southern Strategy, the plan Pat Buchanan and Richard Nixon hatched in the aftermath of the civil rights victories of the 1960s to reconstitute the Solid South of the Jim Crow era within the bowels of the Republican Party.

    • ‘It Is Time for Progressives of the World to Unite’: Sanders-Varoufakis Issue Open Call for New Global Movement

      “There is a global war being waged against workers, against our environment, against democracy, against decency,” declares the Progressive International’s open call to join the movement, which was unveiled Friday evening by Varoufakis and Sanders, wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), during The Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont.

      “A network of right-wing factions is collaborating across borders to erode human rights, silence dissent, and promote intolerance. Not since the 1930 has humanity faced such an existential threat,” the call continues. “To defeat them, we cannot simply go back to the failed status quo of the last few decades. Unfettered globalization promised peace and prosperity. But it delivered financial crisis, needless war, and disastrous climate change, instead.”

    • The Center Is Not Holding, and Trump Is Our Proof

      As the world’s pre-eminent heads of state gather in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this weekend for the annual G-20 summit, the postwar order has never looked more fragile. War threatens to break out at any moment between Russia and Ukraine, Britain is staring into the abyss of a failed Brexit negotiation and the U.S. faces a rising tide of ethno-nationalism, reinforced in no small part by Donald Trump’s presidency. Compounding this larger crisis, new research indicates we have just 12 years to radically reduce carbon emissions or risk climate catastrophe.

      The center is not holding, and if a devastating new report from The New York Times is to be believed, the falconer’s falcon is but one of the innumerable creatures wiped off the planet just in the past 50 years. As Jonathan Aronson argues in his new book, “Digital DNA: Disruption and the Challenges for Global Governance,” we are living through a period of profound social and economic upheaval—one that threatens the very foundations of our political system.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Australian Parliament Passes Tough New Anti-Piracy Law

      The Australian Parliament has passed controversial amendments to copyright law. There will now be a tightened site-blocking regime that will tackle mirrors and proxies more effectively, restrict the appearance of blocked sites in Google search, and introduce the possibility of blocking ‘dual-use’ cyberlocker type sites.

    • Google, Facebook, VPNs, and Others Risk Huge Fines Under Proposed Law

      After failing to connect its systems to >Google, Facebook, VPNs, and Others Risk Huge Fines Under Proposed Law, Google is now being considered for a fine. Current fines are very small and no deterrent to huge tech companies, but that could change. Legislation under consideration would see the search giant – and other tech companies, including VPNs – face potentially huge penalties, in Google’s case up to US$6.7 million.

    • Twitter shares fall after reports of a conservative boycott

      The apparent boycott stems from the network’s anger over activists converging at the home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, according to Mediate.

    • Twitter Shares Slump as ‘Bullish Bias’ Looks Broken to Traders

      There was no obvious catalyst behind the decline, but multiple traders and outlets cited a Politico story about how Fox News — an account with more than 18 million followers — hasn’t tweeted since Nov. 8. The report described the lack of tweeting, which was previously noted by New York Magazine on Nov. 14, as a silent protest against the company for how it handled harassment against one of its hosts.

    • ‘Shameful and Cowardly’: CNN Fires Marc Lamont Hill for Daring to Denounce Oppression of Palestinians

      CNN terminated Hill just 24 hours after he delivered a speech at a meeting of the U.N.’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in New York, in which he expressed support for Palestinians’ resistance against brutal Israeli occupation, denounced Israel for actively depriving Palestinians of basic human rights, and called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

      Slamming CNN for caving to right-wing defenders of Israel’s decades-long occupation by firing a commentator for the crime of doing political commentary, Intercept journalist Ryan Grim began circulating a petition calling on the network to apologize and reverse its decision.

    • CNN Fired Marc Lamont Hill For Saying Palestinians Deserve Equal Rights

      Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University and a fierce advocate for equality, was perhaps the strongest, most articulate and most passionate voice against racism and bigotry among CNN’s regular contributors. Today, CNN fired him because he believes Palestinians, too, fit into a vision where all people deserve equal rights. For CNN, that was just too much.

      Marc was targeted by what can only be described as an organized campaign to silence his principled and consistent advocacy against racism and for the equal treatment of all people, including Palestinians. Wednesday, as part of a Special Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in observance of the United Nations International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People at U.N. headquarters in New York, Marc was invited as a member of civil society to provide a statement to the forum. He did so having just returned from the Palestinian territories, and he made clear that his experience as a black American and the history of struggle against slavery and Jim Crow in the United States inform his solidarity with the Palestinian people.

    • App Developers Suing Facebook Suffer Redaction Failure, Expose Discussions About Pay-For-Play API Access

      Earlier this week, UK politicians conveniently pounced on a US businessman to force him to turn over documents possibly containing info Parliament members had been unable to extract from Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook’s data sharing. An obscure law was used to detain the visiting Six4Three executive, drag him to Parliament, and threaten him with imprisonment unless he handed over the documents PMs requested.

      The executive happened to have on him some inside info produced by Facebook in response to discovery requests. Six4Three is currently suing Facebook over unfair business practices in a California court. The documents carried by the executive had been sealed by the court, which means the executive wasn’t allowed to share them with anyone… in the United States. But he wasn’t in the United States, as gleeful PMs pointed out while forcing him to produce information it wanted from another tech company unwilling to set foot in London.

      It was all very strange, more than a little frightening, and completely bizarre. A lot of coincidences lined up very conveniently for UK legislators. The frightening part is it worked. This will only encourage Parliament to pull the same stunt the next time it thinks it can get information others have refused to hand over. Targeting third parties is an ugly way to do government business, especially when the UK government is attempting to obtain information from US companies. All bets are off once they’re on UK soil, so traveling execs may want to leave sensitive info on their other laptop before landing at Heathrow.

      But there’s also a chance Six4Three wanted to put this information in the hands of UK legislators. Call it “plausible deniability” or “parallel construction” (why not both?!), but the ridiculousness of the entire incident lends it an air of theater that probably isn’t entirely unearned.

      [...]

      That being said, the London incident still smells super-fishy. And the information seen here doesn’t indicate much more than Facebook considered selling access to Facebook user info. It appears Facebook never followed through with the plan. The lack of pay-for-play doesn’t excuse its larger sins, but it does kind of put a dent in Six4Three’s claims Facebook unfairly locked it out of API access when it kicked its shady bikini-photo-searching app to the curb.

    • Facebook’s Bikini App Lawsuit Is Getting Really Ugly

      The court filing, which was drafted by Six4Three’s legal team in 2017, is based on internal Facebook documents obtained through discovery. Though the underlying documents aren’t included in the filing, they’re partially quoted throughout it and suggest that Facebook brokered special data deals with companies like the Royal Bank of Canada and Amazon, among others. In one email cited in the filing, a Facebook employee discussed shutting down apps that don’t spend “at least $250k a year to maintain access to the data.” The exposure of this sensitive information comes down to a simple technical glitch: The court documents were redacted improperly, leaving the underlying text exposed when it was uploaded to a text editor by a reporter at Ars Technica, which published the document in full Wednesday night.

    • Threatened university faces final deadline

      Hungary’s Central European University, founded by George Soros, says it will have to leave the country.

    • How Civil Subpoenas Are Used To Unmask Online Speakers, And How A Recent Decision Will Help Deter Bogus Ones

      Important cases don’t always happen with a lot of fanfare. It may be easy to follow what the US Supreme Court is up to, with its relatively small docket of high-profile matters, but plenty of other important cases get resolved by state and lower courts around the country with much less attention but just as much import.

      This decision by a California appeals court, Roe v. Halbig, is one such example, and happily the impact it stands to have is a good one. It isn’t a showy decision declaring some new principle of liberty. Rather, it stands to quietly help ensure that codified protections for speech, and anonymous speech in particular, work as intended.

      We’ve written many times before about how important it is that anonymous speech be protected. Indeed, the US Supreme Court has found that the First Amendment includes the right to speak anonymously, because without that right a lot of important speech could not happen. But it’s one thing to say that anonymous speech must be protected; it’s another to make sure that anonymous online speakers can remain anonymous on a practical level. If it is too easy to unmask speakers, then their right to speak anonymously becomes illusory.

      To prevent the right to anonymous speech from becoming meaningless, it’s important that discovery instruments, like subpoenas, intended to unmask speakers, not be vulnerable to being abused, especially by plaintiffs who don’t have a legitimate need to unmask their critics. Because not only is a SLAPP suit chilling to speech, but so is a subpoena arising from a SLAPP suit that strips a speaker of the anonymous protection they counted on having when they spoke.

      This decision will help prevent the latter. To understand how, it helps to understand how these subpoenas get used.

    • Our Bipolar Free-Speech Disorder And How To Fix It (Part 3)

      As policymakers consider laws that affect platforms or other online content, it is critical that they consider Balkin’s framework and the implications of this “new-school speech regulation” that the framework identifies. Failure to apply it could lead—indeed, has led in the recent past—to laws or regulations that indirectly undermine basic free expression interests.

      A critical perspective on how to think about free speech in the twenty-first century requires that we recognize the extent to which free speech is facilitated by the internet and its infrastructure. We also must recognize that free speech is in some new ways made vulnerable by the internet and its infrastructure. In particular, free speech is particularly enhanced by the lowering barriers to entry for speakers that the internet creates. At the same time, free speech is made vulnerable insofar as the internet and the infrastructure it provides for freedom of speech is subject to legal and regulatory action that may not be transparent to users. For example, a government may seek to block the administration of a dissident website’s domain name, or may seek to block the use by dissident speakers of certain payment systems.

      There are of course non-governmental forces that may undermine or inhibit free speech—for example, the lowered barriers to entry make it easier for harassers or stalkers to discourage individuals from participation. This problem is in some sense an old problem in free-speech doctrine—the so-called “heckler’s veto”—is a subset of this problem. The problem of harassment may give rise to users’ complaints directly to the platform provider, or to demands that government regulate the platforms (and other speakers) more.

      Balkin explores the methods in which government can exercise both hard and soft power to censor or regulate speech at the infrastructure level. This can include direct changes of the law aimed at compelling internet platforms to censor or otherwise limit speech. This can include pressure that doesn’t rise to the level of law or regulation, as when a lawmaker warns a platform that it must figure out how to regulate certain kinds of troubling expression because “[i]f you don’t control your platform, we’re going to have to do something about it.” It can include changes in law or regulation aimed at increasing incentives for platforms to self-police with a heavier hand. Balkin characterizes the ways in which government can regulate speech of citizens and press indirectly, through pressure on or regulation of platforms and other intermediaries like payment systems, as “New School Speech Regulation.”

    • Speaker’s ruling ‘unilateral censorship of free press’ – Repubblika

      Civil society organisation Repubblika expressed it solidarity with The Shift News for its stand following the ruling by Parliament’s Speaker earlier this week.

      “The ruling of the Speaker of the House of Representatives directly curtails, without due process, the freedom of expression that should be enjoyed by journalists. The unilateral censorship of free press by an institution is a curtailment of the right to know of all citizens,” the organisation said.

      Repubblika raised concerns that the Speaker’s position did not appear to take into account the considerations raised in the case ‘Demicoli vs Malta’ at the European Court of Human Rights.

    • Apple v. Pepper: Can Consumers Sue Apple for an Anticompetitive App Store Market

      On November 26, 2018, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an interesting consumer antitrust class action lawsuit involving Apple’s “App Store.” The only typical* way to install new apps on an Apple iPhone is via the App Store and the complaint in this case alleges that the single-market setup results in inflated prices. Apple’s first response in this case is that it is simply providing the market and that App prices are being set by app developers, not Apple. Of course the reality here is that Apple charges the app developers to sell on the App Store, and the developers raised their prices to account for the fees.

    • Google Faces Further Backlash with Project Dragonfly
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Lawmakers Question Amazon’s Facial Recognition’s Credibility On Racial Grounds

      Amazon’s facial recognition technology has been around controversies ever since its announcement. Even after Amazon employees expressed their reservations regarding the technology’s accuracy, the company decided not to pay heed to them and sell the technology in the industry. Soon after ACLU found that “failed to facially recognize 28 members of Congress, with a higher failure rate towards people of color”, and Amazon reportedly “secured several high-profile contracts with the U.S. government and at least one major metropolitan city — including Orlando, Florida — for surveillance”, as Tech Crunch reports.

      Following these events, and Amazon’s reported silence and “insufficient answers: on the series of questions asked by lawmakers, eight lawmakers, including Sen. Edward Markey and Reps. John Lewis and Judy Chu, addressed a letter Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos demanding answers on the working mechanism and the use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology, Recognition.

    • Deputy AG Claims There’s No Market For Better Security While Complaining About Encryption At A Cybercrime Conference

      Rosenstein says this has resulted in a “significant detriment [to] public safety,” but can’t point to any data or evidence to back that claim up. The FBI’s count of devices it can’t access is off by at least a few thousand devices, by most people’s estimates. In terms of this number alone, the “public safety” problem is, at best, only half as bad as the DOJ has led us to believe.

      Going beyond that, crime rates remain at historic lows in most places in the country, strongly suggesting no crime wave has been touched off by the advent of default encryption. Law enforcement agencies aren’t complaining about cases they haven’t cleared — if you exclude encryption alarmist/Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance. (Anyone hoping to have an honest conversation about encryption certainly should.)

      Somehow, Rosenstein believes the public would experience a net safety gain by making their devices and personal info more easily accessed by criminals. Holes in encryption can be marked “law enforcement only,” much like private property owners can hang “no trespassing” signs. But neither is actually a deterrent to determined criminals.

    • Brit spies ‘solve’ interception without encryption breaking problem

      Two officers at Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) signals intelligence agency have devised a proposal to solve that seemingly intractable problem, namely how to intercept end-to-end encrypted communications – without breaking or weakening the encryption.

      Governments around the world, including Australia, are currently trying to figure out how to avoid bad actors and people of interest “going dark”, with messaging and other internet-borne communications employing strong and in practice, undefeatable encryption.

      Legally forcing providers and developers to weaken or break encryption risks introducing systemic weakness and putting everyone’s communications as well as financial systems in danger, security researchers have warned.

    • GCHQ pushes for ‘virtual crocodile clips’ on chat apps – the ability to silently slip into private encrypted comms

      Britain’s surveillance nerve-center GCHQ is trying a different tack in its effort to introduce backdoors into encrypted apps: reasonableness.

      In an essay by the technical director of the spy agency’s National Cyber Security Centre, Ian Levy, and technical director for cryptanalysis at GCHQ, Crispin Robinson, the authors go out of their way to acknowledge public concerns over government access to personal communication.

      They also promise to get back to a time where the authorities only use their exceptional powers in limited cases, where a degree of accountability is written into spying programs, and they promise a more open discussion about what spy agencies are allowed to do and how they do it.

    • GCHQ details how law enforcement could be silently injected into communications

      Two of the United Kingdom’s highest cyber officers have detailed how they believe law enforcement could access end-to-end encrypted communications.

      Written by Technical Director of the National Cyber Security Centre Ian Levy and Technical Director for Cryptanalysis for GCHQ Crispin Robinson, the essay claims that end-to-end encryption remains, but an extra “end” for law enforcement.

      “It’s relatively easy for a service provider to silently add a law enforcement participant to a group chat or call,” the pair said.

    • ORF Radio FM4 interviews radio amateur

      In an interview with the Austrian state broadcaster ORF, Erich OE3EMB describes intercepting shortwave communications between the German Federal Intelligence Service and the UK’s GCHQ

      The interview was for Radio FM4 and the transmission Erich describes intercepting back in the 1970′s was between Norddeich Radio used by Germany’s BND and Cable & Wireless, London which was apparently being used by GCHQ.

    • GCHQ’s not-so-smart idea to spy on encrypted messaging apps is branded ‘absolute madness’

      Two of the most senior officials at British eavesdropping agency GCHQ say one way that law enforcement could access encrypted messages is to simply add themselves to your conversations.

      “It’s relatively easy for a service provider to silently add a law enforcement participant to a group chat or call,” said Ian Levy, technical director of the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Center, and Crispin Robinson, cryptanalysis director at GCHQ, in an op-ed for Lawfare.

      “The service provider usually controls the identity system and so really decides who’s who and which devices are involved — they’re usually involved in introducing the parties to a chat or call,” they said. “You end up with everything still being end-to-end encrypted, but there’s an extra ‘end’ on this particular communication.”

    • Congress: Amazon didn’t give “sufficient answers” about facial recognition

      The new letter, issued on Thursday, was signed by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), and others. The document states that the legislators have “serious concerns that this type of product has significant accuracy issues, places disproportionate burdens on communities of color, and could stifle Americans’ willingness to exercise their First Amendment rights in public.”

    • Cambridge Analytica Knew How You’d Vote If You Wore Wrangler

      The whistle-blower behind the Cambridge Analytica revelations said the now-defunct data research firm used the fashion preferences of Facebook Inc. users to help develop the algorithms needed to target them with political messaging.

    • Senetas says encryption bill may force it to move offshore

      Australian encryption technology firm Senetas has raised the possibility that it may be forced to manufacture its products outside the country if the Federal Government’s encryption bill — which is officially known as Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 — is passed.

    • Encryption bill powers ‘may clash with parliamentary privilege’

      The push by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to bring the encryption bill to a vote before Parliament rises for the year is facing an obstacle, after Senate president Scott Ryan raised the possibility that powers in the bill could conflict with parliamentary privilege.

    • Encryption bill: EFA questions need to rush proposed legislation

      Digital rights organisation Electronic Frontiers Australia says it is extremely concerned that the Australian Government is rushing the review of the proposed encryption bill, adding that both civil society and the technology industry have serious concerns about the bill.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Saudi Arabia ‘tortured female activists’, charities say

      Activists were left unable to walk or stand properly after electrocution and flogging, an Amnesty International release said, with one woman reportedly sexually harassed by interrogators in face masks.

    • Suicide kills 47,000 men, women and children a year. Society shrugs.

      If a killer roaming America left 47,000 men, women and children dead each year, you can bet society would be demanding something be done to end the scourge.

    • I Traveled to Paris to Advocate for Human Rights in Chicago’s South Side

      Created in 1948 by the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines international human rights applicable to every country and person, including access to health resources, education, employment, food, and leisure. But 70 years after this document was drafted, the neighborhood where I grew up on Chicago’s South Side, the South Shore, is missing many of these things.

    • Britain’s shameful treatment of Asia Bibi

      It genuinely is a scandal: according to reports, May personally blocked Bibi’s application for asylum in the UK. Bibi is the Pakistani Christian who was sentenced to death for allegedly mocking Muhammad. Even following her acquittal by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last month – after she had languished on death row for nine years – mobs of hardline Pakistani Islamists have taken to the streets to demand that she be hanged.

    • Asia Bibi family being hunted ‘house to house’ in Pakistan

      On Tuesday, Sayeeda Warsi told the House of Lords: “There have been press reports that Asia Bibi, if granted asylum in the United Kingdom, would potentially not be safe from some communities here … As someone who is deeply connected to British Muslim communities, I assure her that they are fully supportive of any asylum claim that Asia Bibi may have and that our country may afford her, and that she would be supported as she would be by all other communities in this country.”

    • Pakistani Christian mum Asia Bibi who was cleared of blasphemy is being ‘hunted door to door’ by Islamic extremists demanding her death

      Bibi’s lawyer has already fled the country following her successful appeal, and she and her family are now hoping to gain asylum in the West.

    • Radical Teachings Enter Mosques of Gov’t Institutions

      P3M and Rumah Kebangsaan conducted the survey between Sept. 29 and Oct. 21 by analyzing hundreds of video and audio recordings taken by volunteers at 35 mosques in ministries, 28 in government institutions and 37 in state-owned enterprises.

    • Women Making $70 Feminist Shirts in Factory Paid Under a Dollar an Hour

      In a new investigative report published at the Mail on Sunday, a reporter discovered that women in Mauritius who were hired to make shirts that read “This is what a feminist looks like” have been paid roughly a dollar an hour to do so and sleep in dormitories that house 16 women at a time.

      The shirts, which are sold in conjunction with Fawcett Society (whose slogan is “Working for women’s rights since 1886″) and have been worn by everyone from Simon Pegg to Nick Clegg to British politician Harriet Harman, are made by migrant women who make a quarter of the average monthly salary in Mauritius.

    • Former Reagan secretary of state says US should work to end violence driving migrants away from homes

      Former President Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state George Shultz says the Trump administration should take action to relieve the conditions in Central America driving migrants to the U.S. rather than demonizing the migrants themselves.

    • #ThisIsNotConsent: Women post photos of their underwear after Irish rape trial

      She used Twitter to explain: “I hear cameras cut away from me when I displayed this underwear in Dail. In courts victims can have their underwear passed around as evidence and it’s within the rules.

    • The suffering of sex slaves in the Congo: ‘I was one woman to 20 men’

      Certainly there have been atrocities on all sides in the crisis, including by Luba militia. The difference is that while the Luba people have suffered from the state’s overreaction, the Bana Mura has enjoyed impunity and active support from the government. Meanwhile, those 93 women and children remain held against their will under brutal and inhumane conditions.

    • Judge dismisses female genital mutilation charges in historic case

      The historic case involves minor girls from Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, including some who cried, screamed and bled during the procedure and one who was given Valium ground in liquid Tylenol to keep her calm, court records show.

    • THL: 10,000 girls and women in Finland have undergone FGM

      The THL data indicate that more than 10,000 girls and women resident in Finland have undergone the procedure. FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, according to the World Health Organisation.

    • Finnish social and health care market shaken up by acquisitions

      Kauppalehti and Uusi Suomi on Monday reported that the sector witnessed 298 buyouts – an average of one every four days – between January 2015 and November 2018, with a total of 35,400 employees and 2.45 billion euros in revenue changing hands in the transactions.

    • Brothers allegedly murder sister, cousin in suspected honour killing in Shangla

      The Puran Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Zerab Gul told Dawn that the girl’s brothers suspected the two were involved in a relationship and subsequently killed them in the name of ‘honour’.

    • Nedim Yasar: Reformed gangster shot after book launch

      Denmark has experienced an increase in gang-related shootings in recent years. A record number of shootings were reported last year, police said.

    • Teenager Claims Body-Cams Show the Police Framed Him. What Do You See?

      The New York Times has obtained body-camera recordings that document one arrest earlier this year on Staten Island. The videos offer a rare look at a type of encounter the public seldom sees, and show how aggressively the police will pursue a minor marijuana case, in some circumstances, and the subtle social dynamics that shape policing in New York.

      But the videos also raise questions about how far the police will go to make an arrest. Lawyers for the defendant, Lasou Kuyateh, argue that the recordings contain possible proof that one of the police officers planted a marijuana cigarette in Mr. Kuyateh’s car. The officer and the Police Department deny the allegation.

      It is not unusual for defendants to accuse the police of planting drugs, but rarely does evidence exist to support the accusation. In this case, however, the footage provides ground for heightened suspicion.

    • Immigration Changes A Society — And, Let’s Be Honest, Sometimes In Negative Ways

      Mobs of violent fanatics are calling for her death, and she needs asylum elsewhere. But there’s a problem.

    • Calif. Man Pleads Guilty in Fatal Swatting Case, Faces 20+ Years in Prison

      Many readers following this story over the past year have commented here that the officer who fired the shot which killed Andrew Finch should also face prosecution. However, the district attorney for the county that encompasses Wichita decided in April that the officer will not face charges, and will not be named because he isn’t being charged with a crime.

    • Saudi Arabia: 10 things you need to know about a kingdom of cruelty

      2 – Relentless crackdown on peaceful activists, journalists, and academics

      Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power, many outspoken activists have been arrested or sentenced to lengthy prison terms simply for exercising peacefully their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The authorities have targeted the small but vocal community of human rights defenders, including by using anti-terrorism and anti-cyber crime laws to suppress their peaceful activism in exposing and addressing human rights violations.

    • An Ode to Chomsky

      Dumb brutes—even the intelligent ones, like (presumably) Brett Kavanaugh, are still just dumb brutes—and they’re popular and powerful. Humans are but apes, after all, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, when I’m feeling down about the species that’s how I cheer myself up: how astonishing it is that great apes have achieved what humanity has! We should be amazed by our talents, not by our amoral mediocrity, since what would you expect from a hairless ape except mediocrity?

      But I’m not finished with the mediocrity yet. A few days ago I was in a car that grazed the door-handle of another car as it pulled out of a parking spot. We stopped to make sure there was no damage to either, and were about to leave when out of the other vehicle, originally hidden by tinted windows, stepped a gorilla of a man livid with murder in his eyes. “You bumped my car!” We apologized profusely and pointed out there wasn’t a scratch anywhere. No matter. He was inconsolable. So we left, lamenting that such creatures as this gorilla existed—by the millions.

    • Race Regimes

      In Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, James Q. Whitman compares the two nations’ jurisprudence and politics in the birth of the infamous anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws (Princeton University Press, 2017). In sum, German fascism took inspiration from stateside policies and practices.

      In it, the author unpacks similar features of German laws to identify and exclude Jews in the first half of the 1930s with Jim Crow laws restricting African Americans from white society in the US. Ruling class divide and rule is not the half of this “unpleasant truth.”

      The American example of maltreating nonwhites, from blacks to Natives, immigrant Chinese, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans, played a central role in the Germany of the mid-1930s, not part of the US narrative in and of the school system. Whitman aims to change that oversight, a slow slog, to be sure.

      “My purpose is to chronicle this neglected history of Nazi efforts to mine American race law for inspiration during the making of the Nuremberg Laws,” he writes “and to ask what it tells us about Nazi Germany, about the modern history of racism, and especially about America.” The racialized presidency of Donald Trump, who claims America’s brown people such as Mexicans and Muslims are those whom whites must fear and fight is proof of that.

    • Brian Mier on Brazil’s Election and What Comes Next

      This week on CounterSpin: Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro has said he supports dictatorship and torture, that religious and ethnic “minorities must fit in or simply disappear,” that his political opponents should “leave or go to jail,” that the only problem with Brazil’s military dictatorship is it didn’t kill enough people, police should have “carte blanche” to kill who they like, and that he’d rather his own son be dead than gay. The analysis offered by a Washington Post headline, then, that “Bolsonaro’s Victory May Mean Further Shifts in Tolerance and Moderation” might seem like a bad joke, were it not that such pieces are all some US media consumers may encounter.

    • China’s hidden camps

      China is accused of locking up hundreds of thousands of Muslims without trial in its western region of Xinjiang.

      The government denies the claims, saying people willingly attend special “vocational schools” which combat “terrorism and religious extremism”.

      Now a BBC investigation has found important new evidence of the reality.

      On 12 July 2015 a satellite swung over the rolling deserts and oasis cities of China’s vast far west.

      One of the images it captured that day just shows a patch of empty, untouched, ashen-grey sand.

      It seems an unlikely place to start an investigation into one of the most pressing human rights concerns of our age.

      But less than three years later, on 22 April 2018, a satellite photo of that same piece of desert showed something new.

      A massive, highly secure compound had materialised.

      It is enclosed with a 2km-long exterior wall punctuated by 16 guard towers.

    • The Past and Present Partisanship of Birthright Citizenship

      President Trump’s threat to end birthright citizenship with the stroke of his executive pen has triggered a new fight over the nation’s past. After the Civil War, Congress created the 14th Amendment, and with it, birthright citizenship to protect freed slaves from Southern laws designed to usurp their newly gained liberty. Now, Trump argues that the 14th Amendment’s protective citizenship clause does not apply to undocumented immigrants.

      Trump’s reinterpretation of history is not surprising: It reflects a larger tendency among US conservatives to narrowly construe the past and scope of US identity. “Culture warriors” – from Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh in the 1990s, to Sean Hannity and President Trump today – defend partisan political values by crafting a simple version of US history. When the nation’s narrative is one of continual freedom and minimal issues, contemporary change is unnecessary. The birthright citizenship tactic is merely the most recent example of this political strategy, where the “culture wars” transform into the right’s “history wars.”

      Ironically, the story behind birthright citizenship challenges conservative narratives of unbroken universal freedom and longstanding equality. In 1995, Newt Gingrich posited in his book, To Renew America, that, “from the arrival of English-speaking colonists in 1607 until 1965, there was one continuous civilization built around a set of commonly accepted legal and cultural principles. … Since 1965, however, there has been a calculated effort by cultural elites to discredit this civilization and replace it with a culture of irresponsibility.”

    • Trump and the USMCA: From Free Trade to Gassing Migrants

      Last weekend, US Border Patrol agents used tear gas against hundreds of migrants protesting on the Mexican side of the border with the United States. The men, women and children who were gassed were part of the six thousand asylum seekers who fled violence and poverty in Central America by forming a caravan that has now reached the US border. In a related event, the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada will sign the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at the G20 summit in Argentina this weekend. The two events are related because the migrants who were gassed at the border are economic refugees who illustrate a major contradiction in these supposed free trade agreements. In order to facilitate ‘free trade’ these agreements violate one of the basic tenets of the ‘free market’: the free movement of labor. Given this reality, the USMCA could be more accurately named the United States Migrant Control Agreement (USMCA).

      Like all neoliberal free trade agreements, the USMCA has little to do with free trade and everything to do with facilitating profit generation for multinational corporations. They allow corporations to freely move their capital, profits, raw materials and finished goods across borders, but the one commodity that does not have freedom of movement is labor. Workers are commodities under capitalism, as any economist will acknowledge. Consequently, restricting the free movement of one specific commodity (i.e. workers) to cross borders violates a basic tenet of the free market. But restricting the free movement of workers is essential for boosting corporate profits—and, in addition to signing the USMCA, President Trump has sought to restrict such movement by threatening to build a wall, deploying troops to the border, and using tear gas against migrant job seekers on Mexican soil.

      By not allowing the free movement of workers across borders, the USMCA, like the currently existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), ensures that corporations can exploit low-wage labor. Under NAFTA, an automobile manufacturer can close down an assembly plant in Detroit and lay-off thousands of workers who were earning $30 an hour and open up a factory in Mexico where wages are only $2 an hour. And while the Trump administration’s token protectionist policies, including aspects of the USMCA, claim to address this issue, in actuality they do nothing to remove the ultimate trade barrier that exists in all free trade agreements: restricting the free movement of labor.

    • Terror at the Border: Experts Condemn the Tear-Gassing of Children

      On Sunday, US border officers fired tear gas at groups of asylum seekers attempting to reach the US border. Images of mothers and small children fleeing the gas drew widespread outrage from politicians and human rights groups.

      Wind carried the gas a kilometer away, impacting many individuals not attempting to reach the US border.

      As a result of the tear gas, one woman collapsed unconscious, a baby fainted, with many others were screaming and coughing, and a child with Down syndrome was among those affected by the gas.

      “I felt that my face was burning,” said Cindy Milla, a Honduran woman. “I ran for my life and that of my children.”

      But on Tuesday, President Trump defended the use of tear gas, claiming the tear gas used was “very safe”.

      Experts contacted by the author strongly disputed Trump’s assurances and called the tear-gassing of children illegal and potentially deadly.

      “Tear gas should never, in my opinion, be used on children,” said Dr. Alastair Hay, Professor of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Leeds. “The stinging of the eyes and coughing fits that the tear gases cause will terrify any child.”

    • Capitalism, Empire, and the Infernal Gloom Machine

      Depression is built into this machine and the evidence is plastered on the morose faces of people caught in the clutches of its business as usual activities. Depression is found in the insurmountable debts we owe for spending a lifetime of preparation and labor to serve the machine. In addition to debt, the machine awards us for our servitude with trinkets, gadgets, doodads and gizmos that provide a moment of hollow amusement and then sit on shelves in garages and decay. They represent the planned obsolescence of the human heart. The sacrifice paid for our fetish with materialism is the actual quality of our lives.

      The gloom machine tells us the quality of our lives is defined by the machine in the driveway, and the machine that flushes away our excrement, and the machine that chills the tortured slaughtered animal flesh for later consumption, and the machine that flashes pornographic images and supplies numbers detailing how much we are liked by our so called friends. But to us humans it seems that quality of life is more appropriately measured in the amount of disposable time we have to pursue that which what we want, and the quality of the community around us, and living without being chronically stressed with threats of being displaced from the land upon which we live for not working hard enough for the machine.

      Depression is waking up at 6 in the morning in darkness to sit in traffic for an hour to arrive at a job that we don’t want to be at, only to serve the machinations of people with nothing but greed in their overstuffed bellies. And we go to these jobs so that we can pay rents that are unaffordable, and to service debt we’ll never escape, and we go home in darkness to our lonely lives in places where community is absent with a view of an equally lonely tree or a manmade retention pond which is an upgrade over the view of staring directly at your neighbor’s domicile. Depression is the realization there is no vacation on the horizon, no respite, just more of the same. Depression is knowing that such a life is better than many others have it.

    • Can Facebook be forced to comply with privacy laws?

      Facebook is accused of undermining democratic institutions, but its CEO fails to face up to MPs at a hearing in London.

    • In Major Threat to Due Process, Marsy’s Law Gains Ground Nationwide

      Alongside the major criminal justice reform headlines that came out of the midterm elections, a quieter trend also gained momentum through the ballot box: a budding, national threat to due process and the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

      On Nov. 6, six states adopted, through ballot initiatives, what is known as “Marsy’s Law,” which enshrines a specific set of legal rights for victims of any crime — violent and non-violent — in state constitutions. Broadly speaking, providing rights to crime victims, such as notification if a defendant escapes custody, is a positive concept that we strongly support. But what the $71.8 million worth of ads and publicity for the six ballot measures didn’t mention is that Marsy’s Law directly targets defendants’ rights, including a bedrock of our criminal justice system – the presumption of innocence.

      The Marsy’s Law campaign is the work of entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Nicholas, whose sister, Marsalee Nicholas, was murdered in 1983 and whose family was confronted by the person accused of the crime while he was out on bail. Nicholas sought to prevent victims’ families from having to endure similar experiences.

      Marsy’s Law, however, goes far beyond increasing notification to crime victims. The campaign claims it is striving to make victims’ rights “equal” to defendants’ rights under as many state constitutions as possible and eventually the U.S. Constitution. But comparing victims’ rights to defendants’ rights is a dangerous false equivalency.

    • Supreme Court Appears Inclined To Apply The Eighth Amendment To Civil Asset Forfeiture

      The Supreme Court heard oral arguments recently in a case that may result in some involuntary reforms to state civil asset forfeiture laws. The case involves Tyson Timbs, an Indiana resident who had his $42,000 Land Rover seized by law enforcement after selling $260 worth of heroin to undercover cops.

      Despite securing a conviction, law enforcement chose to forfeit Timbs’ vehicle in civil court. This may have been to keep Timbs from challenging the seizure as excessive, given the crime he was charged with maxxed out at a $10,000 fine. This is how Timbs is challenging this forfeiture, however. That’s how this case has ended up in the top court in the land.

      A lower court in Indiana found in his favor, finding the seizure to be a violation of Timbs’ Eighth Amendment protections against excessive fines. The state’s top court overturned this ruling, prompting the appeal to the US Supreme Court. The state argues the Eighth Amendment’s protections do not apply to civil asset forfeiture. This is a curious position, because it’s basically stating Indiana’s government gets to pick and choose what guaranteed rights its residents have access to.

      From the oral arguments [PDF], it sounds like the court is going to rule in Timbs’ favor and find that these Eighth Amendment protections apply to state-level forfeitures — civil or criminal. The state’s Solicitor General, Thomas Fisher, failed to impress the court at almost every turn.

    • The Long Path Toward Justice: Dallas Cop (White) Finally Charged With Murdering Innocent Man (Black) In His Own Damn Apartment

      After almost three months, the election of a new D.A., a police smear of the victim and a shifting but persistently implausible version of events by the shooter, a grand jury has indicted Amber Guyger, 30, for the murder in September of Botham Jean, 26, as he sat in his apartment watching a football game. A now-former white Dallas cop with a reportedly sketchy past – after the killing, she deleted racist, violent social media posts – Guyger told investigators she returned home that night after her shift, mistook Jean’s apartment for her own a floor below, and opened fire at what she thought was an intruder.

      Lawyers, neighbors and relatives of Jean, a black native of St. Lucia who worked at an accounting firm, have challenged many details of Guyger’s story – electronic key, unlocked door, red mat at Jean’s door – even as protests followed the shooting of yet another black man by police with a troubling history of racial abuse. Police didn’t help matters by trying to smear the well-liked Botham, who was admired for his singing at church, by sleazily reporting some pot was found in his apartment, but failing to release Jean’s autopsy report, Guyger’s 911 call or her policing record.

      Many in the community were also angered when, a few days after the shooting, Guyger was arrested on a mere manslaughter charge brought by D.A. Faith Johnson, a black Republican, and quickly released on bail. That anger trailed Johnson into the mid-terms: She lost by 20 points to incoming Democratic D.A. John Creuzot, who agreed with many attorneys that Guyger should be charged with murder. A Dallas County grand jury concurred on Friday, when Guyger turned herself in, and was again quickly freed on bail.

    • Not So Black & White: NYT Touts Rural Voters, Buries Racism in Mississippi Election Analysis

      Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: During a high-profile election, a major newspaper decides to stubbornly focus its coverage on an increasingly narrow sliver of white voters, while minimizing the racism that colors the electorate and the eventual Republican victor’s campaign.

      If this sounds like a repeat of the mainstream press’s response to Trump’s 2016 campaign, well, it is. But such was the case for the New York Times’ coverage of the Mississippi Senate election this past week.

      On the weekend before Election Day, the Times’ Jonathan Martin (11/24/18) wrote a long campaign dispatch from Mississippi that trafficked in the paper’s ongoing obsession with this constituency. The article’s not-so-subtle title: “Across South, Democrats Who Speak Boldly Risk Alienating Rural White Voters.”

      In his first paragraph, Martin did mention the ugly, chilling comment in early November when Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith said of a political supporter: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” And he said it “evoked the state’s racist history.”

      But after that brief aside, Martin focused his narrative energies elsewhere, devoting long stretches to decrying the “conundrum” of rural white voters having abandoned the Democrats in the most recent midterm elections. The party’s massive turnout and popular vote margin in House elections from just three weeks earlier—the most lopsided in terms of total votes won since the Watergate era—along with its 40-seat net gain, were relegated to mere afterthoughts, as Martin instead chose to zero in on how the party’s “already weak standing in rural America erode[d] even further.”

    • Exec Who Had Sealed US Court Docs Seized By UK Parliament Suggests UK Journalist Tipped Off Parliament

      So, earlier this week we wrote about some highly questionable activities by UK Member of Parliament Damian Collins who used an almost-never-used provision of the law to force a visiting tech exec to hand over documents in a US lawsuit that had been sealed by the court. Those documents were then used to put on a bizarre show trial in which Collins proceeded to drop a bombshell, via the seized documents, suggesting that Facebook had known about Russian abuse of its API. That “bombshell” fizzled into nothing when it came out that the rest of the email thread revealed… that someone jumped the gun, and it wasn’t Russians, it wasn’t 3 billion piece of data, and the API wasn’t being abused. Oops.

      This story continues to get more bizarre with the latest redaction failure in one of the sealed documents revealing some of the details that the company, Six4Three — makers of a pervy app to let you scan Facebook for pics of women in bikinis — was claiming proved that Facebook was engaged in anticompetitive practices when it changed the way its API worked.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • How a phone app detected Sprint’s alleged throttling of Skype

      Northeastern University researchers led by computer science professor David Choffnes recently determined that Sprint was throttling Skype. Their finding was based on an analysis of user-initiated tests conducted with Wehe, an app for Android and iPhone that the researchers developed to detect throttling. About one-third of the tests detected Sprint’s throttling of Skype, Choffnes said.

      If the findings are correct, Sprint would be violating a Federal Communications Commission rule requiring Internet providers to disclose throttling. Even though the FCC no longer bans throttling itself, the agency requires ISPs to publicly disclose any blocking, throttling, or paid prioritization.

    • Pollster says people don’t realize how much time they spend on internet
    • Senators Continue To Point Out Our Broadband Maps Suck

      For a country that likes to talk about “being number one” a lot, that’s sure not reflected in the United States’ broadband networks, or the broadband maps we use to determine which areas lack adequate broadband or commpetition (resulting in high prices and poor service). Our terrible broadband maps are of course a feature not a bug; ISPs have routinely lobbied to kill any efforts to improve data collection and analysis, lest somebody actually realize the telecom market is a broken mono/duopoly whose dysfunction reaches into every aspect of tech.

      If you want to see our terrible broadband maps at work, you need only go visit the FCC’s $300+ million broadband availability map, which is based on the Form 477 data collected from ISPs. If you plug in your address, you’ll find that not only does the FCC not include prices (at industry behest), the map hallucinates speed and ISP availability at most U.S. addresses. Part of the problem is that the FCC declares an entire region “served” with broadband if just one home in a census tract has service. Again, ISPs fight efforts to reform this in a bid to protect the status quo.

      Only when states are jockeying for broadband subsidies is this problem even brought up in DC, so as states vie for $4.7 million in wireless broadband subsidies via the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase II, the problem has been seeing renewed attention.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Hoping to defend the iPhone against Qualcomm, chip designer waited for almost 12 hours on hard wooden seat at Munich courthouse

      Litigation is a hardass business, as I’m sure none of this blog’s informed readers would deny. At the Munich I Regional Court (“Landgericht München I”), one of Europe’s patent powerhouses, that’s also literally true. Should the court ever adopt the German custom of naming benches after real persons (you can see the little name plates in many parks), I propose the following seating area right outside of courtroom 501 be named after a certain Mr. Mike Kay since he spent almost 12 hours waiting there on November 8, unfortunately in vain, for an opportunity to testify in a Qualcomm v. Apple patent infringement trial…

      [...]

      What’s more important is that the defending alliance (Apple-Intel-Qorvo) brought him along to the November 8 trial without the court having put him on the official witness list. There was no formal discovery order in place. German courts can, in their discretion, depose a witness who happens to be around voluntarily. Presiding Judge Dr. Matthias Zigann didn’t exercise his discretion to that effect, but he’s not responsible for rewarding perseverance. He could, however, still do so in a decision currently scheduled to be announced on December 20, provided that the three-judge panels he presides over will conclude that it’s necessary in order to arrive at a well-founded, factually correct judgment. One of the things that may give the judges pause is the fact that an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC), with the benefit of Mike Kay’s testimony and access to the schematics of the accused circuitry, concluded that Qorvo’s chipset architecture does not infringe a claim of a U.S. patent from the same Qualcomm patent family.

      I spend most of my time on things unrelated to this blog and the topics it covers, and that was also the case on the trial date. However, when the story of “Mike’s ordeal” made the rounds in the IP community, I tried to find out more. A spokeswoman for the court pointed out that Mr. Kay was not on the court’s witness list for that particular trial date. Apple declined to comment; Qualcomm’s great PR agency (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) was quick to respond, but didn’t elaborate beyond correcting a factual error (regarding a technical aspect of the case) in a news agency article. So I reached out to Intel, who reacted the way Apple did, and Qorvo. I very much appreciate the competence and the patience with which Qorvo’s Chief IP Counsel Michael Baker, who had attended the trial, answered my questions. I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to Mike Kay, but got all the information I needed.


    • Judging Patents by their Rejection Use

      The essay is a short, easy read, and I recommend it. They examine nearly 700,000 patents used in anticipation and obviousness rejections and find that not all patent citations are equal, and that those citations that were used in a rejection have additional ability to explain value, even when other predictors, such as forward citations and examiner citations are included in the model. The only value measure that had no statistically significant relationship to rejection patents was use in litigation (even though forward citations did). This may say something about the types of patents that are litigated or about the role of rejection patents in litigation.

    • CBD Biennial Meeting Closes With Resolutions On Digital Sequence Data, Conflicts Of Interest, Global Benefit-Sharing [Ed: They're not "genetic resources" but nature; this is about raiders and pirates who try to privatise life itself by 'editing' it]

      The biennial meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity and its protocol on access and benefit-sharing closed yesterday with a list of adopted decisions. Among them was a decision to commission several studies on the impact of digital sequence data on the CBD for a recommendation at the next meeting in 2020. Delegates also agreed on a study to examine cases of genetic resources, and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, not yet covered by the protocol. Also adopted is the first decision on the management and prevention of conflicts of interest in expert groups.

    • Deer Genes Identified in Antler Production

      Growth is one of the defining properties of being biologically alive, and the biology of growth involves both cellular proliferation and differentiation from stem cells to one or a plurality of differentiated cells making up a bodily tissue. Examples range from regeneration of an arm in starfish (and in the related sea cucumber, the ability to propel its gastrointestinal tract to distract a predator) through phylogeny to the capacity of human liver to regrow after resection. Even normal development involves production of new tissues, and in some species both aspects of this biological phenomenon can be appreciated. For example, deer grow and regrow antlers, which can account for 28% of the animal’s body weight, and their regrowth rates are so rapid that deer can produce 10 kg or more over 2-3 months. Deer antlers and human bone, while showing very different growth rates (2 cm/day for deer antler, 2 cm/yr for femoral growth during puberty) and other features have in common intramembranous and endochondrial modes of ossification, and this similarity prompted a research group* to undertake a study comparing the pattern of expressed genes in deer antlers and human bone. The results of this study, entitled “Identifying deer antler uhrf1 proliferation and s100a10 mineralization genes using comparative RNA-seq,” were published on October 31 in Stem Cell Research and Therapy.

    • Indivior Inc. v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, S.A. (Fed. Cir. 2018)

      Judge Newman saw nothing improper in the amendments to the claims that ultimately granted as the ’305 patent, replacing “dried” and “drying” with “continuously” and “continuously cast.” To her, these amendments broadened the scope of the claim so as not to be limited to any particular film-casting (or drying) method.

      Finally, Judge Newman disagreed with the majority on the issue of claim preclusion. Citing precedent, she contended that it is improper to infer an admission from an applicant filing a terminal disclaimer; see, Ventana Medical Systems, Inc. v. Biogenex Laboratories, Inc., 473 F.3d 1173, 1184 n.4 (Fed. Cir. 2006). Moreover, the status of the Delaware District Court’s decision (being on appeal), raises the specter of the Court deciding Indivior’s suit should be dismissed on issue preclusion grounds over a decision that might itself be overturned, citing Butler v. Eaton, 141 U.S. 240, 242–44 (1891), Levi Strauss & Co. v. Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co., 719 F.3d 1367, 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2013), and 18A Charles A. Wright, et al., Federal Practice and Procedure § 4433 (2d ed. 2002).

    • Minimum Contacts for Declaratory Judgment Jurisdiction

      This is a fairly simple case case. Maxchief filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit against patentee Wok in E.D.Tennessee. The case was dismissed though because Wok&Pan lacked sufficient minimum contacts with the state of Tennessee under Int’l Shoe.

    • Trademarks

      • Schlafly Wins and Loses at Federal Circuit — You may Register a Distinctive Surname

        Thomas Schlafly started the St. Louis Brewery and began selling SCHLAFLY beer in 1991. When the company finally got around to registering the mark in 2011, some of his relatives opposed the registration. Thomas’s aunt, Phyllis Schlafly (now deceased) and her son Bruce Schlafly both filed oppositions. Andrew Schlafly (another son of Phyllis) was the lawyer for her case.

        [...]

        In the opposition proceedings, the TTAB sided with St. Louis Brewery — finding that the mark had acquired distinctiveness and that there was no evidence of “market proximity” between the beer and Schlafly’s political work. Of importance, Section 2(e)(4) of the Lanham Act prohibts registration of a mark that “is primarily merely a surname.”

    • Copyrights

      • WIPO Draft Broadcasting Treaty: NGO Views On What To Keep, What To Change

        The World Intellectual Property Organization draft treaty for the protection of broadcasting organisations was the focus not only of informal meetings among delegates this week, but also outside the negotiating room. On 27 November, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) provided committee participants the impressions of five speakers keen on the topic, each with a different point of view underlining things they feel have to be improved to get to an effective treaty.

      • WIPO Copyright Committee Closing Chair’s Text Shows Way Forward On Broadcasting Treaty, Exceptions, Resale Right

        The World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights concluded its work in a weeklong meeting early today, a rare occurrence, after agreeing on ways forward for a draft treaty on broadcasting, limitations and exceptions for a range of groups such as libraries and educational institutions, and additional topics such as creation of a task force on artists’ resale royalty rights, and upcoming regional meetings. The final chair’s text below shows the details.

      • Yes, the EU’s New #CopyrightDirective is All About Filters

        When the EU started planning its new Copyright Directive (the “Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive”), a group of powerful entertainment industry lobbyists pushed a terrible idea: a mandate that all online platforms would have to create crowdsourced databases of “copyrighted materials” and then block users from posting anything that matched the contents of those databases.

        At the time, we, along with academics and technologists explained why this would undermine the Internet, even as it would prove unworkable. The filters would be incredibly expensive to create, would erroneously block whole libraries’ worth of legitimate materials, allow libraries’ more worth of infringing materials to slip through, and would not be capable of sorting out “fair dealing” uses of copyrighted works from infringing ones.

        The Commission nonetheless included it in their original draft. Two years later, after the European Parliament went back and forth on whether to keep the loosely-described filters, with German MEP Axel Voss finally squeezing a narrow victory in his own committee, and an emergency vote of the whole Parliament. Now, after a lot of politicking and lobbying, Article 13 is potentially only a few weeks away from becoming officially an EU directive, controlling the internet access of more than 500,000,000 Europeans.

EPO Management High-Fiving Patent Propaganda Sites Like ‘Managing IP’ While Granting Illegitimate Patents on Algorithms

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A muscle car

Summary: Having mastered the art of hype and buzzwords, the management of the EPO carries on pretending that it does nothing wrong by rubber-stamping abstract patents on mathematics

THE software patents promotion by the European Patent Office (EPO) under António Campinos is no laughing matter; it almost guarantees the demise of Europe’s flourishing software industry (which involves many lesser-known systems that corporate media in America rarely covers, e.g. SCADA).

Europe’s car industry is also noteworthy, especially because of Germany’s dependence on it. We recently covered cases of patent lawsuits against German car-makers; some of these are software patents. “Self-Driving” as the EPO puts it means mostly computer vision, i.e. algorithms/mathematical methods; these are illegitimate patents. Why does the EPO violate the EPC which is its founding document?

Just before the weekend the EPO uttered these words: “Europe and the US have a strong lead in self-driving vehicle innovation with about 1 400 European patent applications each in 2017 alone. See how other regions performed here: http://bit.ly/SDVstudy #SelfDriving #FutureOfCars pic.twitter.com/isyFESqbKL”

They make it look like bingo or some kind of competition; but what they actually enumerate there boils down to monopolies. How many of these are legitimate? What proportion? It’s hard to tell because very few will be tested in court in their lifetime as patents.

The patent maximalists couldn’t be happier about the above. As we mentioned here before (only a few days ago), Managing IP is throwing petals at António’s feet (as it did his appointer, Battistelli, before him). The EPO has just retweeted this: “Most influential people in IP: António Campinos, EPO http://www.managingip.com/Article/3846046/Managing-Patents-Archive/Most-influential-people-in-IP-Antnio-Campinos-EPO.html … António Campinos has so far succeeded in improving relations in the upper echelons of the @EPOorg since taking over as president in July. #MIP50 pic.twitter.com/2OF7kVlaLl”

This tweet is a lie. It’s whitewashing. Ask EPO workers if he is “improving relations”; he’s not. He certainly pretends to, but it isn’t working anymore. The impatience has turned into sourness.

As if the above retweet wasn’t enough, the EPO added: “. @ManagingIP has named EPO President António Campinos one of the most influential people in IP. “António Campinos has so far succeeded in improving relations in the upper echelons of the EPO since taking over as president in July.” Read more: https://bit.ly/2QpIQ17 #MIP50″

Remember this is the same Managing IP that repeatedly whitewashed Battistelli and promoted the UPC with the EPO. It’s hardly an independent publisher and it shows. It has long been a propaganda platform of the EPO and the UPC (check who funds it) and it seems like quite a few writers have resigned (we no longer see their names). Moreover, as I pointed out to them in Twitter, “António Campinos just got his job from his French compatriot and friend, corrupt Battistelli…”

The very name of the site gives it away; they call patents “property” (which they're not) and another person to be crowned by them just now is a Watchtroll-connected lobbyist who supported patent trolls too (i.e. just the cup of tea of Managing IP‘s sponsors). In their own words: “Most influential people in IP: Manny Schecter, IBM http://www.managingip.com/Article/3846050/Managing-Patents-Archive/Most-influential-people-in-IP-Manny-Schecter-IBM.html … @IBM’s chief patent counsel tells Managing IP about holding onto the number one patent filing spot in the US, his concerns about Section 101 and his passion for IP education. #MIP50 pic.twitter.com/N9TLJkwmSi

They mean patent indoctrination (maximalism), not “IP education”, and he’s a vocal proponent of software patents, which his employer uses extensively for extortion, having been armed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). He habitually attacks Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) because they get in IBM’s way (with blackmail).

Going back to the EPO, however, D Young & Co LLP wrote about “Allowed text at the EPO” and R. K. Dewan & Co in India takes note of the EPO illegally granting software patents by exploiting the buzzword “AI” — a strategy we’ve long criticised. To quote:

Science and Technology have been unfolding new eras of growth. With each new ground breaking invention, there arises the need to protect the intellect invested in the innovations. However, granting protection can indeed be very challenging keeping in mind the high standards of pre-requisites for granting of Patents.

Recently, the European Patent Office (EPO) issued certain guidelines for patentability of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). The guidelines state that AI & ML are based on computational models and algorithms for classification, clustering, regression and dimensionality reduction, such as neural networks, genetic algorithms, support vector machines, k-means, kernel regression and discriminant analysis. The guidelines state that such computational models and algorithms are per se of an “abstract mathematical nature”, irrespective of whether they can be “trained” based on training data. The guideline focusses on mathematical algorithms to have a technical character. It states that at the time of examining, the claimed subject-matter must be examined with expressions such as “support vector machine”, “reasoning engine” or “neural network”, since these terms usually refer to abstract models which are devoid of a technical character.

I’ve personally implemented some of the above; they’re pure software and are thus patent-ineligible as per the EPC, courts etc. No doubt the EPO, supported by the media it got by the pocket (or the balls), will carry on lying about it.

“ILO Gave the EPO Medical Committee a Good Slapping”

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 6:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guy Ryder
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO

Summary: The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation quits ILO (or its jurisdiction), whose tribunal has just released very few new decisions, only one of which regarding the EPO

SEVERAL days ago ILO’s tribunal (the Administrative Tribunal) issued a ruling on the European Patent Organisation (EPO). We had heard some speculations and quick/shallow analyses, but we preferred to refrain from commenting (maybe SUEPO will remark on this soon). It’s hard to guess based on the outcome alone because behind each case/appeal there may be years’ worth of ordeals (stories of one’s life/career). We don’t want to remark on cases we don’t fully understand.

“I see the ILO gave the EPO Medical Committee a good slapping,” one reader noted, adding that “[i]n the 127th ILO session, there was only one EPO case.”

“It’s hard to guess based on the outcome alone because behind each case/appeal there may be years’ worth of ordeals (stories of one’s life/career).”That’s all? Just one? To be fair, there are only 3 decisions in total. There may be something mysterious going on and insiders notice. To quote ILO: “During its 334th Session (Geneva, 25 October-8 November 2018) the Governing Body of the International Labour Office took note of the intention of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) to discontinue its recognition of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction and confirmed that the CTA will no longer be subject to the competence of the Tribunal with effect from 30 October 2018, except as regards the complaint currently pending before the Tribunal.”

Are they noticing ILO's incompetence?

Here is a selective quote from the EPO decision, cherry-picked by the above reader: “In the present case, as noted earlier, the members of the Medical Committee were divided in their opinion before the experts were consulted. Dr S. and Dr B. were of the opinion that the complainant’s invalidity was of an occupational origin. After the experts delivered their report, Dr S. indicated that he had changed his mind. His altered opinion was contrary to the opinion of the experts. However, in his writings before the medical opinion was acted on, and in the opinion itself, he did not refer to the experts’ report. The Tribunal infers that Dr S. did not, at a minimum, give earnest and substantial consideration to the views of the experts before the issuing of the medical opinion, as he should have and, necessarily, did not provide cogent and compelling reasons for rejecting their views. In this respect, he failed to perform his duties as a member of the Medical Committee. Similarly, Dr K. did not provide cogent and compelling reasons before the medical opinion was issued, or in the opinion, for rejecting the views of the experts, in breach of his duty as a member of the Medical Committee.”

We already know that the corrupt EPO management makes people ill, then lies about it. Even the tribunal can see that. We can guess who the above doctors are based on the initials alone; we already named some of them in the past.

Here is the official page for the 127th session and the English language PDF of the above decision [PDF] (there’s also French [PDF]). The links to the French version are all broken at the moment (from multiple anchor pages); how hard can it be to test the links in just three newly-issued decisions?

Science Minister Sam Gyimah, Who Tactlessly Ratified UPC in the UK, Has Just Resigned

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Margot Fröhlinger for UPC

Summary: The collapse of the UPC/A (Unified Patent Court Agreement) continues as expected; Gyimah is the third British politician in just two years to deal with the UPC and then resign

THINGS could not get any worse for British Team UPC, which sees this 3rd departure in just 2 years! (after Jo Johnson and Lucy)

Unlike the European Patent Office (EPO), Team UPC is still trying to lie its way into UPC ratification. If one was to believe them, UPC would have started in 2015 or 2016; it’s almost 2019 and still no UPC. Why? Because they’re liars. They lied to politicians, hoping they would deem it an “inevitability” and sign off profoundly unconstitutional documents.

The departure of Sam Gyimah is all over the news today (this morning). The BBC has just mentioned it, as did Politico. So a bad politician who helped Team UPC is officially resigning. Good.

“The departure of Sam Gyimah is all over the news today (this morning).”Only days ago a propaganda apparatus of patent maximalists and Team UPC had some sobering words to share and just before the weekend we saw even Kevin Mooney cooling things down. “Germany will not ratify the UPC Agreement if major uncertainty about the UK’s participation remains,” it says, “according to Kevin Mooney, chairperson of the rules and procedure committee of the UPC and @SimmonsLLP partner…” (as Team UPC as one can get)

So even the most overzealous Team UPC people come to accept that UPC may have already died. From the corresponding article: “Germany will not ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement if major uncertainty about the UK’s participation remains, according to Kevin Mooney, chairperson of the rules and procedure committee of the UPC. During a speech at the Life Science IP conference in London, Mooney warned that creating the court will require a lot of capital, which each member will have to bring in themselves. He said that Germany may not want to part with money if what it believes to be a key member is not part of the court.”

“They’ll be limited by the restrictions imposed by national courts (not CJEU), which cannot be bypassed by some EPO-connected kangaroo court that doesn’t speak the language of defendants.”With Sam Gyimah’s resignation it couldn’t look any worse; after all, it was him who did a publicity stunt for “IP” [sic] Day, announcing a bizarre ratification when there was absolutely no legal basis for it.

Speaking of Team UPC, a major propagandist of it has just tweeted: “Thank you #GRUR & @JIPLP for an excellent seminar yday on the EU approach to #SEPs. @4iPcouncil Chair, Claudia Tapia, covered our work tracking cases post CJEU ruling Huawei v ZTE.”

So here we have Team UPC openly admitting and showing what it stands for: a tax on everything. Thankfully they will never see the UPC. They’ll be limited by the restrictions imposed by national courts (not CJEU), which cannot be bypassed by some EPO-connected kangaroo court that doesn’t speak the language of defendants.

Patent Offices Reward Microsoft for Corruption

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No-OOXML

Summary: The EPO and Britain’s UKIPO join the USPTO in making Microsoft’s proprietary format the ‘standard’ in filing; this merely perpetuates the negative publicity associated with patent offices

THIS IS not an unfamiliar topic. A decade ago (or more) we wrote hundreds of articles about Microsoft’s OOXML-related abuses. Corrupt European Patent Office (EPO) officials now help the abusers from Microsoft by advancing their fake ‘standard’ that they bribed and corrupted ISO for. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does too, but the latter is based in the US (where Microsoft is based, unlike ISO, which is Europe-centric).

“We suppose they’re perfectly OK being agents of Microsoft, rewarding the company for its corruption instead of embracing open standards anyone can use (not just clients of Microsoft).”As IP Kat put it two days ago: “The EPO and UKIPO are teaming up to make online filing easier to understand. In the EPO and UKIPO online services workshop you will learn about the EPO’s web-based online filing system and the second phase of the DOCX filing pilot. Witness a live demonstration of Mailbox and hear an overview of best practice interaction with the EPO.”

No ODF pilot? Why not? We suppose they’re perfectly OK being agents of Microsoft, rewarding the company for its corruption instead of embracing open standards anyone can use (not just clients of Microsoft).

Google Keeps Reminding the World That It’s Part of the Patent Menace Rather Than a Solution to That

Posted in Google, Patents at 5:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google is no opponent of software patents, either. It plays an instrumental role in LOT Network.

LOT Network: A WHOLE LOT OF SOFTWARE PATENTS

Summary: Owing to a tip sent by a reader we now have yet more evidence that Google is shameless about taking other people’s ideas and turning them into Google monopolies (patents)

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently rejected/declined a patent award after Google had ripped off Dr. Jarosław Duda (Jarek Duda). We wrote about it several times in recent months. It’s a pretty big deal not just because of the ripoff; it’s a software patent application. Here’s some background:

Writing to us regarding an interactive book from MIT Media Lab, a reader highlighted this new thread (“Google Tried to Patent My Work After a Job Interview”), which “also rises at Reddit,” this reader pointed out in relation to this Reddit thread. Authored by Jie Qi (Berkman Klein Center, MIT Media Lab) is this original post, which refrains from naming Google in the title/headline but makes it perfectly clear who the culprit is:

So we had a call directly with their team. As part of negotiations, they offered to add me as an inventor on the patent application if it meant the application could stand. I said no, because in order for me to be an inventor on they patent they would have to add all the other inventors who have contributed to blending books and electronics—I’m not the only one working on this!

What I didn’t realize at the time is that there’s actually a huge difference between inventor and assignee.

An inventor is the one credited with coming up with the idea for an invention. The assignee actually gets the legal rights to the patent. It’s a bit like how an architect (the “inventor”) may design a house but it’s the home owner (the “assignee”) that gets to live in it, and very often those aren’t the same people. It’s the same situation here: Google ATAP would’ve still owned the patent rights even if I got to be listed as an inventor. Meaning even though I would be on the patent and get credit for the work, I wouldn’t actually get rights to use the invention. Luckily I dodged that one, even though it was by accident!

Next the strange thing was that about a couple weeks into the conversation, Regina left Google ATAP. In the process, she put us directly in touch with ATAP’s senior council, who thankfully agreed to submit all of the prior art we had sent them to the USPTO as prior art for the patent application.

So here they go again at Google, trying to get patents on other people’s ideas. It is perfectly clear, therefore, that Google remains part of the problem. We pointed this out recently in relation to the Google-centric ‘Prior Art Archive’ and prior to that LOT Network [1, 2].

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