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

Posted in America, Patents at 9:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) didn't even disagree

“Let me make my position on the patentability of software clear. I believe that software per se should not be allowed patent protection. […] We take this position because it is the best policy for maintaining a healthy software industry, where innovation can prosper.”

Adobe Systems (old position explained by Douglas Brotz)

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

BEGRUDGINGLY adopting 35 U.S.C. § 101, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) nowadays rejects quite a few applications for software patents. Even before any inter partes review (IPR) gets filed.

Patent maximalists keep hoping that the Federal Circuit will get ‘tired’ of invalidating software patents, but in reality it has gotten even stricter than PTAB, as we’ve been pointing out in recent weeks. There are rarely any exceptions, but when they do happen the patent maximalists will carry on obsessing over them for months. Stephen J. Kontos complains that, in his own words, “[e]ven the PTAB thought this was patent eligible,” before the Federal Circuit:

The Federal Circuit found that a method for increasing computer security is patent eligible under §101. The decision is Ancora Technologies, Inc. v. HTC America, Inc., Appeal No. 2018-1404 (Fed. Cir. 2018).

The patent at issue can be found here. The Federal Circuit treated claim 1 as representative.

The concept has to do with using a modifiable part of the computer’s BIOS to determine whether the program is licensed to run on the computer.


It makes sense. If the PTAB institutes and invalidates the patent, the District Court can dismiss the lawsuit without risk of being overturned at the Federal Circuit.

Anyway, the patent owner appealed to the Federal Circuit, which resulted in the opinion linked above. So maybe the District Court should have given the PTAB’s decision more weight?

We expect this to be brought up again and again in months to come. They’ve already written dozens of articles about this while totally ignoring dozens of cases whose outcome didn’t suit their agenda. Mr. Gross has just taken note of this old IPR nearly a month late and said it proves “once again, that if you can finesse SOME kind of GUI element into your patent claims, you will should be able to overcome 101 rejections at PTAB: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2018004423-11-13-2018-1 …”

The Federal Circuit’s bias on GUI patents is a subject we wrote about a great deal about a year ago and then again months ago in relation to Corel. That was back in October.

Those are, suffice to say, rare exceptions. It is meanwhile being pointed out by Robert Jain that they’re invalidating the patent of a patent troll called Mobility Workx, which is suing in the Eastern District of Texas. The patent has been deemed or “found likely unpatentable” a few days ago:

On December 3, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) instituted trial on all challenged claims in an IPR filed by Unified against U.S. Patent 8,213,417 owned and asserted by Mobility Workx, LLC, an NPE. This decision marks the third time the Board has rejected arguments that Unified’s members are real parties-in-interest since the Federal Circuit addressed RPI in Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX. The ’417 patent, directed to a “system, apparatus, and methods for proactive allocation of wireless communication resources,” has been asserted in the Eastern District of Texas against Verizon and T-Mobile.

These patent trolls are a dying breed. They typically rely on very shallow patents and only courts like the ones in the Eastern District of Texas (that are harder to approach after TC Heartland) facilitate blackmail/income sources. PTAB makes it cheaper to challenge and Unified can further reduce financial burden by fronting for multiple defendants.

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

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 8:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Ingve Björn Stjerna Has Just Warned That If Team UPC and the European Patent Office Rigged the Proceedings of the German Constitutional Court, Consequences Would be Significant

Fair trial

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

THE underlying issues at the European Patent Office (EPO) have not been addressed at all. They just rotated the face, swapping one Frenchman with another, António Campinos. In a 20-year period it's expected that almost 17 years will be French-led at the EPO. How ridiculous is that? A reader of ours calls it "La famiglia".

“It’s almost as though Wingrove just writes whatever Bristows’ main office tells him to write and the headline says “Constitutional Court ruling rumours spread” as if this “spread” somehow means there’s truth to it; for all we can tell, the only ones “spreading” it are propaganda sites like the one Wingrove writes for.”We are well aware that the Constitutional Court in Germany (FCC) is assessing the situation. It isn’t helping that UPC propaganda sites (connected to the EPO and Team UPC) are perpetuating falsehoods. Patrick Wingrove is the latest to do this in a patent propaganda site which keeps spreading false rumours that are baseless and created out of thin air by Team UPC. It’s really bad, but we suppose it says a lot about their journalistic standards. They have none; they just have sponsors and an agenda to sell. “Talk is building of a decision from the German Constitutional Court before year-end,” Wingrove wrote, “the UK House of Lords heard evidence about Brexit’s effect, and the Italian Council of Ministers approved national legislation to adopt the Unitary Patent Regulation and the UPCA…”

What is the source for all this? Team UPC. It’s almost as though Wingrove just writes whatever Bristows’ main office tells him to write and the headline says “Constitutional Court ruling rumours spread” as if this “spread” somehow means there’s truth to it; for all we can tell, the only ones “spreading” it are propaganda sites like the one Wingrove writes for. It’s wishful thinking and lobbying; it’s totally baseless and already refuted by the court.

There are many aspects to the complaint, presumably 4 main ones; one of the concerns is that UPC judges are controlled by (re)appointment policy, leaving them subservient to crooked circles like Battistelli’s. It’s not hard to see what Battistelli thinks of justice and judges. There’s ample documentation of that. It’s almost 2019 and the EPO Boards of Appeal still do not have independence; Campinos has changed nothing after corrupt Battistelli illegally attacked judges (the latest update is rather grim, claiming that Judge Corcoran was admitted into a psychiatric hospital).

Nobody wants to go through what Corcoran experienced, so nowadays the boards may seem spineless and subservient to those it rules on (the Office). Kluwer Patent Blog, which recently mentioned Corcoran’s condition, said yesterday that a “EPO Board of Appeal decides plants can be patentable after all” (ridiculous) and to quote:

Those who thought that the battle on patenting of plants had gotten a final blow by the amendment of the European Patent Convention last year and the approach of the EPO examination following that (see this post), have not counted on the EPO Boards of Appeal.

The discussion on the patentability of plants has a long history within the EPO, which culminated in the amendment of Rules 27 and 28 EPC by the Administrative Council entering into force on 1 July 2017 (see this post). This amendment followed a Notice of the European Commission of 3 November 2016, indicating that the Biotech Directive 98/44 should have been interpreted as that plants obtained by essentially biological processes are not patentable.

There is meanwhile another controversy brewing; Doctors Without Borders have just issued the following statement:

Six organizations appealed today the European Patent Office’s September decision to uphold US pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Science’s patent on the key hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir. The appeal—filed by Médecins du Monde (MdM), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), AIDES (France), Access to Medicines Ireland, Praksis (Greece), and Salud por Derecho (Spain)—states that the European Patent Office (EPO) should revoke Gilead’s patent because it does not meet the requirements to be a patentable invention from a legal or scientific perspective.

The appeal comes exactly five years after sofosbuvir was first approved for use in the US, where Gilead launched the drug at $1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a 12-week treatment course. The corporation has made more than $58 billion from sales of the drug and its combinations in the last five years.

Catherine Saez (Intellectual Property Watch) soon followed with this coverage:

Six organisations, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), today appealed a European Patent Office decision to uphold Gilead Science’s patent on hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir.

In September, the European Patent Office (EPO) upheld Gilead’s patent on sofosbuvir in an amended form (IPW, Public Health, 13 September 2018).

MSF, along with Médecins du Monde (MdM), AIDES (France), Access to Medicines Ireland, Praksis (Greece) and Salud por Derecho (Spain), filed an appeal requesting that the EPO revoke Gilead’s patent. They argue it lacks the patentability requirement “from a legal or scientific perspective,” according to an MSF press release. The filed appeal document was not available at press time.

Intellectual Property Watch has also just published “OECD Report Presents Policies To Balance Innovation With Access To Medicines” and they mean patents rather than innovation (they try to make it synonymous for propaganda’s sake or self-serving purposes). To quote:

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has released a new report that presents policy options for countries to strike a better balance between promoting financial incentives for pharmaceutical innovation and ensuring affordable access to medicines. Finding this balance, the report explains, will be essential for ensuring the sustainability of health systems.

Where have the board been when it comes to stopping abstract patents on mathematics and actually enforcing the EPC? The EPO has just finished an event that promotes software patents in Europe and all that Intellectual Property Watch wrote about it was this puff piece, based on this misleading outline (warning: epo.org link) that the EPO published yesterday. To quote:

The number of blockchain inventions is mushrooming, and the European Patent Office wants to ensure it handles the increasing patent applications consistently, officials said at a 4 December conference that brought together around 350 patent examiners and practitioners.

Only them? Well, the EPO is no longer shy to break the law and to promote software patents provided it uses surrogate names and terms. That’s a problem, but who’s going to stop this when one President controls everything, attacking judges and even turning his boss into his assistant in a few weeks? As some insiders rightly claimed, Campinos now makes himself even more powerful than Battistelli and if the FCC was ever to approve the UPCA, things would go truly mental, giving a corrupt Office power over courts in the whole of Europe.

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

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Diversity at the EPO

EPO diversity

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

“On this lovely picture [above] one discovers EPO’s “best of the best” and in particular,” a reader told us, dubbing it “La famiglia” and adding: “PD HR Elodie Bergot (pink scarf). Right behind her Gilles Requena (henchman of Battistelli and Bergot’s husband), on the right side of the group, the infamous Alexandre Benalla (bearded man), ex-bodyguard of EPO’s mad king Battistelli (in the center in light grey suit).”

This was mentioned in French media and an English translation is available on SUEPO’s Web site. We covered this several times back then. Here are some posts about it:

  1. Alexandre Benalla, Macron’s Violent Bodyguard, Was Also Battistelli’s Bodyguard
  2. It Wasn’t Judges With Weapons in Their Office, It Was Benoît Battistelli Who Brought Firearms to the European Patent Office (EPO)
  3. Benoît Battistelli Refuses to Talk to the Media About Bringing Firearms to the EPO
  4. Guest Post on Ronan Le Gleut and Benalla at the French Senate (in Light of Battistelli’s Epic Abuses)
  5. The Man Whose Actions Could Potentially Land Team Battistelli in Jail
  6. French Media Confirms Alexandre Benalla Just One of Six Battistelli Bodyguards, Employed at the Cost of €8,000-€10,000 Per Month (for Benalla Alone!)

“To put Benalla’s “interesting personality” in perspective,” our reader said, “one can see a picture of him holding a gun for a selfie (during Macron’s electoral campaign in April 2017).”

“Thousands of EPO workers are depressed and dependent on professional psychological help and here they go speaking about “art” and taking photo ops with the European Union.”We’re supposed to just forget all this. Nothing was even done to address that (in fact the oversight soon becomes assistance, in just a matter of weeks); published yesterday was some fluff titled “EPO’s art collection honoured with award” (warning: epo.org link). It is another bogus ‘award’ whose purpose is to give/lend legitimacy to the rogue, corrupt European Patent Office (EPO). Notice the lies told by António Campinos. Truly laughable. He says that the EPO has something to do with “connect[ing] people” through “contemporary art”:

EPO President António Campinos said: “As an international organisation we are an interface of culture, science and technology. It has always been our conviction that contemporary art has the ability to stimulate creativity and to open new perspectives, and connect people inside and outside our Office.”

Thousands of EPO workers are depressed and dependent on professional psychological help and here they go speaking about “art” and taking photo ops with the European Union. As if everything at the EPO is fantastic. There’s a culture of terror that still gags even ordinary staff representatives (Bergot sends them threats; will she also send them a Benalla?).

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

Posted in News Roundup at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source predictions for 2019

    Crystal ball? Are you there? Fine. I’ll go it alone.

    2018 was a rollicking fun year for open source, filled with highs, lows, and plenty of in-between. But what will 2019 hold for Linux and open source software? Let’s shrug off the continued introductory dialog and prognosticate.

  • Why Mozilla Matters

    Mozilla revenue rose by over $40 million USD in 2017 which sounds good until you notice that its expenses went up by over $80 million.

    Mozilla has filed its accounts for the financial year ended December 31st, 2017 and published them along with its annual report, The State of Mozilla 2017.

  • There’s BIG open source news on our 9th birthday

    Since those first days, we’ve frequently seen developers reach the #1 spot in various app stores. We’ve seen apps that have received millions of downloads, and app developers who have made a full time career out of mobile app development. But for many, it’s also a challenging time. The mobile app market has become over saturated. There has been a race-to-the-bottom in app pricing. New challenges extend up the development toolchain and impact the quality of top app engines.

    In this evolving industry landscape and these emerging challenges, change is good and necessary. With that in mind, we would like to introduce a big change for Corona. We have decided to get you — the developer community — more involved in Corona’s development, and open-source most of the engine. There are features you want, updates you need, and it’s simply time to get you more involved in Corona’s future. Corona Labs will continue to support the engine and going open source means more transparency to the process.

    We are certain you will have a lot of questions about how this will work, and as we have more to share, we will be continuously sharing new details with you. Also, feel free to discuss this in our community forums and in the CDN Slack.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO’s Latest Release Equips for 5G

    The European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) today released the latest version of its Open Source MANO (OSM) project. OSM is an operator-led group working on delivering an open source management and network orchestration (MANO) stack that aligns with ETSI NFV models. The latest code release from the group, Release FIVE, extends its capabilities to help operators toward 5G deployments.

    OSM released its first code in 2016 and now has around 110 organizations, namely vendors and operators, participating in the project. This includes Accedian, Aricent, Oracle, Saudi Telecom, University College London — which are just a handful of the 18 that have joined in the last six months.

    The group is developing a technology-agnostic stack that is enabled by a plugin framework. The newest code release furthers this framework toward transport technologies and maintains the project’s consistent modeling of NFV.

  • Why should CSPs embrace open source and OpenStack?

    What are the main motivators for CSPs to embrace open source, and how does OpenStack fit into a multi-cloud and increasingly cloud native architecture? A recent survey from TelecomTV of CSPs found that avoidance of vendor lock-in and decreasing time to market were amongst the main reasons for embracing open source. A comprehensive 91 per cent of CSPs said they are either already using OpenStack or plan to deploy it in the near future. However, a majority felt that working with the open source community is easier for the Tier One operators than it is for the smaller tier two and threes, and almost three-quarters felt there were simply too many open source projects. Given these findings, how should CSPs work with open source and OpenStack in particular? Two of the leading CSPs in North America join the panel to discuss their experiences and give advice to others.

  • Why you should be using open-source crypto wallets

    The last couple of years have been unexpectedly great in terms of popularizing cryptocurrencies as either means of payment or speculative investments. By now, it’s pretty common to find people who store their coins in software wallets. They are quick, easy to use, and very convenient for commerce. However, the issue at stake is that a very small amount of these wallets actually benefit from the security advantages of open source software. Therefore, this article aims to point out these bad choices and highlight the better alternatives.

    The faux-open source choices.

    If you randomly ask casual crypto enthusiasts about the software wallets they’re using, the most common responses you get include Jaxx, Exodus, and Coinomi. Though some of these do include parts that are open-sourced or borrow industry-standard elements, the final versions contain multiple additions to the code that cannot be reviewed by everybody in a GitHub repository.

    There are several reasons why people use an application like Jaxx: the mobility factor (you can have your wallet on your phone as well as on your home computer), the intuitive interface, the advanced functions (such as instant Shapeshift or Changelly conversions), and the effective marketing behind the efforts. Just the idea of managing your entire crypto portfolio within the UI of a single application is appealing to lots of enthusiasts.

  • Create your own free Adobe Creative Cloud with free and open source software

    Earlier this week, I talked about the muscle memory monopoly Adobe and other vendors have on users. As we become more and more experienced with these commercial products, we also become more tied to them.

    But they are expensive. Individual, non-student licenses for Adobe Creative Cloud can be upwards of $600 per year. While there are lower cost alternatives to many of the individual applications included in Creative Cloud, buying them can add up as well.

    A number of you reached out to me asking what you could do if you wanted the capabilities of Creative Cloud, but didn’t want to spend the money. In this gallery, we’ll look at the 11 main Creative Cloud products and find (mostly) workable substitutes.

  • Docker commits to open source, promises to put users into a ‘state of flow’

    Docker’s CTO said he wants the company’s customers to lose all track of time in a keynote that outlined how the firm plans to reach developers that are nowhere near being cloud native.

  • Docker Inc. Open Sources Kubernetes Configuration Tool

    At the DockerCon Europe 2018 conference, Docker Inc. today announced it will make Docker Compose for Kubernetes available as an open source project. Docker Compose for Kubernetes was developed by Docker Inc. to make it easier to configure Kubernetes clusters running on top of the Docker Enterprise platform; now it is available to the broader Kubernetes community.

    Company CTO Kal De told conference attendees that Docker Inc. would remain committed to leading the development of open source projects even as the company seeks to drive revenue via commercial software and services engagements with enterprise IT organizations. Today, Docker claims it has more than 650 commercial customers and is adding new customers at a rate of over 100 per quarter.

  • Preserving software’s legacy

    All throughout our lives we are reminded of events from the past. History teaches us about what happened before us to help us understand how society came to be as it is today. But today we live in a digital age, and while leaders, laws, wars and other parts of our history will always be important to know; what about software? Technology is everywhere and it is rapidly changing every day. Should we care about where it all started?

    The Software Heritage was launched with a mission to collect, preserve and share all software source code that is publicly available. It is currently working towards building the largest global source code archive ever. The Software Heritage was founded by the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation Inria, and it is backed by partners and supporters such as Crossminer, Qwant, Microsoft, Intel, Google and GitHub.

  • Living Open Source in Zambia

    In a previous article I’ve announced my sponsorship project, where I offered to help a motivated young Linux Professional getting certified. I found an ideal candidate, and he has taken the RHCSA exam, and now we’re ready to take the next step.

    Santos Chibenga from Zambia is so engaged in the local Linux community in Zambia that we decided to host an event together: https://www.vieo.tv/event/linux-event-lusaka-zambia. In this event we will have local speakers, and I will educate nearly 200 participants to become LFCS certified. As we realised that this event was growing bigger than expected, we have opened the event for sponsors as well.

  • Toyota Builds Open-Source Car-Hacking Tool

    A Toyota security researcher on his flight from Japan here to London carried on-board a portable steel attaché case that houses the carmaker’s new vehicle cybersecurity testing tool.

    Takuya Yoshida, a member of Toyota’s InfoTechnology Center, along with his Toyota colleague Tsuyoshi Toyama, are part of the team that developed the new tool, called PASTA (Portable Automotive Security Testbed), an open-source testing platform for researchers and budding car hacking experts. The researchers here today demonstrated the tool, and said Toyota plans to share the specifications on Github, as well as sell the fully built system in Japan initially.

  • AWS is fashionably (or frustratingly) late to open source, but ready to party

    To the scowling, sleep-deprived developers sniping at Amazon Web Services Inc. for slacking on open source: AWS is fed up. It’s put together a team devoted to upping open-source activity and is steadily contributing new software.

    “We’re getting criticized for not making enough contributions,” said Adrian Cockcroft ‏(pictured), vice president of cloud architecture strategy at AWS. “But we’ve been making more, and we’re making more, and we’ll just keep making more contributions until people give credit for it.”

  • Web Browsers

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Updates Its Intel DRM/KMS Driver Port For Kaby, Coffee & Whiskey Lake

      Cleared from this week’s DragonFlyBSD 5.4 release, feature work is resuming on this BSD operating system towards the DragonFlyBSD 5.6 release expected out in about six months based on their usual release cadence. Some early work now staged is updating the Intel DRM/KMS driver for a slew of recent hardware.

      DragonFlyBSD’s Intel DRM driver, which is based upon a continually updating port from the Intel “i915″ Linux DRM code, has picked up support for many of the recent Intel graphics adapters… But with the recent processor refreshes sticking to the same graphics architecture featured in Kabylake, it’s mostly a matter of adding in all the new PCI IDs.

    • FreeNAS 11.2 is released
    • Stable release: HardenedBSD-stable 11-STABLE v1100056.10

    • Free Software Foundation Received 1 Million USD from Handshake

      The Free Software Foundation just received a series of earmarked charitable donations from Handshake. The donations amount to a total of $1 million USD. The FSF has already received a $1 million Bitcoin donation from the Pineapple Fund earlier this year. With all this funding, the FSF will be in a good position to develop necessary upgrades for the GNU Project, among other things.

      The Free Software Foundation is of course a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded by Richard Stallman of GNU Project fame. Richard Stallman founded the FSF in 1985, in order to support free software development. He had already founded the Free / Open Source Software Movement in 1983. Therefore, the FSF is basically the official funding source of the FOSSM.

    • Introducing Hrishikesh Barman, intern with the FSF tech team

      Hello everyone! My name is Hrishikesh Barman, and I am a third-year computer science undergraduate student. Growing up, I had an inclination towards computer networks, and in my first year at college I got started with programming properly. Eventually, I got introduced to free software, and it always gave me immense pleasure to be a small part of a bigger project by contributing to it. I realized that tech is made for the people (the society) and not the other way around, and users should have software freedom.

      I came to know about the FSF through a documentary about Aaron Swartz. I greatly appreciated the FSF’s ideas and was intrigued to be a part of it, so when I got the mail that I’ve been selected as a fall tech intern it was truly a great moment for me. The interview process was very smooth and friendly. I am being mentored by Ian, Andrew, and Ruben from the tech team. I am really psyched about the campaigns and the tech things happening at the FSF.

    • Support software freedom: Shop the GNU Press
    • libredwg-0.7 released
  • Public Services/Government

    • “Joinup, the ideal dissemination platform for our open source solutions.” A testimonial from Francesca Bria from the Barcelona City Council

      The Barcelona City Council is actively promoting the use and reuse of free software, open source solutions and open standards beyond their City Hall. This is outlined in the Barcelona Digital City strategy set by the Commissioner for Technology and Digital Innovation. To support this strategy, Barcelona has created an open source team to help internal departments that need to migrate to open source, providing them with digitally clear ethical standards, guidelines and best practices, as well as, supporting them throughout the whole process, including licencing and publishing the solutions on the municipal’s GitHub space. The Barcelona City Council Open Source Team also started to actively promote a citywide FLOSS community and the dissemination of their solutions on platforms such as Joinup, to ensure they reach the maximum number of people and public sector organisations.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital will open source SweRV RISC-V CPU designs and tools

        On Tuesday, Western Digital, an early adopter and vocal proponent of RISC-V, announced plans to open source their implementation of the RISC-V ISA and associated development resources, providing the ability for the open source community to utilize their implementation of the architecture in their own products as well as iterate on it to meet the needs of their own products.

        SweRV Core EHX1, the first generation of RISC-V processors at Western Digital, is a 32-bit, 2-way superscalar, 9 stage pipeline core capable of clock speeds up to 1.8 GHz, produced on a 28mm CMOS process, at 4.90 CoreMark/MHz, which slightly outperforms ARM Cortex A15 (at 4.72 CoreMark/MHz). For their own products, Western Digital touts it as being fit for “embedded devices supporting data-intensive edge applications, such as storage controllers, industrial IoT, real-time analytics in surveillance systems, and other smart systems.” Plans for SweRV Core will be released in Q1 2019.

      • Western Digital unveils open-source SweRV RISC-V core

        Western Digital has lifted the lid on its first in-house processor, the RISC-V-based SweRV Core, which it is to release under an open source licence.

        That Western Digital has been playing with the open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA), using which anyone can produce a processor design without paying a penny in royalties or licensing fees, is no secret: Back in 2017 the company pledged to switch to RISC-V in its storage processing products with a view to shipping a billion cores over the following two years. It’s not alone, either: Nvidia has begun transitioning away from proprietary cores to RISC-V to drive input/output in its graphics products, Rambus uses RISC-V in security parts, and it has even found its way into SSD storage controllers.

      • Western Digital To Open-Source The “SweRV” RISC-V Core In 2019

        More than a year ago Western Digital talked up how they would begin designing RISC-V cores and shipping them in devices and that is indeed panning out. The company has unveiled their new SweRV core and plans to open-source it in 2019.

        At the RISC-V Summit, Western Digital talked about their continued investment into this royalty-free, open-source processor ISA. Their current RISC-V design is dubbed SweRV and is a 32-bit, 2-way super-scalar design that features a 9-stage pipeline core and clocks up to 1.8GHz and manufactured on a 28nm process. Western Digital plans to use SweRV within flash controllers / storage devices and other embedded designs.

      • The Libre RISC-V Vulkan Accelerator Will Be Targeting 25 FPS @ 720p, 5~6 GFLOPs

        For those interested in the proposed quad-core RISC-V Libre SoC that is intended to go in-step with the Rust-written Kazan for offering Vulkan support, the initial performance target has now been shared.

        While keeping in mind the Libre RISC-V effort is still very young into its endeavor, the performance target they are hoping for is 1280 x 720 25 fps, 100 Mpixels/sec, 30 Mtriangles/sec, 5-6 GFLOPs, according to their new Libre RISC-V M-Class page. Of course, that’s very low by today’s standards for GPUs and even for licensable graphics core IP available to embedded/mobile vendors, especially with the Libre RISC-V if everything pans out probably not premiering until 2020 at the earliest. But while the performance may be severely limited compared to what’s currently available, their differentiation again is on being a “100% libre” design built atop the royalty-free RISC-V processor ISA.

      • Industry’s first RISC-V SoC FPGA architecture brings real-time to Linux [Ed: PCQ Bureau ‘plagiarises’ a press release, edits it mildly, then pretends it’s a “news” “report” and calls itself a “news” site (filed under “NEWS”)]

        In a new era of computing driven by the convergence of 5G, machine learning and the internet of things (IoT), embedded developers need the richness of Linux-based operating systems. These must meet deterministic system requirements in ever lower power, thermally constrained design environments—all while addressing critical security and reliability requirements.

      • Microchip – RISC-V SoC FPGA architecture brings real-time to Linux allowing developers to innovate

        Microchip, via its Microsemi Corporation subsidiary, has extended its Mi-V ecosystem with a new class of SoC FPGAs. The new family joins what is claimed to be the industry’s lowest power mid-range PolarFire FPGA family with a total microprocessor subsystem based on the open, royalty-free RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture.

        The company’s new PolarFire SoC architecture brings real-time deterministic AMP capability to Linux platforms in a multi-core coherent CPU cluster. The SoC architecture, developed in collaboration with SiFive, emphasises a flexible 2MB L2 memory subsystem that can be configured as a cache, scratchpad or direct access memory. This enables designers to implement deterministic real-time embedded applications simultaneously with a rich operating system for a variety of thermal and space-constrained applications in collaborative, networked IoT systems.

        The SoC includes extensive debug capabilities incorporating instruction trace, 50 breakpoints, passive run-time configurable AXI bus monitors and FPGA fabric monitors, in addition to the company’s built-in two-channel logic analyser, SmartDebug.

  • Programming/Development

    • Learn C++ with the help of LibreOffice developers
    • Type erasure and reification
    • Lets move on to the next game level!
    • Search for any duplicate file with python
    • Django Form Example—Bootstrap 4 UI via django-crispy-forms
    • Sets in Python

      In this article, we will be discussing the various operations that can be performed on sets in Python.

    • PyCharm 2018.3.1

      PyCharm 2018.3.1 is now available, with various bug fixes.

    • Create your own Telegram bot with Django on Heroku – Part 10 – Creating a view for your bot’s webhook

      This time, I will provide you with the last piece of the puzzle to make your bot available to the world. You will learn how to write and wire the Python code to actually use all that we have prepared so far. At the end of this part, your bot will be able to receive and store each message sent to it by registered users. And since it’s already more than a month since I published the previous article in this series, let’s not waste any more time and jump right in!

    • This Week in Rust 263

      This week’s crate is cargo-call-stack, a cargo subcommand for whole-program call stack analysis. Thanks to Jorge Aparicio for the suggestion!

    • Blueprint for a team with a DevOps mindset

      I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the brightest minds and leaders in my 33 years of software engineering. I’ve also been fortunate to work for a manager who made me question my career daily and systematically broke down my passion—like a destructive fire sucking the oxygen out of a sealed space. It was an unnerving period, but once I broke free, I realized I had the opportunity to reflect on one of the greatest anti-patterns for effective teams.

      It should come as no surprise that the culture of an organization and its engineering teams is the greatest challenge when embarking on a DevOps mindset transformation. The organization needs to influence through leadership and autonomy, promoting a culture of learning and experimentation, where failure is an opportunity to innovate, not persecute. Fear of retribution should be frowned upon like the archaic Indian practice of Sati. Teams need to feel they are operating in a safe environment, understand what the transformation entails, and know how they will be affected.

    • Highlights from the 2018 NYC DISC Sprint

      DISC Committee members went all out to spread the word for this Sprint and the effort really paid off!

      We reached out to folks across a number of different channels including dev/color, Techqueria, Taiwanese Data Professionals, and PyLadies. Even managed to include a blurb at PyData NYC during the Panel Discussion: My First Open Source Contribution.

    • How to reverse a list in Python
    • Sending Emails With Python

      You probably found this tutorial because you want to send emails using Python. Perhaps you want to receive email reminders from your code, send a confirmation email to users when they create an account, or send emails to members of your organization to remind them to pay their dues. Sending emails manually is a time-consuming and error-prone task, but it’s easy to automate with Python.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Roadblocks to Health Care Could Be a Death Sentence

      Depending upon your state of residency, you might have a harder time getting and keeping Medicaid. By sheer luck of geography, folks in some states have more of a safety net than their neighbors in other states.

      Medicaid was created in 1965 by Lyndon Johnson and was authorized by the Title XIX of the Social Security Act. It was designed to provide health coverage for the elderly, low income folks, and women and children.

      The Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare — expanded this vital lifeline for families. The health care law saved lives because it helped millions of folks finally get access to care, some for the first time in their lives.

      Unfortunately, since the law was passed, Republicans have been systemically trying to destroy it. And they’ve had a lot of help from the states.

      I live in Michigan. This past summer, outgoing Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed off on a bill that requires Medicaid recipients to work, making it more difficult for folks to keep their health care.

      This is concerning on many levels.

    • ‘A Great Shame’: Taken From Oceans Around the World, 100% of Sea Turtles in New Study Had Plastics in Their Bellies

      A new study of sea turtles in three oceans and seas drove home the point, green campaigners said Wednesday, that the world’s governments and corporations are not doing enough to reduce plastic pollution—and marine life is suffering as a result.

      One hundred and two sea turtles inhabiting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea were the subject of the study by the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom—and all 102 of the creatures were found with plastics, microplastics, and other synthetics in their digestive systems.

      “From our work over the years we have found microplastic in nearly all the species of marine animals we have looked at; from tiny zooplankton at the base of the marine food web to fish larvae, dolphins, and now turtles,” said Penelope Lindeque, who co-authored the report. “This study provides more evidence that we all need to help reduce the amount of plastic waste released to our seas and maintain clean, healthy and productive oceans for future generations.”

  • Security

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #188
    • Critical Vulnerability Allows Kubernetes Node Hacking

      Kubernetes has received fixes for one of the most serious vulnerabilities ever found in the project to date. If left unpatched, the flaw could allow attackers to take over entire compute nodes.

      “With a specially crafted request, users that are allowed to establish a connection through the Kubernetes API server to a backend server can then send arbitrary requests over the same connection directly to that backend, authenticated with the Kubernetes API server’s TLS credentials used to establish the backend connection,” the Kubernetes developers said in an advisory.

    • Kubernetes Discloses Major Security Flaw

      Kubernetes disclosed a critical security flaw — the container orchestration tool’s first major vulnerability to date — and released Kubernetes 1.13.

      But first: the security flaw. It affects all Kubernetes-based products and services, and it gives hackers full administrative privileges on any compute node being run in a Kubernetes cluster.

      As Red Hat’s Ashesh Badani wrote, “This is a big deal. Not only can this actor steal sensitive data or inject malicious code, but they can also bring down production applications and services from within an organization’s firewall.”

    • Critical Kubernetes Bug Gives Anyone Full Admin Privileges [Ed: No, not everyone. Only those who already have access to that particular system.]
    • What does the Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw mean
    • Before Patched, Kubernetes Security Flaw Spread to OpenShift

      A security flaw discovered in the de facto standard Kubernetes cloud container orchestrator allowed unauthorized users access to Kubernetes clusters and the data they contain.

      The “privilege escalation vulnerability” announced Monday (Dec. 3) by developers affects versions 1.0 and higher of the Kubernetes orchestrator along with Red Hat OpenShift container platform. Red Hat rated the vulnerability as “critical,” denoting its potential impact on production operations.

    • Upgrades Recommended To Address Critical Kubernetes Flaws

      The flaws are associated with privilege “abuse,” but there’s also a problem with being able to exploit calls to Kubernetes API servers. Default Kubernetes configurations permit “all users (authenticated and unauthenticated)” to make such API server calls, according to the announcement, so it’s a wide-open issue. Attacks can get initiated by a “specially crafted request” sent to the back end server, according to the Kubernetes announcement, which omitted the details.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • EternalSuffering: NSA Exploits Still Being Successfully Used To Hijack Computers More Than A Year After Patching [Ed: TechDirt calls Micrososft Windows-running machines with NSA back doors just “computers” (ha! How convenient an excuse; blame the user for back doors!)]

      More of the same, then. Perhaps not at the scale seen in the past, but more attacks using the NSA’s hoarded exploits. Hoarding exploits is a pretty solid plan, so long as they don’t fall into the hands of… well, anyone else really. Failing to plan for this inevitability is just one of the many problems with the NSA’s half-assed participation in the Vulnerability Equities Process.

      Since the tools began taking their toll on the world’s computer systems last year, there’s been no sign the NSA is reconsidering its stance on hunting and hoarding exploits. The intelligence gains are potentially too large to be sacrificed for the security of millions of non-target computer users. It may claim these tools are essential to national security, but for which nation? The exploits wreaked havoc all over the world, but it would appear the stash of exploits primarily benefited one nation before they were inadvertently dumped into the public domain. Do the net gains in national security outweigh the losses sustained worldwide? I’d like to see the NSA run the numbers on that.

    • event-stream, npm, and trust

      Malware inserted into a popular npm package has put some users at risk of losing Bitcoin, which is certainly worrisome. More concerning, though, is the implications of how the malware got into the package—and how the package got distributed. This is not the first time we have seen package-distribution channels exploited, nor will it be the last, but the underlying problem requires more than a technical solution. It is, fundamentally, a social problem: trust.

      Npm is a registry of JavaScript packages, most of which target the Node.js event-driven JavaScript framework. As with many package repositories, npm helps manage dependencies so that picking up a new version of a package will also pick up new versions of its dependencies. Unlike, say, distribution package repositories, however, npm is not curated—anyone can put a module into npm. Normally, a module that wasn’t useful would not become popular and would not get included as a dependency of other npm modules. But once a module is popular, it provides a ready path to deliver malware if the maintainer, or someone they delegate to, wants to go that route.

    • IT Security Lessons from the Marriott Data Breach

      A number of data breaches have been disclosed over the course of 2018, but none have been as big or had as much impact as the one disclosed on Nov. 30 by hotel chain Marriott International.

      A staggering 500 million people are at risk as a result of the breach, placing it among the largest breaches of all time, behind Yahoo at 1 billion. While the investigation and full public disclosure into how the breach occurred is still ongoing, there are lots of facts already available, and some lessons for other organizations hoping to avoid the same outcome.

    • The Dark Side of the ForSSHe: Shedding light on OpenSSH backdoors

      SSH, short for Secure SHell, is a network protocol to connect computers and devices remotely over an encrypted network link. It is generally used to manage Linux servers using a text-mode console. SSH is the most common way for system administrators to manage virtual, cloud, or dedicated, rented Linux servers.

      The de facto implementation, bundled in almost all Linux distributions, is the portable version of OpenSSH. A popular method used by attackers to maintain persistence on compromised Linux servers is to backdoor the OpenSSH server and client already installed.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Senators accuse Saudi crown prince of complicity in Khashoggi murder

      “If the Crown Prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said after a closed-door Senate briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel. In other words, Corker and his fellow Senators were convinced by the evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Shot In the Head, His Back to Soldiers

      Israeli soldiers just shot and killed Muhammad Habali, a 22-year-old disabled man, as he walked home from work in Tulkarem, in the northern occupied West Bank, during a late-night raid on the neighborhood. After leaving his job at a coffee shop, Habali crossed a street where Israeli forces were attacking residents and local Palestinians were trying to defend their homes – or, in the words of the IDF, “a violent riot was instigated and dozens of Palestinians hurled rocks at IDF troops, (who) responded with riot dispersal means and later on with live fire.” They shot Habali with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the groin before shooting him again in the head. According to his older brother Alaa Hussam – and video footage – “His back was towards the soldiers. He was walking away from them.” Habali, who had difficulty speaking, lived with seven siblings and was “simple and quiet…always helping people.”

      The assault on Tulkarem was one of almost nightly raids by Israeli forces in occupied territories, usually between midnight and dawn, ostensibly to search for “wanted” Palestinians and potential attackers but largely to terrorize an already beleaguered people. Often illegally crossing into areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the raids are catastrophically successful: According to Palestinian sources, in November alone the IDF killed 24 Palestinians (mostly in Gaza), arrested 260, including children, and issued 33 deportation orders. Thus have Israeli forces “repeatedly violated…international law by responding to stone-throwing protests by using excessive force,” says Amnesty International, and the murder of innocents like Muhammad Habali is “nothing new.” From Yousef Munayyer to the willfully incognizant CNN and others in U.S. media who cling to the illusion of Israel as “the holy of holies”: “From the River to the Sea, Israel practices Apartheid. If you are more bothered by people calling for freedom and equality between the river and the sea than the actual horrific reality on the ground there, maybe the problem is with you.”

    • What’s Been Learned From The First World War?

      Such are true words written 77 years before the opening of World War One. For more or less, the war still rages. Pre-war, various financial institutions acted as catalysts for the war. Backing their perspective European politics, aimed to control the world. For which is now for then is the same now.

      There is capital to be made in world domination and human suffering. For even in todays epoch, do the financial interests of the world scramble to build their country’s empires. The infamous usage of chemical warfare continues. This is the case for Israel and Saudi Arabia. Israel openly using white phosphorous in their genocidal apartheid against Palestinians.

      The Saudi royal crown, has been said to have murdered Jamal Khashoggi over information relating to the subsidence. The substance, keep in mind, is a weapon of mass destruction. In America, President Donald Trump pursues an aggressive foreign policy to secure America’s financial interests. Going as far as removing the long stand nuclear arms agreement with the Russian Federation. An immensely destabilizing move in foreign policy, by the United States.

      Furthermore, our aerial warfare is second to none. For as of now, our drones rain fire down on wedding convoy. They strike like a thief in the night. Meanwhile, Lockheed-Martin’s the state of the art F-22 Raptor fighter jet is 70% over budget. It promises to have lasers on it too.

    • Air Cocaine: Poppy Bush, the Contras and a Secret Airbase in the Backwoods of Arkansas

      On March 16, 1986, President Ronald Reagan went on national television to make a desperate pitch for the restoration of congressional aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. This particular war had never been popular with Americans, who stubbornly remained indifferent to lurid scenarios proffered by the Great Communicator that the Sandinistas might sweep north through Guatemala and Mexico to menace Texas. So Reagan deployed a new tactic, denouncing the Sandinistas as a regime that had its hand in the drug trade.

      For the previous six months, Oliver North and his colleagues at the National Security Council and the CIA had been leaking stories to the Washington press corps charging that the leadership of the Nicaraguan government, including Defense Minister Humberto Ortega, was in league with the Medellin cartel and with Fidel Castro in a hemisphere –wide cocaine-trafficking network. On that March evening, Reagan displayed a series of grainy photographs purporting to show Sandinista officials loading duffel bags of cocaine in a C-123K military transport plane destined for Miami, Florida.

      “I know that every American parent concerned about the drug problem will be outrage to hear that top Nicaraguan government officials are deeply involved in drug trafficking,” Reagan said. “This picture, secretly taken at a military airfield outside Managua, shows Frederico Vaughn, a top aide to one of the nine commandants who rule Nicaragua, loading aircraft with illegal narcotics bound for the United States.”

      As that Time magazine editor told his reporter Lawrence Zuckerman, this was precisely the kind of drug story that would end up on the front pages of American newspapers. But it turned out to be a setup, part of an elaborate sting operation concocted by Oliver North, the CIA, George Bush’s drug task force and a convicted drug runner named Barriman Alder Seal. It was Seal who had piloted the plane, equipped with CIA-installed cameras, to that Nicaraguan airstrip and brought the cocaine back to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. In return for his services, Seal received more than $700,000 and a reduced sentence on pending drug convictions.


      Over the next week, Seal visited Panama and Guatemala before returning to Miami, where he conferred with Bustamante and other US representatives of the Medellin cartel. They set up plans for a series of drug flights from Colombia and Panama to Miami, and Seal invited the Colombians to come with him to Mena to inspect the planes that Seal was planning to use for the cocaine flights. The next day Seal flew four Colombians to Mena, where he treated the drug dealers to a lunch of Cajun food and took them for a spin in his new Lockheed Lodestar jet. The Colombians were duly impressed and gave the green light for the drug flights to begin.

      The following day Seal relayed the plans to DEA agent Jacobsen, who got approval from the Colombian government for Seal to enter the country and pick up a load of cocaine. Before taking off for Colombia, Seal took the opportunity to make two trips to his bank in the Bahamas, where he deposited several hundred thousand dollars in cash.

    • Putin Says If U.S. Builds Missiles, So Will Russia

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the United States that if it walks out of a key arms treaty and starts developing the type of missiles banned by it, Russia will do the same.

    • The Myth-Making Around George H.W. Bush

      Most press in the United States have lionized former President George H.W. Bush, insisting he was a “kinder” and “gentler” statesman, who possessed a decency rarely exhibited in government anymore.

      As the federal government mostly shuts down and stock markets remain closed on the day of the forty-first president’s funeral, the press have another full day to gloss over and completely disregard the parts of Bush’s career that were scandalous and grossly impacted people throughout the world.

      In particular, any mention of the invasion of Iraq, which Bush launched in 1991, is unquestionably treated as a momentous victory. He is praised for not pursuing a long and costly military occupation.

      Douglas Brinkley, who is CNN’s presidential historian, said, “James Baker [former chief of staff and secretary of state for Bush] likes to say people don’t ask me why we didn’t go into Baghdad anymore. There’s Gulf War One, which we did it right. We liberated Kuwait, filled our mission, and went home and called ‘Operation Desert Shield’ a huge success.”

      “And then there’s the Second Gulf War where we tried to go in and take Baghdad and run civil society in Iraq. And that second war didn’t work well because we overextended the limits of a U.S. intervention,” Brinkley added.

    • How False Testimony and a Massive U.S. Propaganda Machine Bolstered George H.W. Bush’s War on Iraq

      As the media memorializes George H.W. Bush, we look at the lasting impact of his 1991 invasion of Iraq and the propaganda campaign that encouraged it. Although the Gulf War technically ended in February of 1991, the U.S. war on Iraq would continue for decades, first in the form of devastating sanctions and then in the 2003 invasion launched by George W. Bush. Thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in Iraq. A largely forgotten aspect of Bush Sr.’s war on Iraq is the vast domestic propaganda effort before the invasion began. We look at the way U.S. media facilitated the war on Iraq with journalist John “Rick” MacArthur, president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine and the author of the book “Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War.”

    • Criminal History: BCCI, the Bushes … and Mueller

      As the newly dead George Herbert Walker Bush luxuriates in the accolades of America’s bipartisan political/media establishment, I thought it meet to look again at the article below, which I wrote in 2006, detailing one of the great glories of his great and glorious reign: the thwarting of the investigation into BCCI, “one of the largest criminal organizations in history.” Strangely enough, I saw a now-familiar name popping up as one of the key figures in this nefarious cover-up operation by the Bush crime family (who make the Trump Gang look like the two-bit pikers they are): one Robert Mueller, champion of the Resistance and incorruptible shield of the Republic.

    • The Amazing GWHB Hagiography

      Even by the recent can’t-believe-your-eyes-and-ears standards of American elitist hagiography this week’s over-the-top-of-the-top praise of George H.W. Bush was astonishing.

      What separated Bush41apalooza from such previous pseudo-griefathons as those for Ronald Reagan and John McCain was that there was so little to work with. Not that it stopped the media.

      I knew this was an insane historical benchmark when a major network interrupted its coverage of the G-20 summit with the BREAKING NEWS that George W. Bush had issued a statement about his dead dad: “George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for.” Stop the presses!

      When a right-wing Republican like Bush dies you can count on a Democrat to deliver his most fulsome praise. “America has lost a patriot and humble servant,” said Barack and Michelle Obama. “While our hearts are heavy today, they are also filled with gratitude…George H.W. Bush’s life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling. And he did tremendous good along the journey.”

      Trump lies constantly but it took the death of Bush 41 for American “leaders” and their media mouthpieces to fully commit to speaking an English language whose words have no meaning whatsoever. In this dystopia I’d call Orwellian save for the fact that old George’s prophecy didn’t anticipate its hilarious absurdity, a man who ran for president three times qualifies as “humble.” A commander-in-chief who ordered the massacre of tens of thousands of innocent people in one of the most gruesome war crimes ever recorded—the “Highway of Death” following the ceasefire that ended the Gulf War—is described as having great character—yet no one upchucks all over the camera lens as if it were a Japanese prime minister.

      A steward of the economy who refused to stimulate a tide or raise any boats in the middle of a brutal six-year-long recession can be called many things but not—before the Obamas—“joyous.” Preppy, I’ll give you. Joyous, no.

    • Trump’s International Anti-Iran Coalition Looks Like It’s Falling Apart. He Doesn’t Have a Back-Up Plan.

      President Donald Trump set out to pick a fight with Iran from the early days of his administration. But a set of astonishing developments has pulled the rug out from under his feet, and the next three months will determine whether Trump will opt to escalate his provocations or find a face-saving exit from his bravado.

      Only a few months ago, Trump was oozing with confidence, having pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, worked with the Saudis to squeeze oil exports and announced the reimposition of sanctions to the pleasure of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

      As a result, the Iranian currency, the rial, was tanking and a noticeable sense of nervousness permeated Iran. The country had weathered sanctions before, but something felt different this time around.

    • Is Bush’s Legacy So Different From Trump’s?

      It’s an ad by his supporters claiming presidential candidate Michael Dukakis “allows first degree murderers to have weekend passes,” as an image of an African American man, Willie Horton, flashes across the screen. More photos of Horton are shown, along with the words “stabbing, kidnapping, raping.”

      I wasn’t even born when this ad aired in 1988. I know it because I studied it in my media classes as a classic example of how politicians stoked racist fears to link black people to crime and further a mass incarceration agenda.

      Just last month, President Donald Trump’s political team ran an ad inspired by the same race-baiting tactic. An ad so obviously racist even Fox News stopped running it. It depicts Mexican immigrant Luis Bracamontes saying he would “kill more cops,” and claims “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay.” (These claims were false.)

      The ad was designed to link Central American immigrants to crime just as a caravan of asylum seekers from Honduras was headed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

      As I recall H. W. Bush’s legacy, the similarities keep coming.

      In 1989, Bush had the DEA lure a teenager to sell crack cocaine just across the street from the White House. They chose Keith Jackson, a 19-year-old African American high school student from Anacostia who, thanks to a very segregated D.C., didn’t even know where the White House was.

    • What Is Left for the US To Do in Afghanistan? The Answer: Lose.

      I’ll admit it. I’m sick of writing about America’s longest war – the quagmire in Afghanistan. Still, in a time of near media blackout on this issue, someone has to keep banging the drum. Of late, it seems every single week that those of us who follow the war are inundated with more bad news. It all adds up to what this author has long been predicting in Afghanistan: the impending military defeat of the U.S.-trained Afghan Army and its American advisors. This is a fact that should rattle the public, shake up policymakers, and usher in a holistic review of the entirety of America’s interventions in the Greater Middle East. Only don’t count on it – Washington prefers, like a petulant child, to cover its proverbial eyes and ignore the fated failure of this hopeless war and several others like it.

      This past month, four US service members were killed in Afghanistan, bringing the 2018 total to 13 American deaths. That may sound like a relatively modest casualty count, but given the contracted US troop totals in country and the transition to using those troopers only in an advisory capacity, this represents a serious spike in American deaths. Add to this the exponential rise in Afghan Security Force casualties over the last few years, and the recent rise in green-on-blue attacks – in which partnered Afghan “allies” turn their guns on their American advisors – and matters look even worse. Despite the ubiquitous assertions of senior US commander after commander that the mission has “turned a corner,” and that “victory” is near, there’s no meaningful evidence to that effect.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Alleged Fabricator Contributed To The Guardian’s Manafort-Assange ‘Bombshell’

      An Ecuadorian journalist who has been accused of fabricating documents in the past helped write a would-be bombshell for The Guardian in November that alleged former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met multiple times, including during the 2016 presidential campaign, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
      Fernando Villavicencio was listed as one of three reporters, along with Luke Harding and Ben Collyns, on the print version of the Guardian’s story, which was published on Nov. 27. His name was left off of the web version of the article.
      As The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi notes, the Ecuadorian government previously accused Villavicencio, a vocal critic of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, of fabricating documents related to an agreement between Ecuador and China to drill for oil in the Amazon forest.

    • Randy Credico Exclusive Tell-All Interview with Abby Martin on Wikileaks & Roger Stone

      In this exclusive extended interview, Randy Credico tells his side of the story on his role in the Russia investigation, his upcoming interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and true nature of his relationship with Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone.

      With never before revealed details about Roger Stone and the Mueller investigation, Credico details his long-standing ties to the political operative and answers the hard questions about his alleged coordination with Wikileaks.

      The interview highlights the larger context of the multi-front assault on Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the future of press freedom.

    • Authoritarians Killing Opponents and Attacking Free Speech

      In July, 2007, two U.S. helicopters fired on civilians in Iraq, killing two Reuters journalists. The gunners were laughing and the killings appeared to be wanton, in violation of rules of engagement, and, it’s been argued, war crimes. The footage was leaked to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, who was charged with various crimes, sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. In 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence.

    • Report: Paul Manafort Tried To Score Deal With Ecuador To Hand Julian Assange Over To The U.S.
    • Misreporting Manafort
    • Action Against Assange, and What It Could Mean for Free Press

      In recent court filings in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, an oversight resulted in mentions of secret charges being filed against Julian Assange. He is the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, an organization that has garnered a significant degree of fame and notoriety over the past decade, due to its publishing of numerous classified documents, communications and more.

      The organization has come under new legal scrutiny since the 2016 presidential election, during which it published emails, obtained by convicted Russian hackers, between members of the Democratic National Committee, a move widely believed to have influenced the election in favor of now-President Donald Trump at the behest of the Russian government.

      In a December 2016 interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Assange had this to say in regard to national intelligence agencies using WikiLeaks against their enemies, “We publish full information, pristine archives, verifiable. That often makes it inconvenient for propaganda purposes, because for many organizations you see the good and the bad, and that makes the facts revealed harder to spin.”

    • Paul Manafort tries to help in a deal over Julian Assange’s handover to US

      New York: Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman who awaits sentencing for lying to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement, flew to Ecuador to help negotiate a deal for the handover of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Washington, a media report said. The New York Times report on Monday said that Manafort made the trip mainly to see if he could broker a deal under which China would invest in Ecuador’s power system. (IANS)

    • Guardian all alone as MSM fail to corroborate Assange/Manafort ‘dud’ story

      The Guardian’s ‘bombshell’ story that ex-Donald Trump adviser, Paul Manafort, met with Wikileaks Julian Assange is falling apart, as outlets fail to corroborate the claims, some even questioning the paper’s standards.
      On November 27, the Guardian splashed with an eye-catching article, claiming that its journalists had seen an Ecuadorian intelligence agency document detailing that Manafort and Assange had met three times in the London Ecuadorian embassy, including during the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election.

      READ MORE: Russia again! Twitter mocks nameless CIA agent who blames Kremlin for dubious Manafort-Assange story

      The piece suggested that “Russians” were also guests at the embassy, though it failed to identify any individuals in question. The article also didn’t include any non-anonymous sources nor did it reproduce, in any capacity, the document in question.

    • The Fake Clinton Quote That Won’t Go Away

      The “hybrid” website claimed Clinton made her flattering remarks about Trump at a conference hosted by Goldman Sachs on Oct. 29, 2013. Clinton did speak at that conference; WikiLeaks posted the transcript of her speech. But the quote attributed to her is not in the transcript.

    • Alleged Fabricator Contributed To The Guardian’s Manafort-Assange ‘Bombshell’

      An Ecuadorian journalist who has been accused of fabricating documents in the past helped write a would-be bombshell for The Guardian in November that alleged former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met multiple times, including during the 2016 presidential campaign, with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      Fernando Villavicencio was listed as one of three reporters, along with Luke Harding and Ben Collyns, on the print version of the Guardian’s story, which was published on Nov. 27. His name was left off of the web version of the article.

      As The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi notes, the Ecuadorian government previously accused Villavicencio, a vocal critic of Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, of fabricating documents related to an agreement between Ecuador and China to drill for oil in the Amazon forest.

    • The Guardian attack on Assange exposed as politically-motivated fabrication

      Last week’s sensationalist allegation by the Guardian newspaper, that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange met with Paul Manafort, American political lobbyist and one-time campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been exposed as a politically-motivated tissue of lies.
      The online article was presented as being co-authored by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns. Harding has written a number of pieces seeking to paint Assange as an accomplice in a Russian government conspiracy to ensure that Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US presidential election to Donald Trump.
      In the print edition of the Guardian, however, it was also credited to Fernando Villavicencio, an Ecuadorian journalist. He has previously been accused of fabricating stories against former President Rafael Correa, whose government granted Assange political asylum in the country’s embassy in London in 2012.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • While Trump Aims Again to Prop Up Coal, Campaigners Say Nothing ‘Is Going to Change the Move Toward Clean Energy’

      Following reports that Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will attack the climate again by neutering an Obama-era rule in an effort to revive the dying coal industry, environmental advocacy groups on Wednesday stressed that the march towards a clean energy future is unstoppable.

      The proposed change is expected to come in an “energy policy announcement” Thursday from acting EPA Administrator and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler. According to the New York Times, the move would ease the regulation requiring new coal plants to have carbon dioxide-capturing technology.

    • Record-High Carbon Emissions Show ‘We Are Speeding Towards the Precipice of Irrevocable Climate Chaos’

      As world leaders are meeting at the COP24 in Poland to discuss how to achieve goals outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, scientists and activists are raising alarm about “brutal” new research published by the Global Carbon Project on Wednesday which offers the international community a “reality check” by showing that carbon emissions will hit a record high this year.

      “We’ve got a LOT of work to do folks. After flat-lining for 3 years, CO2 emissions have now ticked up two years straight,” tweeted Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann, linking to the Washington Post’s report on the new data. Mann also called for electing politicians willing to take the urgent actions that experts increasingly warn are needed to avert global catastrophe.

    • Climate Crisis Made Worse

      Barack Obama, speaking to the Baker Institute, made sure the audience of wealthy Texans, many in the oil business, gave him credit for making the United States a world leader for oil and gas production. He said, “American energy production . . .went up every year I was president. And . . . suddenly America’s like the biggest oil producer, that was me, people,” eliciting cheers.

      Throughout this century, even though the climate science was clear, presidential leadership has escalated the dependence on oil and gas, built infrastructure for pipelines and compressor stations, encouraged fracking in the US and around the world and prevented a global response to reducing carbon gas emissions.

      This dereliction of consistent misleadership has put the planet on a dangerous path of climate crisis. In a just world, the political and corporate leadership of the United States would be held accountable. As it is, leadership for confronting the climate crisis must come from the people, not from political leaders.

    • COP24: Climate Science Denial, Disinformation and Fake News at the UN Climate Talks

      In an age of “fake news” and disinformation, in which climate science deniers have been elected to the head of some of the world’s largest governments, the UN climate talks continue to act as a stage for those who wish to cast doubt on the climate crisis.

      And in Katowice, Poland, where the UN climate talks — known as COP24 — are underway, it was no different. A small group of climate science deniers tried to grab attention by hosting an event on the fringe of the conference, claiming to “present the science that debunks UN alarmism”.

      But this year, very few were paying attention.

      Year after year, climate science deniers have attempted to use the climate talks as a platform to undermine the global climate negotiation process.

      The election of Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, two populist politicians who denounced climate change as a political plot to stifle economic growth and want to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, may have given these fringe groups some semblance of credibility.

      Jesse Bragg, spokesman for the NGO Corporate Accountability, told DeSmog UK that although climate science deniers’ tactics haven’t changed over the years, “what has changed is the hubris with which these deniers trot their junk science out but just because Trump makes these deniers feel confident”.

    • Slash Meat Consumption and Avert Climate Catastrophe, Says New Blueprint for ‘Sustainable Food Future’ by 2050

      To feed the growing human population—projected to reach about 10 billion by 2050—while curbing planet-warming emissions to ward off climate catastrophe, people across the globe must significantly cut back on eating meat from cows, sheep, and goats, according to a new study out Wednesday.

      Limits on meat-eating are among 22 proposals from the report that, if simultaneously enacted, could achieve “meeting growing demands for food, avoiding deforestation, and reforesting or restoring abandoned and unproductive land—and in ways that help stabilize the climate, promote economic development, and reduce poverty.”

      Unveiled at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, Creating a Sustainable Food Future (pdf) was produced by WRI in partnership with the World Bank, U.N. Environment, U.N. Development Program, and a pair of French agricultural research agencies.

    • A Climate of Violence: Refugees and Global Warming

      The appeal went on to connect the wild fires in California and the refugee crisis in Central America.

      “As I’m writing to you, California is experiencing refugee crises at both ends of the state. At the southern border, families are seeking asylum from violence and poverty. They are sheltering in tents and being tear gassed by U.S. officials. In northern California, thousands of people who lost their homes in the Camp Fire are now living in tents and in Walmart parking lots, without adequate housing to meet the scale of this disaster.”

      So far a clear statement of facts but then this:

      “Two of the largest humanitarian and environmental challenges facing our nation are inextricably linked. We cannot continue to ignore the devastating effects of climate change, which is causing thousands of people in Central America to flee their homes. Climate change will soon drive human migration more than any other event.”

      Wait, wait, wait, WAIT!! How did the people in Central America “seeking asylum from violence and poverty” become climate refugees? I don’t have to be convinced about the causes and perils of global warming but I do fear the danger of misleading ourselves into believing that everything rotten in the world today is a result of climate change.

    • Climate Jobs for All: A Key Building Block for the Green New Deal

      It was an iconic moment: Young people occupy Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a Green New Deal to put millions of people to work making a climate-safe economy—when suddenly newly-elected Congressional representative and overnight media star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins them with a resolution in hand to establish a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. But those who actually read her resolution closely may have been puzzled—or stunned—by its call for “a jobs guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one.”

      What is a “jobs guarantee program” and what does it have to do with protecting the climate?

      The federal jobs guarantee (JG) is a concept also known as “jobs for all” and the federal government as “employer of last resort.” It envisions a federal program somewhat like the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) that would provide funds for non-profit organizations, local governments, and other agencies serving the public to employ anyone who wants a job at a wage roughly comparable to the demands of the Fight for $15 campaign. According to columnist Jonathan Chait, the jobs guarantee plan “has materialized almost out of nowhere and ascended nearly to the status of Democratic Party doctrine.”

      The advocates of JG generally include climate protection as one of many types of work beneficial to the public that might be included in a jobs guarantee program. However, they generally have not said how such a program might specifically address the climate emergency.

    • Yemen, Poisoned Water, and a Green New Deal

      Why were 55 Senators for Genocide reduced to 37? Three reasons: public pressure, the murder of Khashoggi, and the fact that the Pentagon told a bunch of simplistic lies and made a bunch of baseless promises eight months ago and didn’t think up anything new to explain them away this time around. Each of these three reasons is encouraging and worth building on.


      Senator Elizabeth Warren’s big new speech and article on foreign policy last week pretended that a war on Iraq that killed over 1 million people had killed 6,000; proposed to end wars in order to be more prepared for other wars; dishonestly demonized other nations; advocated “better” weapons; urged that U.S. troops be brought back from Afghanistan “starting now” (rather than ending now — it’s been starting over and over again for more than a decade), and generally promoted militarism while rhetorically opposing it. There was no proposed military budget, no proposed joining of any treaties, no proposed actual ending of any wars, no concrete policy at all, no draft legislation the way one might expect on any other topic.

      Senator Bernie Sanders, while helping to lead the push on Yemen, otherwise continues to promote militarism and to address other topics as if militarism were unrelated. Last week over 100 scholars and activists signed a letter to Sanders that thousands of others have since added their names to. Part of the letter — which is addressed to Sanders but could be addressed with minor changes to any other Senator — reads:


      Have you actually read the Green New Deal — I mean the Democrats’ version under the same name but radically different from the Green Party’s version.

      It includes: “decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries,” but does not mention the top producer of carbon around, the U.S. military…

    • In the Name of “Saving” the Sage Grouse, the BLM Wants to Destroy Its Habitat

      The Challis and Salmon BLM of central Idaho appear to be ready to destroy much of the sage grouse habitat in the Lemhi, Pahsimeroi, and Lost River valleys, ironically in the name of protecting sage grouse.

      As an ecologist, and someone who has studied both sagebrush and sage-grouse ecology, I find the proposal to crush 134,000 acres of sagebrush in prime and associated sage grouse habitat almost criminal. I do not say that lightly.

      There is abundant scientific evidence that demonstrates that sagebrush is critical to sage grouse survival. Much of the area proposed for treatment currently does not even meet the BLM’s minimum levels of sagebrush cover for sage grouse, thus destroying tens of thousands of acres of sagebrush can only lead to the continued decline of sage grouse in the area.

      There is also abundant evidence that disturbance of sagebrush landscapes leads to an increase in cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is an invasive annual grass that is highly flammable. Since it can increase wildfire frequency in sagebrush landscapes, it is one of the significant threats to sagebrush ecosystems and sage grouse.

    • Extremes of heat will hit health and wealth

      Vulnerability to extremes of heat has risen in every region of the world. In 2017, an additional 157 million people were exposed in heatwave events, compared with 2000. That means that the average person now experiences 1.4 additional days of heatwaves per year.

      This enervating exposure to extended extremes of heat imposes a global cost. National economies – and household budgets – lost 153 billion hours of labour in 2017, because of sweltering days and torrid nights: this is an increase of 62 billion working hours – more than three billion working weeks – since the turn of the century.

      The rise in extremes of heat means that more people than ever are potentially at risk of heatwave-related conditions: among them heat stress, cardiovascular illness and kidney disease.

      That increasing extremes of heat, driven by ever greater levels of greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming and climate change, are a health hazard is now well established.

    • The November crisis

      November 2018 will have a special place in the history books — assuming, that is, the future has any time for history, or books. The month of record began right here at National Observer, when a tip from Reclaim Alberta’s Regan Boychuk resulted in one of the greatest Canadian revelations ever… of something that was already self-evident: a century of oil and gas development in the province of Alberta has left a mess that will take at least a quarter of a trillion dollars to clean up.

      The month ended with GM announcing the end of a century of automotive production in Oshawa — a crisis for 2,500 workers and their families, for which, it rapidly became clear, no level of government had any solution whatsoever. It’s as if the $10.8 billion dollar public bailout of the company less than a decade ago never happened. And while this ritual of deindustrialization was playing out — highlighting how little public interest is ever purchased with even epic levels of corporate welfare — Rachel Notley was in Ottawa, demanding more.

  • Finance

    • Women in tech overlooked as study finds 93pc of investment goes to start-ups with all-male founders
    • Pausing at the Fed

      My friend, Jared Bernstein, laid out the case for a pause in the Fed’s interest rate hikes at its meeting this month. I agree with pretty much everything Jared said, but want to push one point a bit further.

      Jared raises the argument made by the more hawkish types that we have well-anchored inflationary expectations that we don’t want to risk losing by allowing inflation to accelerate. This line is given as a rationale for hiking interest rates in a context where inflation even now is under the Fed’s 2.0 percent target. And, this target is, of course, an average, meaning that to be consistent with the target we must have some periods with inflation above 2.0 percent.


      The unemployment rate looks likely to get still lower in the months ahead, probably crossing 3.5 percent and likely getting lower. Can it hit 3.0 percent? I don’t know, but let’s see what happens if we try. The potential benefits are enormous and the downsides are shall we say, speculative.

    • Putting the Trump Stamp on the Public

      D.T. (as aides refer to the present occupant of the Oval Office) is really quite good at one special skill: branding. He has slapped his name on a ridiculous range of consumer merch — teddy bears, steaks, made-in-China ties, vodka, underwear and even a urine test. His nasty policies and behavior steadily turned the brand toxic, as only two merchandisers have kept his name on their products. Still, some two dozen towers, condos, palaces and other glossy real estate edifices blare his name, and 17 global golf meccas proclaim his ostentatious wealth. Then, of course, there’s his very own post office.

      Yes, he bought a 60-year lease on the “Old Post Office Pavilion,” an iconic 1899 federal structure that once housed our country’s postal service and has also been the home of various other national government agencies. Located just five blocks from the White House, D.T. and daughter Ivanka had it converted into a 270-room hotel for the rich in 2016. “The Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C.,” boasting gold-trimmed bathrooms and a 5,000-square-foot suite in what once was the office of America’s postmaster general. The suite can be yours for about $25,000 a night (but that’s a bargain compared to a bigger presidential suite that The Donald named for himself, charging up to $29,000 for a one-night-stay, plus $4,000 in taxes). Branding the once-public facility with the family name was “really important,” Ivanka declared at the launch of the redo. “You’ve got to be careful,” she explained. “You can’t allow people to walk by thinking it’s a post office.”


      The problem for these ideologues and corporate predators is that USPS is not only a government agency that works, but a tangible presence in people’s daily lives, so millions of folks see it working for them. Therefore, to maintain the negative political narrative about public entities, the far-right corporatists are desperate to kill our public post offices. For more information and to keep the post office public, go to USMailNotForSale.org.

    • One Country Is Mocking the U.S. With Free College (Video)

      On this segment from his comedy show, “Redacted Tonight,” Lee Camp takes one country to task for weaponizing free college. Clearly, citizens of this nation are mocking the United States, where some 44 million citizens collectively hold $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.

      Camp contrasts the American system to that of Venezuela, which provides extremely affordable higher education to all of its citizens. Universal free education was part of the revolutionary platform of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

      Meanwhile, American college graduates—and dropouts—often find themselves living in “debt peonage” for decades after entering the working world as they attempt to juggle finding a decent job and paying back their debtors.

    • Urban Communities of Color Increasingly Reject Charter Schools

      At a recent school board meeting in New Orleans, more than 100 parents swamped the hearing room, requiring dozens to have to stand. Many of the parents had filled out public comment cards so they would be allowed to address the board.

      What most in the crowd came prepared to talk about were their concerns about recent recommendations by the superintendent to close five schools and transfer the students to other schools in the district. Their demand was for the elected board to take a more hands-on role in improving the schools instead of closing them down.

      But when Ashana Bigard, a New Orleans public school parent and advocate, realized the board had altered the agenda, and limited parents’ comment time, she decided to speak out of turn.

      “How is closing the schools helping our children?” she asked the board members. She pointed out that many of the children in the schools being closed are special needs students with serious, trauma-induced learning disabilities, and now these children are being uprooted and transferred to schools that lack expertise with these problems. “These children have been experimented on for too long,” she declared.

    • Canada Arrests CFO of China’s Huawei Technologies ‘on Behalf of’ U.S.

      Canadian authorities said Wednesday that they have arrested the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies for possible extradition to the United States.

      Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Saturday.

      McLeod said a publication ban had been imposed in the case and he could not provide further details. The ban was sought by Meng, who has a bail hearing Friday, he said.

      The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese tech giant Huawei violated sanctions on Iran.

      Meng is also deputy chairman of the board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei.

    • Huawei CFO arrested in Canada, awaits US extradition

      Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer and second-largest smartphone maker, has been arrested in Vancouver, Canada on suspicion she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran, as first reported by The Globe and Mail.

      Huawei confirmed the news with TechCrunch, adding that Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, faces unspecified charges in the Eastern District of New York, where she had transferred flights on her way to Canada.

    • NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Defends Amazon Deal at Sanders Event

      U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio ride a New York City subway together in October 2017. (Richard Drew / AP)
      Days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got booed at the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, an audience member at the Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vt., wanted to know how the plan to allow Amazon to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, in exchange for nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies fits with progressive ideals.

      “How does this Amazon deal reconcile with our values?” filmmaker Josh Fox asked Saturday, the last day of a three-day event organized by the think tank founded by Jane Sanders, wife of Vermont senator and possible 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

      De Blasio—who received a round of applause from the audience for New York City’s end of stop-and-frisk and repeatedly referred to himself as a progressive—said the agreement with Amazon will create new jobs for New Yorkers and generate revenue. Among a heavyweight progressive attendee list, including former New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, actor John Cusack and nurses who helped bring “Medicare for all” to the forefront of Sanders’ agenda, de Blasio appeared much more willing to compromise than other conference speakers desperate for a change of the status quo.

      “Look, I want to say on Amazon, I think everyone in this room could easily mount a critique of corporate America writ large, Amazon in specific—I sure could, too,” de Blasio said.


      Already, about 1,500 units of affordable housing in Long Island City have been turned over to Amazon.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • In ‘Craven’ Bait-and-Switch Attack on Workers, Michigan GOP Guts Minimum Wage and Sick Leave Proposals

      Three months after ensuring that Michigan voters would not have a say in proposals to hike the state’s minimum wage and provide sick leave to workers, the state’s Republican-led Senate pushed through major changes to the initiatives on Tuesday, effectively gutting legislation that hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents had demanded.

      Under the original minimum wage proposal, the state’s minimum wage would have gone up from $9.25 to $12 per hour by 2022—but workers will have to wait until 2030 under the GOP’s version of the bill. Tipped workers’s wages will go up to only $4 from $3.52 per hour by that time under the Republican proposal.

      The raise offered in the original proposal was meager compared to the reforms that Fight for 15 and other workers’ rights groups advocate for. According to MIT, a single parent in Michigan needs to earn $23 per hour to make a living wage.

    • Will Mexico’s Left-Wing President Help Trump’s Immigration Agenda?

      In his first press conference since taking office, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as “AMLO” for short, said he is working with the United States and Canada to create a three-way investment plan to stem migration from Central America and southern Mexico.

      López Obrador, perhaps Mexico’s most left-wing president in modern history, took office Saturday after winning a landslide victory in July. He promised “a peaceful and orderly transition, but one that is deep and radical … because we will end the corruption and impunity that prevent Mexico’s rebirth.”

      A former mayor of Mexico City, López Obrador pledged on the campaign trail to place a cap on public officials’ pay, including cutting his own salary and nixing the presidential jet, while ending privatization schemes that have deepened the country’s economic divide.

      Many Mexicans’ hopes for real change are high after decades of corruption at all levels of government and high rates of violence. The new president now faces a trial by fire in achieving his ambitious domestic agenda.

      But first, López Obrador must address the ongoing crisis of thousands of asylum-seeking Central American migrants stuck in limbo in Tijuana and other border cities as the United States deliberately delays processing asylum applications while closing ports of entry to potential refugees.

    • Republican Voter Fraud Could Force New Election in North Carolina

      The 2018 midterm elections created a blue wave far larger than many expected. But in one North Carolina congressional race, the Republican candidate still managed to beat his Democratic opponent — although only by 900 votes.

      Now, a second look at the race suggests that the margin may very well have been the result of GOP election-stealing. And as a result of that fraud, the district may have to start all over with a brand new election.

      Far-right Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris beat GOP incumbent Representative Robert Pittenger in the party primary, but he struggled in the general election against Democrat Dan McCready.

      Harris — who believes that the earth was created just 10,000 years ago and that wives need to submit to their husbands because the Bible says so — barely eked out his alleged November victory, coming just 905 votes ahead of McCready out of more than 200,000 votes cast.

    • The GOP Is Scared of Democracy. Just Look at Wisconsin.

      Democracy dies in darkness because Republicans wait until after dark to kill it.

      That’s what happened last night, and before sunrise this morning, in Wisconsin. The state’s GOP-run state legislature used an extraordinary session to strip powers from the newly elected Democratic governor and attorney general and roll back voting rights.

      When they unveiled the bills, Wisconsin’s Republican legislative chiefs — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — wrote in a statement that “The legislature is the most representative branch in government,” as though the bills were a defense of democracy.

      The truth is, Wisconsin’s GOP power grab took place precisely because the state GOP is afraid of democracy. That fear is etched all over the bills — dubbed the “Wisconsin power grab” — that lawmakers just rammed through the statehouse.

    • The GOP’s Power Grabs Are a Measure of Political Despair Produced by the 2018 Election Clobbering

      As the dust refuses to settle from the 2018 midterms, there are stubborn reminders that there really are two Americas when it comes to voting and elections.

      This week, Republican-majority legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin—both created by GOP-led extreme gerrymanders in 2011—are trying to rush through legislation to strip power from Democratic statewide winners of executive branch offices in November.

      In Wisconsin, the GOP wants to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general over how public benefit programs can be run, and on how regulations can be implemented—the fine print of governing. In Michigan, where voters elected a Democratic governor, attorney general and secretary of state, it’s even worse, as GOP legislators want to limit the attorney general’s power to litigate (and to create a new legislative power to do so) and to pre-empt campaign finance regulation.

    • State Republicans Are Refusing to Honor the Peaceful Transition of Power

      In Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states, the refusal of Republicans to accept election results sends an ominous signal.

    • Thousands of Wisconsinites turn out to protest outgoing Republicans’ plan to seize power after electoral defeat
    • Trump biographer: The president has been compromised by the Russians “for decades”

      “I believe most of the GOP leadership has been compromised by” Russian money, author Craig Unger added

    • ‘Democracy Dies…in the Early Morning Light’ as Wisconsin GOP Rams Through ‘Lame Duck Legislative Coup’

      After hours of debate and secret negotiations that dragged on into the early hours of the morning amid a backdrop of mass protests, Wisconsin’s Senate on Wednesday approved a Republican plan to strip power from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers and transfer major authority over the state’s legal affairs from the incoming Democratic attorney general to the GOP-dominated legislature.

      “Democracy dies in darkness… or perhaps in the early morning light,” wrote The Nation’s John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, after the measure passed the state Senate and headed toward an Assembly vote, the final hurdle before the legislation reaches outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. The plan is expected to easily sail through the Assembly as early as Wednesday morning, and Walker has said he will sign it.

    • “A Smoking Saw”: Bin Salman Loses Support of Key GOP Senators with CIA Briefing

      Among the things Saudi Arabia wants from the United States is support for its war on Yemen and permission to buy from US arms corporations state-of-the-art military weaponry. Both things are now in peril, as key Republican senators reacted to a secret briefing by Gina Haspel, director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

      Haspel gave her presentation to only 8, arbitrarily chosen senators. They included outgoing senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and the senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both of whom came out after the briefing to say they had no doubt at all that Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered and managed the assassination of dissident journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

      Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis testified to the senate that the CIA had not linked the crown prince to the murder definitively.

      Corker said after the briefing that if Bin Salman went before a jury, “he would be convicted in 30 minutes.”

    • How Betsy DeVos Does the Koch Brothers’ Bidding

      While the serial outrages of the Trump administration continue to make headlines, the more mundane activities of his cabinet officials and their underlings often fly under the radar.

      Take U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, for instance, whose nomination drew a history-making opposition and set off an avalanche of ridicule in social media and late-night comedy, but who now operates largely out of public view, behind a security screen that is projected to cost the taxpayers nearly $8 million over the next year.

      What’s largely been overlooked behind all the lurid headlines and endless insults are all the ways in which officials like DeVos are quietly at work continuing to use our tax money to advance a deeply troubling agenda.

      Now that Congress is poised to turn from Red to Blue, DeVos’s activities – such as rolling back regulation of for-profit colleges, stalling the forgiveness of student loans and rewriting rules for the treatment of campus sexual assault – are getting increased scrutiny from House Democrats.

    • ‘Time to Walk the Walk’: Ocasio-Cortez Announces ‘At Least’ $15 Wage for Interns

      “It’s a very nasty system that keeps rich people in control,” Carlos Vera, founder of Pay Our Interns, told Rolling Stone. A former congressional intern himself, Vera explained how the system of unpaid jobs in the Capitol has everything to do with keeping working-class students and people from low-income families out of the halls of power. As a Latino, Vera said, “I saw an extreme lack of diversity, both in interns and staff in Congress.”

      On Monday, in a separate tweet, Ocasio-Cortez explained how she’d been at a late-night eatery in DC where she talked with several of the restaurant staff who also work on Capitol Hill.

      “This is a disgrace. Congress of ALL places should raise [Members' Representational Allowances] so we can pay staff an actual DC living wage,” she wrote. “It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just bc Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal responsibility.’”

    • He is West Virginia’s Speaker of the House — and a Lawyer for Natural Gas Companies

      Toward the end of this year’s legislative session, a little-noticed bill was moving through the West Virginia House of Delegates to limit legal challenges that had slowed new natural gas-fired power plants in the state.

      Delegate Roger Hanshaw, a Republican lawyer from Clay County who was serving as vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee, took to the floor to explain the legislation.

      “This bill is a little inside baseball to practitioners of environmental law in West Virginia,” explained Hanshaw, a supporter of the bill.

      It wasn’t the first time that Hanshaw engaged in some pretty effective legislative inside baseball on energy bills.

    • To Advance Bold Progressive Policies, Ocasio-Cortez Takes on Wall Street Democrat for Seat on Key Tax Committee

      But putting theory and analysis into action requires the exercise of political power, and that is precisely what Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is attempting to do by challenging Wall Street-friendly New York Democrat and self-described fiscal conservative Rep. Tom Suozzi for a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

      As the House’s primary tax-writing body, Ways and Means would be directly involved in the crafting of any potential Medicare for All and Green New Deal legislation—two causes Ocasio-Cortez has unabashedly championed alongside a record number of congressional Democrats.

      “Ocasio-Cortez is routinely asked how she plans to pay for her aggressive economic agenda, and the first answer begins with securing a spot on the House’s key tax-writing committee,” noted The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, who first reported on the New York democratic socialist’s plan to vie for a Ways and Means seat on Tuesday. “Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to go after a spot on the Ways and Means Committee is part of a broader strategy to grow progressive power in the coming Congress.”

    • Choosing #PeoplesOrientation, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez Protest Right-Wing Backed Event for New Members of Congress

      While many incoming lawmakers participated in the supposedly bipartisan conference hosted by Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute for Politics and co-sponsored by the corporate think tank American Enterprise Institute, a group of high-profile progressives joined Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) at the outdoor event, organized by the Center for Popular Democracy and Boston-area Medicare-for-All advocates.

      As Boston Globe columnist Nestor Ramos put it, “Some of the left’s rising stars—the first real glimmer of hope for progressive causes in about two years—staked out a strategy that doesn’t sound much like the bend-over-backwards-for-bipartisanship, please-sir-may-I-have-another Democrats who might as well have Republican footprints tattooed on their necks.”

      Democratic representatives-elect who attended the rally included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Andy Levin (Mich.), Lori Trahan (Mass.), Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.).


      For one event on Wednesday morning, activists delivered to Harvard’s president a letter demanding that the university divest from a hedge fund that is driving austerity and privatization in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

    • The GOP’s Power Grabs Expose an Increasingly Desperate Party

      As the dust refuses to settle from the 2018 midterms, there are stubborn reminders that there really are two Americas when it comes to voting and elections.

      This week, Republican-majority legislatures in Michigan and Wisconsin—both created by GOP-led extreme gerrymanders in 2011—are trying to rush through legislation to strip power from Democratic statewide winners of executive branch offices in November.

      In Wisconsin, the GOP wants to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general over how public benefit programs can be run, and on how regulations can be implemented—the fine print of governing. In Michigan, where voters elected a Democratic governor, attorney general and secretary of state, it’s even worse, as GOP legislators want to limit the attorney general’s power to litigate (and to create a new legislative power to do so) and to pre-empt campaign finance regulation.

      “They lost and they’re throwing a fit,” was how Jon Erpenbach, a Wisconsin Democratic state senator, put it to the New York Times.

    • Iceland’s “Anti-Trump” Prime Minister Joins Sanders-Varoufakis Open Call for Global Progressive Alliance

      Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir this week announced her support for Progressive International—the just-launched global movement calling for all progressives to fight together for a “shared vision of democracy, prosperity, sustainability, and solidarity.”

      A brainchild of the U.S.-based Sanders Institute and Europe’s DiEM25—groups founded by Jane O’Meara Sanders and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, respectively—the Progressive International’s open call was unveiled Friday at the inaugural Sanders Institute Gathering, a three-day congregation of hundreds of progressive leaders tackling issues including “full-throated economic populism,” Medicare for All, and a vision “for a world that works for the children of this world, not for a handful of billionaires.”

      The feminist and environmentalist Jakobsdóttir, who’s been described as “the anti-Trump,” wrote on her Facebook page that the Progressive International represented “the struggle for general welfare, security, and dignity for all people,” and that a trans-border network of those on the left would help “alleviate social and economic inequality, make changes to the global financial system, turn away from the arms race, and stop climate change,” according to a Google translation of her post.

    • Can Corporate Media Be Any Worse…

      TV networks raked in hundreds of millions of dollars from campaign advertising—ones often filled with false or incendiary claims that overwhelm any feeble “factchecks” broadcasters offer in response.

      Blatant deceptions uttered by candidates on the campaign trail go unchallenged—as if checking the truth of politicians weren’t central to the definition of journalism. Pundits chattered and blathered endlessly about the horserace, the tweets and the insults—and didn’t seem to understand the media’s critical importance for an informed citizenry.

    • Trump Lawyer and Cybersecurity Adviser Rudy Giuliani Accuses Twitter of ‘Invading’ His Account After Typing Error Results in Anti-Trump Website Link

      Rudy Giuliani, who is serving as President Donald Trump’s attorney as his legal troubles mount, claimed late Tuesday night that Twitter is behind conspiracy to “invade” his account. The false accusation came days after another user noticed that Giuliani had inadvertently created a hyperlink within a tweet last Friday, allowing the user to create a website with a message about Giuliani’s presidential client.

      A punctuation error in Giuliani’s tweet regarding Michael Cohen’s guilty plea and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian agents last July resulted in a link to the domain name “G-20.In”—a website which did not exist until a user named Jason Velazquez saw Giuliani’s mistake, quickly purchased the domain, and created a no-frills webpage containing only the statement “Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country” and a link to a Reddit thread on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s cooperation with the Mueller probe.

    • Wisconsin GOP Votes to Weaken Democrat Who Defeated Walker

      Wisconsin Republicans pushed through protests, internal disagreement and Democratic opposition Wednesday to pass far-reaching legislation that would shift power to the GOP-controlled Legislature and weaken the Democrat who defeated Republican Gov. Scott Walker last month.

      The vote, coming after an all-night debate, was the height of a lame-duck legislative session aimed at reducing the authority of the office Republicans will lose in January. Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul warned that resulting lawsuits would bring more gridlock when the new administration takes over.

      Walker has signaled his support for the bill. He has 10 days to sign the package from the time it’s delivered to his office.

      Republicans were battered in the midterm election, losing all statewide races amid strong Democratic turnout. But they retained legislative majorities thanks to what Democrats say are gerrymandered districts that tilt the map.

      “Wisconsin has never seen anything like this,” Evers said in a statement Wednesday. “Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Tumblr’s Porn Ban Reveals Who Controls What We See Online

      In interviews and messages with WIRED, more than 30 sex workers, porn consumers, and creators on Tumblr lamented the loss of what they described as a unique, safe space for curated sexually themed GIFs, photos, and videos. Many users who had used the microblogging site as their primary source for porn were at a loss when asked where they would go after Tumblr’s ban on “adult content” goes into effect on December 17. For the thousands of sex workers who used the site to share their own explicit content in a controlled, relatively contained manner—not to mention the countless others who used that content to fill the hyper-curated feeds of some of the site’s most popular porn blogs—the crackdown’s consequences are even more difficult to unpack. And researchers say the ban could shrink Tumblr’s user base, which already appears in turmoil over the decision.

      The move comes less than two weeks after Apple pulled Tumblr from the iOS App Store after child pornography was found on the site. Though the offending illegal content was removed quickly, according to Tumblr, the app has yet to return to the App Store (it was never removed from the Google Play Store). In its most recent blog post, Tumblr stated that its longstanding no-tolerance policy against child pornography should not be conflated with the move to ban adult content. The latter, Tumblr argued, was inspired by a drive to create “a better Tumblr.” But these sorts of decisions aren’t made in a vacuum.

    • Tumblr will block grot content come 17 December
    • Dear Tumblr: Banning “Adult Content” Won’t Make Your Site Better But It Will Harm Sex-Positive Communities

      Social media platform Tumblr has announced a ban on so-called “adult content,” a move made, it seems, in reaction to Tumblr’s app being removed from the Apple app store. But while making the app more available is in theory good for Tumblr users, in practice what’s about to happen is mass censorship of communities that have made Tumblr a positive experience for so many people in the first place.

      On December 3, Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio posted a lengthy missive about a new policy, titled, apparently unironically, “A better, more positive Tumblr.” Instead of laying out a vision that is better and positive, D’Onofrio’s post lays bare the problems with the ban on so-called “adult content.” First of all, the policy is confusing and broad, leaving users in the lurch about what they can and can’t do on Tumblr. Second, according to D’Onofrio, enforcement of the policy will be reliant on automated tools, the use of which is—and always has been—rife with problems. Third, the people who will end up punished aren’t pornbots or sex traffickers but already-marginalized groups who have built sex- and body-positive communities on Tumblr. And finally, all of these things come together to show just how many ways platforms and tech companies can get in between users and their freedom of expression.

    • Tumblr’s New ‘No Sex’ Rules Show The Problems Of FOSTA And EU Copyright Directive In One Easy Move

      As you may have heard by now, on Monday, Tumblr announced that in just a couple weeks it will be banning porn from its platform as part of a change to its rules. Now, of course, Tumblr has every right to run its platform however it sees fit, but it does seem notable that it wasn’t all that long ago that Tumblr openly defended the fact that Tumblr hosts a bunch of “Not Safe For Work” content, explaining that they supported free speech, and didn’t want to be in the business of carefully determining whether or not something was “artful” photography or just porn.

      Of course, that was before Verizon bought Yahoo (which had previously bought Tumblr). And it was before FOSTA became law. As Wired points out, this move to ban all porn comes just weeks after Apple banned the Tumblr app from the App Store over some illegal images (even after Tumblr was alerted and took those images down). It’s not hard to see how some execs at Verizon might have looked at all of this as a headache that just isn’t worth it — especially given the potential criminal liability that comes from FOSTA. Remember, a few months back, we noted that a bunch of online trolls were deliberately targeting women they didn’t like on various platforms claiming (often without evidence) that they were engaged in prostitution. Many of those targeted used Tumblr. It’s not difficult to see how Verizon just decided to rid itself of this whole headache.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Verizon Dinged Again For Privacy Violations, This Time For Slinging Personalized Ads To Kids

      But much like the company’s fine for its earlier scandal, the fine itself is likely a small fraction of the money made during the time AOL spent intentionally turning a blind eye as behavior ads were aimed at kids and kid-frequented websites. The AG’s report notes that until late last year (presumably as a result of realizing the AG inquiry existed), AOL’s systems ignored any information that it received from an ad exchange indicating that the ad space was subject to COPPA, so the website routinely ignored the law in general. It’s worth noting that the full settlement has not yet been released.

      There’s no indication from the NY AG (I’ve reached out for more detail) how long this was going on, but it’s fairly obvious the income AOL made from ignoring COPPA (there were 1.3 billion auctions of display ad space) outweighs any penalty it’s facing, however historic. COPPA is one of the few privacy regulations currently in place, and even then, Verizon/AOL/Oath’s decision to just ignore the law speaks pretty broadly as to how even the privacy laws we do have are inconsistently enforced. Especially when we’re talking about deep-pocketed telecom giants, who have openly flirted with the idea of charging users even more money for privacy without regulators so much as batting an eye.

      As we sit down and begin the long, difficult conversation about what a real internet-era privacy law should look like, the lion’s share of the focus remains (quite justly given the Cambridge Analytica scandal) on Facebook. But it can’t be understated how the telecom industry has historically been even worse — especially given they’re effectively bone-grafted to the nation’s intelligence surveillance apparatus. That these are the companies that will have the biggest impact on the crafting of privacy laws should terrify anyone interested in getting meaningful privacy legislation right.

    • Internal Documents Show Facebook Has Never Deserved Our Trust or Our Data

      The question Mark Zuckerberg has been asked ad nauseum—after each and every new scandal that has affected Facebook—is “why should users trust Facebook with their data?” It’s been asked by members of Congress, rhetorically by journalists in dozens of thinkpieces, and directly to Zuckerberg in most recent press calls. Zuckerberg has been forced to contritely answer this question so many times that many have said he’s gone on an “apology tour.”

      Zuckerberg recently called the Cambridge Analytica scandal a “major trust issue” and, as the scandals have kept coming—a Facebook hack, content moderation practices that allow Holocaust denial and white nationalism, a PR campaign against its detractors including George Soros—Facebook has continued to pitch itself as a flawed but well-intentioned company that is learning as it goes and never imagined any of the harm that has been caused by its product.

      But new internal Facebook documents that are part of a lawsuit filed by a firm called Six4Three and published Wednesday by a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament shows once and for all that Facebook knew the potential harms of its product all along and pushed forth anyway. The answer to the question “why should we trust Facebook?” is: We shouldn’t, and we never should have.

      The documents show that Facebook’s highest leadership including Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg purposefully designed a product intended to get users to share as much data as possible about themselves, and then worked to leverage that data to work with as many advertisers as possible using a tactic known as “reciprocity.” This is a tactic that was pitched by Zuckerberg in 2012 and signed off on by Sandberg in emails sent between top Facebook executives.

    • Good For The World, But Not Good For Us: The Really Damning Bits Of The Facebook Revelations

      As expected, UK Parliament Member Damian Collins released a bunch of documents that he had previously seized under questionable circumstances. While he had revealed some details in a blatantly misleading way during the public hearing he held, he’s now released a bunch more. Collins tees up the 250 page release with a few of his own notes, which also tend to exaggerate and misrepresent what’s in the docs, and many people are running with a few of those misrepresentations.

      However, that doesn’t mean that all of these documents have been misrepresented. Indeed, there are multiple things in here that look pretty bad for Facebook, and could be very damaging for it on questions around the privacy protections it had promised the FTC it would put in place, as well as in any potential anti-trust fight. It’s not that surprising to understand how Facebook got to the various decisions it made, but the “move fast and break things” attitude also seems to involve the potential of breaking both the law and the company’s own promises to its users. And that’s bad.

      First, the things that really aren’t that big a deal: a lot of the reporting has focused on the idea that Facebook would give greater access to data to partners who signed up to give Facebook money via its advertising or other platforms. There doesn’t seem to be much of a bombshell there. Lots of companies who have APIs charge for access. This is kind of a standard business model question, and some of the emails in the data dump show what actually appears to be a pretty thoughtful discussion of various business model options and their tradeoffs. This was a company that recognized it had valuable information and was trying to figure out the best way to monetize it. There isn’t much of a scandal there, though some people seem to think there is. Perhaps you could argue that allowing some third parties to have greater access Facebook has a cavalier attitude towards that data since it’s willing to trade access to it for money, but there’s no evidence presented that this data was used in an abusive way (indeed, by putting a “price” on the access, Facebook likely limited the access to companies who had every reason to not abuse the data).

    • 250 pages of internal Facebook files were just dumped online—here are the 6 key takeaways
    • Rudy Giuliani’s Paranoid Nonsense Tweet Is A Good Reminder That We Need Actual Cybersecurity Experts In Government

      Rudy Giuliani may have built up a reputation for himself as “America’s Mayor” but the latest chapters in his life seem to be a mad dash to undue whatever shred of goodwill or credibility he might have left. Politics watchers will know that he’s been acting as the President’s lawyer, in which (as far as I can tell) his main job is to go on TV news programs and reveal stuff no lawyer should reveal. But, we shouldn’t forget Giuliani’s previous jobs. His earlier firm, Giuliani Partners, had a subsidiary called Giuliani Security that at least at one time claimed to do “cybersecurity.” Of course, when the press explored what that actually meant, it was fairly limited.

    • The Lawfare Podcast: Global Developments in Encryption and Surveillance Law

      In August, legal and technical experts gathered in Santa Barbara for the Crypto 2018 Workshop on Encryption and Surveillance to further the ongoing debate over the impact of strong encryption and law enforcement surveillance capabilities. Over the past several days, Lawfare has published a series of reflections that capture some of the views presented at the conference. On this episode of the Lawfare Podcast, we’ve brought you one of the conversations from the event itself, in which Jim Baker of Brookings and Lawfare, Cindy Cohn of the EFF, Sven Herpig of the New Responsibilities Foundation, Adam Ingle of Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, and Ian Levy of the U.K.’s GCHQ discussed recent developments in the laws and policy governing encryption and surveillance around the world.

    • #ThotAudit Is Compiling Massive Databases of Sex Workers and Reporting Them to PayPal

      Misogynists are compiling massive databases of sex workers in an effort to threaten, harm, and harass them for making a living.

      People participating in the viral harassment campaign known as #ThotAudit seek to make it more difficult for those in the sex trade to work. It started with calls to report sex workers to the Internal Revenue Services for tax fraud through the IRS whistleblower program, but has morphed into efforts to attack and intimidate these women in general. Harassers have begun reporting sex workers to payment processors like PayPal and Circle Pay, which have historically been hostile toward adult content.

    • Encryption bill: Porter outlines changes that made deal possible

      The Federal Government says Labor’s initial suggestions about passing a cut-down version of the encryption bill were not acceptable, and a compromise announced on Tuesday had removed some of Labor’s demands.

    • Encryption bill: CA chief wants ‘dangerous loophole’ plugged

      The Federal Government must act to plug a “dangerous loophole” in its encryption bill before it is passed by Parliament before the end of Thursday, the chief executive of the lobby group Communications Alliance, John Stanton, has said.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • CBS Report Details New Allegations Against Moonves

      A report by CBS lawyers outlines more allegations of sexual misconduct by longtime chief Les Moonves, The New York Times reported.

    • Exclusive: UK police wants AI to stop violent crime before it happens

      Police in the UK want to predict serious violent crime using artificial intelligence, New Scientist can reveal. The idea is that individuals flagged by the system will be offered interventions, such as counselling, to avert potential criminal behaviour.

      However, one of the world’s leading data science institutes has expressed serious concerns about the project after seeing a redacted version of the proposals.

      The system, called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS), uses a combination of AI and statistics to try to assess the risk of someone committing or becoming a victim of gun or knife crime, as well as the likelihood of someone falling victim to modern slavery.

      West Midlands Police is leading the project and has until the end of March 2019 to produce a prototype. Eight other police forces, including London’s Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police, are also involved. NDAS is being designed so that every police force in the UK could eventually use it.

      Police funding has been cut significantly over recent years, so forces need a system that can look at all individuals already known to officers, with the aim of prioritising those who need interventions most urgently, says Iain Donnelly, the police lead on the project.

    • Trump’s Wrong About Illegal Immigration Costs: Report

      President Donald Trump is spreading misleading numbers about the cost of illegal immigration.

      As he tries to pressure Democrats to fund his long-promised southern border wall, Trump is claiming the country loses $250 billion a year on illegal immigration. But it remained unclear Tuesday where Trump had found that number, which is dramatically higher than previous estimates.

    • Is the United States Beyond Redemption?

      The loudest hysterics were reserved for the bedraggled, footsore “caravan of invaders” inching its way north through Mexico, several thousand desperate souls bringing, according to Trump, crime and terrorists. On Fox Business, Chris Farrell, a conservative activist, promoted the ongoing right-wing allegation that George Soros, who is Jewish, was paying migrants to come to the U.S. Kris Kobach, GOP candidate for governor of Kansas, declared that Democrats had “open-border psychosis.” Ted Cruz, fighting for his political life in Texas, led chants of “Build that wall!” at his rallies.

    • Alameda and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Flew Drones Over Protests

      At the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in October, presenters from the Orlando Police Department issued a stern warning for fellow local law enforcement officials eager to start a small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS or drones) program.

      “We don’t want to use them when people are exercising freedom of speech,” Orlando Police Sgt. Jeffrey Blye told the audience during the best practices portion of his talk. “Because that will destroy your program quickly.”

      That is excellent advice for police departments, but sheriffs in the San Francisco Bay Area have chosen not to follow it.

      The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office had drones at the ready on the scene for many high-profile protests in Berkeley and on the University of California Berkeley campus throughout 2017. Just to the north, the Contra Costa County Sheriff deployed drones over immigrant rights rallies outside the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, California, which houses detainees for ICE.

      Records obtained by EFF and the Center for Human Rights and Privacy answer some questions, and raise many more about when, how, and if these agencies should deploy drones at peaceful protests. The same goes for drone deployment at mostly peaceful protests that are interrupted by a small portion of the participants engaging in civil disobedience, violence, or property damage.

    • Richer Rich People and Terrified Brown People: Bush Was Basically Trump With Better Manners

      As expected, the funeral for George H.W. Bush offered abundant political theater, much of it pretty entertaining at a time when God knows we can use it. There were the usual blunders from our Lout-In-Chief: He needed a stretch limo and 8-car motorcade to cross Pennsylvania Avenue to the Blair House Tuesday night to welcome George Bush for a 20-minute visit; he weirdly tweeted he was “looking forward” to Wednesday’s “celebration,” which was “not a funeral,” except, yeah, it was; on arriving, he clumsily handed his coat to a soldier at attention, evidently mistaking him for a coat-rack.

      There was the drama of the Awkward Pew, wherein the gathered political elites – Obamas, Clintons, Carters – enjoyed a smiling, affable meet-and-greet until the moment of Trump’s lumbering entry, at which point descended a sudden chill you could see, feel and damn near smell – and even a side-eye from the ever-civil Jimmy Carter – followed by an endless series of snubs, pouts and scowls by a hunched-over Trump “glaring like a constipated vulture.” And there were the speakers extolling Bush virtues – decency, dignity, integrity – once viewed as standard presidential attributes but now seen as slams against a current president who wholly lacks them.

      Unsurprisingly, those soothing speeches ignored the multiple crimes that are Bush’s legacy. The narratives of a model of goodness and civility left out Bush’s wars, his lies about the wars, the innocent blood on his hands. They left out the racism he stoked, the drug war he expanded, the scourge of incarceration he helped create. The lying to Congress and obstruction of justice. The support of Pinochet’s murder of thousands of Chilean dissidents. The cruel myth of trickle-down economics. The political hack and sexual abuser Clarence Thomas. And his “murderous neglect” during an AIDS crisis summed up by the chant, “History will recall/George Bush did nothing at all.” Calling out Bush’s failure to use his immense power, writes Garance Franke-Ruta, “is about honoring the deaths of others who were equally beloved to their communities, but far from equal in power…Bush may have been lovely to those inside the circle of concern, but he drew that circle narrowly during a moment when it would have meant the world to draw it larger.”

    • Does the Second Amendment Protect Only White Gun Owners?

      Recent police killings of Black men for possessing guns they were legally carrying shows the racial double standards of “the good guy with a gun.”
      The most common refrain from gun rights supporters in the wake of mass shootings or other gun violence is that the best response to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Yet in recent weeks, we have seen two Black men, a group already disproportionately victimized by police use of lethal force, shot and killed by police while protecting those around them with guns they were legally allowed to carry.

      It turns out that not only are unarmed African-Americans more likely to be shot, but those who seek to follow the advice of the National Rifle Association and others to arm themselves may only make themselves more vulnerable. It is especially troubling that gun rights proponents have largely been silent when police kill Black people for lawfully using their guns.

      For example, the NRA and President Trump — despite their embrace of the social media bullhorn — have not condemned the police for killing unarmed Black people. Moreover, they have yet to denounce police officers who kill Black people for possessing guns they’re legally entitled to carry.

    • New York Court Tells CBP Agent He’s Not Allowed To Pretend He’s A Traffic Cop

      In a short decision, the Supreme Court of the State of New York reminds federal agents what they can and can’t do while operating under the color of law. In this case (via The Newspaper) a CBP officer, who was supposed to be keeping an eye on the ultra-dangerous Canadians, decided he wanted to be a traffic cop instead.

      Spotting a driver “engaging in dangerous maneuvers,” the CBP agent (who is unnamed in the decision) decided to pursue the vehicle. He called the Buffalo (New York) Police Department to relay his observations. Deciding it would take too long for Buffalo PD officers to respond — and supposedly concerned about the danger posed by the driver — the CBP agent activated the lights on his vehicle and pulled the driver over.

      The CBP agent did not approach the driver until a Buffalo police officer arrived — not out of concern for the Constitution, but rather for his own personal safety. The CBP agent left after more police officers arrived. A gun was discovered during the stop and the driver was charged under New York law with illegal possession of a firearm.

    • Why I Ended the Horror of Long-Term Solitary in Colorado’s Prisons

      In Colorado, long-term solitary confinement used to be a tool that was regularly used in corrections. The problem is that it was not corrective at all. It was indiscriminate punishment that too often amounted to torture and did not make anyone safer.

      The practice was pervasive because it was considered reasonable and effective. It was neither. In practice, long-term isolation punished people in a way that not only lacked humanity but sense. And when a program lacks both sense and humanity, the results are as clear as they are disastrous: dehumanization and harm.

      We have ended the use of long-term solitary confinement in our state and limited its use to 15 days at a time. This limitation follows the international human rights standards from the United Nations’ Nelson Mandela Rules, which state that keeping someone in solitary confinement for over 15 days is torture.

      Since 2017, solitary confinement in Colorado has only been used in cases of a serious disciplinary violation. It is the only state in the nation that has limited the use of solitary confinement in this way.

      We made this policy change because we are committed to public safety. The research has shown that housing someone in a cell the size of a parking space for 22 or more hours per day for extended periods of time damages them both mentally and physically. Since most people who go to prison — 97 percent — return to their community, that means we were releasing people back into their communities in worse shape than when they arrived. That’s why long-term restrictive housing needs to end, not only for the health and well-being of incarcerated people — but for the communities to which they will return.

    • G20: You Can Smell Tear Gas in the Streets as the Oil Industry Squabbles

      Last week, two important meetings took place—one, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of the Group of 20 (G20) nations, and two, in Vienna, Austria, of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other oil producers. The two meetings did not produce any resolution to the major economic challenges in the world. But they did soothe the nerves of financial markets. At the G20, the United States and China dialed down the temperature over trade but did not settle the long-term grievances each side has of the other. At the OPEC+ meeting, Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed to cut production and raise the price of oil despite pressure from the United States and others to keep oil prices low.

      At neither meeting did the major powers find solutions to their problems. They are all caught in mazes from which there are no easy exits. But what calmed the world of finance was that the geopolitical tension between the major powers seemed to have lessened. What impact this reduced tension has for the world’s people, however, is not clear.

    • President Trump Is Accelerating the Militarization of the Southwest Border

      Under President Trump, the slide toward a fully militarized border between the U.S. and Mexico is happening rapidly to the detriment of civil rights.
      For decades, the ACLU has fought back against the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies and the use of the military in our communities. Nowhere is this militarization more pronounced than on the border between the U.S. and Mexico — and President Trump is only making it worse.

      The creation of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11 accelerated the government’s operations on the U.S.-Mexico border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division of DHS, grew in size and scope under the Bush and Obama administrations, gaining additional powers and hiring thousands of new personnel despite a “shocking” pattern of serious misconduct among its officers, including child abuse, sexual assault, wanton cruelty, and murder.

      The number of Border Patrol agents more than doubled between fiscal year 2000 and 2011, and by the year President Trump took office, CBP reported 19,437 Border Patrol agents on staff nationwide. This rise in Border Patrol agents, however, does not include thousands of other CBP officers on the border or personnel from other federal, state, and local agencies deployed to the border. Shortly after his inauguration, Trump called for the hiring of an additional 7,500 border agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, despite the serious concerns over lack of safeguards in hiring procedures and past corruption and criminality among border agents.

      On top of that, Trump joined Bush and Obama in authorizing the deployment of National Guard troops to the border, sending some 4,000 National Guard troops in 2018. Recently, Trump went even further, sending 5,900 military troops to the Southwest border just prior to the midterm election. The directive, ostensibly to address the arrival of the so-called migrant “caravan,” was clearly an effort to stoke fear of immigrants and influence the election. At the time, the caravan was over 1,000 miles from the border, and the number of unauthorized border crossers was one-third the level seen over a decade ago.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Small Websites Are Dying

      Historically small pages were made out of static HTML with some sprinkles of JavaScript here and there. I bet it is still the way to go in traditional server-side applications (like in Django or Ruby on Rails), but it is not cool anymore, so even if people still use them, very often it is just an API. These pages (no matter static or server-side rendered) had a lot of adhoc scripts, which looked like crazy tangled mess. It was a nightmare to maintain and test, and they were either very long or concatenated in some bizarre way.

    • FCC Commissioner Accuses Her Own Agency Of A Net Neutrality Cover Up

      We’ve long discussed how the Pai FCC’s net neutrality repeal was plagued with millions of fraudulent comments, many of which were submitted by a bot pulling names from a hacked database of some kind. Millions of ordinary folks (like myself) had their identities used to support Pai’s unpopular plan, as did several Senators. Numerous journalists have submitted FOIA requests for more data (server logs, IP addresses, API data, anything) that might indicate who was behind the fraudulent comments, who may have bankrolled them, and what the Pai FCC knew about it.

      But the Pai FCC has repeatedly tried to tap dance around FOIA requests, leading to several journalists (including those at the New York Times and Buzzfeed) suing the FCC. Despite the Times’ lawyers best efforts to work with the FCC to tailor the nature of their requests over a period of months, the agency continues to hide behind FOIA exemptions that don’t really apply here: namely FOIA exemption 6 (related to protecting privacy) and 7E (related to protecting agency security and law enforcement activity).

      And while the Times and Buzzfeed had appealed the FCC’s ruling, the FCC this week released a memorandum and order formally denying those requests. In it, the FCC doubles down on the claims that it’s simply blocking the release of this data because it’s super worried about the privacy of FCC commenters (though again, if you actually read the Times lawsuit, you’ll note the FCC was utterly inflexible in terms of narrowing down the scope of requests).

    • With Deadline to Save Net Neutrality Days Away, Here Are the 18 Democrats Still Siding With Telecom Donors Over Open Internet

      In addition to highlighting the names of the Democratic lawmakers who have yet to take a stand for net neutrality by signing on to the House Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure, the website—titled DemsAgainstThe.Net—also shows the amount of campaign cash each of the holdouts has received from the telecom industry.

      For example, according to Fight for the Future, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) is “selling out for $408,000.”

      “It’s hard to think of a more nauseatingly clear example of the corrupting influence of telecom money in our democracy,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement, urging people to contact their representatives. “These Democrats have no excuse: their constituents want them to support real net neutrality and the entire rest of their party has already done so. Do they really want to be seen as more beholden to corporate interests than the three Republican senators who voted for the CRA?”

      The 18 House Democrats who still haven’t signed on to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure to restore net neutrality protections are: Reps. Brandon Boyle (Pa.), Robert Brady (Pa.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cueller (Texas), Dwight Evans (Pa.), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Gene Green (Texas), Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), Brad Schneider (Ill.), David Scott (Ga.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Filemon Vela (Texas), Pete Visclosky (Ind.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), and Mary Gay Scanlon (Pa.).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • US Supreme Court likely to limit on-sale bar to public prior art [Ed: So the court agreed to look into Helsinn (Helsinn v Teva) and these patent propagandists pretend to already know the outcome! Why? Because that's what these patent extremists hope for?]

      Based on the Supreme Court’s line of questioning during Helsinn v Teva’s arguments, it appears the court may part from the Federal Circuit and support a new interpretation of “on-sale”

    • European GMO ruling stems CRISPR patent pool efforts [Ed: These patents are a scam]

      Plans for a CRISPR patent pool in the agricultural sector have been stifled by the ECJ’s July ruling that crops derived from the technology are genetically modified organisms.

    • Trademarks

      • Cadbury loses appeal for colour purple description alteration

        In what is being viewed as a “significant blow” to Cadbury, the UK Court of Appeal did not accept the confectionery company’s argument that its registration for the colour purple contained a series of trade marks

        A multinational confectionery company lost the case to alter its purple colour trade mark description at the UK Court of Appeal today.

      • Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition Against UK Drink Company, But May Have Bullied It To Death Anyway

        A review of our stories about Monster Energy’s trademark bullying ways might leave some scratching their heads as to why the company continues along these lines at all. After all, any review of those stories will leave one with the impression that Monster Energy seems to lose these trademark oppositions at nearly every turn. So, if that’s the case, why continue with this losing streak?

        Well, as we’ve explained previously, winning an opposition or lawsuit is only one of the real goals in trademark bullying. Other goals include making the opposition so painful and expensive so as to either push the victim into unreasonable changes or to simply drain the victim of cash and assets as they attempt to defend themselves. Likewise, such bullying serves as public notice to anyone else that might consider similar actions that would draw the bully’s ire, chilling their willingness to do so. In this, Monster Energy’s trademark bullying is often quite successful.

    • Copyrights

      • YouTube Terminates ‘Kodi No Limits’ Account With 600K Subscribers

        The popular ‘Kodi No Limits’ channel, filled with hundreds of ‘educational’ videos about Kodi, was removed by YouTube recently. The video streaming service states that it received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement, likely for videos that promoted third-party ‘piracy’ tools. While all videos and more than 600,000 subscribers are gone, Kodi No Limits is not backing down.

      • 4.6 Million Italians Consume Pirated Sports Content

        Around 4.6 million Italians over the age of 15 are consuming sports content from illegal sources, a survey has found. The study, carried out by market research company Ipsos, reveals that there were 21 million illegal viewings of live sports in 2017, with around 35% of streaming pirates utilizing unauthorized IPTV services.

      • In a Letter To The EU, European Film Companies and Sports Leagues Disavow Article 13, Say It Will Make Big Tech Stronger

        A coalition of some of Europe’s largest film companies and sports leagues have published an open letter to the European Union officials negotiating the final stage of the new Copyright Directive; in their letter, the companies condemn “Article 13,” the rule requiring all but the smallest online platforms to censor their users’ videos, text-messages, photos and audio if they appear to match anything in a crowdsourced copyrighted works database.

        The companies say that Article 13 will give more power to Google and the other Big Tech companies it was supposed to rein in, and make it harder for entertainment companies to negotiate favorable deals with the tech sector. They demand that the negotiators finalising the Directive remove their products from Article 13′s scope, unless the negotiators want to roll back the Article 13 language to its 2016 state, an essentially impossible outcome.

      • Some EU Nations Still Haven’t Implemented The 2013 Marrakesh Treaty For The Blind

        The annals of copyright are littered with acts of extraordinary stupidity and selfishness on the part of the publishers, recording industry and film studios. But few can match the refusal by the publishing industry to make it easier for the blind to gain access to reading material that would otherwise be blocked by copyright laws. Indeed, the fact that it took so long for what came to be known as the Marrakesh Treaty to be adopted is a shameful testimony to the publishing industry’s belief that copyright maximalism is more important than the rights of the visually impaired.

      • Poland saved Europe from ACTA: can they save us from ACTA2?

        The coalition points out that online media is critical to the lives of everyday Poles for purposes that have nothing to do with the entertainment industry: education, the continuation of Polish culture, and connections to the global Polish diaspora.

        Polish civil society and its ruling political party are united in opposing ACTA2; Polish President Andrzej Duda called the Directive “Stupid, harmful and anti-Polish,” and vowed to oppose it.

        Early next month, the Polish Internet Governance Forum will host a roundtable on the question; they have invited proponents of the Directive to attend and publicly debate the issue.

        With the current stage of the Directive negotiation set to finish as early as Christmas, and a final vote due eight weeks afterwards, there is little time to lose. The opposition to the Directive is mounting and with Poland onboard, there is a real potential for a “blocking minority” — a directive cannot proceed when opposed by at least four states representing more than 35% of Europeans in total.

      • Article 13 is a mess: Now even big rightholders disavow it

        But the big news came this weekend: Ahead of the negotiations, a letter to MEPs from big film industry associations and sports leagues is raising eyebrows. Their message: They believe both the Parliament’s and the Council’s versions of Article 13 would end up benefiting the big online platforms – and they’d rather prefer to be left out of this mess altogether. Except in the highly unlikely case that both institutions drop all their work and return to the original Commission proposal from 2016, they urge that their sectors be explicitly removed from Article 13’s scope.

        In doing so, they are disavowing those in the media industry who ahead of the September vote in the European Parliament swayed MEP’s opinions by loudly claiming to be speaking for “European creators” when they asserted that the law, including Parliament’s version, was necessary to “save culture”. The lawmakers cheerleading Article 13 are left scratching their heads: Why do those we believed we were benefiting now want nothing to do with it?

      • Google, YouTube Accused Of Disinformation, Scaremongering By European Authors [Ed: They still promote the lie that everyone who defends the Web from censorship attacks is just "Google"]

        European creators are alleging a scaremongering campaign by YouTube, and more than 30 entities representing creators in France say Google and YouTube are leading a massive fake information campaign against the European copyright directive currently under discussion in order to protect their commercial interests.

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