10.28.20

Links 28/10/2020: Torvalds on Succession, PyTorch 1.7.0

Posted in News Roundup at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Desktop/Laptop

      • Avita Essential: Perfect Laptop for School and College Students at Rs. 17,990

        Starting with the basics, this is a thin and light notebook. The processor inside powering Avita Essential is the Intel Celeron N4000 which is not a powerful processor for windows but perfect for Ubuntu or ChromeOS. There is 4GB of LPDDR4 inside which again is not good enough for Windows but perfect for Ubuntu and ChromeOS. For storage Avita Essential has 128GB SSD. Fast storage means faster boot time but again we would highly recommend using Ubuntu or ChromeOS on this machine.

    • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Kernel Space

      • Linux Kernel 5.10 Will be the Next LTS Release and it has Some Exciting Improvements Lined Up – It’s FOSS

        Development for Linux Kernel 5.10 is in progress. It’s been confirmed to be a long term support release and it will be bringing newer hardware support among other promised features.

        Linux Kernel 5.10 will be Long Term Support Release

        Greg Kroah-Hartman, the key stable kernel maintainer, addressed an “Ask the Expert” session at Linux Foundation’s Open-Source Summit Europe and confirmed that Linux 5.10 will be the next LTS release.

        Even though there were some early speculations of 5.9 being the LTS release, Greg clarified that the last kernel release of the year will always be an LTS release.

        As of now, Linux Kernel 5.4 series happens to be the latest LTS version out there which added a lot of improvements and hardware support. Also, considering the development progress with Linux Kernel 5.8 being the biggest release so far and Linux 5.10’s first release candidate being close to it, there’s a lot of things going on under the hood.

      • Upcoming Linux 5.10 release will love you longterm, pushing support out to 2026

        It’s official. The upcoming Linux 5.10 kernel is destined to become the next “longterm maintenance” release for the open-source operating system.

        The news was dropped by longtime maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman during an “Ask the Experts” session at the Open Source Summit Europe.

        The first release candidate of 5.10 popped up a few days earlier, with the removal of an elderly addressing tool and tweaks aplenty (including kicking the Y2K38 problem down the road by a few centuries).

      • Torvalds says no need to name successor as that will take care of itself

        Linux creator Linus Torvalds says it won’t be necessary for him to name a successor to take over from him as head of the Linux kernel project because “it will be fairly clear who it is”.

        “Not because this is some democracy and people would vote on it and there’s a clear winner, but because these things really happen on their own: a ‘successor’ isn’t somebody who gets anointed as such, they end up just doing the work and making themselves one that way,” Torvalds told iTWire during an interview this week.

        As usual, he offered views on a wide range of topics, among them the way he has coped with life during the pandemic and also about his life in a country which is split along partisan lines.

        He was interviewed by email. His answers are, as usual, given in full.

      • Graphics Stack

        • AMDGPU Linux Driver To Finally Enable BACO For Hawaii – Allowing S4/Hibernation – Phoronix

          The Radeon R9 290 “Hawaii” series are about seven years old almost to the day and the AMD Linux open-source driver crew is seemingly celebrating by finally adding the few lines of code needed to enable BACO power management.

          [...]

          The patch posted on Tuesday amounts to just a few lines of code for wiring up Hawaii to the AMDGPU driver’s BACO support. It’s just a few lines of code now but it’s only been more recently that AMDGPU began squaring away its BACO support. Thus back in the early days of Hawaii it wasn’t as trivial to provide this support albeit for end-users still a pity it took so long for allowing these GPUs to support S4/hibernation.

    • Applications

      • Now and Then: What happened to 5 promising file managers?

        It’s fun to experiment with new software that isn’t anywhere near the polished article. But there’s associated risks, even with open source software. You’ll invest time and effort in learning new software. That software might never even see a stable release, it might be a big time sink even getting it up-and-running on your system. The upside is that promising software might turn overnight into a huge success, or it might be a slow burn success. And while there’s a huge array of open source successes, there’s been awful open source failures along the way. It can be a bumpy ride!

        A file manager is software which provides a user interface to assist in the organization of files. It helps users with their daily work in managing their files on a hard drive or other storage device. With multiple terabyte hard disks becoming prevalent, file managers represent an essential tool in managing file systems.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • OpenVPN as default gateway on OpenBSD

        If you plan to use an OpenVPN tunnel to reach your default gateway, which would make the tun interface in the egress group, and use tun0 in your pf.conf which is loaded before OpenVPN starts?

        Here are the few tips I use to solve the problems.

      • How to Setup a Firewall with UFW on Ubuntu 20.04 – Linux Concept

        Nowadays, a Firewall is an essential utility and property of any system for security; by default Ubuntu Operating system having a firewall configuration tool named UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall). UFW is a user-friendly front-end tool to manage iptables firewall rules. It provides you more straightforward methods to manage iptables as the name of this tool start from Uncomplicated.

      • Install Ubuntu on a USB Hard Drive | Pen Drive Linux

        How to Install Ubuntu on a USB hard drive using live media. Believe it or not, creating a completely Portable Ubuntu Installation on USB is a relatively simple process. As a matter of fact, it’s almost as simple as a regular Ubuntu internal hard drive installation. Due to popular demand, we have decided to write a simple tutorial on the full Ubuntu USB hard drive installation procedure. So go grab an available external USB hard drive and a nice cold beverage and lets get started.

      • Best Tools to Create a Bootable Linux USB Drive

        Unlike Windows, Linux distributions require a third-party tool to create a bootable USB. It is particularly handy with modern PCs which have done away with the old DVD-drives. Also, installation DVDs were quite delicate and would scratch or in worst-case scenarios, break apart under stress. This guide covers some of the best tools that you can use to create a bootable Linux USB drive.

      • 5 new sudo features you need to know in 2020 | Opensource.com

        When you want to perform an action on a POSIX system, one of the safest ways to do so is to use the sudo command. Unlike logging in as the root user and performing what could be a dangerous action, sudo grants any user designated as a “sudoer” by the sysadmin temporary permission to perform a normally restricted activity.

        This system has helped keep Linux, Unix, and macOS systems safe from silly mistakes and malicious attacks for decades, and it is the default administrative mechanism on all major Linux distributions today.

    • Games

      • Collabora’s Work On Extending The Linux Kernel To Better Support Windows Gaming – Phoronix

        Windows gaming on Linux got some love this week at the Linux Foundation’s Open-Source Summit Europe virtual event. In particular, a recap of the work that’s been done so far on extending the Linux kernel to better support Wine / Steam Play based support for Windows games running on Linux.

        Gabriel Krisman Bertazi as an engineer for consulting firm Collabora talked about their work in recent years on improving the Linux kernel for supporting Valve’s needs around running Windows games on Linux with Steam Play. Collabora has been one of Valve’s partners for this effort along with CodeWeavers and Valve employing various developers on improving the Linux graphics stack, etc.

      • Collabora expect their Linux Kernel work for Windows game emulation in Kernel 5.11

        Collabora have been doing presentations during the Open Source Summit, with one particular talk from Gabriel Krisman Bertazi on the “State of Linux Gaming” being quite interesting.

        While there has been a lot of progress with the Windows compatibility layers Wine and Valve’s fork Proton (part of Steam Play), there’s still plenty of areas currently lacking and needing work. Collabora is one company extending the Linux Kernel to improve Linux gaming with these compatibility layers, thanks to Valve sponsoring the work. One of the big missing pieces of the pie is supporting the likes of anti-cheat and DRM, with anti-cheat especially causing all sorts of problems entirely breaking lots of Windows games in Wine and Proton.

        The State of Linux Gaming talk was mostly going over what anyone following would already know, as the event isn’t aimed at your typical Linux gaming enthusiast. However, it was still an interesting talk to follow. Thanks to The Linux Foundation, I was able to attend and listen to the talk (the online event requires a ticket purchase) but I’ve been told by my Collabora contact that they will all eventually be up on their own YouTube Channel which could be as soon as early next week for anyone to be able to view.

        If you want a brief overview, you can find the slides here from the event schedule. One of the key points that Gabriel Krisman Bertazi went over is their work on system call emulation, which is now required because DRM and anti-cheat tech “are issuing system calls directly from the Windows game code and that bypasses Wine because Wine is not a sandbox” and Wine currently cannot capture those system calls needed which ends up causing games to crash.

    • Distributions

      • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva/OpenMandriva Family

      • IBM/Red Hat/Fedora

        • Fedora 33 Desktop Install Guide / Tour / Review – If Not True Then False

          This is quick guide / tour howto install Fedora 33 Desktop on real PC. First create your bootable USB flash drive using Fedora Media Writer, dd or similar tool.

          Just testing stable Fedora 33 release and everything works very smooth, even btrfs file system, which replaces ext4 as a default file system.

        • Fedora 33 Officially Released: Here’s How To Upgrade Fedora Linux

          After launching Fedora 33 beta last month, the Fedora team has finally announced the release of a new stable version, Fedora 33. This is a successor to the previous Fedora 32, bringing a lot of exciting new features, improvements, and a new edition.

          With v33, Fedora Cloud Base Image and Fedora CoreOS will also be available in Amazon’s AWS Marketplace for the first time. If you want to know what’s new in Fedora 33, we have already written a separate article, which you can find here.

          [...]

          You can upgrade your Fedora Linux system using two methods: Graphical and command line. Graphical method is the simplest way to upgrade using the GNOME software center, where a notification will now be available in the Updates pane.

        • Fedora 33 Is Released – LinuxReviews

          Fedora is a short-lived GNU/Linux distribution from IBM subsidiary RedHat with releases every six months and a one-year support cycle for each release. This allows Fedora to have more bleeding edge packages than other more long-term distributions.

          The default Fedora 33 “Workstation Edition” features the latest GNOME 3.38 “Orbis” desktop environment, Linux 5.8 (though 5.9 is available in updates-testing), mesa 20.2.1 as the graphics stack, Wayland 1.18.0 as the display server, Python 3.9, Ruby on Rails 6.0, Perl 5.32 and LLVM 11. The new “welcome tour” introduced in GNOME 3.38 is present, and the desktop wallpaper is set to change depending on time of day. The system theme is the default GNOME theme which has a mix of light and dark applications. Some applications are almost white, others, like the GNOME terminal, are black. The workstation edition has option to change the system theme or customize how it looks beyond wallpapers, it is possible to change it and they have not yet removed the ability to add your own background images – one at a time, you can’t add or browse folders.

          There are a few odd changes to Fedora 33 desktop users and specially laptop users should take note of. The default for a new installation is to use btrfs, not ext4, for the file system and the installers default disk partition layout does not include a swap partition. That’s a problem if you want to hibernate to disk or use hybrid suspend on a laptop. There is no hibernation or hybrid suspend option in the GNOME desktop the workstation environment ships with even if you add a swap partition yourself, but it is possible to get that very basic functionality in the Xfce and KDE Plasma spins. Other basic functionality like the ability to change themes are also present in those spins.

        • Secure your Kubernetes secrets with smart cards and libssh

          In computer security, software implementations of cryptographic algorithms are vulnerable to side-channel attacks. This type of attack seeks to glean information from the computer system rather than from the program that it is running. As examples, Spectre and Meltdown are both side-channel attacks that target the microarchitecture of modern processors. Microarchitecture attacks are only a subset of all side-channel attacks. There are many others.

          An attacker who is able to access unauthorized regions in memory can discover private or sensitive information, including authentication secrets. A question that naturally follows is, “Where can I safely store my secrets?”

          One way to protect your Kubernetes or Red Hat OpenShift secrets is to store them in a hardware token. A hardware token physically separates your secret key from the host machine and the applications that it is running. You can use secret keys stored on smart cards or cryptographic tokens to authenticate to server-side applications.

          This article introduces Public Key Cryptography Standard #11 (PKCS #11), which you can use to uniquely identify objects stored in tokens. I show you how to build and use libssh with support for PKCS #11 and how to use curl to store and retrieve tokens through the secure shell (SSH) protocol.

        • IBM Advance Toolchain for Linux on Power 14.0-1 released!

          A new update release for the 14.0 series of the IBM® Advance Toolchain for Linux on Power is now available.

        • China Mobile Communications Corporation Internet, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and GREE Group Named Winners of the Red Hat APAC Innovation Awards 2020 for China

          Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the winners of the Red Hat APAC Innovation Awards 2020 for China. China Mobile Communications Corporation Internet, China National Offshore Oil Corporation and GREE Group were honored at the Red Hat Forum China 2020 today for their exceptional and innovative use of Red Hat solutions.

      • Debian Family

        • Noah Meyerhans | Debian STS: Short Term Support

          In another of my frequent late-night bouts with insomnia, I started thinking about the intersection of a number of different issues facing Debian today, both from a user point of view and a developer point of view.

          Debian has a reputation for shipping “stale” software. Versions in the stable branch are often significantly behind the latest development upstream. Debian’s policy here has been that this is fine, our goal is to ship something stable, not something bleeding edge. Unofficially, our response to users is: If you need bleeding edge software, Debian may not be for you. Officially, we have no response to users who want fresher software.

          Debian also has a problem with a lack of manpower. I believe that part of why we have a hard time attracting contributors is our reputation for stale software. It might be worth it for us to consider changes to our approach to releases.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu Family

        • Pop!_OS 20.10 (Ubuntu Based) Released and Available for download

          Pop!_OS is an operating system for STEM and creative professionals who use their computer as a tool to discover and create. Unleash your potential on secure, reliable open source software. Based on your exceptional curiosity, we sense you have a lot of it.

          Pop!_OS is designed for fast navigation, easy workspace organization, and fluid, convenient workflow. Your operating system should encourage discovery, not obstruct it.

        • Ubuntu 20.10 (Groovy Gorilla) Released and Download link Included

          The Ubuntu 20.10 release is out. “The Ubuntu kernel has been updated to the 5.8 based Linux kernel, and our default toolchain has moved to gcc 10 with glibc 2.32. Additionally, there is now a desktop variant of the Raspberry Pi image for Raspberry Pi 4 4GB and 8GB. Ubuntu Desktop 20.10 introduces GNOME 3.38, the fastest release yet with significant performance improvements delivering a more responsive Experience.

          New features in Ubuntu 20.10

          Codenamed “Groovy Gorilla”, 20.10 continues Ubuntu’s proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution. The team has been hard at work through this cycle, introducing new features and fixing bugs.

          The Ubuntu kernel has been updated to the 5.8 based Linux kernel, and our default toolchain has moved to gcc 10 with glibc 2.32. Additionally,there is now a desktop variant of the Raspberry Pi image for Raspberry Pi 4 4GB and 8GB.

          Ubuntu Desktop 20.10 introduces GNOME 3.38, the fastest release yet with significant performance improvements delivering a more responsive Experience. Additionally, the desktop installer includes the ability to connect to Active Directory domains.

        • Ubuntu 20.10 – Groovy Gorilla

          It’s late October, and this means that another X.10 release of Ubuntu has just arrived: Ubuntu 20.10 – Groovy Gorilla – is now available for download.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • FSF

        • Licensing/Legal

          • Getting Real About the License Complexity of Linux [Ed: Proprietary software licensing is not complex? Ask BSA.]

            Talk about complex and tedious, but necessary. Identifying all copyright holders, licenses and license obligations within Linux is just that. Added to the already complex maze that is Linux is the fact that the accuracy of licensing information is tied to the specific version of the Linux Kernel you’re using, and older versions will have more issues than newer. Files may contain erroneous license data and subsequently make its way into your software inventory and Bill of Materials.

          • Impact of OSS and OSH – a stakeholder survey

            With this survey, the study coordinators are interested in complementing the literature, database and case study driven approach to assess impact of OSS and OSH with input from the respondents of the stakeholder survey. All together, this body of evidence will be used to derive policy recommendations.

      • Programming/Development

        • Program in Arm6 assembly language on a Raspberry Pi | Opensource.com

          Assembly language offers special insights into how machines work and how they can be programmed.

        • How JavaScript became a serious programming language

          JavaScript’s humble start began in 1995, when it was created in just 10 days by Brendan Eich, then an employee with Netscape Communications Corporation. JavaScript has come a long way since then, from a tool to make websites pretty to a serious programming language.

          In its early days, JavaScript was considered a visual tool that made websites a little more fun and attractive. Languages like Jakarta Server Pages (JSP; formerly JavaServer Pages) used to do all the heavy lifting on rendered web pages, and JavaScript was used to create basic interactions, visual enhancements, and animations.

          For a long time, the demarcations between HTML, CSS, and JavaScript were not clear. Frontend development primarily consists of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, forming a “layer cake” of standard web technologies.

        • Python

  • Leftovers

    • Education

      • International Students Don’t Want to Study in the US Anymore

        In July, close to a million international students in the United States learned how much can change in eight days. When the Trump administration released its short-lived immigration directive on July 6, proposing unprecedented legal restrictions on academic visa holders in the country, international students—both in the country and outside of it— were forced into action.

    • Hardware

    • Health/Nutrition

      • Where the President Goes, Coronavirus Follows: Analysis Shows Spike in Covid-19 Cases After Numerous Trump Rallies

        “These rallies offer a boost to the president’s ego but risk leaving behind a trail of sickness and increased strain on local public health departments and medical systems.”

      • No Drugs Should Be Criminalized. It’s Time to Abolish the DEA.

        In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) was passed by the Nixon administration, codifying a national strategy to prohibit drug use and target certain communities. Since then, the “war on drugs” has failed to reduce supply or demand, while steadily increasing drug overdose deaths and perpetuating the stigmatization of individuals with addiction. It has fueled wide-scale militarized policing, cost taxpayers over $1 trillion since its inception, and expanded punitive institutions outside of the criminal legal system — including punishment-oriented systems embedded in schools, hospitals and social service agencies. After 50 years of failures and substantial evidence that drug prohibition is not only ineffective but also incredibly counterproductive, we clearly cannot afford another 50 years of the same. The time has come to repeal the Controlled Substances Act and transition toward a more evidence based and realistic approach to drug use in our society.

      • Trump’s Failed Coronavirus Response Part 2

        America has suffered the worst rate of coronavirus deaths among all advanced countries – a death toll equal to 9/11 every three days. And, as a recent Cornell study confirmed, Trump’s blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID misinformation in the world. This is not leadership. It is pure, malicious incompetence and it’s killing Americans.  

      • Mutual Aid Is Essential to Our Survival Regardless of Who Is in the White House

        When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged as a crisis in the U.S. in early 2020, people all over the country started coordinating to deliver groceries and prescriptions to vulnerable people, making and distributing masks and hand sanitizer, and raising money for people who were losing jobs and ineligible for unemployment benefits. By the time the uprising against anti-Black racism and police violence brought people into the streets in early summer, the concept of “mutual aid” had gained significant traction in the media, and it was visible on the streets as people operated street medic teams at protests, offered each other free food and water, and defended each other from cops and white supremacists. COVID-19 mutual aid projects are ongoing, and as social movement groups prepare for the possibility of a contested election next week along with increasing strikes, street protests and occupations of public space, activists are gearing up to support each other.

      • Not Just America: CEO Of Esports Org In India Says COVID-19 Resulted In Explosive Growth

        While we’ve covered the growth of esports throughout the world for some time, it’s also true that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in that growth accelerating with incredible speed. Back in March and April, when states began shutting down because we had — checks notes — 20k to 30k new COVID cases per day, esports really took off. Due to shut downs, IRL professional and college sports shut down too. The result is that Americans who thirst to watch competition dove headlong into esports broadcasts, with participation and viewership clipping at 20% growth month over month. An entire economy sprung up around the industry as well, with streaming companies and broadcasters catching up to the sudden rise in interest.

      • Europe’s virus numbers look like they did in the spring: high and getting higher.

        The weather has turned distinctly autumnal in Europe, but the pandemic looks much like it did in the spring, with cases climbing at alarming rates in nearly every country.

        Britain, which had the greatest surge of excess deaths during the pandemic’s first peak in Europe and still holds the most reported deaths in the region, has recorded 151,391 new cases in the past seven days, according to a New York Times database.

    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • How Hall County is handling influx of absentee voting, effects of ransomware attack on elections office

          One of the databases the county uses to verify voter signatures on absentee ballots is not working after some county network outages due to a ransomware attack on Oct. 7. Registration Coordinator Kay Wimpye with the county elections office said employees can still verify voter signatures by manually pulling hard copies of voter registration cards, which is more time-consuming. Most voter signatures can be verified using a state database that has been unaffected by the outages, she said.

        • Vastaamo board fires CEO, says he kept data breach secret for year and a half

          On Monday the board said that an internal probe had determined that a second breach had occurred in March 2019. It appears that at that point Tapio was aware of the breaches and of shortcomings in the psychotherapy provider’s data security systems.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Privatisation/Privateering

            • Linux Foundation

              • Open Source Jobs Report Shows More Openings, Fewer Takers | LinuxInsider

                The Linux Foundation and learning platform edX on Monday released the latest open source jobs report which updates technology hiring since the last report two years ago. The research shows that, despite the pandemic, demand for open source technology skills continues to be strong.

                The 2020 Open Source Jobs Report reveals a spike in demand for DevOps talent, along with a continued lack of applicants with open source skills. The continuing lack of qualified candidates for unfilled Linux tech jobs is puzzling. Many companies, and The Linux Foundation itself, provide free and low-cost training to ease the recruiting shortage.

                An increasing number of companies now offer their workers free training to qualify for other tech jobs. For example, 63 percent of hiring managers said their companies continue to provide increased educational opportunities for existing staff to fill skills gaps.

                That is a significant jump from 48 percent in 2018. Still, 93 percent of hiring managers this year report difficulty finding open source talent.

              • Cloud/Container Skills Top Open Source Jobs Report

                The 2020 Open Source Jobs Report, just published by The Linux Foundation in a partnership with online learning specialist edX, finds “a shift of priorities for hiring organizations towards cloud-native technologies and increasing use of open source solutions despite the severe challenges currently facing businesses and IT pros.”

                In fact, that shift threatens the dominance of Linux itself in the open source field, where it has always been the leading vanguard of the community contribution space, as evidenced by the name of its shepherding organization, The Linux Foundation.

                For example, while Linux still reigns No. 1 as the most in-demand open source skill — just like previously — the percentage of those seeking Linux talent shrunk from 80 percent previously to 74 percent this year.

              • Linux Foundation’s AI Foundation & ODPi Merge to Support Growing Portfolio of Technologies

                LF AI Foundation (LF AI) and ODPi announced they will come together under the new LF AI & Data Foundation. The LF AI & Data Foundation will build and support an open community and a growing ecosystem of open source AI, data and analytics projects, by accelerating development and innovation, enabling collaboration and the creation of new opportunities for all the members of the community.

                As one entity under the Linux Foundation, this consolidated and focused effort will enable additional collaboration and integration in the space of AI/ML/DL and Data. With the creation of LF AI & Data, both communities will now support a growing ecosystem of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and data technologies. AI and Data are inseparable and codependent on each other. Combining efforts in both spaces will bring developers and projects under a single roof, orchestrated by a single Technical Advisory Council and several committees (Trusted AI, BI & AI), to work together towards building the open source AI & Data ecosystem and accelerating development and innovation.

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

            • RIAA’s YouTube-DL Takedown Ticks Off Developers and GitHub’s CEO

              An RIAA takedown request, which removed the YouTube-DL repository from GitHub, has ticked off developers and GitHub’s CEO. Numerous people responded by copying and republishing the contested code, including in some quite clever ways. Meanwhile, GitHub’s CEO is “annoyed” as well, offering help to get the repo reinstated.

            • You Can Now Sponsor CC’s Open Source Work on GitHub!

              CC’s small engineering team builds essential open-source infrastructure for CC-licensed and public domain content. Our tools make it easier for anyone to:

        • Security

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • EU politicians want Europe’s next big digital law to tackle micro-targeted advertising, by regulating or even banning it

              Although privacy is by its very nature personal, it is also something that concerns everyone. As a result, local data protection laws can have a global impact. That’s certainly been the case with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has often figured on this blog. The EU is currently working on its next big law in this area, the Digital Services Act (DSA). It is intended as an update to the EU’s e-Commerce Directive, which was passed back in 2000. Clearly, the online world has moved on hugely since then, which means the relevant legislation needs a major overhaul. Although the main impetus for the DSA comes from updating the e-Commerce Directive, it will inevitably touch on many related areas, not least privacy.

            • SIS 3.0: In Germany, 2,000 new authorities are to access the Schengen Information System

              After police, customs and immigration offices, numerous non-police authorities are now connected to Europe’s largest database for security purposes. All Schengen states now have to implement three new regulations. Surprisingly, there is resistance in Switzerland. In the end, the country may even leave the network.

            • Deleting or deactivating your Facebook does the same to your Oculus account

              Facebook does not want you to stop using Facebook, it seems, because if you deactivate your account for a little break you’ll also lose access to your Oculus Profile. Perhaps worse, if you delete your Facebook account you’ll also delete your app purchases and achievements. “You will no longer be able to return any apps,” says Facebook, “and will lose any existing store credits.” So buyer beware: If you purchase an Oculus Quest 2 you’ll need a Facebook account, and that account will have to be active at all times and, presumably, in good standing if you want to use your Quest 2.

            • My toothbrush streams gyroscope data

              Since a few month I own an electrical toothbrush from Phillips called Sonicare HX992B. It connects to an mobile App using Bluetooth that tells you how well you brushed your teeth, shows the orientation in real-time, and also notifies you when to change the brush for a new one.

    • Defence/Aggression

      • A Well-Armed and Unpatriotic Far Right

        How the war came home, big time.

      • As Historic Nuclear Ban Enters into Force, It’s Time for the US to Help Put an End to the Nuclear Age

        The only nation to use a nuclear weapon in an act of war can and should take steps to end the nuclear threat for good.

      • Nuclear Weapons Have Always Been Immoral. Now They’re Illegal.

        Just over three years after it opened for signature, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) reached the 50 national ratifications needed to become international law. The government of Honduras ratified the antinuclear agreement on October 24, which means the TPNW will enter into force 90 days later: January 22, 2021.

      • Nuclear Weapons Will Soon Be Banned Under International Law

        Nuclear weapons will soon be illegal under international law. Seventy-five years to the day after the founding of the United Nations, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) began the 90-day countdown until the treaty enters into force.

      • Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Was Targeted in Armed White Supremacist Plot

        This election season, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza says President Trump is “stoking fires he has no intention of controlling” and inciting far-right extremists. She was recently approached by the FBI after agents found her name on a list in the home of a white supremacist in Idaho who was arrested on weapons charges. “Racial terror has always been used as a form of control, particularly during periods of people fighting for social change,” she says.

      • Alicia Garza on Being Targeted in Armed White Supremacist Plot as Trump Stokes Fires of Racism

        This election season, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza says President Trump is “stoking fires he has no intention of controlling” and inciting far-right extremists. She was recently approached by the FBI after agents found her name on a list in the home of a white supremacist in Idaho who was arrested on weapons charges. “Racial terror has always been used as a form of control, particularly during periods of people fighting for social change,” she says.

      • How a key Pentagon official turned China policy over to arms industry and Taiwan supporters
      • In America, far-right terrorist plots have outnumbered far-left ones in 2020

        A new report by the Transnational Threats Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think-tank, suggests that far-right terrorism is a much greater threat than far-left terrorism. The CSIS analysed 61 terrorist incidents reported between January 1st and August 31st and categorised them into four groups: religious, far-right, far-left and other. It drew on databases compiled by research groups and press releases from the FBI and the Department of Justice, cross-checked against criminal complaints and news reports. Hate crimes, protests, riots and civil unrest, including the disturbances after the killing of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis, were excluded.

      • Turkey Sentences U.S. Consulate Employee to Over 5 Years in Jail

        Nazmi Mete Canturk, who worked as a security guard, is one of three Turkish staffers at U.S. Consulates facing similar charges, a situation that has raised tensions between the two longtime allies.

        U.S. diplomats maintain that the charges against the employees are baseless, and critics of Turkey have said they amount to political hostage-taking. Since 2017, the men have been in jail, under house arrest or under travel restrictions, despite protests from American officials.

      • What the Beheading of a French School Teacher Should Tell Us

        A teacher herself in a state school in Seine-Saint-Denis in the north of Paris, a district often cited as the most deprived in France, she was profoundly shocked by the death of Monsieur Paty. Naturally, she has nothing but sympathy for his family but she had no wish to stand shoulder to shoulder with politicians, intellectuals, the judiciary and members of an education authority who for years have offered her profession little or no support in their struggle against Islamic extremism.

    • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

      • CBP Is Asking The National Archives For Permission To Destroy Misconduct Records

        The CBP and ICE likely have loads of misconduct records. Not that they mean much. These records are compiled and stashed someplace where it’s inconvenient to find them for FOIA requesters. No one at the CBP or the DHS seems to have much interest in punishing misconduct, much less investigating it, so the records are far from complete and tend to be rubberstamped with EXONERATED.

      • Whistleblower Who Exposed Ex-EPA Chief’s Scandalous Conduct Sues EPA Over Retaliation

        An Environmental Protection Agency whistleblower, whose disclosures ultimately led to former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging his free speech and due process rights were violated.The lawsuit [PDF] says Kevin Chmielewski was a political appointee and worked as Pruitt’s deputy chief of staff for operations. He faced a retaliatory investigation from the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General that “falsely accused” him of “not having a security clearance and covering up a past arrest.”It claims Corey Lewandowski, a former official for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, told the whistleblower that Pruitt “knew about his disclosures.” After Chmielewski refused to “violate laws and federal rules and made disclosures to officials outside of the EPA,” Pruitt assigned his responsibilities to another employee.Furthermore, according to the lawsuit, Charles Munoz, the White House liaison for the EPA, informed Chmielewski on February 12, 2018, “Pruitt wants you to resign effective immediately.” He was urged to “sign a resignation form” because if he was fired he would “lose his clearance and never get another job in the federal government.”The EPA allegedly sent Chmielewski documents on April 20, 2018, that falsely represented he resigned from his job.Helena Wooden-Aguilar, the EPA deputy associate administrator for the Office of Policy, and Justin Fugh, the EPA senior counsel for ethics, both warned “[Pruitt’s] chief of staff Ryan Jackson not to make statements to the effect that plaintiff was removed because he went to Congress, human resources, or other officials.”Oversight of Pruitt’s “compliance with expense, budgetary, personnel use, record keeping, and email policies and regulations” were not duties assigned to Chmielewski. Nor was it part of his job, according to the lawsuit. He simply did not want to be part of this misconduct.He demands that his employment at the EPA be reinstated or that the Energy Department hire him to a position he was promised earlier in 2020.

        Multiple scandals erupted around Pruitt’s abuse of taxpayer dollars and how he used the position to enrich himself and his family.The disgraced EPA administrator was too much of a liability for the Trump administration and resigned on July 5, 2018.Chmielewski accused Pruitt of violating federal statutes, regulations, and EPA policies when he spent funds on travel, “office improvements,” and used staff for “personal tasks.”“[Pruitt] spent more than $120,000 of public funds during a June 2017 trip to Italy that an EPA lobbyist organized under the guise of a meeting with environmental ministers from G-7 countries,” the lawsuit declares. “This trip included a $30,500 security detail and nearly $90,000 spent on food, hotels, commercial airfare, and an $11,000 military jet used by the Administrator and nine of his staffers.”Although commercial flights were available that were “faster and cheaper,” Pruitt still had the EPA shell out $11,000 for this flight that took him and his staff from Cincinnati to New York for the trip to Italy.Chmielewski “objected that travel logistics or expenditures were not allowed,” and Pruitt allegedly replied, “I don’t care. I’m a Cabinet Secretary. Make it happen.”Pruitt also approved a first-class return trip from Morocco for an EPA official. But Chmielewski insisted that violated regulations and refused to sign paperwork for the trip.While Pruitt ran the EPA, he issued a “blanket waiver” so officials could fly first class. He stayed in some of the “most expensive hotels in violation of the travel policies and regulations. His travel often exceeded the prescribed 150 percent per diem rate without appropriate justification and approval.”

      • Google Runs Ads on Election Conspiracy Theory Sites, Study Finds

        Google has placed advertisements on six websites that violate the company’s own rules by publishing “misinformation and potentially dangerous claims about the electoral process,” according to a new report from a digital watchdog.

        Center for Countering Digital Hate, CCDH, a British non-profit, analyzed articles from right-leaning websites that questioned the legitimacy of mail-in voting and suggested Democrats and the “Deep State” were rigging the election. Experts have repeatedly debunked theories about voter fraud, and U.S. national intelligence officials have reassured voters about the integrity of the election.

    • Environment

    • Finance

      • Donald Trump Is an Existential Threat to Social Security

        The contrast between the two parties on Social Security has never been clearer. Every working family that has contributed to Social Security has a stake in this fight. All of us should vote accordingly.

      • The Trump Tax Reform Helped the Billionaire Class, Not the Working Class

        If that rally crowd had been packed with billionaires, they would’ve had good reason to applaud. But for ordinary working families, the 2017 Republican tax law is nothing to cheer about.

        Trump’s tax cuts for the rich are a major factor in the stunning growth in U.S. billionaires’ wealth — even as millions of other Americans are suffering. The billionaire class enjoyed a 6.6 percent reduction in their top marginal income tax rate, leaving them with even more money to cash in on stock market gains spurred by the law’s 40 percent cut in the corporate tax rate.

      • Any True Recovery Must Include US Workers

        From March through mid-October, as Covid-19 spread, the wealth of US billionaires collectively increased some $931 billion—or nearly one-third. The very richest grew even richer as more than 225,000 Americans have died and lost work. The pandemic is not, as some expected, a “great equalizer.” It has exacerbated the cruel inequities of the US political economy, preying on the vulnerable while plutocrats profited.

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • ‘Drop It Off. Drop It Off. Drop It Off’: USPS Deadline to Mail Ballots Is Today, But Voters Urged Not to Rely on DeJoy-Led Postal Service

        “Don’t put it in the mail. Not at this point. If you can drop it off in person, drop it off in person.”

      • ‘Should Be Ashamed’: After Installing Barrett, McConnell Adjourns Senate for Recess With No Covid Relief in Sight

        “Small business owners, workers, and families are desperate for support—and lawmakers and the president abandoned them in order to focus on jamming through a historically non-transparent and extreme Supreme Court pick.”

      • Should Trump Be Held Accountable? A Harvard Academic Says No

        The elites rush to the defense of the status quo.

      • Why Amy Coney Barrett Must Recuse Herself From Election-Related Cases

        The choice is simple: She must recuse, and welcome Trump’s scorn.

      • ‘Expand the Court’: Ocasio-Cortez Leads Charge With 3-Word Democratic Strategy After Barrett Sworn In

        “Republicans do this because they don’t believe Dems have the stones to play hardball like they do,” said the New York Democrat. While admitting “for a long time they’ve been correct,” she indicated those days would soon be over.

      • “He’s Down to Steal This Thing”: Kavanaugh Parrots Trump Mail-In Ballot Lies as Supreme Court Bars Extension of Wisconsin Deadline

        “Kavanaugh is announcing to the world that if it will help Trump win he will join a decision to not count votes.”

      • After Supreme Court Guts Expansion of Mail-In Voting in Wisconsin, Fears Grow of Similar Rulings in Pennsylvania and North Carolina

        Republicans and the Trump campaign are hoping the Supreme Court will reject efforts to extend the deadline for receiving absentee ballots.

      • Adrift Amid the Right-Wing Obscenity

        Facing a new wave of Covid-19 and a presidential election that will prove both Emma Goldman and Philip Berrigan right about the futility of US elections, I feel like the boxer who has lasted either 10 or 12 rounds. A hero, Mohammed Ali, comes to mind. He suffered catastrophic head injuries by outlasting his opponents. The personal injuries he suffered by taking on and outlasting the most powerful government in the world on moral grounds during the Vietnam War are another matter.

        There’s no doubt that countering a government during a war causes what lawyers and psychologists might call personal injury. A person can’t remain unscathed! My case went on for 51 years and it left its mark.There may be some who can remain unaffected. There’s Bill Clinton with his obfuscation of the military during the Vietnam War, George W. Bush with God knows what, Donald Trump with his notorious bone spurs, and people I know and knew who used every subterfuge to get out of coming within 12,000 miles of Vietnam and whom I once respected, but now often see in a much different light. Civil disobedience requires a genuine sacrifice. A physician friend of a friend’s physician father wrote my friend out of the military draft for a minor skin irritation and that does not qualify as paying a moral price. The great teachers pointing in the direction of moral choices were Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. It comes as no surprise to those who protest that they paid with their lives for their vision and actions.

      • In the Eye of the Storm

        Is it possible that they know something that the rest of the world does not know, or is it that they hope to use some illicit subterfuge to win this election, handing Trump the presidency? The extent of the influence Russia used to achieve this result in the past election is unknown, but Russia’s past and present election meddling has been confirmed by the US intelligence agencies.

        Trump is smart, but he has a perverse intelligence, the result of his narcissism with sociopathic traits. Anyone who thinks this is an exaggeration should read the book written by Mary Trump, his niece and a clinical psychologist, who makes a stark analysis of her uncle, whom she considers a fraud and a huge danger to the country and the world.

      • Now Is No Time for Cowardice. Abolish the Filibuster and Expand the Court.

        Mitch McConnell and his cohort of conservative allies believe the elevation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is the capstone move in their long game. Between Barrett creating a meaty 6-3 conservative majority on the high court and the more than 200 right-wing judges the GOP senate has elevated to the bench, they think they have cemented the rule of a wealthy, white minority for another generation at least.

      • How to Reverse This Craven GOP Power Grab

        The most ambitious structural reform would be to rebalance the Senate itself, as well as the Electoral College.

      • Reversing the GOP Power Grab

        The vote on Barrett’s confirmation occurred just eight days before Election Day. By contrast, the Senate didn’t even hold a hearing on Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, who Obama nominated almost a year before the end of his term. Majority leader Mitch McConnell argued at the time that any vote should wait “until we have a new president.”

      • Get Trump, But Biden is Next, So Lose the Kumbayas

        This means voting for, and even piling votes on for, Joe Biden. Biden has been making that prospect slightly less onerous than it used to be – not so much by being less of a mainstream Democrat, but by keeping his doofus side under control and by being, or seeming to be, less doddering.

        Also, as Election Day approaches, he seems to have become a tad less wedded to the (neoliberal) austerity politics that made him even worse than the average Senate Democrat.

      • Federal Judge Denies Motion to Substitute DOJ for Trump in Rape Accuser’s Defamation Suit

        “President Trump defamed our client because she was brave enough to reveal that he had sexually assaulted her, and that brutal, personal attack cannot be attributed to the office of the president,” a lawyer for E. Jean Carroll said. 

      • Want to Win Rural Voters? Fight Big Ag.

        Wisconsin dairy farmer Sarah Lloyd believes she has the answer to a question that has convulsed the Democratic Party for the past four years. “People from the coasts are always like, ‘What’s going on with Wisconsin? How could they have possibly voted for Obama and then voted for Trump?’” she asks, putting on a falsetto to conjure the hysteria she often hears in such voices. On a chilly, overcast October afternoon, she lays out her theory at the 400-cow Columbia County farm she runs with her husband, which the couple recently considered shuttering after years of unsustainably low milk prices. A Democrat with a PhD in rural sociology, this third-generation farmer believes her party is sorely out of touch with an issue that resonates deeply in conservative heartland communities: countering the monopolistic level of corporate power that has emerged in agribusiness over the past 40 years.

      • AOC Pushes for Dems to “Expand the Court” After Amy Coney Barrett Confirmation

        Following the confirmation by the United States Senate of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) sent out a tweet that expressed her view of how Democrats should proceed from this moment onward.

      • Trump’s Broken Promises to U.S. Factory Workers

        This proved such an effective political tactic that Trump continued to use it to garner support even after his election victory. In December 2016, speaking at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, the president-elect touted a deal he had struck with the air conditioning corporation to keep its jobs from moving to Mexico. “These companies aren’t going to be leaving anymore,” he promised. Visiting Lordstown, Ohio in early 2017, after General Motors announced some layoffs at its 4,500-worker auto plant, Trump urged workers not to move or sell their homes for, during his administration, those jobs were all going to be “coming back.”

        In fact, rather than manufacturing jobs returning during the Trump administration, they have been departing. Admittedly, in the Trump presidential years before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the nation added approximately 500,000 manufacturing jobs. But this gain was more than offset by the loss of 647,000 manufacturing jobs since that time.

      • ‘We. Will. Vote. Her. Out.’: Maine Progressives Not Fooled Even a Little Bit by Susan Collins’ Cynical Vote on Barrett

        “Senator Collins has continued to enable Trump and McConnell’s anti-choice, anti-freedom agenda. This vote is too little, too late.”

      • US appears to have hit peak paranoia ahead of presidential poll

        With the US elections a week away and warnings of Russian, Iranian and other foreign involvement pouring out from every conceivable source, the US appears to have hit peak paranoia mode.

      • As Trump Says ‘Must Have Vote Total’ on Nov. 3, Nearly 400 ‘Protect the Results’ Rallies Planned to Fight Election Night Theft

        “We think the likelihood of activation is high,” the Protect the Results coalition says. 

      • Kavanaugh Issues Ominous Opinion Regurgitating Trump Mail-In Ballot Lies

        The U.S. Supreme Court late Monday delivered a victory for the Republican Party by barring the crucial battleground state of Wisconsin from extending its Election Day deadline for the arrival of absentee ballots amid the pandemic, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh issuing an ominous concurring opinion that echoes President Donald Trump’s false narrative on mail-in voting.

      • What the Election Should Have Been About

        The U.S. suffers from state-sponsored opacity surplus. In their own ways and at different times, Bill Moyers and Daniel Patrick Moynihan bemoaned excessive governmental secrecy, security state secrecy particularly, and were right to do so. Whether in protection of sources-&-methods or “national security” itself, we know that the Church Commission and Freedom of Information Act have been largely thrown on the ash heap of history. For every Panama Deception and Hazel O’Leary, there are untold instances of mum’s the word, nothing to see here. For every Pentagon Papers and Extraordinary Rendition, there is a movie starring Tom Hanks or Adam Driver instead of a real-live public reckoning. The effect is to increase business for the “true crime” section at Barnes & Noble, and, as noted, fuel a subgenre of Hollywood films (safely produced well after the shooting). But secrecy also undermines public confidence in public veracity and with it the legitimacy of public institutions. They may be wacko, but at least QANON followers exhibit a deep-seated desire to know the truth. If they are not getting it from the White House or Capitol Hill or Pentagon briefing room, then they will look elsewhere.

        Let us be clear that this problem is structural. The growth of the U.S. state during the Great Depression and Second World War gave us a form of national state unprecedented in human history. In terms of scale and integration with economy and culture, in terms of its command over nuclear weapons, in terms of its Cold War machinations, the post-war American state is the root source of our opacity surplus, and, in some ways, its chief beneficiary. We can read Charles Beard, C. Wright Mills, Sheldon Wolin, or even Gary Wills, and come away with a good sense of it. But my undergraduate mentor, Robert A. Solo (he the economist author of the little known The Positive State), drummed into me and I have never forgotten, the need for a systems-oriented, structuralist perspective to understand the full dimensions of what FDR et al. bequeathed to their progeny.

      • NPR and the Corporate Criminal Element

        For a hint as to why, pick up the most recent NPR annual report, and flip through the listing of corporate criminals and other major recidivist law violators on the corporate sponsor page.

        ExxonMobil (guilty plea Exxon Valdez oil spill), Lumber Liquidators (guilty plea environmental crimes), Panasonic (guilty pleas antitrust crimes) and Tyson Foods (guilty plea clean water violations).

      • The Circle of Amnesiacs

        Today was a particularly interesting meeting of the Holyrood Inquiry into the mishandling of the Salmond affair, with two senior civil servants, Judith Mackinnon and Barbara Allison, who both had very convenient and complete failures of memory, about key points which just happened to be the very points on which the committee had previously been lied to.

      • Barrett Confirmed: Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Alicia Garza on GOP’s Supreme Court Power Grab

        As right-wing judge Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in as the ninth justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, just 30 days after President Trump announced her nomination and eight days ahead of the November 3 election, we speak with Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, who says the rushed confirmation shows that the Supreme Court “is not a neutral body — it is incredibly political.” Barrett’s confirmation to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks after her death seals the court’s 6-3 conservative majority potentially for decades to come and could have major consequences for reproductive rights, civil rights, environmental protections, the Affordable Care Act and the 2020 presidential election. “It is concerning that Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed yesterday, particularly given her complete lack of qualifications for the role, but also considering her extreme views on everything from reproductive justice and reproductive rights to civil rights and racism,” says Garza, the principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of Supermajority.

      • Facebook’s Election-Week War on Accountability is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

        A legacy of the 2016 U.S. election is the controversy about the role played by paid, targeted political ads, particularly ads that contain disinformation or misinformation. Political scientists and psychologists disagree about how these ads work, and what effect they have. It’s a pressing political question, especially on the eve of another U.S. presidential race, and the urgency only rises abroad, where acts of horrific genocide have been traced to targeted social media disinformation campaigns.

        The same factors that make targeted political ads tempting to bad actors and dirty tricksters are behind much of the controversy. Ad-targeting, by its very nature, is opaque. The roadside billboard bearing a politician’s controversial slogan can be pointed at and debated by all. Targeted ads can show different messages to different users, making it possible for politicians to “say the quiet part out loud” without their most extreme messaging automatically coming to light. Without being able to see the ads, we can’t properly debate their effect.

      • (Part of) What I Shared with the FBI

        On July 28, 2016, something happened that would eventually lead me to the FBI.

        I’m going to explain part of that story now. I’m explaining it for several reasons. I had promised myself I wouldn’t let another election pass without sharing what happened. Even now, I can’t entirely make sense of it — that was part of the point, confusion. But the release of documents in the wake of the Mueller investigation has provided a great number of public details (some of which I laid out in my Rat-Fucker Rashomon series) with which this story might be consistent. I can’t prove that this story explains the unanswered questions about the Roger Stone story (and Bill Barr’s intervention in the Stone sentencing seems to have shut down some parts of any ongoing investigation to do so). But at least I can share details that may provide an explanation.

      • Google Sued Over Purged Conservative YouTube Channels

        A group of YouTubers whose channels were deleted earlier this month amid a purge of conspiracy theory content from the site are suing the tech giant for allegedly violating their First Amendment rights to broadcast political speech on matters of public interest — and they’re seeking an emergency injunction to regain access to the platform.

      • This Is What Stealing an Election Looks Like

        If you’re still finding it a little hard to believe that the nation’s most venerable court is in the bag for the president, look no further than the concurring opinion submitted by Brett Kavanaugh, the beer-loving conservative Trump and Senate Republicans jammed onto the court under controversial circumstances in 2018. In ruling to block the federal order, Kavanaugh parroted the president’s talking points about the ills of absentee voting, while indicating that he is fully prepared to rule that any votes not counted on or before Election Day are illegitimate, so long as Trump’s re-election necessitate such a ruling.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • German authorities want large porn sites to implement age verification or be blocked via DNS

        Internet service providers (ISPs) in Germany may soon be forced to apply DNS blocks to stop users from accessing porn sites like Pornhub, xHamster, and YouPorn. German authorities, led by a State Media Authority director named Tobias Schmid, have been pushing for large porn sites like those previously mentioned to implement age verification of the upload-your-ID-type. These demands are coupled with the threat of bans if age verification isn’t implemented – which it hasn’t yet been.

      • Zuckerberg And Facebook Throw The Open Internet Under The Bus; Support Section 230 Reform

        This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, unfortunately, but it appears that once again Facebook is the first to crack under political pressure, and has decided to sell out the open internet and free speech online. In testimony Mark Zuckerberg is planning to give tomorrow to the Senate Commerce Committee, he’s going to say a few nice things about Section 230, immediately followed by him saying the company now supports reforming the law. The praise for Section 230 is accurate, but it doesn’t much matter when he takes it back immediately:

      • Justice department bid to reinstate WeChat ban dismissed by court

        An appeals court in the US has dismissed a request from the Department of Justice that it be allowed to institute an immediate ban on Apple and Google offering the WeChat app for download in their respective mobile app stores.

      • Sacha Baron Cohen Demands Facebook Remove Conspiracies; Flips Out When Facebook Removes His Article With Conspiracy Images

        Nearly a year ago, Sacha Baron Cohen presented a polemic speech to the Anti-Defamation League about how Facebook was evil for refusing to take down (loosely defined) “bad stuff” on their platform. We wrote a fairly thorough rebuttal, while simultaneously suggesting that SBC misunderstands his own comedy — which is often held up as revealing the inner prejudices of the people he parodies. While that may be true in some cases, I think the stronger argument is that in many cases, the people playing along with his schtick are simply trying to be nice to the awkward idiot that SBC is playing in front of them. In non-consequential social interactions, this is how many people will reasonably act. Rather than lecturing the idiot on why what he’s saying is ignorant bigotry, they’ll just humor him. Under this interpretation, many of the people SBC confronts are not ignorant, bigoted hicks, but people trying to be nice and humoring him.

      • Zuckerberg to express openness to Section 230 reform

        Ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released a report earlier Tuesday criticizing Big Tech’s “destruction” of local news outlets, hinting at where her questioning will focus.

      • China’s Tencent Confirms Taste for International Film-Making

        Tencent Pictures, the film-making arm of Chinese tech giant Tencent, has the potential to be hugely influential on its home turf due to parent company’s domination of social media and gaming. Tencent’s massive scale – market capitalization over $700 billion makes it one of the world’s largest corporations – means it has the potential for huge overseas impact as well.

      • Academic mobbing is even more damaging than you think

        Over the three years this was going on, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the academic mob, including former colleagues, worked tirelessly to exaggerate the situation. At one stage, I went to see a psychologist, partly to better understand the behaviour of stalkers. Research in this area indicates that it is often the success of the victim that triggers jealousy and spiteful behaviour.

        Many other colleagues, it should be noted, saw the academic mobbing for what it was, and I am, of course, grateful to the people who reached out and told me of the diverse workplace issues they had also had with members of the mob. But, while I am still a working academic today, the experience has made it much more challenging for me to perform my duties.

        I can’t resist concluding with one final irony. My accuser and the wider academic mob who turned against me often write about issues of equity and inclusivity, as I do. When I told a senior academic about the mobbing behaviour and how easily people can be led astray, she kindly reassured me that “the ones that preach the most about social justice are often the biggest bullies”.

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • USAGM CEO Criticized Over Move to Rescind Firewall Regulation

        Republican and Democratic lawmakers sharply criticized the head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media for his late-night action to repeal a rule meant to protect the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded news networks from editorial interference.

        In a statement on the USAGM website and emailed to staff late Monday, CEO Michael Pack said he was using his powers as chief executive to roll back the regulation, known as the “firewall” rule, because it was harmful to the agency’s and national interests.

      • Trump Appointee Seeks to Turn U.S. Media Agency Into a Political Cheerleader

        The head of the U.S. broadcasting agency has eliminated a recent firewall provision established to ensure the independence of news operations at Voice of America (VOA) and other government-sponsored news outlets and to shield their journalists from the interference of political leadership.

        In a Monday night memo, Michael Pack, the CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees VOA’s news operations, issued the repeal of a June federal regulation that limited political interference in U.S. government broadcasting.

        For VOA staffers, the memo represented the clearest sign yet of Pack’s effort to remake the government news agency into a state propaganda network for Trump.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Protests Rise in Philly After Police Murder Black Man Amid Mental Health Crisis

        Philadelphia, Pennsylvania—West Philly saw a quickly escalating situation develop on 4 p.m. Monday afternoon and dragging into the evening and overnight. In a graphic and disturbing video circulating on social media, two white Philadelphia Police (PPD) officers are seen repeatedly shooting a Black man in front of his mother from several feet away as he walked while holding a knife. Neither of the two officers in the video seemed to attempt to use their taser, and they appeared to have fired around ten bullets while they were several arms lengths away from the man they shot.

      • “Movements Are Not Just About Protests”: BLM Co-Founder Alicia Garza on How to Build & Wield Power

        In her new book, “The Purpose of Power,” Black Lives Matter co-creator Alicia Garza lays out how people can build power and effect change. “Movements are not just about protests,” she says. “Movements are absolutely about how we get more power into the hands of more people.”

      • Why is this election so painful? Because voting isn’t real political power

        You certainly don’t want me to tell you that none of that stuff will actually go away, no matter what happens on or after Nov. 3. Or that electing Joe Biden and a bunch of Democratic senators won’t actually fix anything about our broken political system or resolve the deep-rooted social and economic contradictions that got us here.

      • What we’re voting for: democracy

        At least 14 states have reported some kind of voter intimidation, ranging from inconveniences to outright felonies. In Florida, armed security guards appeared outside a polling station, claiming to be working for the Trump campaign. (The campaign denied any involvement, although President Trump has encouraged supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.”) In North Carolina, a Republican county commissioner was charged with misdemeanor assault after shoving a poll worker. In Boston, a ballot drop-off box was set on fire in an apparent act of political arson.

        Other forms of vote suppression are entirely legal. Early voters have faced hours of waiting in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Houston — as always, centered mostly on Black and Latino neighborhoods. The rules for how ballots will be counted in Pennsylvania are still unclear, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court. A growing chorus of analysts expects that election results will be disputed, if not outright resisted.

      • Californians vote on the future of Uber

        At issue is whether their freelance drivers, couriers and other gig workers should be treated as employees, entitled to benefits such as unemployment insurance and sick leave. More fundamentally, “Prop 22” is a stab at balancing worker protections with the gig industry’s flexibility, which lets people work when they want while ensuring that customers never have to wait long for a ride or a meal delivery.

      • A Teacher, His Killer and the Failure of French Integration

        But the nation, broadly, has balked at the suggestion from critics, many in the Muslim community, that France’s model of integration, including its schools, needs an update or an overhaul.

      • Is the Culture War Lost? A Letter Exchange Between Sarah Haider and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

        In an ongoing public letter exchange on Letter, two of the most important advocates of universal liberal humanism—Sarah Haider and Ayaan Hirsi Ali—are currently discussing woke culture. Drawing on their extensive work fighting for the rights and freedoms of ex-Muslims, one of the most persecuted but fastest growing groups in the world, and against censorship, totalitarianism, religious bigotry and sexual oppression, especially when inspired by Islam, these two exceptionally courageous, outspoken women talk about the new cultural and social orthodoxy that is Critical Social Justice, commonly known as wokeism, with its censorious opposition to freedom of expression, its moral grandstanding, its identity hierarchies and the turgid gobbledygook of its constantly mutating terminology. Ayaan argues that this is a temporary phenomenon, rejected by most, and that its own patent absurdity, together with the staunch opposition of true liberals, will soon lead it to be debunked. Sarah, by contrast, points to the way in which the main cultural institutions of the west have already been captured by this illiberal ideology and advocates a radical approach to combating this, since, she writes, “we are not meeting the barbarians at the gate; we are rebelling against the empire.”

        Here is Sarah’s opening letter. You can read Ayaan’s reply, Sarah’s response to Ayaan and follow this on-going conversation at Letter’s own site here.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • FCC Accused of Prioritizing Corporate Interests Over Needs of American People by Doubling Down on Net Neutrality Repeal

        “This remand order callously dismisses the valid concerns of public-safety officials, competitive broadband providers, and millions of disconnected low-income families who can’t afford to get online.”

      • FCC Ignores The Courts, Finalizes Facts-Optional Repeal Of Net Neutrality

        Just about a year ago the courts partially upheld the FCC’s hugely unpopular net neutrality repeal. But it also kicked some aspects of the repeal back to the FCC. Most notably, the courts stated the Ajit Pai FCC couldn’t ban states from protecting consumers if the FCC is no longer interested in doing so. The courts also noted that the FCC (surprise!) did little to no research into how the repeal would impact public safety or efforts to bridge the digital divide (the latter being kind of important in a massive pandemic in which affordable access is essential to survival) and urged the agency to try again.

      • The Last Smash and Grab at the Federal Communications Commission

        AT&T and Verizon secured arguably one of the biggest regulatory benefits from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with the agency ending the last remnants of telecom competition law. In return for this massive gift from the federal government, they will give the public absolutely nothing. 

        A Little Bit of Telecom History 

    • Monopolies

      • Patents

        • FOSS Patents: Apple and Intel defend their amended complaint against Fortress patent troll conglomerate, announce further allegations of FRAND abuse

          With respect to its App Store terms and policies, Apple is now arguably the most prominent antitrust defendant in the tech universe. Simultaneously, Apple is pressing antitrust charges–through private litigation–particularly in connection with abusive patent-leveraging practices. While the issues are very distinct, having the shoe on one foot today and on another foot tomorrow requires Apple, which is represented by different law firms (Wilmer Hale against Softbank-owned Fortress Investment, Gibson Dunn and Orrick against Epic Games and various class action plaintiffs), to espouse a more flexible approach to antitrust enforcement in one context than in the other. Case in point, a Ninth Circuit panel’s wholesale acquittal of Qualcomm took a more restrictive and limiting perspective on how to apply the antitrust laws (particularly–but not only–in connection with patents), and the panel opinion contained legal statements that Apple can and does cite to as it defends itself against Epic, but complicate matters in its joint case with Intel against Softbank’s Fortress.

          In the summer, San Francisco-based Judge Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted Fortress’s first motion to dismiss Apple and Intel’s complaint, but also allowed the plaintiffs to amend the complaint. The absolute low of the Trump Administration’s involvement with patent policy was when the Department of Justice intervened on behalf of that foreign-owned patent troll group that has been bringing many dozens of vexatious lawsuits against not only Apple, but also others, notably Google. That was the very opposite of “Make America Great Again.” It was anti-American, and unfortunately the matter doesn’t have the prerequisite high profile that lawmakers would have raised questions (plus, there are some Democrats on Capitol Hill who are beholden to the world’s patent trolls, such as “Looney Coons”).

          Apple and Intel amended their complaint, and Fortress–not unexpectedly–brought a renewed motion to dismiss, on which the court will probably decide in December. Fortress alleged that Apple and Intel had failed to cure the deficiencies identified by the court in its order to dismiss without prejudice.

        • Risk of Encouraging Infringement while Awaiting Appeal

          This case has been ongoing since 2010. Back in 2011, the district court issued a narrowing claim-construction with the result of a stipulated dismissal of non-infringement. The Federal Circuit reversed that outcome in 2013 with a broader construction — setting up the eventual 2018 trial.

          TecSec’s theory focused on both direct and induced infringement. Just before trial, the district court granted Adobe’s motion in limine to prevent TecSec from presenting any inducement evidence from between the 2011 claim construction and the 2013 reversal.

        • Software Patents

          • Patent Docs: New USPTO Study Shows Rapid Growth, Regional Spread of AI-Based Patenting

            Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released a study entitled “Inventing AI”, which highlights the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI)-based patent applications in the U.S. over the past few decades. The study, released by the Office of the Chief Economist of the USPTO, surveyed publicaly available granted U.S. patents and U.S. patent application pre-grant publications (PGPub) published from 1976 through 2018.

            In a very “meta” analysis method, the study authors utilized a machine learning neural network classification model to identify patent documents relevant to AI. The author’s neural network classifier identified patent documents that fit into one or more of eight “AI component technologies”: Knowledge processing, Speech, AI hardware, Evolutionary computation, Natural language processing, Machine learning, Vision, and Planning and control. Once the relevant patent landscape was identified, the study examined various patent trends and diffusion across technologies, inventor-patentees, organizations, and geography.

      • Copyrights

        • Where is Canada’s News Media Lobby Promoting Its Link Licensing Plan for Facebook? On Facebook

          What is notable about the self-interested media campaign is not just the power of large Canadian publishers to re-use the same coverage in markets across Canada both big and small, but that under  their proposal, they argue that Facebook should be required to pay them for including links to their articles that they themselves have posted. In fact, the lobby group also demands that their original content should be prioritized on Facebook (with a regulator to determine what is entitled to priority), even though the same, original content is repeated again and again across multiple papers and in dozens of Facebook posts. Canadian Heritage Minister has described Facebook as “immoral” for linking to content without payment, but in light of what actually takes place, the comment might be better directed at lobbying campaigns that demand payments for content that the media lobby posts itself to social media.

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