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12.10.18

Links 10/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC6 and Git 2.20

Posted in Site News at 3:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Can We Bring FOSS to the Virtual World?

    Will the free and open-source revolution end when our most personal computing happens inside the walled gardens of proprietary AI VR, AR, MR, ML and XR companies? I ask, because that’s the plan.

    [...]

    Buying all this is the cost of entry for chefs working in the kitchen, serving apps and experiences to customers paying to play inside Magic Leap’s walled garden: a market Magic Leaps hopes will be massive, given an investment sum that now totals close to $2 billion.

    The experience it created for me, thanks to the work of one early developer, was with a school of digital fish swimming virtually in my physical world. Think of a hologram without a screen. I could walk through them, reach out and make them scatter, and otherwise interact with them. It was a nice demo, but far from anything I might crave.

    But I wondered, given Magic Leap’s secretive and far-advanced tech, if it could eventually make me crave things. I ask because immersive doesn’t cover what this tech does. A better adjective might be invasive.

  • Open source will be the next big thing for the channel

    With cloud vendors developing more industry-specific solutions, channel partners must also hone in on vertical industry knowledge to capitalise on these markets.

    Flexibility will also be a key selling point which open source solutions provide: enterprises are seeking a hybrid-cloud approach to eliminate vendor lock-in, which means they’re likely to benefit from working with open source channel partners.

    With the rapid development and maturity that open source solutions provide, a shift toward higher adoptions rates in cloud workloads on Linux will become the new norm.

  • AI & data science: Open source makes NSE smart and secure

    National Stock Exchange of India (NSE which used V-SAT to transmit data securely in 1993, had shifted to Red Hat open source later. In the last few years it has been strengthening that partnership further with the integration of cloud infrastructure in its data systems to not simply improve data security, but also to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science in its systems. The implementation of cloud-based AI platform enables NSE to clock a daily turnover of Rs 3,00,000 crore with 1.2 billion daily transactions. It is the largest stock exchange in India in terms of market volume and market share.
    Says Yatrik R Vin, CFO, NSE India, “There are certain cases on which we use open source’s capabilities extensively. They are risk management at client and investor level, cost reductions and making our systems talk to the public without manual intervention.” He reminisces that during the financial crisis of 2008, not a single rupee was affected, because of the risk management capabilities of the eight-sigma level open source core systems that were in use at NSE India.

  • List of Twitters of Free Software Projects and Communities
  • OpenSMTPD proc filters & fc-rDNS

    I have committed full proc filtering support today, allowing a standalone filter to perform all kind of filtering on every single phase of an SMTP session.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TenFourFox FPR11 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 11 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). Issue 525 has stuck, so that’s being shipped and we’ll watch for site or add-on compatibility fallout (though if you’re reporting a site or add-on that doesn’t work with FPR11, or for that matter any release, please verify that it still worked with prior versions: particularly for websites, it’s more likely the site changed than we did). There are no other changes other than bringing security fixes up to date. Assuming no problems, it will go live tomorrow evening as usual.

  • LibreOffice

  • Public Services/Government

    • New Czech law makes ICT neutrality a right

      A law being prepared by the Czech Republic on eGovernment services (‘Právo na Digitální Služby’ or ‘Right to Digital Service’) will establish technological neutrality for companies and citizens. This means they may not be forced to use any particular software because of technology choices made by public services, Ondřej Profant, Chairman of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on eGovernment, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

  • Programming/Development

    • Git v2.20.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.20.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 962 non-merge commits since v2.19.0 (this is by far the largest release in v2.x.x series), contributed by 83 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.20 Brings Many Fixes, Updates To Windows Port

      Junio Hamano has released Git 2.20 as the newest version of this widely-used distributed revision control system.

      Git 2.20 is another incremental update to this widely used tool by developers. Some of the many changes to Git 2.20 includes:

      - The Git clone process will better warn users when cloning to a case-insensitive file-system where there are files in that repository that only differ with their cases.

    • Parallel Programming: December 2018 Update

      This release features Makefile-automated running of litmus tests (both with herd and litmus tools), catch-ups with recent Linux-kernel changes, a great many consistent-style changes (including a new style-guide appendix), improved code cross-referencing, and a great many proofreading changes, all courtesy of Akira Yokosawa. SeongJae Park, Imre Palik, Junchang Wang, and Nicholas Krause also contributed much-appreciated improvements and fixes. This release also features numerous epigraphs, modernization of sample code, many random updates, and larger updates to the memory-ordering chapter, with much help from my LKMM partners in crime, whose names are now enshrined in the LKMM section of the Linux-kernel MAINTAINERS file.

    • Lets put the game instruction online instead

      In the previous article we have successfully created an about page which contains both game instruction as well as game credit, however it is better to put the game instruction into it’s own page to make our game looks more professional. In this article we are going to create an online game manual which will open up once the player has clicked on the manual button on the main game page.

    • qpropgen 0.1.1

      Continuing on this release month idea started last week, here is a release of another project. Today is the first release of qpropgen, a tool to generate QML-friendly QObject-based C++ classes from class definition files

    • PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 38, 2018
    • Create PDF files from templates with Python and Google Scripts
    • Dockerizing a Python Django Web Application
    • Django Authentication — Login, Logout and Password Change/Reset
    • Fedora 29 : Python 3 and Jupyter notebook.

    • C Programming Language – Introduction

      This tutorial is the first part of a C programming language course on Linux. C is a procedural programming language that was designed by American computer scientist Dennis Ritchie. Please note that we’ll be using Linux for all our examples and explanation. Specifically, we’ll be using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

    • DSF 2019 Board Election Results

      I’m pleased to announce the winners of our 2019 DSF Board of Directors election.

      [...]

      This year we had 17 great candidates and while not everyone can get elected each year I hope they all consider running again in the 2020 election.

      Another item of note with this election is that our Board is now comprised of two thirds women, which is a first for the DSF.

    • coloured shell prompt
    • Create multiple threads to delete multiple files with python

Leftovers

  • Electron and the Decline of Native Apps
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • [Older] In a nutshell: technology and progress in health IT

      On an average day, the computer adds a minimum of 10 minutes of work per patient seen. We have electronic health records to comply with the massive number of Federal mandates requiring it and to avoid the financial penalties for not complying. The Feds offered each hospital an 11 million dollar incentive for putting in these systems which made their decision to computerize far simpler.

    • Big Tobacco Won’t Take Menthol Ban Lying Down

      On November 15, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to ban menthol cigarettes in a move that agency officials described as part of an aggressive new campaign against certain tobacco products. The plans have been welcomed by campaign groups who see mint-flavored smokes as a key means of hooking young people, particularly people of color. But given that certain manufacturers, like Altria Group, make as much as 20 percent of their profits from menthol cigarettes, the agency can expect a fierce battle. The industry will fight hard – and dirty – in its attempts to wriggle free of regulation.

      The menthol ban is just one of a package of proposals designed to protect teens from tobacco. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb – a cancer survivor – also plans to curb the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and flavored cigars. Yet, there’s no doubt which is the most significant of the proposals; the FDA has been planning a crackdown on menthol for years and has already secured a ban on several other flavors, thanks to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which expanded the agency’s ability to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. If the agency manages to outlaw menthol smokes as well, it will have struck a decisive blow against what Gottlieb describes as “one of the most common and pernicious routes” toward heavy smoking.

    • Doctors Who Facilitate Torture Must Be Held to Account

      To prevent further stains on the medical profession, the names of those involved in torture and executions need to be made public.
      Physicians hold a special position in U.S. society. They are given a place of honor in return for the expectation that they will use their knowledge and skills in the public interest and adhere to a clear set of ethical standards.

      Under pressure from the government to misuse their expertise, though, some doctors have been willing to rationalize cooperation in unethical behavior. In recent years, nowhere has such ethical deviation been so starkly on display as in the case of the participation of medical professionals in the CIA torture program. The recent release of a CIA report, secured through an ACLU lawsuit, details how doctors willingly and even proudly became complicit in the CIA’s torture program.

      The warped rationalizations the CIA doctors used to justify their participation reflect a blatantly unprofessional eagerness to violate medical ethics when encouraged by a government agenda. Once they began participating in interrogations — which is clearly prohibited by American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines — CIA medical professionals went to absurd lengths to deny the reality of the abuses and physical and psychological harms they were witnessing and effectively presiding over.

      At one point, CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to one prisoner “from his standing sleep deprivation.” The CIA doctors also claimed that when a different prisoner was forced into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. The descent into complicity with torture was so deep that they lost sight of the clear ethical breach in helping to modulate relative levels of pain infliction.

      Torture isn’t the only recent example of unethical physician complicity in U.S. human rights violations. Throughout the last century, and into the current one, physicians have participated in all methods of executions, most recently through lethal injection, in violation of professional ethical guidelines. In a number of states that execute prisoners by lethal injection, physicians have continued to consult on lethal dosages, examine veins, start intravenous lines, witness executions, and pronounce death.

    • ‘Victory’ for Women as Supreme Court Rejects Case Challenging Medicaid Funds for Planned Parenthood

      In a development hailed as “victory,” the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case that sought to prevent Medicaid patients from accessing key healthcare services from Planned Parenthood.

      By rejecting (pdf) the appeals from Kansas and Louisiana, the court leaves in place lower court rulings that bar the states from blocking Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid healthcare provider option to access services including contraception, wellness exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

      In the 6-3 decision, it was Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch who dissented, saying the high court should have taken up the cases. Notably, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal justices in refusing to hear the challenges.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • This turbulent monk: Did the CIA kill vocal war critic Thomas Merton?

      Fifty years ago next Monday, Thomas Merton was found dead in his room near Bangkok, where he had been the main speaker at an international monastic conference.

      This most vocal critic of war was repatriated to the US on a military plane with the bodies of American soldiers killed in Vietnam. At the time, he was the best-known Catholic monk in the world and the news of his death at 53 was reported on the front page of the New York Times, beside that of the great German theologian, Karl Barth.

      It was 27 years exactly to the day since he had entered, at age 27, the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani, Kentucky, and this was the first time he had been allowed to travel abroad since then. His Asian Journal, including his encounters with the Dalai Lama, was to be published posthumously.

      In his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (Elected Silence in the English edition), he relates his religious conversion was a best seller when it was published in 1948, translated into several languages and is still in print. Merton published more than 70 books, essays, poems and wrote thousands of letters. From his monastery and then his hermitage, he corresponded with Rosemary Radford Ruether, Boris Pasternak, DT Suzuki and countless others.

      [...]

      However, the cause of death given by the Thai police was a heart attack, and there was no autopsy. The presence of a bleeding wound at the back of Merton’s head was not investigated. Was Thomas Merton murdered and was there a cover-up?
      In 1997, Jim Douglass, a friend of Merton had already publicly raised the issue. In 2016, theologian Matthew Fox, who believes that Merton had been assassinated by one of the many CIA agents active in Thailand, reported that one of them had actually told him so.

    • We Bear Responsibility for the Conditions in Honduras Causing Its People to Flee

      The question is how much of the turmoil we own—and how we’re going to make good on our moral debts.

    • Oil tycoon, CIA chief, President: George H.W. Bush was the epitome of American empire

      The late US President George H.W. Bush, a luminary of America’s most powerful family, was the personification of a nation addicted to oil, obsessed with secrecy and war, and self-assured of its exceptional qualities.
      When considering the life and times of George Herbert Walker Bush, one is forced to enter into a well-guarded mansion that is steeped in so many accumulated layers of wealth, power and secrecy that just scratching the surface requires a pickaxe and dynamite. For here we are dealing with no ordinary politician, but rather the scion of a dynastic clan who had a profound hand in shaping America into the country it is today.

      George H.W. Bush was not necessarily predestined for a life of politics in the same way that career politicians, like John F. Kennedy, for example, or Bill Clinton were. Conquering a chunk of the global monopoly board took priority in the Bush household; political power came – like an after-dinner mint – more as a complement to the wealth obtained, and perhaps as a way to acquire more.

    • Let’s Talk About George HW Bush’s Role in Iran-Contra

      Hagiographies of the late president neglect his role in a secret war in Nicaragua and illegal weapons sales to Iran for the release of hostages.

    • How The CIA Used Brain Surgery To Make Six Remote Control Dogs

      Newly released files from “behavior modification,” or mind control, projects conducted as part of the infamous Project MKUltra reveal the CIA experimented in more than controlling humans with psychotropic drugs, electrical shocks and radio waves—they also created field operational, remote-controlled dogs.

      The documents were provided under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by John Greenewald, founder of The Black Vault, a site specializing in declassified government records. In one declassified letter (released as file C00021825) a redacted individual writes to a doctor (whose name has also been redacted) with advice about launching a laboratory for experiments in animal mind control. The writer of the letter is already an expert in the field, whose earlier work had culminated with the creation of six remote control dogs, which could be made to run, turn and stop.

    • How George H.W. Bush Rode a Fake National Security Scandal to the Top of the CIA

      On December 15, 1975, a Senate committee opened hearings on whether George H.W. Bush should be confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: A Practical Proposal

      In late November 2018, Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned public intellectual, remarked that “humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war.”

      Curiously, although a widespread environmental movement has developed to save the planet from accelerating climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster. Indeed, this danger―exemplified by the collapse of arms control and disarmament agreements, vast nuclear “modernization” programs by the United States and other nuclear powers, and reckless threats of nuclear war―has stirred remarkably little public protest and even less public debate during the recent U.S. midterm elections.

      Of course, there are peace and disarmament organizations that challenge the nuclear menace. But they are fairly small and pursue their own, separate anti-nuclear campaigns. Such campaigns―ranging from cutting funding for a new nuclear weapon, to opposing the Trump administration’s destruction of yet another disarmament treaty, to condemning its threats of nuclear war―are certainly praiseworthy. But they have not galvanized a massive public uprising against the overarching danger of nuclear annihilation.

      In these circumstances, what is missing is a strategy that peace organizations and activists can rally around to rouse the public from its torpor and shift the agenda of the nuclear powers from nuclear confrontation to a nuclear weapons-free world.

      The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, launched decades ago in another time of nuclear crisis, suggests one possible strategy. Developed at the end of the 1970s by defense analyst Randy Forsberg, the Freeze (as it became known) focused on a rather simple, straightforward goal: a Soviet-American agreement to stop the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.

      As Forsberg predicted, this proposal to halt the nuclear arms race had great popular appeal (with polls showing U.S. public support at 72 percent) and sparked an enormous grassroots campaign. The Reagan administration, horrified by this resistance to its plans for a nuclear buildup and victory in a nuclear war, fought ferociously against it. But to no avail. The Freeze triumphed in virtually every state and local referendum on the ballot, captured the official support of the Democratic Party, and sailed through the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority.

    • The Disasters of War

      Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church is located in the city of Kingston. Kingston, one of the hubs of New York’s Hudson Valley, has received a good deal of attention these last few years, as New York City continues–at an ever-growing rate–to function as a domain of the wealthy. Holy Cross/Santa Cruz, though, sits amid the large, ungentrified swath of Kingston unlikely to attract the attention of the New York Times or expatriate Brooklynites.

      The church’s hybrid name reflects its bilingual English-Spanish congregation. The divisions are purely linguistic. It is, Father Frank Alagna stresses, emphatically one community.

      Holy Cross/Santa Cruz is part of a sanctuary parish; Kingston itself—in no small part because of Father Alagna’s efforts–is a sanctuary city. The Trump administration’s bluster over the State of California’s sanctuary policies—besides playing on some of the populace’s natural antipathy toward California—is also a useful distraction. In reality, sanctuary cities and entities are widespread and geographically diverse, a good deal of them located in the so-called heartland: Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota.

      Father Alagna is a firm, yet soft-spoken presence. It is instructive, he notes, to consider the various meanings of the word sanctuary itself: a sacred space, a safe haven. Sanctuaries can exist within one’s heart and exist in the wider world. Holy Cross/Santa Cruz has applied the meaning of the word both as a spiritual manifestation and as an impetus for straight-out activism.

      [...]

      These refugees from Central America need shelter, food. They need pro bono legal representation. There are mandatory meetings with ICE that require transportation. Refugee parents can be snatched up a moment’s notice with no provisions whatsoever for their children, leaving them suddenly abandoned. It is important for the refugees to know their legal rights. ICE, as deadly as it is, does operate under legal strictures. They cannot, for example, enter a dwelling without a federal warrant.

      American racism is supple and easily adaptable. The Latino population is a visible part of the American fabric, yet amid this current orgy of hatred and fear, this same populace has been transformed into invasive hordes, ready to seize jobs, spread disease, sow wanton violence. And that, Father Alagna reflects, is inevitable when a convenient enemy is needed: The invisible are made visible.

      The endless analogies that render Donald Trump akin to a foreign despot—Hitler, Mussolini, Putin—are ultimately a cop-out; as if the administration’s destructive rampage is so exceptional and unprecedented that it simply must have come from outside, foreign sources. It is just the opposite: The ravaging of Central America has been an all-American legacy. The current fear-mongering, xenophobia, the outright sadism directed at children—all it needs no inspiration from abroad. It is ours as a country.

    • Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia

      All over Europe, the First World War had brought about a potentially revolutionary situation as early as 1917. In countries where the authorities continued to represent the traditional elite, exactly as had been the case in 1914, they aimed to prevent the realization of this potential by means of repression, concessions, or both. But in the case of Russia, the revolution not only broke out but succeeded, and the Bolsheviks began work on the construction of the world’s very first socialist society. It was an experiment for which the elites of the other countries felt no sympathy whatsoever; to the contrary, they fervently hoped that this project would soon end in a dismal fiasco. (It was also a revolutionary experiment that would disappoint numerous sympathizers because the socialist Utopia failed to spring whole, Athena-like, from the brow of the Russian revolutionary Zeus.)

      In elitist circles in London, Paris, and elsewhere, they were convinced of the ineluctability of the failure of the Bolsheviks’ bold experiment but, just to be sure, it was decided to send troops to Russia to support the “white” counterrevolutionaries against the Bolshevik “reds” in a conflict that was to morph into a great, long, and bloody civil war. A first wave of allied troops arrived in Russia in April 1918, when British and Japanese soldiers disembarked in Vladivostok. They established contact with the “whites,” who were already involved in a full-blown war against the Bolsheviks. In total, the British alone would send 40,000 men to Russia. In that same spring of 1918, Churchill, then minister of war, also sent an expeditionary corps to Murmansk, in the north of Russia, in order to support the troops of the “white” General Kolchak, in the hope that this might help to replace the Bolshevik rulers with a government friendly to Britain. Other countries sent smaller contingents of soldiers, including France, the United States (15,000 men), Japan, Italy, Romania, Serbia, and Greece. In some cases, the allied troops became involved in fighting against the Germans and Ottomans on Russia’s frontiers, but it was clear that they had not come for that purpose, but rather to overthrow the Bolshevik regime and to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in its crib,” as Churchill so delicately put it. The British, in particular, also hoped that their presence might make it possible to pocket some attractive bits and pieces of territory of a Russian state that seemed to be falling apart, much like the Ottoman Empire. This explains why a British unit marched from Mesopotamia to the shores of the Caspian Sea, namely to the oil-rich regions around Baku, capital of modern Azerbaijan. Like the Great War itself, the allied intervention in Russia aimed both to fight the revolution and to achieve imperialist objectives.

    • Rebranding Bundy

      Recent efforts to burnish the image of members of the Bundy Public Land Grab clan bear close watching. A flurry of Bundy-friendly articles and videos commenced in early November. This began with a fawning piece in the Idaho Statesman featuring Ammon Bundy “a sunlight kind of guy” at his apple orchard in Emmett Idaho. The article ran in papers across the region. The piece appeared just after Ryan Bundy was not elected Governor of Nevada, having garnered a whopping one percent of the vote.

      [...]

      Bundy should know about fear-based policies. He and his gang of militants and paranoid followers inflicted a great deal of fear when they seized Malheur Refuge and militants lurked around Burns. Not to mention the fear felt by federal workers on other remote Refuges or public land areas across the country — as the standoff dragged on and on, with the Feds failing to cut the power, failing to cordon off the Refuge and letting the situation devolve into a media circus, replete with lavish photo ops and videos of “patriot” gunslingers.The Bundy gang and Militia at Malheur intimidated the federal agencies, local officials, members of the community, and even hikers on the Refuge. They snuck around and spied on people and vehicles.While saintly Ammon was not photographed in public wearing a gun, his acolytes and the militia thugs that gravitated to Refuge were armed to the teeth.

      It’s clear that Bundy’s vision for the public lands he wants to take from the public is defense with the use of guns and fear. Henchman Lavoy Finicum promised range vigilante protection to public lands cattle ranchers who renounced federal grazing permits and let their cows roam a la Cliven during a strange “ceremony” held by Bundy at the Refuge to celebrate a New Mexico rancher renouncing his grazing permit.

    • Is Kushner Covering for Bin Salman Murder Charge so Israel can Usurp Palestinian West Bank?

      Kushner famously made a relationship with Bin Salman when he was still third in line to the throne, in spring of 2017, and may have tried to pull strings for his friend so as to slip him into the position of crown prince in summer of 2017. Kushner has stood with Bin Salman through a whole series of crimes, including extorting $100 bn from some 200 fellow princes and his Yemen war that has resulted in starving 85,000 Yemeni children to death. And now the advice to “weather the storm” of being caught red-handed murdering Khashoggi.

    • Tell Your Representative and Senators to Create a GAO Investigation Before Another Base Is Built in Okinawa

      Okinawa suffers under the burden of major U.S. military bases. The people of Okinawa and their elected representatives do not want another one built. Nor is it in the interest of the people of the United States.

    • Public Pressure Could Halt US Support of Yemen War

      US tax dollars are supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has already claimed the lives of some 85,000 children, and 12 million more people are likely on the brink of starvation. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “the starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it.”

      The United States has long been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have provided considerable military support to the Saudi war in Yemen.

      But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has finally spurred both Democrats and Republicans to take steps to end US military involvement in Yemen.

      On November 28, the Senate voted 63-to-37 to advance a resolution that would direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen. However, S. J. Res. 54 carves out an exception for continued US-supported military measures against “al Qaeda or associated forces” that could be twisted to rationalize nearly any military assistance Donald Trump provides to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Details emerge on HK biz partner of CIA mole recruited by Beijing

      Documents recently declassified by the United Kingdom National Archives could help unravel the mystery behind how Barry Cheung Kam-lun, the colonial-era Hong Kong business partner of an alleged CIA mole, was locked up, interrogated and eventually recruited by Chinese agents.

      Jerry Lee Chun-shing, a Hong Kong resident who spent 13 years working in the field for the US Central Intelligence Agency, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after he touched down at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport at the beginning of the year.

    • CIA employees called for “abolishing FOIA” as one of Agency’s goals for 1984

      During a four-hour team-building exercise, staff frankly discussed what the Agency should – and shouldn’t – be doing on the world stage

    • Politico Cites Anonymous ‘Ex-CIA Agent’ in Report Manafort-Assange Story Was Russia Disinformation

      As the Guardian’s scoop alleging Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange three times in the Ecuadoran embassy in London appeared to fall apart, Politico published a story that suggested the reporters involved were pranked by someone who wanted to discredit their work on Russia collusion.

      The piece was written by Alex Finley, which, according to Politico,” is the pen name of a former CIA officer and author of “Victor in the Rubble,” a satire of the CIA and the war on terror.”

      If it was true that Manafort, who briefly served as President Trump’s campaign manager, visited Assange, “the ramifications are immense,” Finley wrote.

      “It means the guy running Trump’s campaign met directly with the head of the organization that served as a tool of Russia’s intelligence services, distributing stolen Democratic emails in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election. It could be the proverbial smoking gun that shows Trump’s campaign knew it was receiving help from Russian intelligence services and perhaps even aided the operation.”

      Reporters Luke Harding and Dan Collyns relied entirely on anonymous sources. They also said they saw an internal document from Ecuador’s intelligence service that lists “Paul Manaford” as a frequent visitor to the embassy.

    • WikiLeaks skewers Guardian writer for zany theory that RT is, wait for it… reporting news

      A Guardian writer failed to impress WikiLeaks after furnishing damning evidence that RT has run stories on Julian Assange, Nigel Farage, and even Russia’s special forces. Do you know what this means? Neither do we.
      After decrying a short RT video about Russia’s special forces, Carole Cadwalladr shared a major revelation with her 220,000 Twitter followers on Sunday: RT covers news stories and current events.

      “You know who else RT boosts? Julian Assange & Seamus Milne. But given the reaction yesterday I thought I’d put that in a separate tweet. I’m somehow to blame for pointing out facts. Huge apologies but Milne’s support for Putin has made him a Russian propaganda tool,” she wrote, misspelling the name of fellow Guardian contributor and communications director for Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘These False Solutions Are a Joke’: Trump’s Pro-Coal Panel at COP24 Shut Down With Laughter by Climate Campaigners

      U.S. President Donald Trump’s representatives at the U.N. climate talks in Poland were openly laughed at on Monday.

      Disrupting the Trump administration’s attempt to promote planet-destroying fossil fuel production during a side panel at the COP24 climate talks in Poland, hundreds of indigenous and youth climate leaders captured the international community’s collective disdain for U.S. President Donald Trump’s subservience to Big Oil by laughing loudly at U.S. envoys as they attempted to speak, chanting “Keep it in the ground,” and taking over the panel to demand bold and just solutions to the global climate crisis.

      “These false solutions are a joke,” declared one demonstrator after the derisive laughter subsided, “but the impact on our frontline communities are not. We hold the solutions and we know that we must keep it in the ground.”

    • #NoMoreExcuses: Mass Action on Capitol Hill to Demand Dems Back Green New Deal Instead of Fossil Fuel Interests

      The protesters are expected to call on Democrats to reject the influence of carbon-emitting industries, from which the party received more than $5 million in 2018.

      “Politicians are giving bogus excuses for why they can’t support the Select Committee on a Green New Deal,” the group wrote in their call for attendees at Monday’s action. “They have told us us they haven’t read the resolution yet, that they support a Green New Deal but not this committee, that they admire our passion, but that we’re young and naive and impatient…They’re hoping our movement is just a flash in the pan and that they can wait us out.

      “That’s why now is the time to go bigger than ever. Between now and their final day on December 13th, Congress will be setting their agenda for 2019. That means we have just days to make sure a Green New Deal is front and center on the House’s agenda.”

      Varshini Prakash, founder of the Sunrise Movement, rallied more than 800 demonstrators Sunday night at the pre-lobbying training.

    • Thousands Protest at U.N. Climate Summit in Coal-Heavy Poland, Facing Riot Police & Intimidation

      This week Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have blocked language “welcoming” October’s landmark IPCC climate report that warned of the catastrophic effects of a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which global crises could unfold at a rapid pace. The four countries rejected using the word “welcome,” insisting that members instead “note” the findings of the widely cited U.N. report. We begin our coverage with voices of some of the thousands of climate activists from around the world who marched in Katowice on Saturday, calling for world leaders to do more to keep rising greenhouse gas emissions in check. We also speak with a member of the European Parliament who confronted undercover Polish officials who were monitoring the protest.

    • 2018 will show record carbon emissions

      For the second year running, the world will have a doubtful achievement to claim by 31 December: record carbon emissions.

      Even before the close of 2018, scientists behind the biggest accounting effort on the planet, the Global Carbon Budget, warn that emissions from coal, oil and gas will have dumped a record 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (a way of comparing the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential) into the atmosphere by the end of this month.

      This is 2.7% more than last year, which also showed an increase. Human destruction of the world’s forests will add another four billion tonnes in the same 12 months.

      The news comes as 190 nations negotiate in Katowice in Poland to work out how to meet the targets they set in 2015 in Paris, to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, and if possible no more than 1.5°C.

    • Alberta tarsands production cuts here to stay: Indigenous-led movement will make sure of it

      An alliance of Indigenous Nations from across Canada and the U.S., now numbering 150 Nations, warned back in 2016 when the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was first launched, that all attempts to further increase production of the tarsands, whether by pipeline, rail or marine tankers, would be blocked.

      An entire Indigenous-led movement of people of all ages and backgrounds has been standing up to these tarsands pipelines and enforcing the ban, including by starving the tarsands of its financial backers, sometimes by even going to jail and putting their bodies on the line. Heroes, all of them.

      Industry chose to ignore these warnings and continued to increase production, with plans for much more. They are now butting up against current pipeline capacity, adding to the already existing price differential that heavy tarsands oil always suffers from as a result of increased refinement costs and its distance from refineries.

      These production cuts are exactly what are needed and what this movement has been fighting for — to limit expansion of the Alberta tarsands.

      And for those saying this will be a temporary problem that will soon be solved when Enbridge’s Line 3 comes on line next year, don’t count on it — the resistance to that tarsands pipeline is massive and growing. Enbridge is truly in for a repeat of its Northern Gateway experience.

    • Shark Fishing Tournaments Devalue Ocean Wildlife and Harm Conservation

      Just over three years ago, I was clinging to a rock in 20 meters of water, trying to stop the current from pulling me out to sea. I peered out into the gloom of the Pacific. Suddenly, three big dark shapes came into view, moving in a jerky, yet somehow smooth and majestic manner. I looked directly into the left eyes of hammerhead sharks as they swam past, maybe 10 meters from me. I could see the gill slits, the brown skin. But most of all, what struck me was just how big these animals are — far from the biggest sharks in the seas, but incredibly powerfully built and solid. These are truly magnificent creatures.

      These animals (by which I mean any large shark, not just hammerheads) are at the top of the marine food chain. They are important keystone predators that can help structure marine ecosystems. Their role as predators can even help with carbon dynamics, keeping carbon locked up in marine sediments, or by controlling the amount of respiring biomass in our seas.

    • Carbon emissions will reach 37 billion tonnes in 2018, a record high

      Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise more than 2% (range 1.8% to 3.7%) in 2018, taking global fossil CO₂ emissions to a new record high of 37.1 billion tonnes.

      The strong growth is the second consecutive year of increasing emissions since the 2014-16 period when emissions stabilised, further slowing progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement that require a peak in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Strong growth in emissions from the use of coal, oil and natural gas suggests CO₂ emissions are likely to increase further in 2019.

      [...]

      These analyses are part of the new annual assessment of the Global Carbon Project (GCP), published today in three separate papers. The GCP brings together scientists who use climate and industrial data from around the world to develop the most comprehensive picture of the Earth’s sources and sinks of greenhouse gases.

    • Better land use could slash US emissions

      US scientists have found a new way to cut or offset 22% of the greenhouse gas emissions from American factory chimneys, car exhausts and power stations: better land use.

      Their answer is to leave it to nature. What they identify as 21 natural climate solutions – better use of croplands, the restoration of forests and tidal wetlands, slowing the felling of timber and the containment of urban sprawl – could help limit global warming, slow climate change and reduce sea level rise for the nation that has over the last century emitted more greenhouse gas than any other country.

      The most effective single action in a study launched by the US Nature Conservancy and 21 other institutions, and published in the journal Science Advances, would be to step up reforestation: this alone could absorb the emissions of 65 million passenger cars.

      “One of America’s greatest assets is its land. Through changes in management, along with protecting and restoring natural lands, we demonstrated we could reduce carbon pollution and filter water, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and have better soil health to grow our food — all at the same time,” said Joseph Fargione, director of science for the Nature Conservancy, who led the study.

      [...]

      That more efficient use of land is a net benefit is not news: researchers have repeatedly argued that world food security is consistent with forest restoration, and that forests left untouched are of greater overall economic value than cleared land, and that considered changes to farming practices could both deliver more food and leave farmers better off.

      But, ironically, efforts to promote natural climate solutions in the US get only 0.8% of public and private climate finance, even though these could provide 37% of the climate mitigation needed by 2030. The scientists argue that if the US is to commit to the Paris Accord of 2015, to contain global average warming to 2°C or less above the levels for most of human history, then natural climate solutions make a promising start.

    • COP24: climate protesters must get radical and challenge economic growth

      At the COP24 conference in Poland, countries are aiming to finalise the implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. The task has extra gravity in the wake of the recent IPCC report declaring that we have just 12 years to take the action needed to limit global warming to that infamous 1.5ᵒC target.

      Although the conference itself is open to selected state representatives only, many see the week as an opportunity to influence and define the climate action agenda for the coming year, with protests planned outside the conference halls.

      A crucial role of environmental activists is to shift the public discourse around climate change and to put pressure on state representatives to act boldly. COP24 offers a rare platform on which to drive a step change in the position of governments on climate change.

      However, many environmental movements in Europe are not offering the critical analysis and radical narratives needed to achieve a halt to climate change.

    • ‘We Cannot Accept an Unjust Energy Transition’: Future of Coal Communities Becomes Crucial Issue at Climate Talks

      For the first time, the future of coal workers and communities across the world has become one of the most pressing issues of the global climate negotiations — infusing a sense of social reality within what is otherwise a very technical and political process.

      “We have been waiting for this for 30 years,” said Brian Kohler sustainability director for IndustriALL, a union representing 50 million workers across 140 countries.

      In the corridors of the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, Kohler is “delighted” that the topic has found its way high on this year’s agenda. It couldn’t have come soon enough.

      One of the first to have coined the term “just transition” in the 1990s, Kohler is well aware of challenges facing workers and communities relying on fossil fuels extraction for their livelihoods and the necessity to ensure the energy transition will leave no-one behind.

      Scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned that the world has 12 years to take “rapid and transformative measures” and reduce emissions by 45 percent to remain below 1.5 degrees of warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    • US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait Launch ‘Ludicrous’ Effort to ‘Sabotage’ Support for Key UN Climate Study

      Most world leaders gathered in Poland to discuss how to meet the goals of the Paris agreement seemed eager to heed the warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on what the world could look like if the global temperature rises to 1.5°C versus 2°C (2.7°F versus 3.6°F)—which has elicited demands for “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented” reforms to avert climate catastrophe.

      The four-nation coalition of oil-exporting nations, however, wasn’t having it—and aimed to make it easier for governments to ignore such calls for urgent action to address the climate crisis by fighting against a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they suggested, it should merely be “noted.”

      “The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report,” the U.S. State Department said. “As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report.”

      Last year, President Donald Trump revealed his intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, provoking immediate condemnation across the United States and the rest of the world. Within a few months of that announcement, all other countries had signed on to the accord, leaving the U.S. as the sole nation opposed to it.

      Efforts by the U.S. and others on Saturday to block global support for the IPCC report raised immediate concern and frustration among climate experts.

    • ‘Shame on You’: Campaigners Disrupt US Fossil Fuel Event Attended by Climate Science Deniers

      Campaigners disrupted a US event promoting “greener and cleaner” fossil fuel energy at the UN climate talks, calling it “a farce” that had no place within the global climate negotiations process.

      Minutes after the start of the event on the fringe of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, dozens of youth activists, indigenous campaigners and community leaders burst out laughing and stood up in front of the panel chanting “keep it in the ground”.

      A large banner with the “keep it in the ground” was deployed in a way to hide the panel from the audience.

    • Warning of Solar Geoengineering’s Dangers, Group Recommends a Global Ban

      A Harvard research team recently announced plans to perform early tests to shoot sunlight-reflecting particles into the high atmosphere to slow or reverse global warming.

      These research efforts, which could take shape as soon as the first half of 2019, fall under the banner of a geoengineering technology known as solar radiation management, which is sometimes called “sun dimming.”

      However, less than two weeks after the announcement, the climate science and policy institute Climate Analytics took aim at these ambitions in a new briefing titled ”Why geoengineering is not a solution to the climate problem,” which goes as far as recommending a global ban on solar geoengineering.

      The group’s briefing warns about the dangers of proceeding with solar radiation management (SRM) in particular.

      The basic idea behind SRM is to release particles into the Earth’s stratosphere, the atmospheric layer approximately 6–30 miles above the surface, where they would then reflect some of the sun’s light (and heat) away from Earth, resulting in atmospheric cooling.

  • Finance

    • Richard Wolff: There Are No Blueprints for Revolution

      Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. In this interview, Wolff discusses how the revolutions that overthrew feudalism laid the foundations for our current crisis of capitalism, why historical models of socialism put into practice failed, and what lessons we can learn from them in creating a new socialism.

    • Chicago Task Force Will Take on Ticket and Debt Collection Reform

      The city of Chicago on Thursday took a potentially big step toward reducing the harmful impact of its ticketing and debt collection practices on low-income and minority motorists, launching a task force that will examine issues ranging from disparities in enforcement to punishments for people who don’t pay their tickets.

      The task force, called the Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative, was created by City Clerk Anna Valencia and will bring together officials from police, finance and other key city departments, as well as more than a half-dozen aldermen, community organizations and independent researchers.

      The task force was prompted by reporting over the past year from ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ on the disproportionately heavy effects of ticketing on low-income and black communities. The reporting, combined with growing advocacy from community groups, has fueled an urgency for reform on the issue ahead of city elections in February.

    • Top FTC official is so such a corporate shill that he has conflicts of interest for 100 companies, including Equifax and Facebook

      Andrew Smith is Trump’s chief of the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau, in charge of investigating companies that abuse Americans — but he can’t, because he has previously provided services for over 100 of America’s largest companies, including Facebook, a whack of payday lenders, Amazon, American Airlines, Amex, BoA, Capital One, Citigroup, John Deere, Equifax, Expedia, Experian, Glaxosmithkline, Goldman Sachs, Jpmorgan, Linkedin, Microsoft, Paypal, Redbubble, Twitter, Sotheby’s, Transunion, Uber, Verizon, Visa, Disney and Wells Fargo.

    • The FTC’s top consumer protection official can’t go after Facebook — or 100 other companies

      Andrew Smith, who heads the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, would be in charge of handling investigations into some of the country’s largest companies and any consumer protection violations that may occur. But due to his conflicts of interest, Smith is barred from participating in any investigations involving the companies he previously provided legal services for.

    • Jared Kushner’s close relationship with Saudi officials is reportedly the result of a 2-year influence mission

      The Times, citing former officials, text messages, and emails, reported that Kushner and the crown prince have been in close contact for nearly two years, despite efforts from the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, to rein in one-on-one communications with foreign leaders.

    • The Wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House

      Given Mr. Kushner’s political inexperience, the private exchanges could make him susceptible to Saudi manipulation, said three former senior American officials. In an effort to tighten practices at the White House, a new chief of staff tried to reimpose longstanding procedures stipulating that National Security Council staff members should participate in all calls with foreign leaders.

    • US-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory

      “The Saudis have had public relations problems in Washington for many, many years,” he said. “I think that the Khashoggi murder in a sense crystallized some of these issues for people.”

    • Swept Up in France’s Yellow Vest Protests

      I’ve never been tear gassed before. The smell is similar to fireworks and the effect is explosive—and effective. I immediately wanted to get as far away as I could from the noxious source of burning eyes and throat.

      I was in Paris when France’s “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) movement shut down the center of the city.

      There were thousands of demonstrators, all wearing the bright yellow safety vests drivers are required by law to have in their cars.

      They had come from all over the country. The Paris demonstration was the latest escalation in a leaderless movement organized by activists through social media.

      The movement originated out of resentment over a hike in the price of diesel gas announced by President Emmanuel Macron as part of his efforts to address climate change. The price of gas in France is already the equivalent of $6.74 a gallon. Rural families dependent on vehicles would be stretched even further with the gas tax hike.

      But this is no American-style Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party protest.

      “These protests are not a backlash against the presence of the French state in the economy,” said Cole Stangler, a labor journalist who reports from Paris. “Many yellow vests are just asking that it act more fairly, infuriated by a government that asks them to give up more income each month at the same time as it grants tax cuts to the super-rich.”

    • More Than a Thousand Arrested as Yellow Vests Protests Over Economic Frustration Rage on Across France

      Some 1,220 people were arrested in France on Saturday as more than a hundred thousand took to the streets—leading to a lockdown and armored vehicles pouring into Paris—as part of the “Yellow Vests” or “Gilets Jaunes” movement that initially came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel, which critics warn would primarily impact the working- and middle-class.

      The movement’s name comes from many supporters wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that all drivers in France are required to keep in their vehicles. Although Macron’s centrist administration announced last week that it was suspending fuel and electricity hikes for six months, outrage over growing inequality across the country has continued to produce massive protests.

    • Philadelphia Just Passed the Strongest Fair Scheduling Law in the Nation

      Philadelphia, the poorest big city in the country, just enacted the most sweeping bill yet to give low-wage workers some control over their schedules.

      The city’s new law, which passed the city council on Thursday, will require businesses with more than 250 employees and more than 30 locations worldwide to provide employees their schedules at least 10 days in advance. If any changes are made to their schedules after that, employers will owe employees more money. Employers will also be required to offer more hours as they become available to existing employees who want them rather than hiring new people, and they’ll be banned from retaliating against those who either request or decline more hours.

      The law is poised to have a huge impact: A recent survey conducted by UC Berkeley found that among food and retail sector workers in Philadelphia, 62 percent receive their schedules less than two weeks ahead of time and two-thirds work irregular or variable schedules. Almost half usually work 30 hours or less each week even though less than 15 percent have a second job to supplement their incomes.

      “It seems that employers are being less and less cognizant of their workers’ needs and home lives,” noted Nadia Hewka, an employment lawyer with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, which advocated for the bill. “This would just put a little bit of balance back into that equation.”

    • Macron to break silence, address French nation amid protests

      Pressure mounted on French President Emmanuel Macron to announce concrete measures to calm protests marked by violence when he addresses the nation Monday evening, and breaks a long silence widely seen as aggravating a crisis that has shaken the government and the whole country.
      The president will consult in the morning with an array of national and local officials as he tries to get a handle on the ballooning and radicalizing protest movement triggered by anger at his policies, and a growing sense that they favor the rich.
      Macron will speak from the presidential Elysee Palace at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT), an Elysee official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
      Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said earlier on LCI TV station he was “sure (Macron) will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French, speak to their hearts.” But, he added, a “magic wand” won’t solve all the problems of the protesters, known as “yellow vests” for the fluorescent safety vests they often wear.

    • French Working-Class Protesters Demand Higher Standard of Living

      Nearly 1,000 people are in police custody and at least 71 have been injured after protests that turned violent in France on Saturday. The grassroots protesters, called Gilets Jaunes—“Yellow Vests”—have expressed frustration with the high cost of living in France and the pro-business policies of centrist President Emmanuel Macron, called by some “the president of the rich.”

      Macron has proposed increasing taxes on diesel and gas, and although the government has since acquiesced and scrapped the proposal, many working-class people considered that demand a only starting point. The approximately 125,000 people wearing yellow vests who took to the streets Saturday in ongoing protests were joined by about 89,000 police officers, some of whom used tear gas on the crowds. Single mothers, factory workers, delivery workers, secretaries and other workers joined to protest tax cuts for the wealthy and a minimum wage that doesn’t cover basic expenses.

      “The Gilets Jaunes that you see in the streets, they’re mainly middle-class, and they’re being bled dry financially,” said Jacques, a technical college teacher and Gilets Jaunes organizer. “The wealth gap is getting wider, and we’ve reached a point where there are the very rich and the very poor—and more and more people are slipping into poverty.”

      “Macron’s first move in office was to slash the wealth tax for the mega-rich while cutting money from poor people’s housing benefits,” said Céline, a classroom assistant for children with special needs. “That is a serious injustice.”

    • Joe Kennedy and the Precarious Promise of “Moral Capitalism”

      We are a nation that was founded in opposition to hereditary rule. The founders rejected the notion of a king and embraced the principle that there were to be no royal families who generation after generation governed on the assumption of divine right.

      In recent decades, we have made two notable exceptions to this democratic disdain of dynasties. And no, the Kardashians don’t count.

      True, members of these two American dynastic families didn’t officially inherit office like kings and queens. They were elected, and to their credit, usually have embraced the concept of public service—albeit often in the tradition of a patrician noblesse oblige, which can translate as making lofty decrees from a pedestal while letting other “lesser” people do the dirty work.

      And like so many crowned heads, money has been involved. Lots of it, and much of it ill gotten, the profits of war, resource depletion, and the exploitation of humankind’s pleasures and sins. One of the sons of privilege joked after a primary victory that his father sent a telegram: “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”

      This past few days we’ve been reminded of one of the two families with the death of ex-President George Herbert Walker Bush: blue-blooded son of a U.S. senator; father of one son who served as president and governor of Texas, another who served as governor of Florida and unsuccessfully ran for the White House; and grandfather of the Texas land commissioner—which may not sound like a big deal, but if you live there, is.

    • The Inequality to Be Suffered by Our Children

      The fortunate ones will not be suffering. In the past eight years, the richest 5% of Americans have increased their wealth by $30 trillion — almost a third of total U.S. wealth — while the poorest 50% have seen their average wealth drop from $11,500 to $9,500. There is ample evidence for a nation soon to be made even more unequal by the transfer of wealth from rich baby boomers to their children and grandchildren, who will have done little if anything to earn it. The middle class will be further crippled by the ongoing growth in inequality. Unless progressive policies are demanded by American voters, most of our children and grandchildren will suffer from the continuing expansion of a Great-Depression-like wealth gap that already “dwarfs” the rest of the developed world.

    • Low-Income People Pay When Government Tech Contracts Sour

      Earlier this year, the tech company Novo Dia Group announced it would not continue as a vendor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, due to a switch in federal contractors. What seemed a run-of-the-mill business decision threw a very real wrench into the availability of locally-grown foods for low-income Americans.

      The problem was that Novo Dia held the only keys to a USDA program dedicated to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program processing software and equipment for 1,700 farmers’ markets nationwide. Without Novo Dia providing this service, markets would have no way to accept SNAP — a disruption that would cost farmers income and SNAP recipients food.

      If you’ve ever attempted to switch your cell phone provider but keep your actual device, you might be able to relate: Farmers’ markets had perfectly functional and expensive equipment that simply would not work with any other SNAP processing software. It’s the government equivalent of trying to keep your iPhone when you move from Verizon to AT&T.

      This episode raised a lot of questions about the government’s relationship with tech companies tasked with administering public programs: How does it choose who to hire? How does it hold those companies accountable? And how do those decisions affect the daily lives of low-income Americans who rely on being able to access their benefits?

      The answers are vitally important: Governments are increasingly relying on new technologies to sort applications, manage caseloads, and distribute benefits. How such technology is contracted, developed, and deployed will have real impacts on millions of low-income Americans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • After weekend with Bernie, Niki Ashton talks Progressive International: ‘Our movement is a global movement. It must be.’

      The time to act is now. No longer can progressives afford to work only in silos.

      That’s why I joined Jane Sanders, David Driscoll, Renata Avila, Yanis Varoufakis and many others in launching Progressive International, a call for a grassroots movement for global social, environmental and economic justice.

      This call came at The Sanders Institute Gathering in Vermont last week, which brought together progressive leaders, activists, and movement builders from communities across the globe. I was on the panel with Sen. Bernie Sanders that preceded the call to create Progressive International.

    • Paul Ryan Was Always More Political Hack Than Policy Genius

      Paul Ryan’s farewell tour is going about as well as you might imagine. The retiring speaker of the House, who made a career out of promoting his aw-shucks humility, has presided over the revealing of not one but three painted portraits of himself. In less-controlled settings, his interviews with media outlets have, rather than provide a victory lap, only served to highlight the emptiness of Ryan’s words and the failures of his time in office. Speaking of those empty words, Ryan was also set to leave us with a formal farewell address at the Library of Congress earlier this week ― until George H.W. Bush’s funeral threw off the plans. It was yet another reminder that history has rarely been on Ryan’s side.

      Not surprisingly, that’s not Ryan’s own assessment of his time in public life. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Ryan blithely proclaimed that “history is going to be very good to this majority” ― the same majority that had just suffered the worst Republican losses since Watergate. Like so many of Ryan’s supposed grand ideas, the comment was little more than mere grandstanding. And it betrayed what has always been at the heart of his rise to power and his fall: a plain disconnection from the reality around him.

      Given the breathless media coverage Ryan enjoyed throughout his career, it’s perhaps remarkable how thoroughly both pundits and partisans are now ragging on him. Criticism from places like Salon and Vanity Fair was predictable, but conservative voices have also joined in, such as the libertarian outlet Reason, which pronounced Ryan an “abject failure,” and the conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, who provided a scathing review of his tenure. “Good riddance, Paul Ryan,” a headline in The Week happily announced.

    • Top 8 Ways John Kelly was an Embarrassment as WH Chief of Staff

      Trump announced Saturday that his chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave at the end of the month. It has been reported that the two men are not speaking. Kelly was often seen as a force for stability in the Trump administration, but as I warned when he first came in, he shared many of Trump’s crackpot far rightwing ideas and therefore was not in fact a source of stability for the country.

    • Project Troy: How Scientists Helped Refine Cold War Psychological Warfare

      This was a new kind of conflict requiring new kinds of weapons: psychological weapons. The question of psychological warfare preoccupied a small but influential group of foreign-policy officials during President Harry S. Truman’s second term. By the time that Truman left office in January 1953, the United States had laid the legal and institutional foundations for overt propaganda campaigns as well as covert action. During that period of experimentation leading up to the Eisenhower presidency, almost anything U.S. strategists could dream up, short of overthrowing foreign governments (that would come later), was up for discussion. Among other things, the Marshall Plan allotted $13 billion to rebuild Western Europe, Voice of America transmitted jazz and news to listeners in 46 languages in more than a hundred countries, and the CIA sent tens of thousands of balloons filled with anti-Communist pamphlets into China.

    • Progressive Activists Are Winning in Red States

      The tireless organizing of progressives in red states this fall did not just deliver one-time wins for progressive policies in areas controlled by Republican governments — it also established an infrastructure that could pave the way for progressive triumphs in the future.

      The numerous progressive policy victories declared this November — including many in states where Republicans were victorious on election night — were a result of dogged campaigns and a variety of strategies.

      Ballot minimum wages passed in Arkansas and Missouri. Voters expanded Medicaid in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska. Utah legalized medical marijuana. Voters in Charlotte passed what one community organizer called “the largest housing bond in the history of Charlotte.” In Austin, a $250 million housing bond was approved. Nashville approved a community oversight board for police misconduct cases. In Texas’s Harris County, 19 Black women running on criminal justice platforms were elected to various benches and a socialist became a misdemeanor court judge.

      All of these wins were made possible by an infrastructure that has been built by progressives over the course of many years. While election coverage tends to simply tabulate wins and losses, the backstory of these victories is the most crucial component. It’s this groundwork that can potentially deliver more wins to these regions, both inside and outside of the ballot box.

    • Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already

      American politicians can’t seem to make themselves wait until 2019 to start acting like it’s 2020.

      Former vice president Joe Biden wants us to know that he’s “the most qualified person in the country to be president.”

      Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick “is calling close allies and informing them he is not running for president in 2020.” The senior US Senator from his state, Elizabeth Warren, clearly wants to run but can barely walk at the moment after shooting herself in the foot with a DNA test.

      Outgoing Ohio governor John Kasich is still flirting with a doomed GOP primary challenge or an equally doomed third party run. The senior Senator from HIS state, Sherrod Brown, “doesn’t know” whether or not he’s the best candidate. Pretty much everyone else knows he isn’t. If they even know his name, that is (they don’t).

      Can you hear the voice of the late John Spencer as Leo McGarry on The West Wing, whispering in your ear? “I’m tired of it! Year, after year, after year of having to choose between the lesser of who cares?”

      Yes, the next presidential election will almost certainly be as nasty as the last one. It will also almost certainly prove even less consequential than the 2018 midterm, which was only “the most important election of your lifetime” if you happen to have been born on or after November 9, 2016.

    • Undocumented Citizen

      When Jose Antonio Vargas was sixteen years old, he discovered that his green card was a fake. Unbeknownst to the grandparents with whom he was living in Mountain View, California, the young Filipino immigrant took himself to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license, only to be told by the clerk that his card was fraudulent: “This is fake. Don’t come back here again.”

      Vargas, who had been sent to the U.S. by his mother at the age of 12 (with the misplaced hope that she’d be able to follow him) was stunned and disoriented. He soon learned that the “uncle” who accompanied him on the flight from Manila was a smuggler hired by his grandfather, and he found himself as a teenager questioning all his relationships and his capacity for trust. Yet he persevered as one of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., succeeding in school and in college, and ultimately finding his way as a journalist, all the while engaging in what he called the common moves of undocumented people: “lying, passing, and hiding.”

      Recently Vargas came out with a new book, Dear America: Notes from an Undocumented Citizen, and in it he bears witness to the “homelessness” that he and others experience: not a traditional kind of homelessness, “but the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves in.” Vargas argues that if the politics of immigration are ever to change, the “culture in which immigrants are seen” has to change, and to this end he has dedicated his writing, his documentary-making, and his public appearances to storytelling that can help change the image of immigrants and the understanding of immigration in American life.

    • A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity

      For 30+ years I taught a senior seminar course that I’d designed and titled The Politics of Personal Identity (or POPI). Limited to 12 students during their final college semester, it was a capstone course that endeavored to make sense of their liberal arts experience. Over the term we examined identity from every possible angle and their final assignment, announced the first day of class, was a 40-minute oral presentation titled “Who Am I? What Do I Believe? Why Do I Believe it?” This was followed by an extensive Q & A from the other members. The ground rules were that nothing revealed in the presentations would be disclosed beyond the classroom.

      In part, we relied upon McGill University professor Charles Taylor’s work to set our frame of reference of what it means to be a self, a human agent, a person. For Taylor, one’s identity is defined by knowing where one stands. That is, what are the commitments which provide the horizons upon which I base my actions in life, upon which I’m willing take a stand. In Taylor’s words and put counterfactually, “… if they were to lose this commitment or orientation they would be at sea, as it were; they wouldn’t know anymore, for an important range of questions, what the significance of things was for them.” If such a situation were to arise we would call it “an identity crisis,” a disorienting, radical uncertainly of where they stand. Put another way, to know who are is to know where you stand with regard to certain basic moral questions.

      Taylor reminds us that people we judge as shallow also have a sense of what’s most important but for whatever reasons it’s not well thought out or simply given by the prevailing culture. People considered to have depth or character have moved beyond this or are struggling to know what they believe is the “good” or what issues truly have meaning for them. Taylor again: we are authentic selves not because we possess livers and hearts but because we can answer the question “Who Am I?” How are my most critical defining relations lived out? What kind of life is worth living? Does my life amount to something? Where is my allegiance? How did I get where I am today and where is this quest heading?

    • Top EU Court Rules UK Can Change Mind Over Brexit

      The European Union’s top court ruled Monday that Britain can change its mind over Brexit, boosting the hopes of people who want to stay in the EU that the process can be reversed.

      The European Court of Justice ruled that when an EU member country has notified its intent to leave, “that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.”

      Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, and invoked Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, triggering a two-year exit process.

    • Green Party says European Court of Justice ruling ‘lights way out of Brexit chaos’

      The Green Party of England and Wales and Scottish Green Party welcome the news this morning that the European Court of Justice ruling has confirmed the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

      Ross Greer, Green Member of Scottish Parliament and one of the pursuers of the action to the ECJ said:

      “This is a huge victory for the UK, achieved despite the Conservative government’s attempts to prevent it and limit their own options. We now have legal certainty that the UK is free to change its mind and stop the process of leaving the EU. We can stay in and enjoy not just the significant benefits of membership but the unique benefits of the UK’s advantageous membership and all of the opt-outs which come with it.

      “That is a choice for us alone to make and does not require the approval of any other EU state and it is a choice the people should be free to make via a referendum. It is clear that we don’t have to choose between becoming poorer with May’s deal or much poorer very quickly with No-Deal, there is another way. It’s time to let the public take back control of the Brexit process.”

    • Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism

      The UK has long been divided by class, region and race, but these divisions have been masked by political and economic success. This has meant the English, as the dominant nation in the UK, are not good at coping with a sense of failure and a loss of self-confidence.

      The current focus is on parliamentary turmoil and the acceptance or rejection of Theresa May’s muted version of Brexit but, whatever happens in the coming weeks, there will be no resolution of the overall crisis. On the contrary, the divisions exacerbated by Brexit will only get deeper and more toxic, dominating the national agenda to the exclusion of everything else.

      The nature of English nationalism – deeply ingrained but so self-confident its norms were assumed by most English people to be part of the natural order of things – is changing. George Bernard Shaw said “a healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man is of his bones”. Smaller nations like the Irish and the Poles, with a history of defeat and occupation, have grim experience of having to nurse back to health the fractured bones of their nation but for the English worrying about their national identity and the future status is a new and unnerving experience.

    • Democrats Raise Prospect of Impeachment, Jail for Trump

      Top House Democrats on Sunday raised the prospect of impeachment or almost-certain prison time for President Donald Trump if it’s proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals.

      “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. “The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”

      Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors’ filings Friday in the case of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was “at the center of a massive fraud.”

    • Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond

      The November 2018 election resulted in small but important victories for the American people and the progressive movement in the United States. Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives and flipped seven governorships. In the Deep Red South, Beto O’Rourke came close to beating the reactionary incumbent Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, and progressive African American candidates Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum just missed being elected as the governors of Georgia and Florida.

      Understanding the election victories in the context of the overall distribution of power – political, economic, and social – in this country is critical to developing a progressive path towards the 2020 election and beyond.

      [...]

      The Republicans’ Senate victories were primarily corrective realignments rather than actual shifts in power. The Democratic Senators who were defeated – Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota – were never progressive and wore the Democratic label incongruously in their conservative states. Their defeats actually pushed the center of the Democratic Party a bit to the left. The Senate elections in 2020 will provide greater opportunities for Democratic victories, if only because in 2020 there will be 21 seats now controlled by Republicans and only 12 by Democrats on the ballot, almost a complete reverse of this year’s numbers.

      By design the Senate will continue to be an obstacle to progressive political power in the U.S. The decision of the Founders to favor the interests of the less populated, agrarian, slave-holding states by awarding two Senate seats to each state means that 40 million Californians have the same representation as 580,000 citizens of Wyoming. Democratic candidates for the Senate received 46.7 million votes this year (40.3 million if California, where both candidates were Democrats, is excluded) compared to just 33.8 million for Republicans.

    • Sorry, Say Legal Experts, Creating Shell Company During 2016 Campaign for Secret Payments to Hide Extramarital Affairs Not ‘Simple Private Transaction’

      Legal experts and prosecutors are pushing back against the claim President Donald Trump made early Monday morning when he said his secret payments to silence women claiming extramarital sexual affairs with him were nothing more than a “simple private transaction.”

      Trump was referring to the recent court filings involving his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and the revelations that Cohen, at the order of the president, created payment schemes to get both porn actor Stormy Daniels and former playboy model Karen McDougal to be quiet about the affairs they claim to have had with Trump while he was married to First Lady Melania Trump. Trump has denied the affairs, but previously pretended not to know anything about the payments.

    • News From the Far Side of Nowhere

      All in all, check off these first two presidential years of his as a bravura performance, which shouldn’t really surprise any of us. What was he, after all, but a whiz of a performer long before he hit the White House? And what are we — the media and the rest of us — but (whether we like it or not, whether we care to be or not) his apprentices?

      Now, for a little breaking news of another sort! Unbelievably enough, despite all evidence to the contrary, there’s still an actual world out there somewhere, even if Donald Trump’s shambling 72-year-old figure has thrown so much of it into shadow. I’m talking about a world — or parts of it, anyway — that doesn’t test well in focus groups and isn’t guaranteed, like this American president, to keep eyes eternally (or even faintly) glued to screens, a world that, in the age of Donald Trump, goes surprisingly unnoted and unnoticed.

      So consider the rest of this piece the most minimalist partial rundown on, in particular, an American imperial world of war and preparations for the same, that is, but shouldn’t be, in the shadows; that shouldn’t be, but often is dealt with as if it existed on the far side of nowhere.

    • 8 Reasons That John Kelly Will Not Be Missed

      Trump announced Saturday that his chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave at the end of the month. It has been reported that the two men are not speaking. Kelly was often seen as a force for stability in the Trump administration, but as I warned when he first came in, he shared many of Trump’s crackpot far right-wing ideas and therefore was not in fact a source of stability for the country.

      1. Kelly thought that we are under siege:

      “We are under attack from failed states, cyber-terrorists, vicious smugglers, and sadistic radicals. And we are under attack every single day. The threats are relentless.”

      As journalist Michael Cohen wrote in response at the Boston Globe, “Cyber-terrorists have never killed an American citizen, no failed state threatens America and more Americans are killed by lightning strikes than sadistic radicals.”

      2. Kelly believed that construction on Trump’s border wall would begin by summer of 2017, and seemed to think that if it had, it would have been a good thing.

      3. Nor is the wall needed or wanted by a majority of Americans. Kelly was almost delusional about U.S. immigration enforcement: “Nothing’s been done in the past eight years to to enforce the border rules and regulations, not to mention many of the immigration laws inside of the United States.”

      Fact: The Obama administration deported at least as many people as the Bush administration had, if you use the same definition for deportations in both administrations. By sheer reported numbers, Obama deported some 2.5 million people during his eight years while Bush deported 2 million. They probably actually deported about the same number. Kelly’s bizarre notion that the laws were not implemented since 2009 is flat wrong.

    • If There’s “No Smocking Gun,” Why Is Trump So Terrified?

      The honorific changes hands with the speed of the news cycle, but for the time being, the title of “Smartest Person In DC” belongs to a 36-year-old Republican operative from Georgia named Nick Ayers. Currently serving as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Ayers’s name was all over the news this weekend after Donald Trump announced the at-long-last departure of his own chief of staff, John Kelly.

      Ayers was a shoo-in to replace Kelly, most everyone agreed. Those who considered him a good fit for the spot pointed to his youth and vigor — Ayers looks a fair bit like the cherubic mass-murderer from the second half of “Breaking Bad” — and his deep connections with the Freedom Caucus wing of Congress. Both would serve him well in the storms to come, but for one problem: Turns out he is actually too smart to take the job.

      Ayers took a long look at what was a supremely bad weekend for the White House and said, “Check please.” On Sunday afternoon, he sent his official regrets at turning down the C-o-S position with a tweet: “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia”

      Translation: “Thank you but nope nope nope nope I’ll be over there doing MAGA things but nope nope nope no way no how. #nope”

    • Has Emmanuel Macron Lost the People for Good?

      French President Emmanuel Macron will be speaking to his nation at last Monday, after increasingly violent, radicalized protests against his leadership have shaken the country and scarred its beloved capital. His long silence has aggravated that anger and many protesters are hoping only to hear one thing from Macron: “I quit.”

      That’s a highly unlikely prospect.

      Instead Macron is expected to announce measures to reduce taxes and boost purchasing power for France’s working classes who feel his presidency has favored the rich. He’s being forced to act after four weeks of “yellow vest” protests that started in France’s struggling provinces and morphed into surging riots in Paris, scaring tourists and foreign investors alike.

      The 40-year-old leader met Monday in his presidential palace with local and national politicians, unions and business leaders to hear their concerns — but with no representatives of the scattered, leaderless protest movement.

      On Monday evening, Macron will give a national televised address, his first public words in more than a week. Some fed-up demonstrators have already promised new demonstrations this Saturday, regardless of what the president says.

      Participants at Monday’s meeting said the president didn’t leak his plans but seemed to grasp the gravity of the yellow vest crisis.

    • Marcy Wheeler: Mueller Probe Could Lead to Indictment of the Trump Organization

      Federal prosecutors have accused President Trump of committing a federal crime by directing illegal hush money to two women during the presidential election. The accusation was revealed Friday in filings made public by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including a damning sentencing memo for Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has admitted to paying adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the campaign in order to prevent them from speaking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump. The sentencing memo was made public along with two new sentencing memos from special counsel Robert Mueller: one for Cohen and another for Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. “We keep talking about whether you can indict a sitting president,” says independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, editor of EmptyWheel.net. “There’s still a debate about that, but, really critically, you can indict a corporation. You can indict Trump Organization.”

    • With an Impeachable Trump and Pence, Are You Ready for President Pelosi?

      So, now that we know that Donald Trump and Mike Pence reached the White House through at least two specific and separate criminal conspiracies, what do we do about it?

      Can they be removed from office? Can the election be done over? Can the Trump/Pence administration’s actions over the past two years be reversed, particularly the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and all the damage to our federal agencies?

      According to federal court filings last week from the Southern District of New York, and from the Special Counsel’s office, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen criminally conspired to hide from the American people the fact that Trump had sexual relations immediately after the birth of his son Baron with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and that his affair with McDougal lasted about a year.

      Had Republican voters known about those affairs long before Trump gained the momentum he did during the period of the cover-up, Trump wouldn’t have become the GOP’s nominee and would now be back to playing the roles of a faux billionaire and a reality TV star.

      Similarly, those same court filings tell us that even after Trump won the GOP’s nomination for president, he continued to negotiate with the Russian government to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Presumably construction would begin right after he lost the election of 2016, which is fully what he expected: he hadn’t even bothered to write an acceptance speech.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Jewish Voice for Peace Targets CNN Over Dr. Marc Lamont Hill Firing in Sunday Paper

      Dr. Hill is accused of antisemitism by over-zealous organizations who falsely conflate visible support for equal rights and justice for Palestinians with antisemitism. A growing trend of Jewish progressives are calling for greater debate around Israel. By firing Dr. Hill, CNN is promoting a cynical and dishonest use of the term “anti-Semite.”

    • Will European Parliament oppose Authoritarian Censorship?

      On the 12 December, the European Parliament will vote on the “Report on findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism”. If adopted, this text would not be legally binding but would recommend the adoption of the measures included in the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation: outsourcing censorship to Internet Giants and bypassing national judges (read our last analysis).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Australian Government Passes Law Forcing Tech Companies To Break Encryption

      An actual software developer, Alfie John, has put together a splendid Twitter thread pointing out the flaws in the government’s assumptions about software development. Since the compelled participants are forbidden from discussing surveillance court orders with anyone (which would include coworkers, supervisors, the general public, etc.), these requested alterations would have to be implemented in secret. The problem is coding changes go through a number of hands before they go live. Either everyone involved would need to be sworn to secrecy (which also means being threatened with jail time) or the process falls apart. Changes ordered by a court could be rejected by those higher up on the chain. Worse, the planned encryption hole could see the compelled coder being viewed as a data thief or foreign operative or whatever.

      Law enforcement is going to have to make everyone involved in the product/device complicit and covered under the same prison threat for this to work. The more people its exposed to, the higher the chance of leakage. And if the code will break other code — or the request simply can’t be met due to any number of concerns — the government make ask the court to hold the company and its personnel in contempt for their failure to achieve the impossible.

      To make matters worse, the company targeted with a compelled access request may be monitored for leaks before and after the request is submitted, putting employees under surveillance simply because of their profession.

      In some cases, the only weakness that can be introduced will be systemic, which will run contrary to the law. How will the government handle this inevitable eventuality? Will it respect the law or will it simply redefine the term to codify its unlawful actions?

    • Goodbye FastMail: Aussie government succeeds in undermining trust in Australian tech companies

      I’ve been with multiple email service providers over the years, and have always used my own domain name so that I don’t get locked into any particular email provider. I believe this is important to maintain control over your own digital life and also crucial to be able to root up and move to another provider when there is reason to leave one provider for another. Whether that be for market forces like price, innovation, service policy changes, or as in this case: a change in service trustworthiness ushered in by the introduction of a new law in the country the company operates in.

      Long story short: The Australian government don’t believe anyone should be able to keep any secrets from them in any sphere so they’ve voted in a incredible dangerous law that seeks to undermine security and privacy protections on the web. The Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill (TAAB or AssAccess) require technology companies like FastMail, Google, Apple, Cisco to provide Australian law enforcement and security agencies with access to all communications without any judicial oversight, transparency, or reason. The only restrictions offered to protect people’s privacy is the vague terms “reasonable and proportionate.”

    • Former GCHQ head warns of Facebook ‘threat to democracy’

      The former head of UK intelligence agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, has warned that Facebook could become a threat to democracy if it is not subjected to stricter regulation, reports BBC News.

      Hannigan told the BBC Radio 4′s ‘Today’ programme that Facebook was more interested in exploiting users’ data for profit than protecting their privacy. He said that it was an international business and made most of their money from advertising, warning that it cannot reform itself and needs outside regulation.

    • Facebook Plans to Repurchase $9 Billion More of Its Shares

      Facebook said in a regulatory filing that its board had previously authorized share repurchases of up to $15 billion as part of a program started in 2017. The $9 billion buy back announced on Friday is in addition to those prior authorizations, the company said.

    • Baby steps

      Five years ago, when I decided to devote myself to tackling the problem of surveillance capitalism, it was clear what we needed: convenient and beautiful ethical everyday things that provide seamless experiences1 on fully free-as-in-freedom stacks.

      This is as true today as it was then and it will remain so. The only way to compete with unethical products built by organisations that have control over hardware + software + services is to create ethical organisations that have control over hardware + software + services and thus have at least the possibility to craft competitive experiences. We remove our eyes from this goal at our peril.

    • UK Intelligence Agencies Are Planning a Major Increase in ‘Large-Scale Data Hacking’

      Intelligence agencies in the UK are preparing to “significantly increase their use of large-scale data hacking,” the Guardian reported on Saturday, in a move that is already alarming privacy advocates.

      According to the Guardian, UK intelligence officials plan to increase their use of the “bulk equipment interference (EI) regime”—the process by which the Government Communications Headquarters, the UK’s top signals intelligence and cybersecurity agency, collects bulk data off foreign communications networks—because they say targeted collection is no longer enough.

    • Bikini app maker draws another disgruntled developer to its Facebook fight

      However, Six4Three’s recent court filings show that its lawyers are also involved in a second lawsuit brought by a different company—one that promoted breast cancer awareness, among other apps—that levies very similar allegations against Facebook.

      This new case, Styleform IT v. Facebook, which was filed last month in San Francisco County Superior Court, makes sweeping claims that for years Facebook engaged in “fraudulent and anti-competitive schemes designed and effectuated by Defendant Facebook Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, with the intention of deliberately misleading tens of thousands of software companies.”

    • Facebook kept granting private data to high-profile advertisers long after it said it stopped

      Collins summarized the emails that were seized in a preface, stating: “Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.” The existence of a “whitelist” suggests that the company was not serious about protecting user data nor honoring the privacy agreements it claimed to have put in place at the time.

    • Facebook Used People’s Data to Favor Certain Partners and Punish Rivals, Documents Show

      The documents show how Facebook executives treated data as the company’s most valuable resource and often wielded it to gain a strategic advantage. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were intimately involved in decisions aimed at benefiting the social network above all else and keeping users as engaged as possible on the site, according to emails that were part of the document trove.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Arrest of Huawei CFO a dangerous precedent and threat to global trade

      COMMENT: The arrest of the CFO of Huawei Technologies Meng Wanzhou in Canada for the alleged violation of the company trading with Iran in contravention of US sanctions on that country has heightened already shaky trade relations between China and the US. It also threatens relations between China and the wider West.

    • Will Trump ever turn on Saudi Arabia? Pressure mounts for U.S. to prosecute Khashoggi’s killers

      Qahtani, with 1.36 million followers of his Saudq1978 Twitter feed, served as an ideological enforcer of MBS’s message in Middle Eastern media and was harshly critical of Khashoggi. The CIA believes Qahtani supervised the 15-member hit team drawn from Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency and other security forces.

      The Saudi public prosecutor has arrested 18 Saudis in connection with Khashoggi’s death—but Qahtani is not one of them. A prosecutor in Argentina is looking into the case as a possible war crime. Yet, aside from the CIA, the Trump administration insists the intellectual author of the crime cannot be identified.

    • The Central European University is moving to Vienna

      Following an 18-month legal war of attrition between the Central European University (CEU), founded by the philanthropist George Soros, and his arch-enemy, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, CEU has thrown in the towel. On December 3rd the university said it will relocate its American-accredited programmes, the bulk of its operation, from Budapest to Vienna from September 2019.

    • The CIA killed my father. What did they do with his body?
    • Why the Spectre of Truth Serums Haunts CIA Interrogations

      During the Cold War, the CIA conducted human behavior experiments using truth serums alongside LSD for interrogation purposes. However, in the Congressional enquiries held on the subject in 1977, CIA officials stated, “No such magic brew as the popular notion of truth serum exists.”

      The truth serum thus became a staple for Hollywood fantasies such as Meet the Fockers, where an ex-CIA agent drugs his son-in-law for possible infidelity. And yet, when I interviewed forensic psychologists in 2013 in Mumbai, Bangalore and Gandhinagar for my book manuscript titled Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India, they invariably insisted that truth serums are being used in the US.

      [...]

      The Office of Medical Services report notes a very explicit discussion and exploration for 2-3 months in 2002 on whether Versed, a more recent sedative, could be utilised for interrogations. The Project Medication (as it was termed) was apparently shelved in early 2003. The OMS report mentions that the use of the drug depended on two potential legal obstacles: prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners, and a ban on interrogational use of “mind altering drugs” or those which “profoundly altered the senses.”

      Although authorisation was never formally requested, some scholars did acknowledge the legality of the technique. Alan Dershowitz famously wrote that there would be little difference between the act of injecting a liquid into a person without consent (in truth serum) and withdrawing blood for testing (for alcohol). At the core of such debates was whether the US Federal Torture Statute passed in 1994 would prohibit the truth serums since mind-altering drugs are specifically mentioned in the statute. The debate relied on whether the impact of the drug will lead to prolonged mental harm or not or whether there is specific intent to create such prolonged harm.

    • Truth about CIA’s illegal MKUltra mind-control experiments

      One document details how the CIA planned to drug “criminals awaiting trial held in a prison hospital ward” in a bid to develop “improved techniques in drug interrogation”.

    • Hypnosis, truth drugs and remote-operated dogs: Declassified papers on CIA’s ‘mind control’ research

      A renowned government secret hunter has published new documents detailing the CIA’s Cold War “behavioral modification” experiments (ranging from the bizarre to the stomach-churning), released under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The documents were published by “The Black Vault”, a site which has published enough government documents on the paranormal, UFOs and government mind control experiments to provide material for a dozen new seasons of The X-Files. While the site might sound like a fringe web-community indulging in paranoid cliches, it is also the largest repository of its kind aside from the US government with over 2,000,000 pages of information. The 800 pages of classified information published in November had been withheld from previously released documents that were made public through FOIA requests in 2004 and 2016.

      The newest documents, if verified, showcase some unprecedented disturbing outcomes of the CIA’s attempts to develop mind control techniques and truth serums as a part of its “MKultra” project, which the agency admitted to having secretly run until 1973. The releases include documents on a “successful” effort to create 6 dogs that could be “operated” to complete basic commands by remote control in the late 1960s. There are even diagrams of the surgical implants that employed “Electrical Stimulation of the Brain” to create controlled responses.

    • Spy watchdog completes probe into CIA rendition

      New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog has completed an inquiry into whether New Zealand was involved in the American CIA’s rendition programme.

      [...]

      The “enhanced interrogation” programme involved questioning al Qaeda and other captives around the world. The CIA used secret flights, detention and torture against terrorism suspects and others.

      “This inquiry has required considerable resources, not least identifying and evaluating the agencies’ relevant activities and records over the period 2001 to 2009,” Ms Gwyn said in the her office’s annual report.

    • MFIA Clinic Files Lawsuit Against CIA

      Acting for two investigative journalists, the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has sued the Central Intelligence Agency for silencing the top FBI interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. The lawsuit alleges a CIA effort to mislead the American public about the effectiveness of torture.

      The lawsuit was filed on December 3, 2018, in federal court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Raymond Bonner and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. Bonner and Gibney are collaborating on a documentary about the CIA’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11. The film focuses on the use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to waterboarding at least 83 times after being secretly detained as a suspected member of al-Qaeda.

    • William Barr Is Out of Step on Criminal Justice Reform

      President Donald Trump announced Friday his plan to nominate William Barr as the next attorney general. Barr previously held the same role from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush. If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would replace Matthew Whitaker, who was appointed by Trump as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions resigned last month under pressure from the White House.

      [...]

      Barr’s previous stint as attorney general also included troubling positions on criminal justice issues. During his tenure in the Bush administration, Barr helped devise federal policies that furthered mass incarceration and the war on drugs. Notably, in 1992, he published a book by the Department of Justice called The Case for More Incarceration, which argued that the country was “incarcerating too few criminals.” After serving as attorney general, Barr led efforts in Virginia to abolish parole in the state, build more prisons, and increase prison sentences by as much as 700 percent.

      To be sure, that was an era when tough criminal justice policies attracted support across the political spectrum. But Barr’s more recent record suggests, that unlike many in his party, his thinking hasn’t changed significantly since then, even as the failure of mass incarceration has become too glaring to ignore.

    • North Carolina’s Election Fiasco Is About Voter Suppression, Not Voter Fraud

      North Carolina voting issues are in the spotlight once again, thanks to swirling questions around the use of absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional district.

      Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously not to certify the 9th District’s U.S. House race — in which Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by a slim margin — because of irregularities in the district’s absentee ballots.

      In particular, fewer ballots were returned in the 9th District than in the rest of the state. In addition, out of the 9th District ballots that were returned, there was a higher rate of ballots that were spoiled — and thus uncounted — than in other districts, the Brennan Center’s analysis confirms. To top it off, these discrepancies appear to have disproportionately affected low-income communities.

      At least three voters in the 9th District have provided affidavits stating that individuals came door-to-door to collect mailed ballots, according to reports in the New York Times. These unknown visitors allegedly told the voters that they would deliver their ballots. One voter, Datesha Montgomery, reported that she voted only for school board members and sheriff, but the woman who collected her ballot said that “she would finish it herself.” This is illegal under North Carolina law. If voters are getting help with the ballot delivery, it can only be from certain direct family members (unless one of the special rules for nursing home residents is applicable).

    • Karen Kwiatkowski Delivers Speech After Receiving 17th Annual Sam Adams Award

      Ed Snowden, Sam Adams awardee in 2013, noted that we tend to ignore some degree of evil in our daily life, but, as Ed put it, “We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act.” As did Karen. As did 16 of Karen’s predecessors honored with this award.

      With all the gloom and doom enveloping us, we tend to wonder whether people with the conscience and courage of Ed or Karen still exist in and outside our national security establishment. Our country is in dire need of new patriots of this kind.

      Meanwhile, we call to mind the courageous example not only of Karen and Ed, but also of Coleen Rowley and Elizabeth Gun, our first two awardees, who took great risks in trying to head off the attack on Iraq. And we again honor Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange who is now isolated in what the U.N. has called “arbitrary detention,” for exposing the war crimes resulting from that war.

    • Europe’s History With Refugees Has Something to Tell the U.S.

      Not long ago, the world watched heartbreaking images of fleeing refugees, not unlike those now emerging from the southern U.S. border.

      Within months, beginning in 2015, more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, and Africa had crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe—some escaping war and violence, some seeking work—and their numbers overwhelmed the continent.

      And now, as thousands of Central American refugees from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala continue to surge toward the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s worth noting important similarities to how European countries responded to its migrant crisis, the impact of which is still being felt there.

      “It really is kind of a search for survival, economic survival, political survival,” says Dr. Kathie Friedman, associate professor at University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

      Like the Central Americans coming to the U.S. border, those arriving on Europe’s doorstep also did so en masse. Some experts hesitate to call it the “new normal.”

    • How the More Than Me Charity Gamed the Internet and Hollywood to Win a Million Dollars

      It was the breakthrough moment for More Than Me. On Dec. 7, 2012, Katie Meyler’s tiny New Jersey-based charity defeated 24 other nonprofits to win $1 million at the Chase American Giving Awards, a weeklong competition for Facebook votes that culminated in a star-studded, nationally televised event.

      Most of the competing nonprofits dwarfed MTM in experience, exposure and cashflow. Some had annual revenue over $3 million; Meyler’s charity had $300,000. The previous year’s winner had over a million Facebook followers. Even now, after years of accolades, MTM has only 30,000.

      But More Than Me’s mission — educating girls in Liberia and saving them from sexual exploitation — had seemingly resonated with the voting public. That night, Meyler told the audience about a 12-year-old girl named Abigail, who she said was a child prostitute who dreamed of going to school. Meyler said a grassroots movement of passionate supporters had made it happen:

      “Thousands of you wrote I Am Abigail on your face, on your arms, even on your pets,” Meyler said. “You pushed your dad to email his network, and he smiled as he did. You stood in front of hundreds of people in lecture halls, and you spoke for Abigail; you were shaking, but that did not stop you…”

      The victory propelled Meyler and her charity to a new level of funding and prominence, and enabled her to launch an all-girl school in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

      This October, ProPublica published an investigation, in collaboration with Time magazine, revealing how MTM had missed opportunities to prevent prominent employee Macintosh Johnson from raping girls in the charity’s care. After the story, the charity issued an apology and Meyler stepped down pending the outcome of investigations by the Liberian government, the charity’s board of directors and its Liberian advisory board. Protestors marched in Monrovia, board members resigned and a major donor suspended funds, citing the organization’s lack of honesty.

    • New York Police Union Says More Reporting On Stops/Frisks Will Hurt The NYPD’s Effectiveness

      The NYPD has been ordered to document its stops numerous times since the 2013 decision. And it has continued to fail to do so. Officers blame a lack of instruction and/or clarity from upper management. Upper management blames multiple court orders and outside oversight for its inability to deliver clear instructions. And the PBA blames the whole mess on officers being forced to engage in Constitutional policing, which apparently is the opposite of “proactive” policing.

      What the PBA is agitating for is the return to halcyon days of stop-and-frisk when NYPD officers performed hundreds of thousands of stops a year, a majority of them targeting the city’s minorities. Constitutional policing would trim hundreds of man hours from the production of mandated reports, but the PBA wants nothing to do with keeping officers on patrol, rather than tied up doing internal bookkeeping for the DA’s office.

    • The Strange Case Of The Guardian & Brasil

      The Guardian is of course the closest thing that the UK has to a mainstream progressive newspaper, and it had, until relatively recently, a rich history of quality investigative reporting. In the 1970s its coverage of Latin America, with writers the calibre of Richard Gott, was responsible for fixing stories like that of Chile’s in the public consciousness, and with that fuelling solidarity movements for the region’s oppressed peoples, suffering under sub-fascist imperial rule. It continues to host important and talented writers, and publish valuable material, particularly in its comment is free section.

      But in 2018 The Guardian is in trouble, financially and editorially. A far cry from the 1970s, it just published a sycophantic eulogy to former US President George HW Bush, whose own CIA oversaw the horrors of Operation Condor.

      To get a sense of the mindset now running the Guardian, contrast that of Bush Senior with its sour, dismissive obituary of lifetime champion of human rights, long serving Cabinet Minister and Labour MP Tony Benn, who wrote of the newspaper in 2008: “The Guardian represents a whole batch of journalists, from moderate right to moderate left – i.e. centre journalists – who, broadly speaking, like the status quo. They like the two-party system, with no real change. They’re quite happy to live under the aegis of the Americans and NATO. They are just the Establishment. It is a society that suits them well.”

      Earlier in 2018 The Guardian faced criticism for running propagandist advertisements for the Saudi Arabian regime, and is now facing questions over an apparently false article claiming that Trump ally Paul Manafort had visited Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The story was quickly debunked, and the paper is now refusing to answer questions as to how they came to publish such claims without evidence. No other media outlet corroborated the report.

    • The Heresy of White Christianity

      There are, as Cornel West has pointed out, only two African-Americans who rose from dirt-poor poverty to the highest levels of American intellectual life—the writer Richard Wright and the radical theologian James H. Cone.

      Cone, who died in April, grew up in segregated Bearden, Ark., the impoverished son of a woodcutter who had only a sixth-grade education. With an almost superhuman will, Cone clawed his way up from the Arkansas cotton fields to implode theological studies in the United States with his withering critique of the white supremacy and racism inherent within the white, liberal Christian church. His brilliance—he was a Greek scholar and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Swiss theologian Karl Barth—enabled him to “turn the white man’s theology against him and make it speak for the liberation of black people.” God’s revelation in America, he understood, “was found among poor black people.” Privileged white Christianity and its theology were “heresy.” He was, until the end of his life, possessed by what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called “sublime madness.” His insights, he writes, “came to me as if revealed by the spirits of my ancestors long dead but now coming alive to haunt and torment the descendants of the whites who had killed them.”

      “When it became clear to me that Jesus was not biologically white and that white scholars actually lied by not telling people who he really was, I stopped trusting anything they said,” he writes in his posthumous memoir, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian,” published in October.

      “White supremacy is America’s original sin and liberation is the Bible’s central message,” he writes in his book. “Any theology in America that fails to engage white supremacy and God’s liberation of black people from that evil is not Christian theology but a theology of the Antichrist.”

    • Greens: “The Stansted 15 are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office.”

      “The treatment of the Stansted 15 is unprecedented and is wrong. From the trumped up charges they faced to the verdicts handed down. The principled action the Stansted 15 took exposed the brutality of these secretive charter flights, and a number of people set to be removed from the UK on that plane have been able to stay in the UK safely as a result of their principled actions. The Stansted 15 are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Finds Yet Another Way To Nickel-And-Dime Its Broadband, TV Customers

      You’ll recall AT&T just got done jacking up streaming TV prices on the heels of its massive merger with Time Warner, just like deal critics had warned. AT&T then quickly doubled an already bogus “administrative fee” on the company’s wireless customers, alone netting AT&T an additional estimated $800 million per year. AT&T’s now hinting it will raise streaming prices even higher (AT&T’s version of competition). This is of course on top of existing TV and broadband rate hikes, usage caps, hidden fees, and other soaring consumer costs.

      Most of this is occurring for two reasons. One, AT&T’s desperately trying to bounce back from the utterly massive debt load it incurred from the one-two punch of the DirecTV and Time Warner mergers. As is usually the case, the one paying for our mindless merger mania is usually… you. Two, because AT&T and other telecom and media giants have been on a tear effectively neutering all federal oversight of their efforts, there’s nobody really in power interested in doing much about it. The above example makes it pretty clear why AT&T and Ajit Pai have also tried to neuter state consumer protection authority.

    • Dark Days are Waiting the Open Internet

      There’s no argument that the Internet is one of the backbones of the modern world today. Yet, it seems that we are heading toward the end of the open Internet on the long run; An Internet that respects the user privacy & security, and protects him both from censorship and tracking seems to be long gone. The future is yet to become darker with corporations gaining more power.

      If you are someone interested in online privacy and security, then you need to understand all these dynamics together, as many independent forces each doing their best to serve their own interests rather than a linear set of factors happening at specific points in time. Just like you try to understand history as social, economic, political, religious and scientific factors, you should try to understand how the dynamics are working today to sum in total to destroy the open Internet.

      There’s no secret Illuminati-supported foundation to destroy the Internet, it’s just the combination of governments, spy agencies, and giant corporations putting their hands on it each by its own. We are going to see why this is the case.

  • DRM

    • [Old] Apple can delete purchased movies from your library without telling you

      “You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content (‘Redownload’) to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID (‘Associated Devices’),” says the TOS, but also, “Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services.” For reasons that are easy to guess, Apple has never widely advertised that, by deleting locally stored content, users are actually rolling the dice as to whether they will ever be able to get it back.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Germany: Synchronmotor, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 51/06, 29 May 2018

      The FCJ confirmed that inventive step is to be acknowledged if the feature(s) distinguishing the claimed invention from the starting point for the assessment of inventive step are not directly and unambiguously derivable or at least rendered obvious by the prior art.

    • Trump and China: Going with Patent Holders Against Workers

      While most of us don’t have access to the inner workings of the Trump administration to know exactly what is going on with its negotiations with China, given the public accounts and statements, it seems workers have clearly lost. Trump seems to have made the concerns of companies like Boeing, who want more help maintaining their control over technology, his top priority. The impact of an under-valued Chinese currency, which has led to a large U.S. trade deficit, seems to have been dropped from discussion.

      The disappearance of currency “manipulation” from the discussion is more than a bit ironic, since Trump made this a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He ran around the country complaining that China was a world class currency manipulator. He pledged that he would declare China a currency manipulator on Day One of his administration and apply corresponding trade sanctions.

      We’re getting close to Day 700 and there is still no declaration on China’s currency practices. Furthermore, the topic has been virtually dropped from public discussions.

    • Trade: It’s Still About Class, Not Country

      While Donald Trump keeps taking wild shots in his trade wars with China and other countries, the media have been cheering him on in at least one aspect of his campaign. All the elite types agree that “we” have an interest in clamping down on China’s alleged theft of our intellectual property. While some “we” might share that interest, most of the country does not.

      Just to be clear on the agenda here, the alleged theft takes three forms. The first is what passes for actual theft. It is when a Chinese company, possibly with help from the Chinese government, literally takes technology from a US company. This can happen, for example, if they infiltrate its internal computer system.

      While this is undeniably a bad practice, it is not unique to Chinese companies. In fact, many US companies also engage in such practices. Uber famously agreed to pay Waymo $245 million for stealing some of its software for self-driving cars. It would be hard to know if China’s companies are more guilty in this area than anyone else, but we can agree it is a bad practice that should be stopped.

    • Trademarks

      • Whole visible surface or predominant colour? Cadbury’s plays spot the series mark

        Frustratingly for Cadbury’s the issue arises because Cadbury’s followed guidance from the registrar in 1997 and amended their 1995 mark from a description which read “the mark consists of the colour purple” to the above longer form and more confusing wording. This change was made at the express suggestion of the registrar (Cadbury’s application had been to amend the description to “the mark consists of the colour purple as shown applied to the packaging or labelling of goods covered by the registration”.

        The reason for this application to change the mark was the impact of the decision in Société des Produits Nestlé SA v Cadbury UK Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1174 (“Cadbury 1″) – see the IPKat post here. This case considered whether the description together with the mark defined a sign within the meaning of section 1(1) TMA (it did not). As a result of the Court of Appeal decision, Cadbury’s had to revisit its earlier 1995 mark which had the same description and consequently was vulnerable to an invalidity attack. A small ray of hope was glimpsed in the Court of Appeal’s analysis and it concluded that it might be possible to remove the “predominant colour” wording from the description, and leave only the “whole surface” wording. If this had been possible, it might have been possible to overcome the Cadbury 1 objection.

    • Copyrights

      • Bizarre Blocking Order Targets ‘Pirate’ Domains Before They’re Registered

        Last week an Indian court issued one of the broadest site-blocking injunctions to date. To prevent the film “2.0″ from being pirated by the masses, the Madras High Court ordered local ISPs to preemptively block 12,564 domain names. TorrentFreak can now reveal that this order only targets 16 websites and that most of the listed domains are not even registered.

      • Huge Torrent Tracker Calls it Quits After 12 Years, Citing Article 13

        Leechers Paradise, one of the world’s longest-standing and most important BitTorrent trackers, has shut down for good. Launched 12 years ago, the site was recently coordinating the transfers of 132 million peers but now, with the EU’s Article 13 legislation looming, its operator says its time to close before the platform is rendered illegal.

      • Take-Two Sues GTA Online Cheat Maker, Demands $150,000 Compensation

        Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-Two Interactive have been targeting GTA Online cheat makers for a while now. After an intense legal battle with the creator of the OpenIV modding tool last year, the GTA V developers have set their sights on the person behind the GTA Online cheat tool called “Elusive”. As reported by TorrentFreak, Take-Two has sued the alleged creator of Elusive on the basis of copyright infringement, and requests $150,000 in damages.

        The past two years have seen a surge in the amount of copyright infringement lawsuits from large companies, like Nintendo and Take-Two. Jhonny Perez, the creator of the ‘Elusive’, was sued earlier this year in August for developing and distributing the GTA Online cheating software.

      • GTA V’s Take-Two Wants $150,000 in Damages From Cheat Maker

        Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive has filed a motion for default judgment against the alleged creator of the “Elusive” GTA V cheat. The company estimates that the cheat has caused severe harm, and requests $150,000 compensation, the maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement.

12.02.18

Links 2/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC5, Snapcraft 3.0, VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3

Posted in Site News at 7:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM’s Big Bet On ‘Hybrid’ Cloud, Will It Work?
  • Open Source Hits The Big Time With Red Hat

    The proposed acquisition of Red Hat by IBM, the largest-ever software deal in history, is obviously important from the signalling: it means that the open-source movement has finally arrived. If a firm that offers paid services around freely available source code (much of it written by volunteers) is valued at the astronomical sum of $34 billion, it surely suggests open source is now viable. It is the ultimate triumph of the ‘bazaar’ over the ‘cathedral’ as suggested by Eric Raymond in his seminal, eponymous paper some time ago: barely-organised chaos has defeated the hierarchical, top-down organisation.

    It is surely ironic that IBM, the ultimate in buttoned-down, rule-bound, navy-blue-suited firms (although I hear the tie is now optional even if the white shirt remains de rigeur) should be the one buying the biggest player in the Linux-Apache-mySQL world of be-sandaled, bearded, shorts-wearing geeks infused with the libertarian cry that “software yearns to be free” or words to that effect from the arch-priest of that cult, Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation.

    For, IBM was for long the epitome of the closed, hierarchical ‘cathedral’ as opposed to the ‘bazaar’ (though Microsoft took on the cathedral mantle later). It was the object of hatred by legions of computer science students, who decried its monolithic, impenetrable operating systems such as for the System/370 mainframes, the corporate staples in the bad old days of the 1970s. (Operating systems are the most core software of computers, the innards of the system that give them their character, such as Windows, Apple iOS, or Android).

    In fact, it was as an act of rebellion against the work of thousands of programmers and their inscrutable code at IBM that the legendary Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie at AT&T’s Bell Labs wrote UNIX as a small, transparent operating system. It was a disruptive innovation, and it created a paradigm shift: here was the guts of the machine (reminiscent of Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine) done by just two creative people, not an entire army of drone-like, faceless souls (as suggested in Apple’s famous ‘1984’ commercial where IBM is the Big Brother analog).

  • Open Source Software: Are maintainers the only ones responsible for software sustainability?
  • Alibaba Open-Sources Its X-Deep Learning Framework

    Alibaba has announced it will open-source X-Deep Learning (XDL), the algorithm framework behind its marketing technology and big data platform Alimama. The source code and support documents’ release is slated for December.

    XDL is the industry’s first deep learning framework for super-large-scale high-dimensional sparse data scenarios such as advertising, recommendation and search. It was developed by Alibaba’s marketing technology and big data platform Alimama based on its advertising business, and has been deployed at scale in demanding production scenarios such as this year’s “Singles Day” (Nov 11, China’s annual online shopping extravaganza).

  • Elasticsearch twangs out Elastic App Search beta

    Elasticsearch is a Java-developed ‘application search’ engine based on the Lucene library, it is open sourced under the Apache License

    It provides a distributed, multi-tenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON documents.

    Elasticsearch developers David Harsha, Marshall Scorcio, Brian McGue, Kellen Evan have come together to note that Elasticsearch has now been downloaded over 100,000,000 times.

  • Will Plume’s Open Source Plan Pay Off?
  • There Is a Moral Imperative to Make Certain Technologies Widely Available

    Gary Rieschel of Qiming Venture Partners, says until most technology is open-source, it remains an asset of only the wealthy.

  • Further transformation ahead for open source industry
  • Unlock Open Source value

    The spirit of collaboration and peer-to-peer problem solving is particularly important at a time when cybersecurity threats are escalating the complexity of security and compliance. The need for trust in the app development and delivery space is also intensifying.

    In some circles, experts believe open source is on the wane. I strongly disagree. At its best, open source software explodes barriers to progress and accelerate innovation in ways licensed software with all its legislative impediments can only dream about. Furthermore, adopting open software as a strategy means users can add value and diversify with more speed and flexibility than ever before – all while raising overall operational standards.

  • Dremio Strengthens its Commitment to Developer and Open Source Communities with Donation of Open Source Code to The Apache Software Foundation
  • How Secure is Open Source for DevOps? 5 Considerations

    Open source libraries and frameworks have important roles to play in a DevOps culture that emphasizes shorter development life cycles, collaboration and innovation. However, it’s vital not to neglect the security of these open source components.

  • Open Source powers innovation, transformation across government

    For government users, open source is no longer a bleeding-edge technology. Open source tools are powering innovation and transformation across government agencies because they offer affordable, secure, and innovative alternatives to traditional solutions.

    An open source approach allows developers to download code, start building prototypes and deploy solutions that meet their agency’s mission needs within days or weeks instead of months. It’s a far cry from the traditional government technology procurement cycle which often taking years from procurement to installation. Moreover, that solution still may not fully deliver on what was promised after being in development for years. Open source solutions don’t just shorten the procurement and development cycle, they also give developers and system users more confidence that the solutions will actually work because it’s faster and less expensive to build working proof of concepts (POCs).

  • 20 Years of Open Source: Why the Best Payment APIs Use Shared Code

    Although the idea of open source has been around since the pre-internet days of the early 20th century, its modern meaning dates back to early 1998. In these days, free software was a much more prevalent term that promoted the idea of “users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.” This concept is still around today, with many of its devotees, including Richard Stallman, the creator of the Free Software Movement (FSM), claiming it to be more accurate than what we now call open source software.

    Disagreements over the interpretation, actual and perceived, are what pushed the creators of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) to challenge the status quo. Since the idea of free software is more figurative than literal (think of “free speech,” not “free beer,” as Stallman puts it), open source software was meant to clarify the meaning behind the term and encourage companies to get on board with it.

  • TrueConf Releases an Open Source Application for Video Enabled Kiosks

    Embedded video conferencing systems traditionally require recruiting skilled software engineers, commissioning a custom development, or learning SDK. To make the process easier, TrueConf created a ready-made and easy-to-customize application for video kiosks which resolves many of the typical challenges and can be installed on any Windows-based PC within several minutes.

  • Open source AI voice assistant takes aim at Amazon and Google

    Some frontrunning hospitals are already forging how patients experience healthcare with voice AI. Commonwealth Care Alliance chief of clinical innovation John Loughnane, MD, said the industry is on the verge of voice technologies that can be used to tailor individualized care regimens.

    Indeed, there are still some growing pains to be endured. Speaking at the Boston Children’s Voice Health Summit in October, Sara Holoubek, CEO of Luminary Labs, called 2018, the year of the voice tech pilot. “We’re in this extensive period of trial and error,” she said.

    ON THE RECORD

    From Mycroft: “Voice is coming to every device, every platform and every household globally. The technology has a growing presence within the home as an AI assistant. This calls for voice to be flexible, customizable, vendor neutral, and privacy focused; things that the proprietary voice assistants on the market today don’t offer.”

  • KC’s Mycroft will double employee base, showcase tech at CES 2019
  • An Open-Source Platform to Span the Auto Industry

    A collaborative, cross-industry effort at developing an open platform for the connected car, Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)…

  • How organisations can unlock the commercial value of open source software

    The spirit of collaboration and peer-to-peer problem solving is particularly important at a time when cybersecurity threats are escalating the complexity of security and compliance. The need for trust in the app development and delivery space is also intensifying.

  • Open-Source Database For Cryptoassets Launched By Crypto Research Firm Messari

    Crypto data and research tools provider Messari has officially launched its open-source disclosures registry for basic cryptocurrency information.

    Based in New York, Messari is a company that aims to promote transparency in the cryptoasset community by providing an open-source library to help make sense of the industry. In March of this year, the company secured early-stage seed funding to create the crypto-equivalent of US Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR database, which contains a wealth of information about the commission and the securities industry that is freely available to the public via the Internet.

  • Lambda Unveils Open Source Blockchain Algorithm PoST

    Lambda launched its PoST protocol in a press release on 27th November 2018. The PoST algorithm by Lambda ensures efficient project development along with constant and random challenges on blockchain through validator nodes.

  • Lambda has Launched the First Ever Blockchain Open-Source Proof-of-Space-Time (PoST) Algorithm

    Recently, the crypto industry witnessed the unveiling of the first-ever blockchain open source Proof-of-Space-Time algorithm, as Lambda launched the transparent PoST protocol. The PoST comes with repetition computation, streamlined proofs and high-speed verification capabilities. According to the press release, the algorithm is available on the popular software development platform— GitHub.

  • Unbound Tech Releases Its Blockchain Crypto Asset Wallet Security Protocol Via Open Source On GitHub

    The Unbound Tech has just announced that it has made the bank-grade security solution available through the open source. This is a new blockchain-crypto-mpc library that has been launched by the company, one that has been made available on GitHub.

    It has been designed as an open source library that can be used for the crypto and blockchain assets that are able to protect the cryptographic keys; this has been achieved through the use of the company’s technology based on the MPC that is used by the fortune 500.

  • Genode OS 18.11 Gets SSH Server Support, MirageOS Unikernels & SDK

    Genode, the open-source operating system framework focused on a micro-kernel layer and various innovative user-space components, is out with its latest feature update. The developers at Genode Labs also continue bringing up their Sculpt OS effort for Genode as a general purpose operating system.

    The Genode 18.11 feature release brings support for Mirage-OS unikernels, a new health-monitoring mechanism for the system, the start of a Genode SDK, window layout system improvements, and they have finally developed SSH server support.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Maximizing password manager attack surface: Learning from Kaspersky

        I looked at a number of password manager browser extensions already, and most of them have some obvious issues. Kaspersky Password Manager manages to stand out in the crowd however, the approach taken here is rather unique. You know how browser extensions are rather tough to exploit, with all that sandboxed JavaScript and restrictive default content security policy? Clearly, all that is meant for weaklings who don’t know how to write secure code, not the pros working at Kaspersky.

        Kaspersky developers don’t like JavaScript, so they hand over control to their beloved C++ code as soon as possible. No stupid sandboxing, code is running with the privileges of the logged in user. No memory safety, dealing with buffer overflows is up to the developers. How they managed to do it? Browser extensions have that escape hatch called native messaging which allows connecting to an executable running on the user’s system. And that executable is what contains most of the logic in case of the Kaspersky Password Manager, with the browser extension being merely a dumb shell.

      • The Patch that converts a Firefox to a Tor Browser

        Have you ever wondered was makes the Tor Browser the Tor Browser? That is, what patch you would have to apply to Firefox in order to end up with a Tor Browser.

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: December’s Featured Extensions
      • Socorro: November 2018 happenings

        Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla’s products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers “yes!”, then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Video interview: Muhammet Kara on the LibreOffice community and migrations in Turkey

      At our recent conference in Tirana, Albania, we sat down with Muhammet Kara from the Turkish LibreOffice community. He talks about the conference, recent FOSS migrations in his home country, and why he joined the Membership Committee:

    • LibreOffice Fundraising, December 1st

      Consider a donation to support activities such as the LibreItalia Conference and other events organized by native language communities https://www.libreoffice.org/donate

    • Fundraising, December 2
    • VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3 released

      Please do NOT use this VirtualBox Beta release on production machines! A VirtualBox Beta release should be considered a bleeding-edge release meant for early evaluation and testing purposes.

    • VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3 Released: Enables VMSVGA Device By Default, OCI Improvements

      Oracle’s VirtualBox 6.0 multi-platform virtualization software continues inching closer to release.

      VirtualBox 6.0 already has added support for guest additions on OS/2, better Oracle Cloud integration, improved audio/video recording support, improved host/guest file copying/handling, and a range of other fixes and improvements. With yesterday’s release of VirtualBox 6.0 Beta 3 there is yet more feature work landing.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • The digital open-source future of scientific research in Europe

      According to Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science, and Innovation “Science should have no borders.” This is the idea that prompted the setting up of Europe’s “digital coffeehouse” known as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), officially unveiled on 23 November at the University of Vienna, Austria.

      The first influx of funding for the EOSC will come from the European Commission, with a promise to invest €600 million to support the core functions of the EOSC up until 2020. Further financial support may come from a mix of funding sources, such as deposit fees from national funders, user-generated revenues.

      TheEuropean Commission also announced a team of eleven that will run the huge EOSC project, who were selected from the European research infrastructure and public research and funding organisations. Karel Luyben, vice president for research at CESAER ― a European association of 50 leading universities of science and technology in 25 countries ― was named as chair of the executive board, which will set the future directions of the cloud. Together with two additional management layers, a governance board and a stakeholder forum, the board will outline the annual work plans and rules of participation. The Commission will announce another team in January 2019 to run the stakeholder forum and deal with scientific outreach.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Naomi Wu On The Sino:Bit, 3D Printers, And Open Source Hardware In China
      • Cutting 3D Printing Costs with an Open Source Material Pelletizer

        Good filament can be pricey, although the polymers the filament is made from aren’t that expensive. That’s the opening observation of a paper entitled “3-D Printable Polymer Pelletizer Chopper for Fused Granular Fabrication-Based Additive Manufacturing.” The authors argue that the markup can be avoided by eliminating the process of creating filament and instead 3D printing directly from polymer granules. Fused granular fabrication (FGF), or fused particle fabrication (FPF), they point out, is held back by the lack of accessibility to low-cost pelletizers and choppers. So they developed their own open-source 3D printable pelletizer that can process both single thermopolymers as well as composites.

  • Programming/Development

  • Standards/Consortia

    • WebP image file sizes compared to equivalent Guetzli and Zopfli

      I decided to offer WebP images in addition to the traditional JPEG and PNG formats after Microsoft Edge and then shortly after Mozilla Firefox added support for the format. However, I did so blindly assuming that WebP would always produce smaller files without checking my that it actually did what I wanted. A reader called me out on my mistake and pointed out some WebP images were 15 % larger than the traditional file format.

      As discussed previously, I use libvips for image processing and preparing thumbnails from my source images. I’ve previously used libgd, but that created unwanted artifacts that hurt compression levels. However, I also use post-processing with the image optimization tool Guetzli for JPEG images and Zopfli for PNG images. These tools really help to slash image sizes without compromising on image quality but at the cost of significant memory and processor utilization (a one-time investment).

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The 2017 Thanksgiving salmonella outbreak is still with us. Why?

      With Thanksgiving and Christmas comes the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s reminder to cook turkey to 165 degrees to kill salmonella, a harmful bacteria, as in “Why a Salmonella Outbreak Shouldn’t Ruin Your Thanksgiving.” The reminder is particularly timely since an outbreak of salmonella-infected turkey resulting in foodborne illness was officially detected a bit more than a year ago. USDA, while active in detecting the slaughterhouse sites of the infected turkey, has yet to name those sites publicly and issue a whole turkey or turkey parts recall. USDA has recalled Jennie-O ground turkey products and issued a list of retailers carrying those products.

      This inadequate response should raise serious questions about the proposed USDA takeover of all federal food safety duties. In July, the Trump administration proposed to transfer the food safety duties of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the USDA. The proposal has many hurdles to realization, not the least of which is that new legislation would be required to transfer to USDA the duties assigned to FDA in the Food Safety Modernization Act. Even if such legislation were proposed, any Congressional hearings on the proposal must review USDA’s performance history of protecting consumers, other than reminding them of how to prepare turkey and other foods to prevent foodborne illness.

      On November 15, the Safe Food Coalition asked the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to declare a public health alert and recall turkey products from the 22 slaughterhouses and seven processing plants where FSIS identified the presence of Salmonella Reading, a particularly virulent serotype that is resisting a multi-drug antibiotic given to consumers of the infected turkey. The letter noted that FSIS’ recommendation for “proper handling” of turkey, with separate knives, cutting boards and preparation areas, “subjects consumers to an unrealistic standard for ‘proper’ handling and cooking.” The groups added that the “World Health Organization has estimated that cross-contamination [e.g. between infected meat and fresh vegetables] causes ten times as many Salmonella infections as eating undercooked poultry.” FSIS rejected the Safe Food Coalition request, characterizing it as “Monday morning quarterbacking” by NGOs in comfortable offices remote from turkey production facilities.

    • The Abortion Battle Continues

      On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued it momentous Roe v. Wade decision that legalizing a woman’s right to the privacy of an abortion. In his decision, Justice Harry Blackmun noted, “… throughout the 19th Century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn ….” The Roe decision forced 46 states to liberalize their abortion laws.

      The Court’s decision occurred two days after Richard Nixon was inaugurated to his second term as president. His landslide victory over Sen. George McGovern (D-SD) — who had been labeled the candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” – was driven by the “Southern strategy” that reconfigured national politics. These two events helped foster the culture wars.

      Now, nearly a half-century later, Donald Trump’s election enabled the forces of the Christian right to seize state power, including two seats on the Supreme Court. Their efforts, combined with conservative legislators in states throughout the country, are intended to finally end – or severely restrict – the Roe decision and a woman’s right to an abortion.

      A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and arecent lower-court abortion decision in Mississippi may take some of most virulent wind out of the anti-abortion movement. Unfortunately, like the culture wars in general – and hardcore support for Trump in particular – reactionary rage has little to do with statistical facts let alone court decisions. These religious warriors, like fundamentalists the world over, blindly seek to impose their beliefs on everyone under their ostensible control.

    • Sacrificing Children: Pesticides in the Time of Oligarchy

      All past civilizations protected children. It was self-evident that healthy children assured continuity, security and happiness.

      However, machine-powered civilizations give the illusion corporations, oligarchies, and the government control everything. Children fade in this confused vision. The disproportional power of the few dehumanizes everything, including children.

      Oligarchs control medicine, drugs, chemicals, farming and politics. If their products harm children, their lobbyists, scientists and politicians cover up the truth.

    • Unlike a Globalized Food System, Local Food Won’t Destroy the Environment

      If you’re seeking some good news during these troubled times, look at the ecologically sound ways of producing food that have percolated up from the grassroots in recent years. Small farmers, environmentalists, academic researchers, and food and farming activists have given us agroecology, holistic resource management, permaculture, regenerative agriculture and other methods that can alleviate or perhaps even eliminate the global food system’s worst impacts: biodiversity loss, energy depletion, toxic pollution, food insecurity and massive carbon emissions.

      These inspiring testaments to human ingenuity and goodwill have two things in common: They involve smaller-scale farms adapted to local conditions, and they depend more on human attention and care than on energy and technology. In other words, they are the opposite of industrial monocultures — huge farms that grow just one crop.

      But to significantly reduce the many negative impacts of the food system, these small-scale initiatives need to spread all over the world. Unfortunately, this has not happened, because the transformation of farming requires shifting not just how food is produced, but also how it is marketed and distributed. The food system is inextricably linked to an economic system that, for decades, has been fundamentally biased against the kinds of changes we need.

    • Type 1 Diabetics Need Affordable Insulin, Not “Innovation”

      It’s nearly 2019, and people with Type 1 diabetes are dying from diabetic ketoacidosis. Akin to an 1800s time-warp, Americans with Type 1 are losing their lives for the same reasons they did back then: They lack a treatment. Of course, there is insulin now, but many have little access due to the manufacturers’ exorbitant price hikes.

      From 1996 to today, virtually unchanged analog insulins have increased in cost from $21 per vial to $300 per vial and higher, for reasons that can only be attributed to greed. A month’s worth of insulin and supplies for the uninsured or underinsured can easily reach — or surpass — the cost of a monthly mortgage. There is no generic analog insulin equivalent, but instead mainly the relentless focus and pursuit of patent-extending delivery methods that are then being trumpeted disingenuously by the manufacturers as much needed innovation to serve patients.

      Discovered in 1921 by Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and John Macleod, insulin remains the treatment for Type 1 diabetes. Regular injections are required to provide the essential hormone that a nonfunctioning pancreas can’t make. We all need insulin to get glucose into our cells — provided either by a working pancreas or by injection. It’s that simple. But the US government has done nothing to stop the price-gouging.

    • Attention, Marketplace Shoppers: Don’t Delay On 2019 Enrollment

      Don’t procrastinate. Most consumers who buy their own insurance on the federal health insurance marketplace face a Dec. 15 deadline. Advocates are reminding these customers that if they miss the deadline, they may not have a plan that starts in January 2019.

      Despite repeated efforts by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it remains the law of the land, and subsidies that help bring down premiums and reduce cost sharing are still available to help people afford plans sold on the marketplaces, also called exchanges. Those plans still must provide comprehensive benefits and limit out-of-pocket costs for consumers. If you buy an exchange plan, insurers can’t turn you down or charge you more if you have a preexisting medical condition.

      But Republicans did push through a major change in the law that takes effect in 2019: Consumers will no longer owe a fine if they don’t have health insurance. It’s not yet clear if that has tamped down interest, but data released by federal officials showed that the number of people who had signed up during the first two weeks of open enrollment was down by about 20 percent from a year ago.

    • Why Don’t Detroit Public Schools Have Safe Drinking Water?

      It’s a pretty frightening scenario for many residents of Detroit — a city just 60 miles southeast of Flint, where residents kept getting sick in 2016, even though officials insisted that the drinking water was just fine. In fact, the Flint crisis was what prompted Detroit officials to begin testing their school water supplies in the first place.

      “In the poorer neighborhoods, in the black neighborhoods, we always have a problem with issues of environment,” said Detroit resident Ricky Rice, who has a grandson in sixth grade and another grandchild beginning kindergarten. “Look at the water up in Flint. Now, look at the water here. They should have known it was going to be a problem with this old infrastructure.”

      And yet Detroit is far from the only school district to have problems with water quality. At the beginning of this school year, several Maryland school districts also found lead in their drinking water and turned off their water fountains.

    • Mitch McConnell Determined to Confirm Trump’s Radical Anti-Choice Judges (Updated)

      Senate Republican leaders are poised to advance dozens of President Trump’s judicial nominations before the new U.S. Congress convenes in January, despite an attempt from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to impede the process.

      The Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to advance six Circuit Court nominees on Thursday, but the committee canceled its meeting after Flake vowed to vote against judicial nominations unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) schedules a vote on bipartisan legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump.

      While Flake’s tactic could slow down the nomination process, McConnell could still bring nominees directly to the floor. He has repeatedly stated the judiciary remains his top priority during the lame duck session.

  • Security

    • Hackers access data of half a billion guests at Marriott hotels

      The personal data of half a billion guests of upmarket hotels belonging to Marriott International was illegally accessed by hackers over four years.

      Experts estimate that more than a million British customers could be affected by the breach of the booking system of the group’s Starwood division, which owns hotels including the Sheraton Grand Park Lane and Le Méridien Piccadilly in London.

    • Email Security & Privacy

      If you want to learn more about the topic, you can take a look at the slides I used and do some research of your own. If something seems wrong please let me know in the comments below so that we all can benefit. You can also access (I think?) the speaker notes for more context behind the content on the slides.

      If you are pressed for time, skip to the last slide to learn about some interesting attacks. One of them makes use of Cyrillic script. If you haven’t heard of Cyrillic script before you would love that slide.

    • Out-of-Bounds Vulnerability In Microsoft VBScript Can Cause Internet Explorer To Crash

      Microsoft VBScript is actually an active scripting language modeled on Visual Basic. It’s very similar to visual basic and can be used to create a server-side scripting environment for creating dynamic web pages which use VBScript or JavaScript.

    • Spectre v2 mitigation causes significant slowdown on Linux 4.20

      One of Intel’s mitigations for a variant of the Spectre vulnerability will reportedly significantly slow down performance of the latest Linux kernel.

      The mitigation, called Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors (STIBP), was put in place by Intel earlier this year when the Spectre vulnerability and its variants were first publicly disclosed. Intel proposed two other mitigations to this particular version — Spectre variant 2, tracked as CVE-2017-5715 — but this one, it turns out, would have a negative effect on Linux 4.20.

      If Linux 4.20 is run with Intel chips that implemented the STIBP mitigation for Spectre v2, performance could drop 30% to 50%, depending on the application.

    • Over 45,000 routers hacked via NSA exploit

      From 3.5 million devices examined, Akamai says that around eight per cent carry a vulnerable version of UPnP. The attack exposes ports 139 and 445, opening up nearly two million computers, phones, smart speakers, robot vacuum cleaners, tablets, and other devices connected to said routers.

    • Marriott: Data on 500 Million Guests Stolen in 4-Year Breach

      Marriott said the breach involved unauthorized access to a database containing guest information tied to reservations made at Starwood properties on or before Sept. 10, 2018, and that its ongoing investigation suggests the perpetrators had been inside the company’s networks since 2014.

    • Marriott group hit by massive breach, details of 500m stolen

      Marriott said it had become aware of the breach on 8 September and investigations had shown that data was being exfiltrated since 2014.

    • Bing is Warning that the VLC Media Player Site is Unsafe [Ed: Microsoft loves Linux. So much in fact that GNU/Linux software it is marking as "unsafe"; like it did Firefox and Chrome only months ago.]
    • PewDiePie vs T-Series: [Cracker] hijacks 50,000 printers urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie

      The [cracker] reveals that he used Shodan, a repository for [Internet] connected devices where he found 80,000 connected printers and decided to attack 50,000 of them to raise awareness about printer security, The Verge reported. Of the attacked printers, about 15000 printers were in India.

    • Someone [cracked] printers worldwide, urging people to subscribe to PewDiePie

      TheHackerGiraffe told The Verge that he got the idea for the [attack] while browsing Shodan.io, a repository for [Internet]-connected devices. Here, they claim that they found 800,000 available printers, and decided to attack 50,000 of them.

    • Indian police claim breaking up international computer [sic] virus scam

      The pop-up messages prompted victims in the United States, Britain, Australia and other countries to call a phone number shown on their computer screens, he said. They would then be scammed out of money in exchange for supposedly fixing the problem.

    • Hackers are using leaked NSA hacking tools to covertly hijack thousands of [Windows-running] computers
    • NSA tools are still letting hackers take over unpatched systems

      As TechCrunch reports, hackers are now using a pair of exploits developed by the NSA to burrow through the router and attack connected systems. The two exploits, known as EternalBlue and EternalRed, target Windows and Linux-based systems respectively. This new attack is being termed “EternalSilence” by Akamai, which warns that with 45,000 infected devices, more than a million connected computers could also be vulnerable.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Keep it cool: With Pakistan, India should never confuse deep friendships for the deep state

      For me, the turning point in understanding Pakistan came with Daniel Pearl’s killing.
      In 2002, the 38-year-old Washington Post journalist, with an oval, clever face and a jaunty smile, was kidnapped in Karachi and slain, executed on video by a mad Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who slit his throat and sent out the filmed murder to the world.
      It was the first ISIS-style execution. But it was enough for me to understand Pakistan, the old Pakistan, even its genial post-Partition ghost which I had seen, was dead.
      The new Pakistan was a very different nation.

    • Five Men Responsible for 7,200-Foot Mushroom Cloud Explosion in Louisiana Sentenced to Prison

      Explo Systems filed for bankruptcy in 2013, abandoning 7,800 tons of M6 at Camp Minden. The National Guard subsequently hired another company to remove the leftover waste.

    • The Saudis’ Reputation: A Tale Told in Three Acts
    • Saudi crown prince reportedly sent at least 11 messages to adviser who oversaw Khashoggi killing around time of his death

      The crown prince told his advisers “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements” if Khashoggi, who was previously based in Virginia, did not return to Saudi Arabia.

    • Putin high-fives MBS: Russian leader and Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman bro down at G20
    • Putin enthusiastically high-fived the Saudi crown prince at the G20 summit

      Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman enthusiastically high-fived each other when they met up in Argentina on Friday.

    • The White House Coverup of the Saudi Coverup of the Jamal Khashoggi Murder

      Congress has been outraged over the Administration’s response to the Khashoggi murder, especially Trump’s willingness to give the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a pass. “I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted recently. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis went to the Hill to explain U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia—in the context of the Khashoggi murder—and U.S. military support propping up the kingdom’s brutal four-year war in Yemen. Moves to punish Saudi Arabia for the murder by curtailing its war have rapidly gained momentum in recent weeks. Mysteriously missing from the briefing, however, was Haspel.

    • ‘May His Many Victims Across the Globe Rest in Peace’: George H.W. Bush Dead at 94

      As corporate media gloss over the former U.S. president’s record with fawning tributes and sanitized obituaries, some observers took to social media to highlight key aspects of the record and legacy of George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at 94.

      Among the 41st president’s acts during his political life Twitter users noted were his role in the Gulf War, Central America, and the Iran-Contra affair.

      While it’s fair to offer condolences to Bush’s family members as they grieve, “As a public figure with lots of innocent blood on his hands, his record has to be examined without any whitewashing,” asserts The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan.

    • America Is Headed For Military Defeat in Afghanistan

      There’s a prevailing maxim, both inside the armed forces and around the Beltway, that goes something like this: “The U.S. can never be militarily defeated in any war,” certainly not by some third world country. Heck, I used to believe that myself. That’s why, in regard to Afghanistan, we’ve been told that while America could lose the war due to political factors (such as the lack of grit among “soft” liberals or defeatists), the military could never and will never lose on the battlefield.

      That entire maxim is about to be turned on its head. Get ready, because we’re about to lose this war militarily.

      Consider this: the U.S. military has advised, assisted, battled, and bombed in Afghanistan for 17-plus years. Ground troop levels have fluctuated from lows of some 10,000 to upwards of 100,000 servicemen and women. None of that has achieved more than a tie, a bloody stalemate. Now, in the 18th year of this conflict, the Kabul-Washington coalition’s military is outright losing.

    • After 17 Years of War, Afghanistan Is All But Forgotten

      Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-con wild boys who came to power with George W. Bush in 2001 all shared a vision. In their minds, they saw a cowed, conquered Iraq as the stepping stone to a wider conflict that would, in the righteous fullness of Republican time, lead to broad regional transformation and the enforced peace of empire, all of it lubricated by “liberated” Middle Eastern petroleum.

    • Azov Again

      This is a deliberate misreading of the situation, and actually Trump’s actions have been correct and no doubt guided by the State Department’s maritime law experts.

      As explained in my last post, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the Ukrainian navy, and any other vessel, has an absolute right of innocent passage to the Ukrainian coast through the Kerch Straits and the Sea of Azov. They do however have an obligation to comply with sea lanes and notification regimes established for reasons of navigational safety.

      It appears Ukraine may not have observed the navigational safety regulations, so Russia had a right to take proportionate action for enforcement. The Russian action was a bit heavy handed, but probably did not stray over the proportionate boundary.

      However Russia did not have a right to detain the vessels or the crews, other than briefly. This is specifically not allowed. So at some point in Russia’s continued detention of the vessels and crews, Russia’s actions switched from legal to illegal. The timing of Trump’s decision to cancel the Putin meeting makes perfect sense in terms of the stage at which Russia went from being in the right in the incident, to being in the wrong. In taking prisoners to Moscow Russia is very, very definitely in the wrong.

    • Sentinelese Islanders Reject Jesus, Shoot Missionary Dead on Beach

      I write to memorialize John Allen Chau, the young man from Vancouver, Washington who after multiple trips to the Andaman Islands, preparing to land on the shore of the forbidden North Sentinel Island, did just that on Nov. 15 and 17, getting himself almost immediately skewered by a hail of primitive but highly effective arrows. (A reminder that Stone Age technology can kill as effectively as a 7.62 caliber AK-47 bullet.)

      Chau’s tragic death is perhaps a small matter, a footnote to our troubled times when we need to be focusing on preparations for war on Iran based on lies, or war in Syria or Ukraine based on lies, or the descent of fascism on the west, or the melting of polar ice and rise of ocean levels, or other overriding historical issues. But just as another footnote—the murder of a journalist in a consulate in Turkey—causes us to linger a moment thinking about the banality of evil, so this episode causes one to reflect on the banality of stupidity.

      Let us be honest about it. We’re talking about religious stupidity. This with patriotism is a final refuge of fools.

    • Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare Be Damned, Pompeo Doubles Down on US Support for Saudi Coalition

      Pompeo’s comments to CNN on Saturday come days after the U.S. Senate advanced legislation to bring an end to U.S. involvement in the 3-year war, as a United Nations official warned that “Yemen is on the brink of a major catastrophe,” and as the Wall Street Journal reports on a CIA assessment strongly implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

      Speaking to Wolf Blitzer on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Pompeo said the administration was intent on keeping “the strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

      Asked by Blitzer about dwindling support within Congress for participation in the war and whether the U.S. would continue to support the kingdom’s bombing campaign of Yemen, Pompeo replied, “The program that we’re involved in today we intend to continue.”

      The heads of prominent aid humanitarian organizations, however, this week pleaded for a cessation of that “program.”

    • Yes, You Have the Right to Talk Back to the Government, But It Could Get You Killed

      What the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

      What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

      [...]

      Colten was one of 20 or so college students who had driven to the Blue Grass Airport to demonstrate against then-First Lady Pat Nixon. Upon leaving the airport, police stopped one of the cars in Colten’s motorcade because it bore an expired, out-of-state license plate. Colten and the other drivers also pulled over to the side of the road.

      Fearing violence on the part of the police, Colten exited his vehicle and stood nearby while police issued his friend, Mendez, a ticket and arranged to tow his car. Police repeatedly asked Colten to leave. At one point, a state trooper declared, “This is none of your affair . . . get back in your car and please move on and clear the road.”

      Insisting that he wanted to make a transportation arrangement for his friend Mendez and the occupants of the Mendez car, Colten failed to move away and was arrested for violating Kentucky’s disorderly conduct statute.

    • Trump inherited Obama’s drone war and he’s significantly expanded it in countries where the US is not technically at war

      President Donald Trump has significantly increased the number of drone strikes in places the US is not technically at war, according to an analysis from The Daily Beast.

      In former President Barack Obama’s first two years in office, the US conducted 186 drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, where the US is engaged in “shadow wars.”

      Comparatively, in 2017 and 2018 so far, Trump has launched 238 drone strikes in these countries, The Daily Beast reported. The report is based on data provided by US Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has tracked US drone strikes for years.

    • Australia Enters The Drone Age: Military To Buy Reapers

      Within two years, Australia will be operating weaponised drones.
      They’re known as ‘Reapers’, or the MQ-9 Reaper to be exact. And Australia is buying between 12 and 16 of them, at a cost of $2 billion dollars.

      The MQ-9 Reaper is the next generation of the MQ-1 Predator drone, that the United States has been operating since the Balkan’s War in 1990.

      And while the data about their use hasn’t exactly been made clear, drones are controversial in particular because of civilian deaths.

      In 2016 the Obama Administration said its drones had killed between 64 and 116 civilians in non-war zones since 2009.

    • Literature, Modernism, and the CIA

      What did the CIA do in the arena of literature? What did literary modernism have to do with colonialism? And how and why have foundations actively collaborated with U.S. intelligence agencies? Juliana Spahr considers the impact of politics and cultural diplomacy on literary production and on the ability of certain writers to achieve canonical status.

    • The US Loves To Charge Other Governments’ Hackers With Crimes. What Happens When One Of Those Countries Returns The Favor?

      Starting near the end of the second Obama administration and rapidly escalating under Trump’s, the US has employed a tactic of “name-and-shame” in which it identifies and charges individuals who were hacking under orders of foreign governments. The idea is that the hackers will be arrested and likely extradited if they ever set foot in a country that’s friendly to the US.

      As of September, when the Justice Department indicted North Korea’s Park Jin Hyok and accused him of being employed by the government when he helped hack Sony Pictures Entertainment and stole millions from the Bank of Bangladesh, the US has formally accused people of working for all four of its primary adversaries in cyberspace: China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

    • Justice Department charges Iranians with hacking attacks on U.S. cities, companies

      The Justice Department unsealed charges Wednesday accusing two Iranian men of hacking into American hospitals, universities, government agencies…

    • MEK Sources of funds are Iran’s regional rivals: ex-CIA official

      Pillar says terrorist group is still a terrorist group even if the blood it spills is not American blood. The MEK certainly has been involved in lethal political violence since 2009.

      He also adds that “The sources of funds always have been unclear. The most likely sources are states that are regional rivals of Iran.”

    • The Pivotal GHW Bush Presidency: How the US became Mired in the Mideast

      On the occasion of the death of George H. W. Bush, I’d like to reflect on the meaning of his presidency for American foreign policy in the Middle East.

      Bush was the last representative of the old Republican Party of wealthy northeast businessmen and Midwestern farmers and small town dwellers, before the Religious Right took over the party. That the Southern Baptists and other Evangelicals did not form part of his base allowed Bush to view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more dispassionately than have any of his successors.

      Bush admitted that he struggled with having a political vision. In 1989, the first year of his presidency, he experienced the windfall of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He called for a new world order, but it was unclear what the content of that order would be except the dominance of Capital and national interest. He appeared to hope (unrealistically) that the charity sector (“a thousand points of light”) could make up for the steep decline in government-provided services impelled by the Reagan tax cuts. Workers and the poor were not his priority.

      Bush was a pragmatist, and was happy to negotiate with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev over several key issues. He once pulled Gorbachev aside and explained to him that he was surrounded by “intellectual thugs” and that he might have to say harsh things about the Soviet Union publicly but that Gorbachev shouldn’t pay attention to it.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • [Old] Julian Assange of WikiLeaks May Face U.S. Prosecution

      Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has confirmed that the Justice Department is examining whether Julian Assange could be charged with a crime.

    • Unkempt, Heavily Bearded Julian Assange No Longer Has Embassy Cat For Company [Ed: What an utterly nasty article. Chelsea Clinton is on Board of this publication, along with some writers there who have burned Wikileaks sources]

      WikiLeaks founder is living in isolation with limited human contact. Even his cat found it too lonely.

    • Open Source Intelligence: A Key Under The Proverbial Mat
    • Julian Assange reportedly gave away his cat so it wouldn’t be trapped in the Ecuadorian Embassy with him anymore [Ed: Bill Bostock is a troll. No, Assange gave the cat to keep him safe after cruel Moreno had issued threats to lock up the cat in a pen]
    • Project Censored: ‘Open-source’ intelligence secrets sold to highest bidders

      “Sure, the CIA has all these tools available,” Eliason pointed out. “Yes, they are used on the public. The important part is [that] it’s not the CIA that’s using them. That’s the part that needs to frighten you.”

      As Eliason went on to explain, the CIA’s mission prevents it from using the tools, especially on Americans.

      “All the tools are unclassified, open-source, and can be used by anyone,” Eliason explained. “It makes them not exactly usable for secret agent work. That’s what makes it impossible for them to use Vault 7 tools directly.”

      Drawing heavily on more than a decade of reporting by Tim Shorrock for Mother Jones and The Nation, Eliason’s OpEdNews series reported on the explosive growth of private contractors in the intelligence community, which allows the CIA and other agencies to gain access to intelligence gathered by methods they’re prohibited from using.

    • Hot fake news about Assange & RussiaGate! Read about it!

      The major accomplishment of President Trump might be to bring America’s Deep State out into the open. Each day more evidence of their activities emerges as they step out of the shadows to attack Trump. We can only guess as the reasons for this conflict among our ruling elites, but we can learn much from it. Here ex-UK diplomat Craig Murray debunks the new propaganda: attacking Julian Assange, one of the West few remaining journalists, while boosting RussiaGate. Their success in these projects will indicate what kind of future we will give the Republic.

      [...]

      The problem with this latest fabrication is that Moreno had already released the visitor logs to the Mueller inquiry. Neither Manafort nor these “Russians” are in the visitor logs. This is impossible. The visitor logs were not kept by Wikileaks, but by the very strict Ecuadorean security. Nobody was ever admitted without being entered in the logs. The procedure was very thorough. To go in, you had to submit your passport (no other type of document was accepted). A copy of your passport was taken and the passport details entered into the log. Your passport, along with your mobile phone and any other electronic equipment, was retained until you left, along with your bag and coat. I feature in the logs every time I visited.

      There were no exceptions. For an exception to be made for Manafort and the “Russians” would have had to be a decision of the Government of Ecuador, not of Wikileaks, and that would be so exceptional the reason for it would surely have been noted in the now leaked supposed Ecuadorean “intelligence report” of the visits. What possible motive would the Ecuadorean government have for facilitating secret unrecorded visits by Paul Manafort? Furthermore it is impossible that the intelligence agency – who were in charge of the security – would not know the identity of these alleged “Russians”.

    • Special counsel, Democrats step up pressure on Trump over Russia, Assange

      The latest moves by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation underscore the close coordination between the former FBI director and dominant factions of the military/intelligence establishment, which, in alliance with the Democratic Party, are using the fabricated charges of Russian “meddling” and alleged Trump campaign collusion to pressure Trump into pursuing an even more provocative and reckless policy against Russia.

      This campaign is increasingly combined with an effort by Mueller to frame up WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on espionage or conspiracy charges. The aim is to force Assange from his enforced refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, so that British authorities can arrest him and extradite him to the US, where he already faces federal charges that carry a possible death sentence.

      This week’s moves by Mueller also highlight the reactionary substance of the Democratic Party’s opposition to the right-wing Trump administration.

      [...]

      That meeting, where Trump failed to give unqualified backing to US intelligence claims of Russian hacking of Democratic Party emails, triggered furious condemnations from the Democrats and media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN, and charges by former top intelligence officials that Trump was guilty of treason.

      Since then, Trump has escalated the confrontation with Russia, including by withdrawing from the US-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty. This, however, is not considered a sufficient demonstration of Trump’s readiness to engage in full-scale diplomatic, economic and, ultimately, military war with Russia.

      Leading Democrats seized on Cohen’s plea bargain to step up their anti-Russia campaign and ratchet up the pressure on Trump. California Congressman Adam Schiff, who is slated to chair the intelligence committee when the new, Democratic-controlled House of Representatives takes office in January, announced that his committee would launch an investigation into Trump’s business dealings abroad.

    • What’s good for Hillary Clinton is good for Ivanka Trump: Readers sound off

      President Donald Trump was quite clear on Hillary Clinton’s use of her private email server, given her access to government affairs. He said she should go to jail, no ambiguity there.

      And if he has a legal point on that one, I would presume the same would apply to Ivanka Trump — a member of the White House staff who appears to have used a private email, with obvious national security implications.

      So I would suggest to Mr. Trump — who said he’s all about bringing people together — that if Clinton should go to jail, Ivanka should be her roommate. It will be an upscale cell no doubt, and an easy bipartisan sell.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • More states opt to phase out oil production

      A growing number of governments are choosing to phase out oil production, reasoning that cutting the availability of fossil fuels can help to cut the demand for them.

      The world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible, yes? And one of the main causes of the emissions is the burning of fuels such as oil, gas and coal? Right again. So the simple and obvious answer, these governments are deciding, is to stop the drilling and mining which extract fossil fuels.

      That’s the argument examined in a report by researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). There’s already a growing movement to leave fossil fuels in the ground. But their study concentrates specifically on governments.

      They say phasing out oil production could be the next big step in climate policy, thanks to an initial group of first-movers who’ve already taken the plunge.

    • Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

      In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute president Frank Ikard outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

      “The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world’s peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out,” Ikard said, adding, “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

      Many scientists were reaching similar conclusions, based on a body of evidence that had been growing at least since French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the greenhouse effect in 1824. In the 1950s, Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko examined how feedback loops amplify human influences on the climate. He published two books, in 1961 and 1962, warning that growing energy use will warm the planet and cause Arctic ice to disappear, creating feedback cycles that would accelerate warming.

      The predictions have proven to be accurate, and evidence for human-caused global warming has since become indisputable.

      What happened? Over the ensuing decades, the fossil fuel industry didn’t try to resolve what it knew would become a crisis. Instead, it worked to downplay and often deny the reality of climate change and to sow doubt and confusion. Knowingly putting humanity — and countless other species — at risk for the sake of profit is an intergenerational crime against humanity, but it’s unlikely any perpetrators will face justice.

    • The Short Sad Life of a Christmas Tree

      Born on a vast, flat tract of land in Tennessee, a small Virginia pine was raised among hundreds of other saplings on a tree farm. Without parents, or family, or community, like the wild pine saplings have, it never learned its history, or the pine tree stories, or the long, low songs of the pines. It never even learned the pine tree language. Alienated from the web of life, sprayed with herbicides and pesticides, it led an isolated existence.

      Each day on the tree farm blended into the next, and the little tree grew and grew. Spring arrived and blossomed into summer. Summer ripened into fall. Winter came, followed by spring again. Then, one day, for no apparent reason, men appeared with axes and began to chop down the trees. They chopped down one after another until they reached and chopped our small tree down, too.

      In agony, bleeding from its stump, the tree was loaded onto a truck. Piled among many others it traveled hundreds of miles to a large city. Unloaded, sprayed with flame retardant, it found itself in a market. On display, it soon learned that it was to be sold, that it would live in a home, with a family. This gave it hope. I hope I’ll live with a nice family, it thought.

      After leaning about in a crowd of trees for several days, a group of humans arrived who inspected and ultimately purchased the tree. They brought it to their home. Tending to it with care, they fed it fresh water. Though it felt weak, and its stump continued to throb, it was warm and comfortable in the house. The people adorned it with precious decorations, and treated it with respect. They even sang to it.

    • ‘To Live, to Thrive, Not Only to Survive’: San Juan Mayor Calls for Replacing Austerity With Green New Deal to Save Puerto Rico

      The hope for a House Committee that would work to pass a Green New Deal—now supported by 15 representatives thanks to grassroots pressure—was the subject of much discussion at the Sanders Institute Gathering this weekend, and on Saturday the specifics of how the bold proposal for a new nationwide sustainable infrastructure would help some of the Americans most affected by austerity policies came into view.

      San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz led a panel discussion with Political Economic Research Institute (PERI) co-director and University of Massachusetts professor Robert Pollin and community development advocate John Davis, about how a Green New Deal could radically change the daily lives of Puerto Ricans and the outlook for the island, more than a year after the two hurricanes which decimated the country—leaving some communities still in disrepair as federal funds slowly trickle in.

    • As Coal-Sponsored Climate Summit Opens, Campaigners Declare, ‘Business as Usual’ Not an Option

      Seated indoors and marching through the streets, climate justice campaigners marked the start of the summit known as COP24 with demands to end “business as usual” and for world leaders to commit to measures in line with the urgency of the climate crisis.

      “We’re on a fast road to suffering unless we act now,” said Jens Mattias Clausen, the head of Greenpeace’s delegation at the conference. “People are already dying from the impacts of climate change. This is the harsh reality that leaders must confront at COP24. They are the last generation of leaders who still have the time to act. They must put the Paris Agreement to work and ramp up action now. Only through fast, bold change can we alter the course of history.”

    • Woolsey Fire Started at Santa Susana Field Lab — Site of “[fourth] largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power”

      In my Nov. 16 column, I reported on potential radiation risks posed by California’s Woolsey wildfire having burned over parts or all of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory—south of Simi Valley, Calif., 30 miles outside Los Angeles—site of at least four partial or total nuclear reactor meltdowns.

      The field laboratory operated 10 experimental reactors and conducted rocket engine tests. In his 2014 book Atomic Accidents, researcher James Mahaffey writes, “The cores in four experimental reactors on site … melted.” Reactor core melts always result in the release of large amounts of radioactive gases and particles. Clean up of the deeply contaminated site has not been conducted in spite of a 2010 agreement.

      Los Angeles’s KABC-7 TV reported Nov. 13 that the Santa Susana lab site “appears to be the origin of the Woolsey Fire” which has torched over 96,000 acres. Southern Calif. Public Radio said, “According to Cal Fire, the Woolsey Fire started on the afternoon of Thursday, Nov. 8 … on the Santa Susana site.” (https://abc7.com/sce-substation-outage-occurred-before-woolsey-fire-reported/4675611/)

      In my column I noted that Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research, estimated that the partial meltdown of the lab’s Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) in 1957, caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Gar Smith in his 2012 book Nuclear Roulette. But Makhijani was speaking in 2006, so now of course the SRE meltdown counts as the fourth largest radio-iodine release—after the triple meltdowns at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986, and Windscale in England in 1957.

    • Yet Another Benefit of Renewable Energy: It Uses Practically No Water Compared to Fossil Fuels

      The Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently highlighted a little-discussed benefit of using renewables like wind and solar to produce electricity: Unlike most power sources, they require “almost no water.”

      This is remarkable because thermoelectric power generation is the leading use of water in America. (That said, only three percent of power generation’s 133 billion gallons a day of water is considered “consumptive use,” as the U.S. Geological Survey says, “meaning it is lost to evaporation or blowdown during generation.”)

      According to the latest U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data from 2015, 41 percent of the water used in America is for power generation. The next highest use is irrigation for agriculture, accounting for 37 percent of U.S. water use (and close to two-thirds of that is consumptive).

    • How Climate Change Helped Create the Migrant Caravan

      The “caravan” of hopeful immigrants from Central America that was tear gassed by the US government on November 25 continues to be shamelessly exploited as political fodder. Trump depicts the immigrants as a security threat to the US, while Democrats like Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez compare the Central American immigrants to Jews fleeing Germany because of the threat of physical violence and death in their own country. But both these narratives overlook one of the main contributors of the migrant caravan.

      The Southern border has seen a sharp increase in the number of Guatemalans trying to enter the US, starting in 2014. That was coincidentally the first year of a severe drought tied to an extreme El Niño that struck Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, collectively known as the Northern Triangle. El Salvador’s rivers are drying up and Guatemala’s semiarid region is expanding. Temporary relief from the drought has only come from occasional, devastating flooding, which has only added to the destruction of crops. One-third of all employment in Central America comes from agriculture, and that is now failing across the entire region.

      Guatemala is ranked as one of the top 10 of the world’s nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis — meaning an agricultural crisis that is now evolving into a human crisis. The current weather patterns wreaking havoc on Central American agriculture are consistent with what climate scientists have predicted, and climate models indicate it will only get worse. Those areas of the world prone to drought will see even less precipitation (like the American West), and those that see too much will get even more, with overall temperatures on the rise.

  • Finance

    • The semiconductor industry and the power of globalisation

      Two forces are now thrusting the semiconductor industry firmly into the spotlight. The first is geopolitics. Chips are caught up in an increasingly bad-tempered rivalry between America, the incumbent techno-superpower, and China, the aspiring one. The second is physics. This brewing technological struggle comes at a historic moment. For 50 years progress has been driven by Moore’s law, which states that the number of components that can be crammed onto a chip doubles every two years and thus, roughly, so does its computational power. But the law is breaking down, leaving the future of the industry looking messier and less certain than at any time in the past.

    • People underestimate teachers’ hours and say they should be paid more
    • Amazon ‘dumbfounded’ police in Spain by asking them to intervene in a mass warehouse strike and patrol worker productivity

      A source at Spanish union CCOO, which helped coordinate the strikes, told Business Insider that Amazon “wanted to send the police inside the warehouse to push people to work.”

    • AMLO vs Bolso: Opposing Views on Development

      Andrés Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, will take office at Mexico City’s Zócalo on December 1, while President-elect Jair Bolsonaro will do so a month later, on January 1, 2019. The differences between the two are profound, in terms of their origins, political trajectories, ideologies, and styles. But in these turbulent times of absolute failure of Latin American states, the main battleground will be that of economic proposals, in two countries that are world champions of inequality.

      The far-right Bolsonaro has already stated that he is going to reduce the number of ministries and “extinguish and privatize” a large part of the public companies, an announcement that provoked euphoria all over the financial markets. He also wants to lower Brazil’s corporate income tax, currently between 24% and 34%, to a flatrate of 20%. The former army captain’s team justifies this decision by referring to Donald Trump’s tax reform in the U.S., which reduced corporate taxes from 35% to 21%. To be competitive on the foreign market and attract foreign investors, Brazil would have to join this race to the bottom.

    • Free the Free Press From Wall Street Plunder

      A two-panel cartoon I recently saw showed a character with a sign saying: “First they came for the reporters.” In the next panel, his sign says: “We don’t know what happened after that.”
      It was, of course, a retort to Donald Trump’s campaign to demonize the news media as “the enemy of the people.” But when it comes to America’s once-proud newspapers, their worst enemy isn’t Trump — nor is it the rising cost of newsprint or the “free” digital news on websites.
      Rather, the demise of the real news reporting by our city and regional papers is a product of their profiteering owners.
      Not the families and companies that built and nurtured true journalism, but the new breed of fast-buck hucksters who’ve scooped up hundreds of America’s newspapers from the bargain bins of media sell-offs.
      These hedge-fund scavengers know nothing about journalism and care less. They’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast.

    • Nationalisation Without Compensation

      When slavery was abolished in the British Empire, taxpayers paid huge sums in compensation to slave owners for the loss of their “property”. No compensation was ever paid to the slaves for the loss of their freedom.

      The problem with that approach is, of course, that the state did not take into account that the “property” of which it was relieving the landowners was acquired as part of an inhuman and immoral situation.

      I was considering the same question in relation to the constitutional moves of South Africa to redistribute land without compensation. It seems to me this is plainly morally justified. The only question marks I can see are of practicality, in terms of making sure those taking over the land are trained to keep it properly in production, and that redistribution is not corrupt. Those are not insuperable problems, and I support the South African government in its endeavours.

      But I wish to apply the same principle, of the state acting to right historic injustice on behalf of the people, much more widely and in the UK.

    • China Policy: Disappointment Is No Excuse

      I think the writer correctly cites America’s disappointment with China. We can go back three or four administrations and find presidents and other top US officials expressing the same sentiment: the more deeply engaged China is in the global economic system, the more cosmopolitan its leaders will become and the more likely it is to succumb to liberal political change. But that all-too-easy formula hasn’t worked. Nor should there have been such widespread expectations that it would work. It rested on an inflated notion of capitalism’s magic, and on a misunderstanding of China’s political history.

      For Chinese leaders during and since Mao’s time, the chief purpose of economic strength has been to promote social stability and elevate China’s standing in the world. Political liberalization, far from being the goal of a more powerful economy, has been the outcome to be avoided. “A fortress can be most easily captured from within,” China’s leaders have said, and “bourgeois capitalism” is the kind of force that, if not properly managed, can undermine the one-party state. Under Xi Jinping, China’s extraordinary economic rise has been coupled with stark social controls and emphasis on communist party discipline, precisely in order to prevent certain dangerous features of Western politics from infecting China. Chinese Communist Party Document No. 9 in 2013 cited seven threats to party control, including “Western constitutional democracy,” human rights, pro-market “neoliberalism,” and Western-inspired ideas of media independence and civic participation. That view, reminiscent of Mao’s concerns, should have been taken into account long ago by US leaders.

    • G-20 Agrees on Trade and Migration; U.S. Goes Own Way on Climate

      But China also pushed back in talks on steel, South Africa objected to language on trade, Australia didn’t want the statement to be too soft on migration and Turkey worried it would push too far on climate change, according to the officials.

    • Across the Troubles in Northern Ireland: From the Jacobite Rising to the Mountbatten Bombing

      When I rode the train across Ireland in summer 1990, most of the west country was rural, dotted with farmland and thatched cottages. I also expected mist on the horizon.

      Thirty years on, most of the thatch has been replaced with modern (read ugly) tiles, and spliced into the farmland, at suitable intervals, are malls and convenience stores. Meandering in the car, I wondered what ballads Irish poets would write about divided highways and Costa Coffee outlets.

      I was pleased to make it to Aughrim, as the year before, together with a friend from Dublin, I had gone to visit the battlefield of the Boyne, where in 1690 a Catholic coalition was routed on the banks of a meandering streaming (the Boyne). In effect, the two battles are bookends in the same war.

      If Aughrim was the end game of the Jacobite rising in Ireland, the Boyne was more decisive, in that Catholic King James II of Britain and his French Catholic allies were scattered by a coalition of Dutch and British mercenaries, who ended any dreams that the Catholic population had for an autonomous Ireland.

      I had not known much about the Boyne until that springtime visit. My only acquaintance with it came from childhood conversations with my father, who lived as much in the past as he did in the present. (Over dinner we would be quizzed about the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and other happenings in our day.)

      Whenever a political conversation would touch on the Troubles raging in Northern Ireland (the 1960s and 70s were bad times), he would bring up the battle of the Boyne—to set the cause of the violence in its historical context, which was that Ireland, after the Boyne, was an English dependency.

      [...]

      After Brexit, unless there is what is called “a hard border,” it will be possible for goods and people to continue to cross unchecked between the EU (Ireland) and a non-EU country (the United Kingdom). Hence all the talk in the negotiations about “a backstop,” which would keep the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU and allow the border to remain unfettered.

      One of the reasons that peace came to Northern Ireland is that both Ireland and the UK were EU members, which meant that the once-deadly frontier between Northern Ireland and Ireland blurred when EU membership on both sides allowed residents on each side of the divide to cross easily during the course of their days. (Technically, neither Ireland or the UK is in what is called theSchengenAgreement, which abolished border checks within the EU, but since they both opted out, it kept the border open. I know, it’s confusing.)

      Kevin and I were in the suburban town of Strabane—about fifteen miles from Derry—when we crossed from the Republic into the UK. I was interested to see if there might be an army checkpoint or a frontier gate but all I saw was a cheap, roadside sign, with the words: “Welcome to the United Kingdom.” It reminded me of the non-borders between France and Belgium or Germany and the Netherlands. (Later, in one of the books with me on the trip, I came across this sentence about Northern Ireland: “The real border, it was now said, was not geographical but in men’s minds.”)

    • Salaried Workers Beware: GM Cuts Are a Warning for All

      For generations, the career path for smart kids around Detroit was to get an engineering or business degree and get hired by an automaker or parts supplier. If you worked hard and didn’t screw up, you had a job for life with enough money to raise a family, take vacations and buy a weekend cottage in northern Michigan.

      Now that once-reliable route to prosperity appears to be vanishing, as evidenced by General Motors’ announcement this week that it plans to shed 8,000 white-collar jobs on top of 6,000 blue-collar ones.

      It was a humbling warning that in this era of rapid and disruptive technological change, those with a college education are not necessarily insulated from the kind of layoffs factory workers know all too well.

      The cutbacks reflect a transformation underway in both the auto industry and the broader U.S. economy, with nearly every type of business becoming oriented toward computers, software and automation.

    • US Housing Crisis Inexcusable, Says Bernie Sanders, When Wall Street Bailed Out After Financial Crisis

      On the third and final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led a panel of experts and advocates to discuss the crisis of, the solutions to, he says, “that gets far too little discussion”: the nation’s housing crisis.

      In an era of unaffordable housing, gentrification, and discriminatory housing policies, the panel conversation explored the “innovative initiatives including land trusts, non-profit landlord ownership and the progress towards fairer housing policies in America.”

      “I hope everyone here remembers that we are the wealthiest country in the world,” Sanders said as he introduced the talk.

      And so, he added, after referencing the many billions spent to bail out Wall Street in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, if there is a shortage of affordable housing—or childcare or other needed social programs—it “is not lack of resources; the reason is lack of political will. And the reason is a set of priorities set by the wealthiest people in this country and large campaign contributors, not working families.”

    • With Workers Under Attack, Labor Leaders Say Only ‘Full-Throated Economic Populism’ Can Defeat Corporate Elites

      With the American labor movement under relentless assault by the right-wing Supreme Court, the Republican Party at both the state and federal level, and President Donald Trump’s plutocratic administration, prominent union leaders convened during the final day of The Sanders Institute Gathering on Saturday to confront the existential threat facing the working class and emphasize the urgency of organizing at the grassroots level to fight back and build political power.

    • Meanwhile in #paris https://www.truthdig.com/articles/worst-riot-in-a-decade-engulfs-paris-macron-vows-action/

      France’s most violent urban riot in a decade engulfed central Paris on Saturday as “yellow jacket” activists torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti.

      Protesters angry about rising taxes and the high cost of living clashed with French riot police, who closed off some of the city’s most popular tourist areas and fired tear gas and water cannon as they tried to quell the mayhem in the streets.

      French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the violence from the G-20 summit in Argentina, saying those who attacked police and vandalized the Arc de Triomphe will be “held responsible for their acts.” He said he will hold an emergency government meeting Sunday on the protests.

      “(Violence) has nothing to do with the peaceful expression of a legitimate anger” and “no cause justifies” attacks on police or pillaging stores and burning buildings, Macron said in Buenos Aires. He refused to answer any questions from journalists about the situation in Paris.

    • GM, Jobs, and Corporate America’s Incentive to Exploit

      The communities where those workers live will lose out, too. In Lordstown, the Ohio locale that hosts one of the plants set to be shuttered, officials estimate that every GM job cut will cost seven other workers outside GM their employment.

      Did the GM executives who made the shut-down decision take that spin-off devastation into account? Did they soberly conclude that they had no choice, that only massive job cuts could ensure their enterprise a stable and sustainable future? Or do the GM job cuts reflect, in the end, nothing more than naked self-interest on the part of those executives, an attempt to enrich their own future — at worker expense?

      The simple answer: We can’t get into the minds of the GM execs who’ve ordered the job cuts. We can’t divine how much greed determined their decision. But we can, rather easily, see who stands to gain from GM’s massive job cutting. Certainly not GM workers. In the wake of the GM layoffs, thousands of workers and their families will be poorer. GM execs, on the other hand, will be richer.

      Substantially richer. At GM, as at all major U.S. corporations, the ultimate compensation top executives take home rests either directly or indirectly on their enterprise’s share price. The more that price rises, the more they pocket. In the afternoon after the GM job-cut announcement morning, Wall Streeters bid up the company’s shares a whopping 7.9 percent. Shares ended the week almost as high.

    • 2017 Financials of the Koch’s Dark Money Network

      Charles and David Koch maintain an extensive, powerful network of nonprofit organizations to further their libertarian and conservative ideological values.

      Four nonprofits at the crux of the network — the Charles Koch Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation and Freedom Partners — bring in millions each year to further the Koch brothers’ agendas.

      The brothers, who own Koch Industries, are known for supporting conservative policies, such as President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax policy overhaul and environmental regulation rollbacks.

      Aside from the Charles Koch Institute, these groups made and spent less money last year compared to 2016, according to new tax returns obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

    • Billionaire Heiress Lashes Out at Unions Because Her Fortune Didn’t Buy Election

      She and her family spent boatloads of money this election cycle and few of their candidates won.

      Instead, lawmakers were largely selected by these things called… ew… voters.

      She was so enraged that she used her platform as Secretary of Education – another prudent purchase by her family – to lash out at teachers unions for – get this – having too much influence!!!!!

    • Flirting with Fascism: America’s New Path?

      While academics and historians argue whether America is becoming a fascist state, Henry Giroux believes the evidence is mounting that it is. Giroux holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest. And he argues that a “savage capitalism” has moved America from a landscape of certainty to a fog of precarity. Politically, this movement creates a kind of rootlessness, and as thinkers like Eric Fromm and Hannah Arendt remind us, rootlessness can create the foundations of totalitarianism.

      Giroux points to other indicators of America’s flirtation with fascism, like the increase in racist language entering the public sphere. In his book American Nightmare, Giroux includes this quotation from public intellectual Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Not every Trump voter is a white supremacist, but every Trump voter felt it acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The art of civilised dialogue is dead

      There is something seriously wrong in the quality of our public discourse. A certain coarseness has pervasively invaded it that does little credit to our claim of being one of the oldest and most refined civilisations. People talk at each other, not to each other. Abuse, slander, malice, innuendo and below the belt diatribes, flourish. There is a brittleness in public life that recognises only absolute black and whites, cutting out all shades of grey, or doubt, or the possibility of another equally valid point of view. In short, the great art of civilised dialogue appears to be mostly dead in the world’s largest democracy.

      How has this come to pass? [...]

    • What The Heck Is Happening In That North Carolina House Race?

      The week of the election, investigators began looking into possible absentee-voter fraud in Bladen and Robeson counties, in the 9th District’s less populated eastern end. On Thursday, local media reported on several affidavits submitted by the North Carolina Democratic Party in which voters said that people came to their doors to collect their unsealed absentee ballots. One voter alleged that her ballot was incomplete at the time and that the collector said “she would finish it herself.” Another claimed to have received an absentee ballot that she did not request.

    • Laura Loomer, a far-right activist banned from Uber and Lyft after she went on an anti-Muslim rant, handcuffed herself to Twitter’s HQ after the company kicked her off the platform

      Loomer has also accused Twitter of holding up a “double standard” that allows anyone on the platform who is liberal or Muslim to do “whatever they want.” During her protest, Loomer wore a Jewish star reminiscent of the Holocaust as a symbol of what she says is rampant anti-Semitism on Twitter.

    • A shakeup at Condé Nast highlights the disruptive impact Facebook and Google are having on legacy media brands — and how they’re trying to adapt

      Condé Nast is chucking its CEO Bob Sauerberg and combining its separate US and international arms while starting an outside search for a new CEO with global experience.

    • Mic was a poster child for publishers depending on Facebook. But its demise has broader lessons for the media industry.

      Mic has emerged as a poster child for publishers’ overly relying on Facebook for traffic, only to see their audiences tumble when Facebook changes its priorities. Many publishers saw their Facebook traffic drop in January when Facebook decreased the amount of news content that users see in their news feeds.

    • Sheryl Sandberg ordered Facebook staff to investigate George Soros after he gave THIS speech (READ IT)

      If she was willing to do this over a mere billionaire, imagine what Facebook might have done in researching news organizations and reporters who are critical of Facebook?

    • George H.W. Bush’s Entitlement Cool

      THERE WAS NEVER ANY LOVE LOST BETWEEN GEORGE Herbert Walker Bush and me. How’s that for presumption? As if the Skull-and-Crossbones, blueblooded captain of the Yale baseball team, who went on to become the Director of the CIA, would give much thought to the individual reporters who covered him. Trust me, I didn’t welcome the attention, certainly not after he called his good friend and my boss, Otis Chandler, the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, to demand that I be fired.

      Before I get too far ahead of my story here, let me explain that once again, as with Jimmy Carter four years earlier, I had managed to get myself embroiled with a leading candidate for President. This time, the controversy arose over a Republican who, like Carter, was threatening to leave the pack of his party’s presidential hopefuls behind.

      By then I was no longer the gonzo journalist interviewing prominent people for the likes of Playboy; I was a national reporter for the Los Angeles Times, which at that point was still very staid; the very same paper that Richard Nixon always favored over the pinko mass media based on the East Coast. Those East Coast reporters were gutter snipes in Nixon’s mind, whereas when he called on a scribe from this West Coast publication at a press conference, he would turn to “the gentleman from the Los Angeles Times.”

    • It’s a Disgrace to Celebrate George H.W. Bush on World AIDS Day
    • Elizabeth Warren Just Took a Crucial Stand for Democracy and Enlightened Internationalism

      Warren is proposing to break the grip of billionaire campaign donors and corporate interests on US foreign policy.

    • Hilarious moment Trump wanders off G20 stage

      Trump, while off camera, is heard saying: ‘Get me out of here.’

    • Wisconsin GOP Hopes to Pull Rug Out from Under New Governor, Rig Key Supreme Court Election in Lame Duck Session

      If you pick up an election administration manual anywhere in America, what you won’t find are instructions on how to minimize voter turnout.

      But that is what is what the Wisconsin GOP is contemplating as they struggle to maintain their grip on the legislative agenda and the state Supreme Court in the face of a “blue wave” that shows no signs of receding.

      Scott Walker was swept out of office by an historic turnout November 6th, bested by State Superintendent Tony Evers, but the iron-clad gerrymander of the State Assembly meant that Democrats picked up only one seat. Now Walker and his cronies are publicly mulling a “lame duck” session to weaken Evers’ powers and move the date of a key election to make sure that their favored Supreme Court candidate, Justice Daniel Kelly, is not swept out of office in another blue wave.

      The 2020 Supreme Court election will be a pivotal one. At stake is not only the makeup of the state’s highest court, but the agenda of the newly elected Democratic governor.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The Bottomless Dishonesty of CNN on Palestine and Marc Lamont Hill Firing

      CNN has fired contributor Marc Lamont Hill for a speech he gave on Palestinian rights at the UN. The speech can be found here.

      You can protest this outrageous firing at this petition site.

      And here is a link to his book, Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond, which everyone should buy and read.

    • 7 Twitter censors more conservatives

      Twitter appears determined to destroy its own website by banning interesting, witty contributors who dare to be, shock horror, conservatives.

    • 5 movies Hollywood will never make

      Movies can help to change the world. Great movies can help to change perceptions. But there are some movies that Hollywood will not make.

      In the majority of Hollywood movies and TV series Muslims and Middle Eastern characters have been typecast to fit specific storylines. Isn’t it about time this changed.

      The fact of the matter is certain issues will remain unsaid because they are too controversial for audiences.

    • ‘Dohon’ receives uncut censor certificate

      In this action thriller, Siam plays a young drug addict, Puja plays a garment factory worker, and Zakiya Bari Mamo plays a reporter

      Jaaz Multimedia’s latest production “Dohon” received uncut certificate from Bangladesh Film Censor Board (BFCB) on Tuesday, according to their official Facebook page.

      The film will hit the cinema on Friday, and the production company is running a promotional campaign for its release.

      This is the second film, starring the popular newcomer duo Siam Ahmed and Puja Chery, after “Poramon 2.” In a press statement issued Tuesday afternoon, the film’s producer and Jaaz Multimedia owner Abdul Aziz said: “We are hoping ‘Dohon’ will be more commercially successful than ‘Poramon 2’.”

    • Russian Rappers Hold Solidarity Concert for Detained Musician, Blast Censorship

      A group of popular Russian hip hop artists staged a concert in Moscow on Monday night in support of a rapper who was detained last week in what critics called the latest expression of censorship against independent Russian artists.

      The rapper, who performs under the stage name Husky, was detained in southern Russia on Nov. 21 after local authorities raided a venue in which he had been scheduled to perform over alleged “extremist activity.” Husky was released on Monday after a public outcry, hours before the solidarity concert was scheduled to take place in Moscow. Russian artists have spoken out against increasing pressure from the authorities in recent months, which has included bans on music videos and songs over indecent lyrics and alleged extremism.

    • The CIA’s dank Soviet meme stash

      For as long as it’s existed, the Central Intelligence Agency has used Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) in its hunt for information that could serve as fuel for its analysis. This often meant simply reading major foreign newspapers, and monitoring for trends. When it came to understanding foreign cultural movements, CIA took it a step further – they studied the political cartoons of foreign countries. Cartoons that were essentially memes. As then-CIA Director William Casey explained in a 1985 memo to the White House, “pictures can tell what they’re thinking about how they’re being conditioned in Moscow.”

    • How will Google plug into China’s all-encompassing internet censorship regime?

      After deflecting questions from reporters for months, CEO Sundar Pichai acknowledged in October Google’s plan to build a mobile app that will serve Chinese users — and thus comply with Chinese government censorship mandates.

      But big questions remain. Namely, how will this actually work? To keep the censors happy, Google will need to invest significant human, financial and technical resources to keep up with China’s unique and exhaustive approach to controlling online information and speech. While the company may be prepared to make some concessions (and substantial investments) in order to enter the Chinese market, this move will force Google to undermine its own commitments ”to advancing privacy and freedom of expression for [its] users around the world”.

    • Google Workers Sign Letter Seeking End to China Project

      A group of Google employees has signed a public letter calling on the company to abandon its plans for a Chinese search product that censors results.

      Project Dragonfly, as the initiative is known, would enable state surveillance at a time when the Chinese government is expanding controls over the population, according to the letter signed initially by at least 10 employees, predominately software engineers and researchers. The document also called on management to commit to transparency, be accountable and provide clear communication.

      Ever since plans for Dragonfly emerged in August, Google parent Alphabet Inc. has been riven by internal dissent at the prospect of a search engine bending to Beijing’s censorship. It was that sort of government control that prompted co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to effectively pull out of China in 2010 when it decided to stop removing controversial links from web queries.

    • South Africa: Kekana Calls for Investigation On SABC Censorship

      Investigation into the censorship allegations at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

      This follows allegations of censorship by the SABC, which occurred during the appearance of SABC board members and its executive before the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).

      Portfolio committee members noted that during the SABC’s appearances, coverage by the SABC focused exclusively on board members and the executive, thus creating the impression that parliamentarians’ oversight duties were not being conducted.

    • The silencing of Pakistan

      Pakistan is silencing discussion on a growing number of topics, causing concern among human rights activists, journalists and political dissidents in the country. A Committee to Protect Journalists report published in September this year concluded that the country’s powerful military establishment is using fear, intimidation and even violence to pressure the media to self-censor. In October, journalists and media workers held rallies across the country to protest against measures aimed at curbing newspapers’ circulation and TV channels’ transmission in certain areas. A number of high-profile TV anchors who were critical of the security establishment’s interference in Pakistani politics were fired from their positions.

    • In academia, censorship and conformity have become the norm

      A new academic journal, titled The Journal of Controversial Ideas, launching in the new year, will be peer-reviewed and offer a diverse range of viewpoints, calling upon liberals, conservatives, as well as those who are religious and secular, to submit their work. Most notably, it will allow academics to publish under pseudonyms.

      Much of the response to this journal has been criticism alleging that only academics with hateful ideas would require the option to publish under a pseudonym. In truth, facts today are deemed controversial if they deviate from accepted narratives, and professors must self-censor out of fear of being condemned and losing their jobs.

      Based on conversations I’ve had with colleagues still working in academia and from what I can tell about recent cases of censorship, the antagonism is primarily from left-leaning colleagues attacking other liberals. The problem has been increasing and was the reason I chose to leave the field of sex research.

    • Belgium: student bureaucrats censor anti-racist struggle

      On 8 November, the student council of the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, VUB) refused to recognise a student Marxist society, set up by the IMT in Brussels (Vonk – Marxistische jongeren), on the grounds that our organisation is… anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-fascist! We reiterate: this was a decision taken by the majority of the student council, not the university bosses.

    • Social Media Censorship

      Laura Loomer stops by The Rob Maness Show to discuss how social media companies have been censoring her and many others just doing their job, but only when it pertains to the right and what “they” don’t agree with.

    • Chinese translation app censors words – but not on iPhone – Cult of Mac
    • Artistic freedom in Hong Kong: self-censorship, culture of fear growing, creatives say

      Wen Yau’s eyes were covered with a blindfold made of the China flag. Slowly, carefully, she inched her way forward with one hand outstretched, feeling her way through space. In the other hand she held a blank sign – a silent protest against self-censorship.

      She had performed a similar piece back in 2014 during the Occupy Central mass protest, but felt compelled to blind herself once again for others to see.

    • A Chinese translation app is censoring politically sensitive terms, report says

      More Chinese tech firms are erring on the side of caution when it comes to policing content on their platforms.

      iFlytek, a voice recognition technology provider in China, has begun censoring politically sensitive terms from its translation app, South China Morning Post reported citing a tweet by Jane Manchun Wong. Wong is a software engineer who tweets frequently about hidden features she uncovers by performing app reverse-engineering.

    • China’s iFlytek censors politically sensitive terms on its translation app

      Voice-recognition technology provider iFlytek, one of China’s designated artificial intelligence (AI) champions, has censored politically sensitive terms from its popular translation app amid the government’s broader campaign to clean up online content.
      The Android version of the company’s iFlyTranslate app has removed items such as “Tiananmen”, “independence” and the name of China’s President, “Xi Jinping”, from showing up as results in its system.
      A voice query of those items on the app will return a text translation without the sensitive word or name, and in some cases no results are returned at all, according to a recent tweet by Jane Manchun Wong, a software engineer who regularly reverse-engineers apps to uncover hidden features.

    • Bring in ratings instead of imposing censorship: Mehra

      There is a need to have a rating system, instead of censorship, in Indian cinema to determine the age-group suitability of a film, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra told TOI. The filmmaker who was attending the 49th International Film Festival of India said that ratings are used in the West to indicate if people of all ages can watch a film or not.

      “I think there should be no censorship. There should be a rating system. It is important for a government agency to give film certification and not censorship,” he said.

    • Judge censors TV Globo’s coverage of Marielle Franco’s murder

      Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a judge’s “disproportionate” decision to ban TV Globo, Brazil’s biggest TV channel, from broadcasting any further information about the police investigation into the murder of a well-known Rio de Janeiro city councillor. This ban censors public interest reporting on a major political case, RSF says.

      A Rio de Janeiro state judge issued the ban on 17 November after TV Globo broadcast two reports on 14 November based on information obtained from the police investigation into the fatal shootings of city councillor and human rights activist Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes on 14 March.

    • Google employees push to cancel Chinese search engine in new letter
    • Google employees condemn China censorship plans
    • Google staff protest against Chinese censored search engine project
    • China’s ‘responsive’ authoritarianism
    • Google employees revolt as Chinese censorship project gains traction
    • Russia Opens Probe After Google Doesn’t Censor Search Results

      Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor opened an official investigation into Google after the company failed to censor certain Search results for its users in the transcontinental country, the agency said Monday. The probe is predicted to run until next month when the regulator will make a final decision of whether to pursue the matter in the court of law. The actual contents of Google’s alleged “administrative violations” haven’t been disclosed, with Roskomnadzor’s announcement of the investigation only containing vague references to Russian censorship laws that require Internet companies to censor “illegal” information, which in turn is defined by other legislation. The Mountain View, California-based company has yet to publicly reflect on the situation.

    • Why We Need Anti-Censorship Legislation For Social Media, Stat
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Is Censoring The Designs Of Female Spirits
    • Israel blocks Hamas sites as military censor fights alleged IDF raid leaks
    • Congress Investigates Twitter Over Censorship
    • Artists Fight Increasing Censorship in Cuba

      Cuban artists and international rights activists are pushing the government to revise legislation due to take effect in December that they fear will hamper creativity and increase censorship on the Communist-run island.

      The decree, published in July, bars artists, be they musicians or painters, from “providing their services” in any space open to the public, including private venues, without prior government approval.

      It updates a decree redacted before the market reforms launched in 2010 by former President Raul Castro, which required them only to get approval to operate in state-run spaces.

    • China: The Mastery of Internet Censorship

      Freedom House, a watchdog organization that advocates for political freedom around the world, reported that China has recently begun working with a cohort of countries to expand so-called digital authoritarianism. This export of censorship may well lead to a global decline in Internet freedom. After all, nine state-run operators maintain China’s gateways to the global internet, enabling authorities to cut off cross-border information requests. This means that all service providers must subscribe through these operators, which function under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

      It is no secret that Chinese internet regulations are very stringent. Since there are no hard rules regarding freedom of the press, speech or expression on the internet, the government may decide to censor content whenever it sees fit. In the past, China has even censored Winnie the Pooh— people thought the character resembled Xi and often derisively referred to him as “Pooh.” In addition, the government censored talk show host John Oliver’s name, because he mocked the president in an episode of Last Week Tonight.

    • Freedom of speech for me, not thee: tyrannies of social media censorship

      The election of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president proved the power of social media. No, not in the way Russians formed silly and ineffective Facebook groups in opposition to Hillary Clinton. Rather, it was what the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) discovered. In a study conducted shortly after Trump’s victory. CJR found it was average folks passing along political content (via Facebook, Twitter, and Google) from the Trump-supporting Breitbart and Daily Caller websites. The forwarding of these stories to their aunt Martha and cousin Tom proved the deciding factor in Clinton’s defeat.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Multiple threats from EU’s GDPR to today’s corporate surveillance and targeted advertising system

      Eighteen months ago, Privacy News Online wrote about how pervasive corporate surveillance is threatening the privacy of everyone who uses the Internet. Nearly every move people make online is being tracked and recorded. This is not in order to spy on the public directly, but to create vast databases about people’s interests and habits, which can then be sold to advertisers.

      [...]

      Any of these complaints, if successful, could have a major impact on the way that advertising works online. However, at the moment, they are only complaints, which may lead nowhere. That’s what makes a recent development involving France’s data protection regulator, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), so significant: it is a final ruling that will affect how all EU data protection bodies will operate, since they are all implementing the same law – the GDPR.

      CNIL’s decision strikes at the root of real-time bidding, which works by sending out personal information to many potential advertisers, who then use automated systems to make bids to place advertisements on a Web page. The GDPR requires those targeted to consent to their personal data being shared in this way. That’s clearly difficult, since it is not known in advance which companies will be sent the data. To get around that, the ad industry employs what are sometimes known as “consent management platforms”. These are typically screens that are presented to visitors to a site, offering them the chance to specify which personal data can be sent to other companies. The idea is that people can pre-authorize the sharing of their personal data with many sites.

      However, in a landmark ruling, CNIL has said that this does not satisfy the requirements of the GDPR. Instead, companies have to be able to show that they have checked they really do have permission from everyone whose data they receive as part of the real-time bidding process. What makes this particularly bad news for the advertising industry in the EU is that it seems to apply to a very widely-used framework for managing GDPR “consent flow” that has been created by the industry trade association and standards body, IAB Europe.

    • GCHQ opens up about concealing cyber threats from global community

      In a series of publications from GCHQ and the NCSC, security directors explain why and how it keeps security threats a secret
      GCHQ and NCSC have revealed that when they encounter vulnerabilities in its tech, including the technology that other government departments and some businesses use, they don’t always inform the vendor.

      In an impressive display in transparency, the two national security agencies said that during daily operations, analysts working at GCHQ or other areas of government sometimes encounter vulnerabilities and while its default stance on the situation is to notify the vendor as soon as practicable, “sometimes – after weighing up the implications – we decide to keep the fact of the vulnerability secret and develop intelligence capabilities with it”.

      Stockpiling exploits doesn’t have a strong history. Most recently, the WannaCry ransomware, which cost the NHS an estimated £92 million, was so successful as a result of stolen exploit information from the NSA. While the NCSC understands that its process might not be met with everyone’s approval, the logic is sound.

    • Theresa May spokesman sparks fresh suspicion of British ‘spying’ on EU officials

      Theresa May’s director of communications, Robbie Gibb, has re-opened suspicions that British intelligence bugged European Union officials during Brexit talks. Gibb revealed to an audience of senior business figures that Downing Street held “intelligence, including pages and pages of transcriptions of conversations” and knew “what the Europeans are thinking”.

      Details of Gibb’s comments to the Enterprise Forum in London earlier this week, which have been obtained by openDemocracy, are understood to have been passed to the office of Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator.

      EU officials, given a full account of what Gibb told the private business gathering, are said to be privately “furious” that Number 10 appeared to be boasting about covert surveillance, rather than the agreed Brexit deal, according to a source connected to Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand.

      In August this year Weyand is reported to have privately told the European Council’s Article 50 Working Party to not rule out that British intelligence had penetrated EU private meetings, which evaluated progress on the Brexit talks.

    • DOJ continues push for encrypted comms

      The Department of Justice continues to pressure tech companies to provide workarounds for law enforcement to access encrypted apps and devices during investigations, even as DOJ officials decline to outline specific proposals that would address longstanding security and privacy concerns.

      In a Nov. 29 speech at Georgetown University Law School, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein lamented the culture of lax security and first-to-market mentality that has left many commercial devices and apps insecure while also advocating for increased access for law enforcement to bypass encryption of those same devices and apps.

    • UK’s NCSC Explains How They Handle Discovered Vulnerabilities

      When the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) performs operational tasks, they may find technology vulnerabilities.

    • AWS ready for court over encryption

      AWS CISO Steve Schmidt says the company is prepared to take the Australian Government to court if the proposed encryption legislation requires it to build backdoors.

      Speaking to journalists at this week’s AWS re:Invent conference, Schmidt said the best way to protect data from state access was to encrypt it with keys that stay under the user’s control.

    • Electric vehicle makers serving up customer location data to China on a silver platter

      Apparently, the Chinese government has demanded that Tesla vehicles purchased in China send a steady stream of information concerning the vehicle’s whereabouts and who knows what else to the Chinese government, in real-time. It’s some greasy, invasive bullshit that comes at a time when China, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on dissent, privacy and freedoms in the country.

      At the very least, Tesla isn’t alone: other makers of electric vehicles are being forced to make their customers’ information available to the Chinese government as well.

    • In China, your car could be talking to the government

      More than 200 manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and U.S.-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed monitoring centers, The Associated Press has found. Generally, it happens without car owners’ knowledge.

      The automakers say they are merely complying with local laws, which apply only to alternative energy vehicles. Chinese officials say the data is used for analytics to improve public safety, facilitate industrial development and infrastructure planning, and to prevent fraud in subsidy programs.

    • Alphabet Aims to Win Over Toronto With Affordable Housing

      Sidewalk Labs LLC, the urban innovation unit of Google parent Alphabet says about 40 percent of the 2,500 residential units on the 4.9-hectare (12-acre) development dubbed “Quayside,” will be below-market housing, including 20 percent affordable. Just over half will be purpose-built rental.

    • Beijing Won’t Brook Corporate Competition in Spying

      China’s Consumer Association on Wednesday issued a statement saying that 91 percent of the apps it tested were suspected of collecting too much data. Meitu’s photo-editing app, as well as products from NetEase Inc. and China Mobile Ltd., are among those in the firing line.

    • If your electric car manufacturer knows where you are, China may too

      Tesla is not alone. China has called upon all electric vehicle manufacturers in China to make the same kind of reports potentially adding to the rich kit of surveillance tools available to the Chinese government as President Xi Jinping steps up the use of technology to track Chinese citizens.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Authoritarianism, powered by the Cloud

      China’s social-credit sytem has been making headlines in the West of late. It was first launched in 2014 with the aim of ‘strengthening sincerity in government affairs’, to ‘improve government credibility and establish an honest image of an open, fair and clean government’. Since then the Chinese government has proceeded – in its usual technocratic manner – to develop a total monitoring system to ensure that its ‘good behaviour’ model is rolled out across society. There is no escape.

      The initial party directive centres on the need to ‘build a harmonious socialist market economy. A relentless armoury of rewards and punishments is used to ensure that good behaviour is feted and anti-social behaviour eradicated. It gives marks – or credits – to individuals who engage in socially worthy activities, and black marks to those indulging in dishonest, nefarious, illegal or simply anti-social activities. The intention is to ‘raise the entire society’s sense of sincerity’. It is currently being piloted and will be rolled out across the country by 2020.

    • #ThotAudit is just the latest tactic people are using to harass sex workers online

      Online harassment of sex workers has existed as long as sex workers have been online — and it has often served as a harbinger of what’s to come for non-sex-working harassment victims. Three years before Gamergate — the campaign that helped bring online harassment into mainstream awareness — porn performers experienced a mass harassment campaign of their own. A database connected to what was then the leading health clinic for the adult industry was hacked and the personal information of hundreds of porn performers — including their legal names and home addresses — was posted online, exposing numerous porn performers to stalking and offline harassment, and even outing them to friends and family members.

    • With Trump’s Justice Department Retreating, Who Will Now Police the Police?

      Last month, a video was released of two police officers in Elkhart, Indiana, repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the face. The episode was just the latest in a long-troubled Police Department where nearly all of its supervisors have disciplinary records.

      This is the sort of problem that Congress sought to address in 1994 when it authorized the Justice Department to overhaul troubled local police agencies under court-monitored consent decrees. These agreements lay out a reform plan negotiated by federal law enforcement officials and the local government.

    • The corporations that helped a Confederate apologist hold a Senate seat

      Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi won a special runoff election this week to the U.S. Senate seat she was appointed to fill earlier this year after Thad Cochran resigned for health reasons. She defeated Democratic challenger Mike Espy, former congressman and U.S. agriculture secretary under President Clinton, by a 55-45 margin. Her win expands the GOP’s Senate majority to 53 of 100 seats and makes her Mississippi’s first woman U.S. senator. She will face re-election in 2020.

      Hyde-Smith is a former state senator, agriculture commissioner (she and her husband operate a cattle sale barn), and Democrat who switched parties in 2010, citing her “belief of conservative policies.” In an officially nonpartisan “jungle primary” held on Nov. 6 that included tea party Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel and first-time Democratic candidate Tobey Bartee, a retired military intelligence officer, Hyde-Smith and Espy each captured about 41 percent of the vote, leading to the Nov. 27 two-person runoff.

      Despite competing in a GOP stronghold, Hyde-Smith worried her party by making a controversial statement earlier this month while campaigning with a local cattle rancher in Tupelo. “If he invited me to a public hanging,” she said of the supporter, “I’d be in the front row.” Mississippi is the state that experienced the greatest number of lynchings of black people in U.S. history. Hyde-Smith is white while Espy is African-American; had he won, he would have been the state’s first black senator since Reconstruction. Hyde-Smith defended the remark as an “exaggerated expression of regard.”

      The “hanging” remark was not the only racial controversy to dog Hyde-Smith during the campaign. She was captured on video joking about making it harder for liberals to vote. She came under fire for co-sponsoring a measure as a state senator that praised a Confederate soldier’s effort to “defend his homeland” and took a revisionist view of the Civil War. She was criticized for posting photos to Facebook of herself wearing a Confederate cap and holding a rifle during a visit to the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Biloxi and another with neo-Confederate activist Greg Stewart who was previously associated with Free Mississippi, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classified as a hate group, and writing that this represented “Mississippi history at its best!” (One of her first acts as state senator was to introduce a bill to rename a portion of a highway after Davis; it died in committee.) She also faced questions for attending a so-called “segregation academy” — a private school created to skirt government integration orders — and for sending her daughter to one as well.

    • The Left and Our Fight Against Anti-Semitism

      After the massacre of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in late October, people flocked to social media and to the streets with messages of unity and collective opposition to the anti-Semitism behind the killing.

      It didn’t take long, however, for the forces of racism and reaction to turn their outrage on the main people capable of mobilizing opposition to the rising tide of anti-Semitism: broadly speaking, the left and the social movements.

      After the 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which anti-racist protester Heather Heyer was murdered, people around the world responded with horror to Trump’s comment that there were “good people on both sides.”

      The left argued — rightly — that it is unconscionable to equate whatever violence might take place on the anti-fascist/anti-racist left with the violence of a movement rooted in calls for ethnic cleansing and genocide. But people in the political center were taken aback by Trump’s apologia for white supremacy.

      Yet after last month’s shooting, much of the mainstream response was cut from the same cloth as Trump’s.

    • Our Elites Refuse to Accept Responsibility for Leaving Behind the Left Behind

      There have been several analyses of the 2018 election results showing that the Republican regions are disproportionately areas that lag in income and growth. In response, we are seeing a minor industry develop on what we can do to help the left behinds.

      The assumption in this analysis is that being left behind is the result of the natural workings of the market — developments in technology and trade — not any conscious policy decisions implemented in Washington. This is quite obviously not true and it is remarkable how this assumption can go unchallenged in policy circles.

      Just to take the most obvious example, the natural workings of the market were about to put most of the financial industry out of business in the fall of 2008. In the wake of the collapse of Lehman, leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties could not run fast enough to craft a government bailout package to save the big banks, almost all of whom were facing bankruptcy due to their own incompetence and corruption.

      It is worth contrasting this race to bailout with the malign neglect associated with loss of 3.4 million jobs in manufacturing (20 percent of the total) between 2000 and 2007 (pre-crash). This job loss was primarily due to an explosion in the trade deficit. The latter was due to an over-valued dollar, which in turn was attributable to currency management by China and other countries, that kept their currencies below the market level.

      While most economists now acknowledge the impact of China’s currency management, at the time there was a great effort to pretend that this was all just the natural workings of the market. The loss of jobs, and the destruction of families and communities, was not a major concern in elite circles, unlike the prospect of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup going bankrupt.

    • Intolerance, Portland-Style

      Portland, Oregon, has a reputation as being deep “blue,” a liberal bastion where Republicans get no traction. And it’s true. Hillary got 3/4 of the vote in Multnomah County, which is dominated by the Portland metro. But it has been breeding its own forms of intolerance that, though they are being produced by people ostensibly in opposition to Trump, are part and parcel of the same race to the bottom.

      [...]

      What do I mean by Trumpism? It’s the current flavor of what, in the 80’s, started out under Reagan as “creeping fascism,” but which is now what we might call “leaping fascism.” Though I just mentioned two Republicans, it’s actually bipartisan in nature, or, considering the number of US Americans who are aligned with neither major party, non-partisan. Clinton and Obama had as much to do with bringing about the current cultural climate, which is one of fear and repression. The walls have been systematically closing in, the noose gradually tightening, the boot steadily increasing its force on our face. No relief whatsoever has been offered from above. Worse yet, the peer pressure has intensified. Our attacks on each other have escalated.

      A place like the co-op, with its history of dissidence (mild, but legitimate), should be a center of real resistance to Trumpism. Instead, it ends up expressing it in its own way, on its own terms. As Trumpism seeks to narrow the range of the acceptable, what we need to do is to widen the scope of discussion. If the collective mind is closing, we must step into the breach and wrench it back open. As the society tries to smother us, we should struggle, throw it off, and do what we need to do to breathe free.

      Liberation is not gained through limitation. Quite the opposite. Yet, what we are seeing in places like the co-op, in cities like Portland — in the “blue” places, in other words — is a tightening of the screws. Rules that are supposed to protect are instead inventing an exclusivity. Rather than throwing the doors open and inviting all comers to shake off the yoke and fight the power, we are getting clubs: members-only spaces with requirements that continually grow more specific. The range of the acceptable is shrinking at an alarming rate. That’s Trumpism. It’s not just top-down, it’s also bottom-up and side-to-side and every other way it can go.

    • Trump and the Courts: the Polish Precedent

      The Trump has been busy with so many things he didn’t notice that his right wing friend in Poland just took a left turn. Until that happened, they were like two peas in a pod.

      Jaroslaw Kaczyński is to Poland, what Trump is to the United States. According to a report in The Guardian, he is considered the leader and driving force behind the Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland, and in that capacity, has hand picked leaders of the country, and made decisions that affect its future. Among other things, he gave impetus to legislation that took control of the Constitutional Tribunal that is responsible for determining the constitutionality of legislation, and took over the agency responsible for selecting new judges.

      In April 2018, at the urging of the PiS and Mr. Kaczyńsk, a law was passed that lowered the retirement age for judges to 65, and provided that all judges who reached that age by July 3, 2018, would have to retire. The PiS said that change was needed to rid the court of communist judges and improve its efficiency.

      The Trump was understandably envious of Mr. Kaczynski’s ability to control the courts in Poland. The only thing the Trump could do with respect to the courts and judges he didn’t like in the United States, was to rail against them and he did that with great enthusiasm.

      [...]

      The description of a judge as an “Obama judge” was too much for John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. In a statement released by the Court’s public information office, the Chief Justice said that the U.S. “doesn’t have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges, or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”

      The Chief Justice’s response was not well received by the Trump. It so angered him that after he’d had a pleasant afternoon of golf at Mar a Lago, playing with Jack Nicklaus, he took time out of his busy schedule to fire off a tweet contradicting the Chief Justice. He said that the country does have “Obama judges” and those judges have a much different point of view “than the people charged with the safety of our country.” The Trump went on to say that “It’s a disgrace what happens in the 9th Circuit.”

    • Netanyahu’s Predicament: The Era of Easy Wars is over

      When Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered his army to carry out a limited operation in the besieged Gaza Strip on November 12, he certainly did not anticipate that his military adventure would destabilize his government and threaten the very survival of his right-wing coalition.

      But it did, far more than the multiple police investigations into various corruption cases involving Netanyahu’s family and closest aides.

    • Netanyahu Faces Another Possible Indictment for Bribe to Get Glowing Media Coverage

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing calls to resign after Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting him and his wife on fraud and bribery charges.

      It’s the third such recommendation to hit the prime minister this year.

    • The First-Ever National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Was Just Unveiled—And It’s a Game Changer

      When Rosa Sanluis arrived in the United States, she earned $60 per week for a seemingly endless set of household tasks, working for a family in Texas. She worked from 5 a.m. until late at night, sometimes 3 a.m. on weekends, when her employers would go out and leave her to babysit. Like most domestic workers, Sanluis didn’t receive a written contract, uninterrupted breaks, sick leave, or overtime pay—because she wasn’t entitled to them under law.

      Today, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) announced a National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights to raise wages and labor conditions for workers like Sanluis. The legislation is expected to be introduced when the new Congress convenes next year.

    • The DNA Industry’s Role in the Erosion of Native Rights

      Amid the barrage of racist, anti-immigrant, and other attacks launched by President Trump and his administration in recent months, a series of little noted steps have threatened Native American land rights and sovereignty. Such attacks have focused on tribal sovereignty, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and the voting rights of Native Americans, and they have come from Washington, the courts, and a state legislature. What they share is a single conceptual framework: the idea that the long history that has shaped U.S.-Native American relations has no relevance to today’s realities.

      Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated event, Senator Elizabeth Warren, egged on by Donald Trump’s “Pocahontas” taunts and his mocking of her claims to native ancestry, triumphantly touted her DNA results to “prove” her Native American heritage. In turning to the burgeoning, for-profit DNA industry, however, she implicitly lent her progressive weight to claims about race and identity that go hand in hand with moves to undermine Native sovereignty.

      The DNA industry has, in fact, found a way to profit from reviving and modernizing antiquated ideas about the biological origins of race and repackaging them in a cheerful, Disneyfied wrapping. While it’s true that the it’s-a-small-world-after-all multiculturalism of the new racial science rejects nineteenth-century scientific racism and Social Darwinism, it is offering a twenty-first-century version of pseudoscience that once again reduces race to a matter of genetics and origins. In the process, the corporate-promoted ancestry fad conveniently manages to erase the histories of conquest, colonization, and exploitation that created not just racial inequality but race itself as a crucial category in the modern world.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T May Sell 10% Stake in Hulu, Worth Up to $930 Million, Potentially Giving Disney More Control

      If AT&T sells the WarnerMedia stake in Hulu, that could bulk up Disney’s ownership in the streaming TV company — giving the Mouse House even more incentive to invest in Hulu and expand it to international markets. Disney already is set to assume a majority ownership stake of 60% in Hulu under its deal to buy big chunks of 21st Century Fox’s assets, a transaction expected to close in the first half of 2019.

    • Your 4K Netflix Streaming Is on a Collision Course With Your ISP’s Data Caps

      The problem: As monthly household bandwidth consumption soars courtesy of 4K Netflix streaming and other new services, many broadband users are likely to run into usage caps and overage fees that jack up their monthly rates.

      Critics have long argued that broadband usage caps are arbitrary and unnecessary network limits imposed simply to increase revenues and punish users who cancel a telecom operator’s traditional pay TV service, but retain their broadband services.

    • A Message from Internet Archive Founder, Brewster Kahle

      This is it. Today, a generous supporter will match your donation. So your $5 gift becomes $10 for the Internet Archive. That’s right, for the price of a paperback, you can sustain a library the whole world trusts.

    • HTTP/3 is the next coming HTTP version.

      This time TCP is replaced by the new transport protocol QUIC and things are different yet again! This is a presentation about HTTP/3 and QUIC with a following Q&A about everything HTTP.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patents And Competition Policies: What Is The Degree Of Compatibility?

      The basic objective of any competition policy is to ensure that there is legal entry/ exit of firms and smooth functioning of companies without the exercise of any malpractices. Some prominent anti-competitive practices are collusive bidding, abuse of dominant position, refusal to provide goods, exacting excessive prices for products etc. which adversely affect the competition in a particular market. There is a very close link between intellectual property rights and the competition laws or policies of a land. Where on one hand, intellectual property rights complement the competition policies by safeguarding the rights of the inventor in the market from exploitation by other competitors; on the other hand, the competition policies prevent any abuse of rights at the hand of the intellectual property owners.

    • Delaware Jury Awards $24 Million Royalty to Bio-Rad and University of Chicago, Finds Patent Infringement Willful

      On Tuesday, November 13th, a jury in the United Stated Federal District Court for the District of Delaware delivered a verdict awarding nearly $24 million dollars in reasonable royalty damages to plaintiffs Bio-Rad Laboratories and the University of Chicago. Along with finding that defendant 10x Genomics had infringed upon patents covering genetic analysis technologies, the jury also found that 10x Genomics’ infringement was willful and found it “highly unprobable” (i.e., the words of the jury verdict form) that the asserted patent claims were valid.

      [...]

      The past year has been very active in terms of legal proceedings which are taking place between Bio-Rad and 10x Genomics according to data collected from Lex Machina. In January of this year, Bio-Rad filed a separate patent infringement case against 10x Genomics in the Northern District of California where it alleged more willful patent infringement claims against 10x Genomics based on claims asserted from a separate series of four patents covering genomic sequencing technologies. Then in October, Bio-Rad filed another complaint in the District of Delaware alleging patent infringement. In both complaints, Bio-Rad noted that a collection of former employees left the company to found 10x Genomics in 2012 to compete in the genetic testing field.

    • Defensive Collateral Estoppel Applies Only if Essentially Identical Accused Product Found Non-infringing

      The Federal Circuit recently issued an opinion vacating the District of Delaware’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement based on collateral estoppel. Specifically, the Federal Circuit held that collateral estoppel did not apply because material differences existed between the accused products in the two actions. The Court remanded for further proceedings. ArcelorMittal Atlantique et Lorraine v. AK Steel Corp., No. 17-1637, 2018 (Fed Cir. Oct. 5, 2018) (Before Reyna, Wallach, and Hughes, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the court, Reyna, Circuit Judge).

      The asserted U.S. Patent No. RE44,940 (the RE940 patent) relates to boron steel sheets that become highly mechanically resistant when hot-stamped—a process in which steel blanks are rapidly heated, inserted into a stamping machine, stamped into a particular shape, and then rapidly cooled. The representative claim 17 of the RE940 patent is a product-by-process claim. The claimed “thermal treatment’” of the steel sheets results in “mechanical resistance in excess of 1500 MPa,” a quality that is highly desirable for auto part production. The RE940 patent is a reissue of US Patent No. 6,296,805 (the ‘805 patent) with nearly identical claims, and both are owned by ArcelorMittal.

    • The PTAB Is Not an Article III Court, Part 1: A Primer on Federal Agency Rule Making

      What rules may the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) promulgate? What procedures must the agency follow when it promulgates a rule? What effect do various rules have? Some are binding against the public, some are only hortatory. Some require extensive rule making procedure, some can be promulgated with the stroke of a pen. Some are unilateral in binding only agency employees but not the public. And some are simply invalid. How is agency rule making power different than an Article III court’s?

      Administrative law expertise is becoming more and more important to successful representation of clients in intellectual property matters. This article gives an overview of the basic framework of agency rule making. In particular, I provide a table that classifies agency rules-this table simplifies and clarifies a great deal of overly complicated discussion in the standard administrative law treatises. This table and its discussion describe the choices and trade-offs that agencies face in their rule making decisions, and the opportunities that those choices create for parties before the agency. Expertise in administrative law and agency rule making can guide agency tribunals to favorable decisions, and present compelling arguments to courts after unfavorable decisions.

    • U.S. Patent Litigation Juries and a Solution for Improving Jury Comprehension

      The right to a trial by jury is a basic and fundamental feature of American federal jurisprudence, protected by the Seventh Amendment. Over the past several decades, patent litigation has gone through several transformations in an effort to resolve disputes fairly and efficiently.

      The Apple-Samsung trial increased the publicity of high profile patent litigation cases and provoked skepticism from legal scholars on the validity of the current patent litigation system. Judge Richard Posner mistrusted judges’ and jurors’ abilities to decide complex patent cases effectively. Judge Posner, and others, argue that it’s time to end jury trials in patent cases.

      However, improvements can be made to the current patent litigation system without eliminating patent jury trials. This article focuses on the current U.S. patent litigation system, patent litigation systems in other countries, current revisions to improve U.S. patent litigation trials, and proposes a mixed jury solution to ensure jurors fully understand the complex and technical facts of a patent case.

    • Distinguishing between “Res Judicata” and “Law of the Case”

      In 2013, accused-infringer DeLorme signed a stipulated settlement with the ITC agreeing to stop importing products certain products accused of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,991,380. Later that year, the ITC re-opened the action — finding that DeLorme violated the Consent Order and assessed a $6.2 million penalty. Subsequently, a district court found the asserted patent claims invalid. Those cases were appealed and the Federal Circuit and the court affirmed both: (1) agreeing that the patent was invalid, but that DeLorme was still liable for violating the Consent Order. DeLorme Publ’g Co. v. BriarTek, 622 Fed. App’x. 912 (Fed. Cir. 2015).

      Following the Federal Circuit decision, DeLorme petitioned the ITC to rescind the civil penalty in light of the invalidity finding — based upon “changed conditions
      in fact or law or in the public interest.” 19 C.F.R. § 210.76. However, the Commission refused act — finding the whole matter “res judicata” based upon the prior Federal Circuit decision.

      Now on appeal, the Federal Circuit has sided with DeLorme — finding that the ITC improperly relied upon estoppel principles to refuse to reconsider its civil penalty.

    • Copyrights

      • The EU took the word “filters” out of the Copyright Directive, but it’s still all about filters

        Some drafts of Article 13 of the pending EU Copyright Directive no longer contain the word “filters” — because the world’s leading technical, legal and human rights experts all say these will lead to widespread censorship of legitimate, noninfringing materials.

        But it doesn’t take a lot of work to understand that the Directive still mandates filters. In a nutshell, if you demand that, say, Youtube must vet all of the 300 hours of new video it receives every minute to ensure it doesn’t infringe copyright, with massive penalties for letting even a single frame of infringing material through, there just isn’t any other conceivable way to even approximate that, apart from filters.

      • Scammers Hit Pirate Game Sites With ‘Irreversible’ Google Takedowns

        Scammers are abusing Google’s takedown system to remove popular game piracy sites from search results. The notices are not standard DMCA notifications. They accuse the sites of circumventing DRM instead, which means that there is no counter-notification option available. Making matters worse, malware-ridden sites are now rising in Google’s search results.

      • Sci-Hub “Pirate Bay of Science” Blocked in Russia Over Medical Studies

        Many of Sci-Hub’s domains have been blocked in Russia following a complaint from academic publisher Springer Nature. According to a complaint filed with the Moscow City Court, the ‘pirate’ research paper platform offered three studies covering heart and brain health without obtaining an appropriate license.

      • Ahead of ’2.0′ release, Madras HC orders blocking of 12,000 piracy [sic] sites including Tamilrockers

        Ahead of Rajinikanth-starrer ‘ 2.0′ release on Thursday, the Madras High Court has directed 37 [Internet] service providers (ISPs) to block over 12,000 websites that exhibit pirated versions of Tamil movies. The list includes more than 2,000 websites operated by ‘TamilRockers.’

11.07.18

Techrights Turns 12, Upcoming Server Migration

Posted in Site News at 9:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As we approach our 25,000th blog post we also prepare for migration to a new dedicated server

AS some have noticed already, we’re turning 12 this week (exact day dependent on what’s measured/noted, e.g. first post or domain registration). 24,675 blog posts later, in addition to Wiki pages and static pages, probably put us at over 30,000 pages in total. In a sense, turning 12 doesn’t matter much or as much as keeping up the momentum and being active. A lot of sites just go dormant, inactive. But not us. I’m thankful for the fact that my daytime/nighttime job (which helps cover the costs of running the site) can be done from home, leaving me enough time to run the site in my spare time. The site is like a hobby and it’s the only way to keep it totally independent.

“The site is like a hobby and it’s the only way to keep it totally independent.”We’ll soon start a site migration after a decade with the same host, who saved us from persistent, days-long DDOS attacks almost exactly decade ago (these DDOS attacks forced us offline for several consecutive days). Hopefully the migration will go smoothly; there’s a lot of stuff to migrate and the setup isn’t simple. There’s also heavy load on the server, which proves challenging at times. When we start/initiate the migration at the domain name level we’ll give a headsup to readers. We hope no downtime will be needed.

10.15.18

Corporate Media’s Failure to Cover Patents Properly and Our New Hosting Woes

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 3:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We can’t let these people get their way with patent maximalism and UPC

The three Frenchmen

Summary: A status update about EPO affairs and our Web host’s plan to shut down (as a whole) very soon, leaving us orphaned or having to pay heavy bills

OUR USPTO coverage reached an unexpected halt last night at around 6PM. Our host is shutting down soon. He’s an old friend of mine who hosted the site as a favour for nearly a decade. Speaking to alternative hosts, it seems likely that our hosting costs would at least quadruple. It’s a painful experience. I barely slept; it’s hard to fall asleep. Certain readers, some of whom connected in one way or another to the EPO, expressed concern about the downtime (almost half a day). The problem is far broader than a downtime, caused by a routing issue among other things.

“This is scary and dangerous to the prospects of science and technology in Europe. It’s like patents take priority over facts. It should never be like this.”Techright is turning 12 in a few weeks. I’ve dedicated most of my adult life to this site. I’m not asking for sympathy, I just want to reaffirm and reassure to readers that the site has always been financially independent. That’s never going to change.

I can envision some readers asking questions like, what about “the cloud”? As if sending one’s blog to some private company can assure independence… there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. There are many ways in which a centralised blogging platform censors those who participate, with a broadening brush by which they sweep away particular voices.

“The possibility of a deferred examination could therefore further improve the attractiveness of the French patent.”
      –Grégoire Desrousseaux and Thierry Lautier
Florian Müller‘s latest two articles, The new smartphone patents battlemap (infographic featuring Apple, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung) and Patent exhaustion keeps Qualcomm on the run from Apple’s claims and motions,” are as usual hosted by Google. Just before the weekend he wrote about a notorious European Patent of Qualcomm. He’s very supportive of our work covering the EPO (we’ve published nearly 3,000 articles about the EPO alone).

“Your server does not respond.”
      –Anonymous
Like we’ve said here several times since September, publishers are struggling, even the patent maximalists’. IAM, for example, went sort of ‘dark’, i.e. everything behind paywall, except pure commercials and intentional propaganda. As an example of the latter, see what turned up in Google News yesterday. IAM wrote this:

‘No deal’ Brexit may mean no UPC, says UK government – The United Kingdom government released a notice on the likely implications for patents in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. Relevant EU legislation, such as that relating to Supplementary Protection Certificates for drugs, compulsory licences and the patenting of biotechnology innovations, will be retained in UK law under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 in such a scenario, it reassures rights holders. Such legislation will form the basis of an independent UK patent regime in which existing rights and licences will automatically remain in force. No such certainty is provided regarding the prospective Unified Patent Court (UPC), however. If the pan-European court is fully ratified, but the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the country would not necessarily be part of the UPC or the unitary patent system, the government admitted. However, any unitary patents that exist at the point of the UK’s departure will automatically give rise to patent protection within the UK.

This repeated the two famous lies. Also published yesterday was this short blog post from Kluwer Patent Blog (they barely publish in long form anymore). It’s akin to the “shoot with patents first, ask questions later” attitude of UPC. Adrian Crespo wrote that (in Spain at least) “a defendant wishing to object to an injunction for invalidity reasons must put forth “very clear and evident indicia” of invalidity. For that reason, the Court of Appeal focused on a relatively straightforward objection on grounds of added matter.”

This is scary and dangerous to the prospects of science and technology in Europe. It’s like patents take priority over facts. It should never be like this.

Meanwhile, over at Mondaq, a French law firm that habitually promotes itself over there speaks of the EPO and INPI. Grégoire Desrousseaux and Thierry Lautier (August & Debouzy) compare one terrible patent office to another:

Incidentally, this would also allow the INPI to “smooth” the number of examination requests it will receive in the medium term, which would facilitate the implementation of the strengthened substantive examination and the opposition procedure, while maintaining sufficiently short deadlines (which is a decisive parameter for the attractiveness of the French system).

The possibility of a deferred examination could therefore further improve the attractiveness of the French patent.

It is widely known that INPI doesn’t really assess quality of patent applications; they’re presumed valid. Imagine what the UPC would look like if the French-led UPC ever went ahead, possibly with Battistelli as its chief. France has been reserved a leadership position, the EPO promotes this, its current President is French and in two decades it’s like France clings onto power at the EPO for 16 years.

We are open to ideas as to how sponsor the hosting costs for the server; I don’t wish to be paid for my writings about the EPO (by anyone), but the costs of underlying infrastructure may need coverage. I spend over 80 hours per week on the sites (not including my daytime job). Things aren’t sustainable and we need to keep watching the affairs of the EPO and patent scope in general. There’s too much at stake.

09.23.18

Interlude: The Need to Counter Misinformation From the Patent and Litigation ‘Industry’

Posted in Patents, Site News at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SEP corrects/corrections officer

Summary: 24,500 posts reached; so we pause and reflect, seeing that many sites/blogs of patent maximalists gradually ebb away

LONG before we even had a wiki (around 2008) we wrote about the USPTO and later about the EPO. The site began as a reaction to patent assaults on Free/Libre Open Source software, dating back to the Microsoft/Novell deal. Our style has always been the same; we try to debunk and challenge misinformation, presenting overlooked and/or suppressed points of views, facts, sometimes leaked material. The site grew pretty rapidly and before the “social media” hype it was able to attract a lot of comments, sometimes over a hundred per day. We used to write about Free/Libre Open Source software, to use the most “inclusive” term. Later we focused almost entirely on patents, seeing that there was a vacuum to fill in the absence of refutations to the patent ‘industry’. Groklaw, a site which used to write a great deal on this matter (from a Free/Libre Open Source software-centric perspective) took a long break around 2010 and then a permanent break a few years later. The advent and growth of so-called ‘social media’ has since then reduced the frequency of blogging online. A lot of blogs that had been active for many years became less active or completely inactive — a trend we continue to see as IAM goes ‘dark’, Watchtroll writes almost half what it did a year ago, various law firms’ blogs going silent, and recently even Docket Report (part of Docket Navigator) going silent. There have been no updates there for one month and one day (last post is dated August 22nd).

Patent Docs has also been slowing down, albeit not as considerably as some other blogs. Patent Docs probably publishes more ads than articles, however, and many are totally off-topic (e.g. posts about fashion and animals, not patents). Today it ‘wrote’ (published ads) about the abomination which is SEPs (Standard Essential Patents) among other things like the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty). But those are all ads. They outnumber the actual articles.

Techrights still publishes more or less as often as ever before (we peaked around 2009). Some time soon we’ll reach 25,000 posts (that’s more than 2,000 per year, on average). We never relied on any form of sponsorship, so money plays no role in it. It’s idealogical and the guiding ideology is science, progress, cooperation.

08.01.18

10 Years of IRC

Posted in Site News at 2:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ten meters

Summary: It has now been ten whole years of non-stop chat, all of which logged and published fully in the interests of transparency

THE summer of 2008 saw the arrival of the IRC channels, 2 years after the site had begun preparing/writing/publishing articles. Today I glanced at logs from the first day (when readers and contributors started chatting in real time). Microsoft and OOXML were still a hot topic at the time. Those were the days…

5 gigabytes of text later and we’re still at it.

Nowadays we are increasingly focused on topics like the EPO and USPTO, seeing that progress is gradually being made. I occasionally hear from readers who have been following us since the very beginning 12 years ago. Thanks for the loyalty.

05.27.18

Techrights at 24,000

Posted in Site News at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

My beloved mountains

Summary: Techrights has nearly reached 24k blog posts (just a couple of days away), marking the latest milestone in a long history of relentless activism/journalism

TWELVE YEARS, 24,000 blog posts, i.e. about 2,000 per year, on average. I was in my early 20s when I started and here we are still dealing with the same (or similar) subject, notably software patents. Before focusing on EPO we focused a lot on the US patent system (mostly patent scope, not scandals) and prior to that Microsoft and Novell, primarily their notorious patent deal. There’s hopefully nothing that can prevent us from reaching 20 years and 40,000 posts; it looks like a lot of media lost its momentum/footing because of social [control] media, but we’re still doing fine and attracting as many readers as ever. Thanks to all those who have supported us since the very beginning in 2006.

05.24.18

Privacy Statement

Posted in Site News at 11:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Today, May 25th, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into full effect; we hereby make a statement on privacy

AS a matter of strict principle, this site never has and never will accumulate data on visitors (e.g. access logs) for longer than 28 days. The servers are configured to permanently delete all access data after this period of time. No ‘offline’ copies are being made. Temporary logging is only required in case of DDOS attacks and cracking attempts — the sole purpose of such access. Additionally, we never have and never will sell any data pertaining to anything. We never received demands for such data from authorities; even if we had, we would openly declare this (publicly, a la Canary) and decline to comply. Privacy is extremely important to us, which is why pages contain little or no cross-site channels (such as Google Analytics, ‘interactive’ buttons for ‘social’ media etc.) and won’t be adding any.

Shall readers have any further questions on such matters, do not hesitate to contact us.

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