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Links 3/11/2018: RHEL Focuses on GNOME, Parrot 4.2.2 Released

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  • The Linux Throwie: Powering a Linux Server with a 300mW Solar Panel
    Have you ever had one of those moments, when you’re rummaging through your spare parts heap, and have a rather bizarre project idea that you can’t quite get out of your head? You know, the ones that have no clear use, but simply demand to be born, of glass and steel and silicon?

    This time, the stubborn idea in question was sort of like a solar-rechargeable LED throwie, but instead of a blinking light, it has a fully cloud-accessible embedded Linux server in the form of a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. Your choice of embedded Linux board should work — I just happen to have a lot of these due to a shipping error.

    There were two main challenges here: First, it would have to combine the smallest practical combination of solar panel, power supply, and battery that could run the Raspberry Pi. Second, we’ll need to remotely activate and access the Pi regardless of where it is, as well as be able to connect it to WiFi without direct physical access. In this article we’ll be dealing with the first set of problems — stay tuned for the rest.

  • Desktop

    • System76 unveils Thelio, a custom Linux workstation
      System76, the company making and selling Linux laptops, has unveiled the Thelio, a fully custom designed and built desktop machine. Everything about the machine is custom - from the case to the special IO board that monitors temperatures all across the case and optimizes airflow accordingly. This IO board and the case design are fully open source, so anyone can improve upon the designs or tinker with them.

    • System76 launches Thelio line of open source, US-built desktop computers

    • System76 Thelio computer is open source, Linux-powered, and made in the USA

      Computers made in America are virtually non-existent, but a little company in Denver had a dream to do just that. System76 has long been looking to make a Linux-powered computer in the USA using open source ideology. A lofty goal, which many folks didn't think would ever be achieved. Well, against all odds, today, System76 proves the haters wrong as it finally unveils its much-anticipated Thelio desktop computer. And boy, oh boy, it is beautiful.

    • System76 Debuts Thelio, A Gorgeous 'Open Hardware' Linux PC

      Thelio will ship in three different models and sizes: Thelio, Thelio Major and Thelio Massive. The first two will include options for AMD Ryzen or Intel processors, and support for multiple Nvidia GeForce RTX Series or AMD Radeon graphics cards. Thelio Massive is Intel only, but is an absolute beast. Up to two Intel Xeon Scalable processors, up to 4 AMD or Nvidia GPUs, up to 768GB of ECC DDR4 memory, and a storage ceiling of 86TB via M.2 or U.2 NVMe and SATA drives.

      Here are some digestible highlights with each model: [...]

    • ​System76 readies release of American-made powerhouse Linux PC
      Finding a native Linux PC isn't easy. Any Best Buy has an assortment of Windows PCs and Chromebooks. But Linux-powered computers? Not so much. Now System76, one of the leading Linux PC companies, has created something even rarer: A PC built in the US.

      This wasn't easy, as System76 stated: "We've been working on the Thelio design for about three years. The philosophy around Thelio's design was fourfold. The design should reflect our company character and culture, the design must support the maximum performance of the fastest available components, be easy to service and upgrade, and must represent the open source roots of System76."

    • System76 launches open source hardware Ubuntu desktop PCs
      System76 has launched a line of mostly open hardware, Ubuntu-equipped “Thelio” desktop PCs built in Colorado with a choice of AMD and Intel CPUs.

      We don’t regularly cover mainstream desktop and laptop computers, even when they ship with Linux, but System76’s Thelio is anything but mainstream. The x86-based Thelio computers are preloaded with either Ubuntu 18.04 LTS or the same Ubuntu-based, encryption enhanced Pop!_OS! distro that appears on its Linux-based laptops such as last year’s Intel Coffee Lake based Galago Pro. Unlike the Denver-based company’s earlier systems, this is fan-cooled desktop PC with a custom chassis built primarily with open source hardware (see farther below).

    • Open Source Linux Powered System76 Thelio Desktops Is Here
      The top 500 most powerful supercomputers on the planet run Linux operating system. Linux has a 100% market share of those machines and a large share of cloud computing, VMs, and bare metal market too. Obviously, developers and people who care about their privacy need Linux pre-installed so that they can get back to work ASAP. System76 released new desktop systems with Linux pre installed. The Thelio desktops computer available with both AMD and Intel CPU. AMD is more user-friendly to the Linux and provides a better price-performance ratio.

    • The Asus Eee: How Close Did the World Come to a Linux Desktop?
      It was white, not much bigger than my hands held side by side, weighed about as much as a bottle of wine, and it came in a shiny, faux-leather case. It was the $199 Asus Eee 901, and I couldn't believe that a computer could be that powerful, that light and that much fun.

      This is the story of the brief, shining history of the Asus Eee, the first netbook—a small, cheap and mostly well-made laptop that dominated the computer industry for two or three years about a decade go. It's not so much that the Eee was ahead of its time, which wasn't that difficult in an industry then dominated by pricey and bulky laptops that didn't always have a hard drive and by desktop design hadn't evolved much past the first IBM 8086 box.

    • Windows Update Deleted Linux! What to Do and How to Prevent It
      You’ve been happily using Windows and Ubuntu on the same computer for months, but then a Windows Update is issued—and disaster strikes!

      Windows Update has left your Linux partition unreadable. There’s no boot selection screen, and after investigation it appears the Linux partition has been deleted. Here’s what you can do to fix things and ensure this never happens again.

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • PodCTL #53 – The Internal Build vs Buy Discussion
      This week we had a great listener question that went something like this:

      “I work at a large company and we currently run a production Kubernetes (vendor-centric) environment. Some other groups in our company have some homegrown platforms that do similar functionality. How do we convince those other groups to work more closely with us, including potentially getting those group to switch over to our platform?”

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel Developers Begin Figuring Out Vendor-Specific RISC-V Code
      With the increasingly popular RISC-V open-source processor instruction set architecture (ISA), there is the possibility for vendor-specific instruction set extensions. At this point the kernel has no infrastructure in place for its RISC-V port to allow for such bits, but that is being worked on as part of bringing up AndeStar RISC-V CPUs under the Linux kernel.

      RISC-V is free and open but of course the base ISA doesn't suit everyone's needs and vendors are allowed to build in their own extensions to suit their purpose. These vendor-specific extensions may or may not be compatible across a sub-set of RISC-V hardware, so the kernel needs infrastructure for being able to select RISC-V features to enable or not. It will be interesting as more RISC-V hardware comes to market and how many vendor-specific extensions will end up being employed and hopefully not fragmenting the landscape too much.

    • More Linux Kernel Code Cleaned Up - Another Step Towards Building With Clang Or ICC
      With the Linux 4.20~5.0, the kernel is now VLA-free as a step towards being able to compile the mainline code with the LLVM Clang compiler or other non-GCC compilers. Another step in this direction has been merged this cycle and that is cleaning up the compiler attributes code.

      For determining C features to enable or not when compiling the code, the Linux kernel code had been checking the GCC version of the host compiler to determine the functionality that can be enabled or not. With this compiler-attributes update, instead the kernel is now using the generic __has_attribute functionality for its macro feature checks. This now makes it compiler/version agnostic rather than being tied to GCC version checking to instead explicitly looking if a particular feature is supported by that compiler.

      This cleans up a fair amount as well as there being other work to simplifying these feature checking macro header files.

    • Google Volleys Latest FS-VERITY Code For Transparent Integrity/Authenticity Of Files
      One of the new Linux kernel features Google engineers have been working on is fs-verity for read-only file-based authenticity protection. Fs-verity is similar to dm-verity with a similar aim but is designed to work on a per-file basis for read-write file-systems rather than at the block level.

      Fs-verity supports transparent integrity and authenticity protection of read-only file-systems. User-space appends a Merkle hash tree to a file and an ioctl allows enabling fs-verity on the per-file basis. All reads are then verified against the hash file and only allowed through if the verification passes.

    • AMD Sends Out Linux Temperature Driver Patches For Zen 2 CPUs
      It looks like my report on AMD kicking off Zen 2 Linux enablement from last month is panning out. Earlier this week they posted the initial AMD Zen 2 "znver2" support for the GCC compiler and they are ending the week back in kernel space with an updated hardware monitoring driver for being able to report the CPU core temperatures of these CPUs shipping in 2019.

      The patch series sent out a short time ago add k10temp support for AMD F17h M30h. The k10temp driver is the "hwmon" subsystem driver for reading the CPU core temperature on recent generations of AMD hardware, including Zen 1 and soon Zen 2. Family 17h Model 30 and newer is Zen 2, which is also firmed up by the aforementioned znver2 compiler patches.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Mentor Graphics Releases CodeBench Lite For AMD EPYC/Ryzen & Radeon Instinct Targets
        Mentor Graphics announced the availability today of their GNU toolchain based CodeBench Lite Edition that is a development environment intended for HPC application development that now supports targeting for AMD Ryzen/EPYC processors as well as Radeon Instinct GPUs.

        The CodeBench Lite Edition provides C/C++ and Fortran tool-chains for compiling high-performance computing applications for multi-core heterogeneous architectures. CodeBench Lite works on Linux and is their first time now supporting the AMD GCN graphics offloading target with support for Radeon Instinct GPUs in particular.

      • Intel Already Posts First Open-Source Graphics Driver Changes For Linux 4.21~5.1
        The merge window isn't even over yet for the current Linux kernel cycle that will end in late December or early January, but Intel's stellar open-source crew responsible for their kernel graphics driver have already sent out their first set of changes to DRM-Next for what will start 2019 with either the Linux 4.21 cycle or 5.1 depending upon how the 4.20~5.0 versioning is decided.

        The Intel Open-Source Technology Center team remains on point with their kernel contributions in a timely manner thanks to their large development team and also excellent continuous integration for ensuring the code is well tested and ready when submitted to DRM-Next. Jani Nikula of Intel sent in their first set of drm-intel-next changes for targeting the 4.21/5.1 cycle.

      • Zink, a new driver project for OpenGL on Vulkan from Collabora
        Here's one I wasn't aware of, developer Erik “kusma” Faye-Lund from Collabora has been working on Zink. It's a new OpenGL implementation that works on top of Vulkan. It's a "Mesa Gallium driver", which aims to provide "hardware accelerated OpenGL when only a Vulkan driver is available".


        While it's still early days for the project, it's currently only supporting OpenGL 2.1, and OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 plus some extensions and so it has some ways to go before it's truly useful. Even so, it sounds exciting and they show off some simple games working with it already. Dave Airlie from Red Hat has also been jumping in, with work on OpenGL 3.3 progressing so it looks like it might move forwards quite quickly.

    • Benchmarks

      • Initial Benchmarks Of OpenBSD 6.4, DragonFlyBSD 5.3, FreeBSD vs. Linux
        Given the recent release of OpenBSD 6.4, FreeBSD 12 now being in beta, and DragonFlyBSD 5.3 evolving nicely for what will eventually ship as DragonFlyBSD 5.4, here is the start of some fresh benchmarks between the BSDs and a few Linux distributions to see how the performance compares as we approach the end of 2018.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Frameworks 5 for Yocto
        Making KF5 easily available to users of Yocto is actually a rather old idea, and considering how popular Qt and Yocto are for user interfaces in embedded systems that makes a lot of sense. Johan Thelin started the work on this in 2014. Things went dormant for a while until this was revived during Akademy in Almería last year. By now we have 74 of the 79 KF5 frameworks available in the meta-kf5 layer.

        With the KDE Frameworks being mostly libraries, it’s somewhat hard to test and demonstrate their capabilities though. So, we added another Yocto layer, meta-kde, which contains recipes for the Plasma parts needed for bringing up a basic Plasma Mobile shell.

      • Red Hat and KDE
        By a strange coincidece the news broke this morning that RHEL is deprecating KDE. The real surprise here is that RHEL supported KDE all. Back in the 90s they were entirely against KDE and put lots of effort into our friendly rivals Gnome. It made some sense since at the time Qt was under a not-quite-free licence and there’s no reason why a company would want to support another company’s lock in as well as shipping incompatible licences. By the time Qt become fully free they were firmly behind Gnome. Meanwhile Rex and a team of hard working volunteers packaged it anyway and gained many users. When Red Hat was turned into the all open Fedora and the closed RHEL, Fedora was able to embrace KDE as it should but at some point the Fedora Next initiative again put KDE software in second place. Meanwhile RHEL did use Plasma 4 and hired a number of developers to help us in our time of need which was fabulous but all except one have left some time ago and nobody expected it to continue for long.

      • We (may) now know the real reason for that IBM takeover. A distraction for Red Hat to axe KDE [Ed: Misleading headline and unfair slant]
        In other words, if you're using RHEL on the desktop, at some point KDE will not be supported. As our tipster remarked: “Red Hat has never exactly been a massive supporter of KDE, but at least they shipped it and supported you using it.”

        Hats off, our sharp-eyed vulture: Red Hat's long list of deprecated features isn't particularly user-friendly, because a great many deprecation announcements are carried over from previous releases.

        Steve Almy, principal product manager of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, told El Reg in an email: “Based on trends in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer base, there is overwhelming interest in desktop technologies such as Gnome and Wayland, while interest in KDE has been waning in our installed base.”

      • KDE has been deprecated in RHEL 7.6 and future version of RHEL
        Red Hat is moving KDE to EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux) repo. To install KDE on a CentOS or RHEL or Fedora, you need to setup EPE repo. Fedora act as a test bed and upstream distro for RHEL. However, Red Hat is not going to put engineering and Software quality assurance (SQA) resources in KDE.

      • Red Hat killing off KDE [Ed: Misleading headline, I think by intention (author's history is a giveaway)]
        Red Hat appears to have used the news of its takeover by IBM to bury the news that it was killing off KDE.

        In the RHEL 7.6 changelog the following appears Red Hat said that KDE Plasma Workspaces (KDE), which has been provided as an alternative to the default GNOME desktop environment has been deprecated.

        'Deprecated' as used in Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a warning that certain functionality may be removed or replaced in the future.

      • Nitrux: Linux, KDE Plasma 5, Qt and Nomad Desktop
        This sounds very similar to Elementary OS, but instead of Gnome and Gtk+-oriented, it's built around Qt and KDE technologies. I like distributions that try to do something more interesting than being just another random Gnome or KDE distribution, and I especially like how the open source Linux community seems to be focusing more and more on polish, design, and simplicity lately. Very welcome additions to the Linux world.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Translation Editor 3.30.0
        This new release isn't yet in flathub, but I'm working on it so we'll have a flatpak version really soon. Meantime you can test using the gnome nightly flatpak repo.
      • WebKitGTK+ 2.22.2 and 2.22.3, Media Source Extensions, and YouTube
        Last month, I attended the Web Engines Hackfest (hosted by Igalia in A Coruña, Spain) and also the WebKit Contributors Meeting (hosted by Apple in San Jose, California). These are easily the two biggest WebKit development events of the year, and it’s always amazing to meet everyone in person yet again. A Coruña is an amazing city, and every browser developer ought to visit at least once. And the Contributors Meeting is a no-brainer event for WebKit developers.

        One of the main discussion points this year was Media Source Extensions (MSE). MSE is basically a way for browsers to control how videos are downloaded. Until recently, if you were to play a YouTube video in Epiphany, you’d notice that the video loads way faster than it does in other browsers. This is because WebKitGTK+ — until recently — had no support for MSE. In other browsers, YouTube uses MSE to limit the speed at which video is downloaded, in order to reduce wasted bandwidth in case you stop watching the video before it ends. But with WebKitGTK+, MSE was not available, so videos would load as quickly as possible. MSE also makes it harder for browsers to offer the ability to download the videos; you’ll notice that neither Firefox nor Chrome offer to download the videos in their context menus, a feature that’s been available in Epiphany for as long as I remember.

      • On WebKit Build Options (Also: How to Accidentally Disable Important Security Features!)
        When building WebKitGTK+, it’s a good idea to stick to the default values for the build options. If you’re building some sort of embedded system and really know what you’re doing, then OK, it might make sense to change some settings and disable some stuff. But Linux distros are generally well-advised to stick to the defaults to avoid creating problems for users.

        One exception is if you need to disable certain features to avoid newer dependencies when building WebKit for older systems. For example, Ubuntu 18.04 disables web fonts (ENABLE_WOFF2=OFF) because it doesn’t have the libbrotli and libwoff2 dependencies that are required for that feature to work, hence some webpages will display using subpar fonts. And distributions shipping older versions of GStreamer will need to disable the ENABLE_MEDIA_SOURCE option (which is missing from the below feature list by mistake), since that requires the very latest GStreamer to work.

  • Distributions

    • An Open Letter To Solus From Its Founder Ikey Doherty
      Solus, the promising Linux distribution started back in 2015 by Ikey Doherty that led to the creation of its own "Budgie" desktop, has been without its founder since this summer. While the circumstances under his decision to fade away from the project aren't clear, he is well and has shared this message to relay with the community.

      Ikey Doherty left Intel last year to work full-time on Solus but then all of a sudden this summer he disappeared from the project. Solus though has managed to stand on its own feet thanks to the community developers involved and passionate about this desktop-focused distribution. They've had some challenges since his departure, but are sorting that out so the project can live on its own.

    • Feren OS Delivers Richer Cinnamon Flavor
      Feren OS is a popular replacement for Linux Mint. It is speedy and has enough developer differences to make using it interesting and fun. From a practical viewpoint, Feren OS does a nice job of improving on the core Linux Mint Cinnamon experience.

      Feren OS is a nearly flawless Linux computing platform. This distro is practically maintenance-free. The developers have taken the best parts of several innovative Linux distros and seamlessly integrated them into an ideal computing platform.

    • New Releases

      • Parrot 4.2.2 release notes
        We are proud to announce the release of Parrot 4.2.

        It was a very problematic release for our team because of the many important updates under the hood of a system that looks almost identical to its previous release, except for a new background designed by Federica Marasà and a new graphic theme (ARK-Dark).

      • OSMC's October update is here
        OSMC's October update is here with a large number of improvements. In particular, we've added support for new Raspberry Pi hardware and made a number of playback improvements for Vero 4K / Vero 4K +. HDR and bit depth switching should now work well without any manual configuration by users. Users should notice improved picture quality on these devices. We have now caught up on the Vero shipping backlog and we are offering prompt dispatch for all orders.

        Team Kodi have now announced that they have started the official beta release cycle for Kodi v18 (Leia). Test builds for Raspberry Pi and Vero devices are available in our forums.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Is openSUSE the Developers’ Linux Distro Holy Grail?
        With changes to SUSE over its history, the official chameleon logo seems pretty appropriate. In 2015, the openSUSE project restructured, creating two versions: Leap and Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed is a rolling release, so users always have access to the newest Linux packages, and Leap is openSUSE’s regular-release, with guaranteed stability.

        In his “My Move to SUSE” presentation at the 2017 openSUSE Conference, SaltStack CEO Thomas Hatch says, “I lived in a two distro world. I needed a different distro for my laptop than for the servers in the data center.” With Leap and Tumbleweed, however, Hatch says he has a rolling release as well as a free OS that’s more than sufficiently stable to run the vast majority of his server needs.

        Hatch also believes SUSE has the best release policies and release cycles among all Linux distros. “The world of open source is a rolling world. Not having a rolling release that is stabilized means that your users must always be behind the curve. And Tumbleweed solves it in a way which is infinitely more elegant than any other rolling release.”

        He adds, “Having an open source release which is stable enough to run in a server environment is an extremely important aspect of a Linux distribution. And deploying that piece of software in such a way that enables users to get to know SUSE and get to know what an enterprise and an extremely stable SUSE environment feels like is a smart business model.”

    • MongoDB

      • 20+ MongoDB Alternatives You Should Know About
        As MongoDB€® has changed their license from AGPL to SSPL many are concerned by this change, and by how sudden it has been. Will SSPL be protective enough for MongoDB, or will the next change be to go to an altogether proprietary license? According to our poll, many are going to explore MongoDB alternatives. This blog post provides a brief outline of technologies to consider.

    • Red Hat/Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Antoine Beaupré: October 2018 report: LTS, Monkeysphere, Flatpak, Kubernetes, CD archival and calendar project
        As discussed last month, one of the options to resolve the pending GnuTLS security issues was to backport the latest 3.3.x series (3.3.30), an update proposed then uploaded as DLA-1560-1. I after a suggestion, I've included an explicit NEWS.Debian item warning people about the upgrade, a warning also included in the advisory itself.

        The most important change is probably dropping SSLv3, RC4, HMAC-SHA384 and HMAC-SHA256 from the list of algorithms, which could impact interoperability. Considering how old RC4 and SSLv3 are, however, this should be a welcome change. As for the HMAC changes, those are mandatory to fix the targeted vulnerabilities (CVE-2018-10844, CVE-2018-10845, CVE-2018-10846).

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Two Open Source Mobile App Development Frameworks To Make Mobile Dev Easier
    Mobile apps have been a boon for developers. With Android the most widely used platform on the planet, it makes perfect sense for developers to ply their trade in the mobile market. Not only do developers have the chance to get their work seen, they can make money from the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store. For those who have yet to delve into the mobile development market, however, the process may be a bit daunting. What tools are available? More importantly, what open source tools are available? After all, if you’re developing on the Linux platform, you probably don’t want to work with proprietary software.

    So, to get started creating the greatest mobile app on the planet, you need to get the right tools. One such tool is a framework. In programming terms, a framework is an abstraction in which common code (that provides a generic or general functionality) can be used and rewritten to provide a specific functionality. Say you need Function X for your app, but you don’t want to write all the necessary code for that function. You can use a framework that offers Function X and modify that function so it perfectly fits your needs. In other words, a framework is a way to make development easier and more efficient.

  • The React Native team shares their open source roadmap, React Suite hits 3.4.0
    Yesterday, the React Native team shared further plans for React Native to provide a better support to its users and collaborators outside of Facebook. The team is planning to open source some of the internal tools and improve the widely used tools in the open source community. In order to ensure no breaking code is open sourced, they are also improving their testing infrastructure.

  • SD Times open-source project of the week: Infosys DevOps Platform
    Infosys has released what it calls a enterprise-class integrated DevOps platform into open source. According to the company’s Chief Operating Officer Pravin Rao, “enterprises pursuing digital transformation require Agile and DevOps at scale to rapidly adopt new technologies, transform legacy systems and respond swiftly to new requirements.” The Infosys DevOps Platform is meant to address this.

  • Is Open Source Project Participation Worthwhile?
    Community Involvement Keeps You Moving Forward

    Before we do a deep dive into some of the specific benefits of contributing to an open source project, let’s talk inertia. Inertia brings to mind the proverbial unyielding boulder, but Newton’s first law -- or law of inertia -- also states that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. Contributing to an open source project creates an “inertial moment” where moving forward becomes your new resting state. Switching between work and an open source project can increase your mental endurance. You can work longer and with better results, minus the burnout.

  • Embracing the Open Source Security Paradox [Ed: WhiteSource is a FUD source against FOSS security though and it is close to Microsoft, as usual (still attacking FOSS by proxy)...]
    On this edition of the SecurityIntelligence podcast, we’re tackling the paradox of open source security. Sharing their expertise are Rami Elron, senior director of product management at WhiteSource, and David Marshak, senior offering manager for application security at IBM Security. Both Elron and Marshak are industry veterans with deep knowledge of open source issues, advantages and future trends.

  • Google open-sources BERT, a state-of-the-art pretraining technique for natural language processing
    Natural language processing (NLP) — the subcategory of artificial intelligence (AI) that spans language translation, sentiment analysis, semantic search, and dozens of other linguistic tasks — is easier said than done. Procuring diverse datasets large enough to train text-parsing AI systems is an ongoing challenge for researchers; modern deep learning models, which mimic the behavior of neurons in the human brain, improve when trained on millions, or even billions, of annotated examples.

    One popular solution is pretraining, which refines general-purpose language models trained on unlabeled text to perform specific tasks. Google this week open-sourced its cutting-edge take on the technique — Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, or BERT — which it claims enables developers to train a “state-of-the-art” NLP model in 30 minutes on a single Cloud TPU (tensor processing unit, Google’s cloud-hosted accelerator hardware) or a few hours on a single graphics processing unit.

  • Enterprises want more open source yet won't pay developers to work on it
    There's a big disconnect between developers and their employers, and the employers are going to lose as a result. According to a new DigitalOcean survey of more than 4,300 developers, 55% of those developers surveyed contribute to open source projects, but only 34% of companies afford them work time to do so. At least, if we define it as "open source related to their employment."


    And even if it doesn't, those people who contribute most, learn most. And things that a developer learns supporting parts of Debian, for example, just might be directly applicable to her work supporting the company's dependence on Linux.

    It's great that companies increasingly recognize the value of open source to their businesses. It's less great that they can't seem to make the connection on the need for developers to be able to work on open source code as much or more than they write internal, proprietary code. As developer Matt Quirion put it to me, "I honestly have no idea how I'd even do my job without open source. That's been true for at least 10 years."

  • Revolutionizing democracy through blockchain and open-source technology
    The 34-year-old Siri grew up in Buenos Aires, where he lived for 30 years. Raised in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, he encountered an Argentina obsessed with finance, politics and soccer (or football if you’re anything other than American).

    Siri began his career by creating a video game that simulated the experience of coaching and managing a soccer team. It was the first PC game to be published internationally from Argentina. The game was about much more than sports. It dealt with a lot of ethical decisions. As coach, you could bribe the referee or send in the hooligans. It was really a game about corruption.

  • #MoreThanCode: Technology for social justice
    There has long been a symbiotic relationship between the open source software movement and social justice champions. A recent research report, #MoreThanCode: Practitioners reimagine the landscape of technology for justice and equity, offers valuable advice to anyone interested in leveraging technology to support a cause.

    Produced by the Tech for Social Justice Project and co-led by Research Action Design (RAD) and the Open Technology Institute at New America (OTI), together with their research partners, #MoreThanCode aims to use technology to make heard the voices of diverse practitioners working for social justice.

  • Events

    • New Keynote Speakers Announced for Hyperledger Global Forum
      With over 75 sessions, keynotes, hands-on technical workshops, social activities, evening events, and more, Hyperledger Global Forum gives you a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Hyperledger community, make new connections, learn about the latest production deployments, and further advance your blockchain skills. I

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 72 Poised To Have Some Wayland Performance Improvements
        While Chrome 71 is the current release stream, Chrome 72 is set to offer some improvements on the Wayland front.

        A Phoronix reader pointed out that merged this week for Chrome 72 are some Wayland improvements thanks to consulting firm Igalia. The developers at Igalia have landed support for native GPU memory buffers when using Wayland.

    • Mozilla

      • WebP Image Support Appears Ready For Firefox 65
        The WebP image format developed by Google and derived from VP8 technology has proven to hold a lot of potential for lossy and lossless compression compared to PNGs or animated GIFs. Chrome has long supported WebP along with other browsers like Opera and now with Edge supporting the format, Firefox has been the last major holdout after Mozilla abandoned earlier plans to support this BSD-licensed image format.


        But a few hours ago a bug was already re-opened about Firefox Nightly crashing when viewing WebP images. Hopefully any of those lingering bugs will get fixed up soon enough so Firefox 65 will indeed have WebP enabled by default. Firefox 65.0 is expected to be released by the end of January.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice ODF Document Processing Information Disclosure Vulnerability [CVE-2018-10583]
      A vulnerability in LibreOffice could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to access sensitive information on a targeted system.

      The vulnerability is due to insufficient validation of user-supplied input processed by the affected software. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by persuading a user to open an OpenDocument Format (ODF) file containing an embedded Server Message Block (SMB) link. A successful exploit could cause the software to initiate the SMB connection, which the attacker could use to access sensitive information.

  • CMS

    • Jahia DX 7.3 and TYPO3 v9 Released, More Open Source News
      TYPO3 version 9 has been released and is now available for download. This latest version comes with 160 new features and approximately 720,000 new lines of PHP code.

      TYPO v9 is an LTS (Long Term Support) release that will be supported until October 2021, see development roadmap for further details. In addition, the ELTS (Extended Long Term Support), which TYPO3 GmbH offers is supported until October 2024.

      The new features in TYPO3 v9 offer a number of improvements for both business users and developers.

  • Healthcare

    • Intro to UX design for the ChRIS Project – Part 1
      One of the driving reasons for ChRIS’ creation was to allow for hospitals to own and control their own data without needing to give it up to the industry. How do you apply the latest cloud-based rapid data processing technology without giving your data to one of the big cloud companies? ChRIS has been built to interface with cloud providers such as the Massachusetts Open Cloud that have consortium-based data governance that allow for users to control their own data. I want to emphasize the cloud-based computing piece here because it’s important – ChRIS allows you [to] run image processing tools at scale in the cloud, so elaborate image processing that typically days, weeks, or months to complete could be completed in minutes. For a patient, this could enable a huge positive shift in their care – rather than have to wait for days to get back results of an imaging procedure (like an MRI), they could be consulted by their doctor and make decisions about their care that day.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • EuroBSDcon 2018 Conference Recap

      The ”Hallway Track” is probably where I get the most value from attending these types of conferences. It is where I spend most of my time talking to company representatives about what work they’d like to see happen, finding out what their pain points are, and more importantly stressing how important it is for them to support the Project by making a financial contribution to the Foundation. In addition, during the conference, other Foundation Team and Board members gave tutorials, presentations, and had similar discussions with community members.


    • Last chance to submit your nominations for the FSF Awards!
      Is there someone who you think has advanced the progress of computing freedom, someone you think of as a free software hero? How about a great project that uses free software principles to benefit society? Now is your chance to nominate them for a Free Software Foundation (FSF) Award. The deadline to submit your nominations of individuals or projects for the FSF Awards is Sunday, November 4th, 2018 at 23:59 UTC.

      Each year the FSF gives out two awards at the LibrePlanet conference; the Award for the Advancement of Free Software and the Award for Projects of Social Benefit. The winners of the 2018 awards will be announced at LibrePlanet 2019, happening on March 23rd and 24th, 2019, in the Greater Boston Area.

      The FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software is presented annually to an individual who has made a great contribution to the progress and development of free software, through activities that accord with the spirit of free software. Last year's award was accepted by Karen Sandler, the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, as well as a perennial LibrePlanet speaker. Previous winners include Alexandre Oliva, Matthew Garrett, Alan Cox, Larry Lessig, Guido van Rossum, Miguel de Icaza and Larry Wall.

  • Licensing/Legal


  • Flickr to delete millions of photos as it reduces allowance for free users

    Free users of the site will be limited to storing 1,000 photos and videos, with any excess being deleted from February 2019. The limit is a steep reduction from the previous allowance of 1TB per user, about 200,000-500,000 photos each.

    The company says only 3% of free users have more than 1,000 photos currently uploaded, and argues many of them are not participating in the site in a way that builds a valuable community.

  • Hardware

    • iPhones are Allergic to Helium
      This is the kind of tale that you don’t hear every day. Erik Wooldridge is a Systems Specialist at Morris Hospital near Chicago. During the installation of a new GE Healthcare MRI machine, he started getting calls that cell phones weren’t working. Then, some Apple Watches started glitching.

      “My immediate thought was that the MRI must have emitted some sort of EMP, in which case we could be in a lot of trouble.” But an electromagnetic pulse would have taken out medical equipment in the facility as well, and they were working fine! He started investigating, and learned that every single impacted device was made by Apple—the technician’s Android phones were fine. And it was a wide-sweeping issue, impacting 40 different devices. What the heck?

      I’ve seen a lot of strange glitches in my time, and I’ve never heard of something like this. Neither had Erik. “The behavior of the devices was pretty odd. Most of them were completely dead. I plugged them in to the wall and had no indication that the device was charging. The other devices that were powering on seemed to have issues with the cellular radio. The wifi connection was consistent and fast, but cellular was very hit or miss.”

      That’s when he posted the issue to Reddit, where other sysadmins speculated that it might be caused by the liquid helium used to cool the MRI machine. So he investigated, and found there was a helium leak at the same time that vented into the building.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Reporting on the Layers of Potential Harm for Children in Psychiatric Hospitals
      When I first reported in June on children in state care stuck in psychiatric hospitals after they had been cleared for discharge, I learned of the emotional and psychological damage that protracted hospitalizations can inflict on children.

      Then I discovered another layer of harm.

      We published a story on Wednesday about Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, which is under federal and state investigation following allegations that range from sexual assault to a failure to ensure the safety of suicidal patients.

      Hospital officials said that they investigate all allegations of impropriety and are confident in their ability “to continue to provide the highest level of services to our state’s most vulnerable populations.” They said the problems they face are part of a “disinvestment in mental health, neonatal, and other social services in Illinois that have resulted in one of the weakest social safety nets in the country.”

    • Illinois Child Welfare Agency Agrees to Stop Sending Children to Psychiatric Hospital Where Children Reported Abuse but Balks at Full Investigation
      The state’s child welfare agency Friday agreed to stop sending children in its care to a Chicago psychiatric hospital where children have reported being sexually abused and assaulted, but said it would not seek the full independent investigation advocates had requested, setting up a possible court fight.

      The decision by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services came one day after state lawmakers and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois demanded the agency allow an outside expert to conduct a comprehensive investigation of Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital on the city’s North Side.

      The ACLU, which monitors DCFS as part of a federal court consent decree, also called on the agency to immediately stop sending children in its care to the hospital when they need psychiatric treatment.

      Those demands followed a ProPublica Illinois investigation that found numerous allegations of sexual abuse and assault of children, as well as regulatory violations related to patients’ health and safety.

    • UAEM: In ‘Historic” Shift, Universities In Canada Adopt Licensing Promoting Access To Medicines
      The Global Access Licencing (GAL) framework, developed by UAEM students, includes “directives for providing non-exclusive licensing for technologies to increase access in low- and middle-income countries,” the release states.

      UAEM students developed the GAL framework in response to the “significant barriers” posed by intellectual property to the “affordability of medicines for vulnerable and marginalized populations, due to exorbitant prices resulting from a lack of competition,” it says.

      “This is an incredible display of student advocacy at the local level that has the potential for tremendous impact on access to medicines globally,” Merith Basey, executive director of UAEM North America, said in the release.

  • Security

    • File-Sharing Software on State Election Servers Could Expose Them to Intruders
      As recently as Monday, computer servers that powered Kentucky’s online voter registration and Wisconsin’s reporting of election results ran software that could potentially expose information to hackers or enable access to sensitive files without a password.

      The insecure service run by Wisconsin could be reached from internet addresses based in Russia, which has become notorious for seeking to influence U.S. elections. Kentucky’s was accessible from other Eastern European countries.

      The service, known as FTP, provides public access to files — sometimes anonymously and without encryption. As a result, security experts say, it could act as a gateway for hackers to acquire key details of a server’s operating system and exploit its vulnerabilities. Some corporations and other institutions have dropped FTP in favor of more secure alternatives.

      Officials in both states said that voter-registration data has not been compromised and that their states’ infrastructure was protected against infiltration. Still, Wisconsin said it turned off its FTP service following ProPublica’s inquiries. Kentucky left its password-free service running and said ProPublica didn’t understand its approach to security.

    • What 9 Cybersecurity Research Reports Say About the State of Risk
      Cybersecurity vendors and organizations put out a steady stream of research, sometimes in support of a product, but it almost always has something to say about the state of cyberthreats. Research released in October 2018 provided insight into a broad swath of the cybersecurity landscape, including IoT, compliance, threat hunting, two-factor authentication (2FA) and cloud security. We summarize key takeaways from nine of those reports -- and the controls that enterprise could implement to protect themselves against those risks.

    • Security Flaw In New Bluetooth Chips Could Expose Millions of Users To Remote Attacks
      According to a report from theHackerNews Security researchers have found a new vulnerability in Bluetooth chips that could potentially expose millions of users to remote attacks. The vulnerability was discovered by researchers at Israeli security firm Armis and is now dubbed as BleedingBit.

      The first vulnerability has been identified as CVE-2018-16986 and exists in the TI chips CC2640 and CC2650. The vulnerability affects Cisco and Meraki’s Wi-Fi access points and takes advantage of the loophole in the Bluetooth chips. The vulnerability allows attackers to overload the chip causing memory corruption and allowing an attacker to run malicious code on an affected device.

    • Security updates for Friday

    • ‘Outlaw’ threat actor uses Shellbot variant to form new botnet
      An unknown threat actor has been targeting organizations with botnet malware that communicates with its command-and-control server via the Internet Relay Chat application layer protocol.

      Nicknamed Outlaw, the hacking group developed the botnet as a Perl language-based variant of Shellbot, according to a Nov. 1 blog post from Trend Micro, whose researchers uncovered the threat. Shellbot is a trojan horse malware that’s typically installed on computers via the Shellshock Unix Bash shell vulnerability that was found back in 2014.

    • ​The day computer security turned real: The Morris Worm turns 30
      On Nov. 2, 1988, I was working at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in the data communications branch. Everything was fine. Then, our internet servers running SunOS and VAX/BSD Unix slowed to a stop. It was a bad day.

      We didn't know it yet, but we were fighting the Morris Internet Worm. Before the patch was out, 24 hours later, 10 percent of the internet was down, and the rest of the network had slowed to a crawl. We were not only facing the first major worm attack, we were seeing the first distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

    • The Morris Worm
      At around 8:30 p.m. on November 2, 1988, a maliciously clever program was unleashed on the Internet from a computer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

      This cyber worm was soon propagating at remarkable speed and grinding computers to a halt. “We are currently under attack,” wrote a concerned student at the University of California, Berkeley in an email later that night. Within 24 hours, an estimated 6,000 of the approximately 60,000 computers that were then connected to the Internet had been hit. Computer worms, unlike viruses, do not need a software host but can exist and propagate on their own.

      Berkeley was far from the only victim. The rogue program had infected systems at a number of the prestigious colleges and public and private research centers that made up the early national electronic network. This was a year before the invention of the World Wide Web. Among the many casualties were Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, NASA, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
    • Systemd Vulnerability In Linux Could Trigger Remote Attacks And System Crashes
      Reportedly, a researcher from the Google security team, Felix Wilhelm, discovered a flaw in Linux component that could lead to system crashes and hacks. Precisely, he found a systemd vulnerability that makes Linux systems vulnerable to cyber attacks. It allowed an attacker to execute codes remotely on the target machines or induce a denial of service.

    • Intel CPUs impacted by new PortSmash side-channel vulnerability
      Intel processors are impacted by a new vulnerability that can allow attackers to leak encrypted data from the CPU's internal processes.

      The new vulnerability, which has received the codename of PortSmash, has been discovered by a team of five academics from the Tampere University of Technology in Finland and Technical University of Havana, Cuba.

      Researchers have classified PortSmash as a side-channel attack. In computer security terms, a side-channel attack describes a technique used for leaking encrypted data from a computer's memory or CPU, which works by recording and analyzing discrepancies in operation times, power consumption, electromagnetic leaks, or even sound to gain additional info that may help break encryption algorithms and recovering the CPU's processed data.

    • Intel CPUs fall to new hyperthreading exploit that pilfers crypto keys
    • Researchers Exploit Another Intel Hyper-Threading Flaw
    • PortSmash: A New Side-Channel Vulnerability Affecting SMT/HT Processors (CVE-2018-5407)
      A new CPU side-channel vulnerability made public today that's unrelated to Spectre and Meltdown speculative execution vulnerabilities is dubbed "PortSmash" but more formerly referred to as CVE-2018-5407.

      University researchers discovered this side-channel vulnerability that results in data leakage due to execution engine sharing on processors with Simultaneous Multi-Threading, like Hyper Threading on Intel CPUs. This can lead to stealing a private key from a TLS server in a reported example. PortSmash can leak encrypted data from the CPU. Most of the research thus far has been around Intel processors with Hyper Threading but it's believed other CPUs with SMT like IBM POWER and AMD CPUs are also potentially affected.
    • Update: Intel CPUs Impacted By PortSmash Side-Channel SMT Exploit, AMD Likely Also Vulnerable
      When it comes to impactful processor vulnerabilities, the two most well-known attacks announced the year are Spectre and Meltdown. The hardware and software industry scrambled to push out fixes to prevent these, and Microsoft is still working to minimize the performance impact of its mitigations.

      Today, however, we're learning of yet another side-channel vulnerability, which is being dubbed PortSmash. In layman's terms, a side-channel vulnerability uses complex methods to sniff out encrypted data within a CPU or system memory in an effort to gain escalated privileges and access "protected" data.
    • [Update: Intel Responds] Yet Another Side-Channel Vulnerability Discovered – Verified on Skylake and Kaby Lake
      Intel doesn’t seem to be catching a break… Security researchers have now discovered another chip flaw that could allow attackers to leak encrypted processor data. Dubbed as PortSmash, researchers have verified the exploit on Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake processors. However, they suggested that all CPUs that use a Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) architecture are impacted.

      SMT allows multiple computing threads to be executed in parallel on a CPU core and with this security flaw, attackers can run a malicious process next to legitimate processes using the architecture’s parallel thread running capabilities. By doing this, the malicious process can then exfiltrate data from the legit processes running on the same core.
    • PortSmash attack punches hole in Intel's Hyper-Thread CPUs, leaves with crypto keys
      Brainiacs in Cuba and Finland have found a new side-channel vulnerability in Intel x64 processors that could allow an attacker to sniff out cryptographic keys and other privileged information.

      Following disclosure of the flaw to Intel at the beginning of October, boffins from the Tampere University of Technology in Finland and Technical University of Havana, Cuba, today published proof-of-concept they're calling PortSmash.

      The research team used the PoC to steal an OpenSSL (version 1.1.0h or less) P-384 private key from a TLS server. (Subsequent versions of OpenSSL aren't susceptible.)
    • Campaign cybersecurity poses next major challenge for federal election officials

      He said that after next week’s elections the DNC and other groups will figure out which areas they need to improve on and create a playbook for the 2020 elections. From there, he said, private and public groups are going to have to work together to come up with a solution to ensure campaigns are better protected from cyberattacks.

    • We’re Still Way Too Vulnerable to Election [Cracking]

      Over the years, as paperless voting machines experienced problems around the country and election officials came to realize the folly of paperless elections, many counties and states switched to optical-scan machines. Today, about 80 percent of voters cast ballots either with optical-scan machines or on DRE machines outfitted with printers that produce a paper trail. Five states — Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, New Jersey, and Delaware — still use paperless systems exclusively, and nine states — Texas, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi — use paperless systems in some of their jurisdictions.

      But even though most machines now use paper ballots or produce a voter-verifiable paper backup, the election integrity problem has not been solved. Many states never look at the paper backup to verify the digital tallies, or they check only at a small percentage.

    • FIFA [crack] threatens further embarrassment to football's governing body

    • Infantino expects release of info from cyberattack on FIFA

      FIFA President Gianni Infantino is braced for a release of private information gained by [crack] after world soccer’s governing body said its computer network was subject to another cyberattack.

      The disclosure comes in the same month the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI said Russia’s military intelligence body was responsible for a [crack] on FIFA in 2016, which led to evidence from anti-doping investigations and lab results being published.

    • FDA isn't doing enough to prevent medical device [cracking], HHS report says

      The report came after the inspector general's office identified cybersecurity in medical devices as one of the top management problems for Health and Human Services. The FDA is the division responsible for the safety of these devices.

      The report says policies did not adequately address medical device cybersecurity problems, the FDA had not sufficiently tested its ability to respond to emergencies, and it did not have written standard operating procedures.

      According to the report, the FDA had not adequately assessed the risk that cybersecurity in medical devices can pose, which is what led to these weaknesses.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Give up your grenades and walk free: Sweden's explosives amnesty gets under way

      Sweden's first-ever amnesty period for illegal explosives got under way on Monday and is set to last until January 11th 2019. The hope is that criminals will choose to give up some of the hand grenades that are in circulation and get the weapons off the country's streets.

    • How An Entire Nation Became Russia's Test Lab for Cyberwar

      Now, in Ukraine, the quintessential cyberwar scenario has come to life. Twice. On separate occasions, invisible saboteurs have turned off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. Each blackout lasted a matter of hours, only as long as it took for scrambling engineers to manually switch the power on again. But as proofs of concept, the attacks set a new precedent: In Russia’s shadow, the decades-old nightmare of [crackers] stopping the gears of modern society has become a reality.

    • How did Iran find CIA spies? They Googled it

      Once a double agent presented information about a website the agent had been directed to in order to communicate with the CIA, Iranian intelligence apparently used aspects of the URL to search for other, similar websites. Iranian officials were reportedly able to rapidly identify a number of other such sites, which were set up as temporary communications systems for new, unvetted sources by the CIA. As a result, Iran's intelligence was able to quickly identify the Iranians communicating through those sites. The breach led to the roundup in 2011 of 30 people identified by Iran as CIA spies.

    • The Pentagon's Plan to Dominate the Economy
      Given his erratic behavior, from daily Twitter eruptions to upping his tally of lies by the hour, it’s hard to think of Donald Trump as a man with a plan. But in at least one area -- reshaping the economy to serve the needs of the military-industrial complex -- he's (gasp!) a socialist in the making.

      His plan is now visibly taking shape -- one we can see and assess thanks to a Pentagon-led study with a distinctly tongue-twisting title: “Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States.” The analysis is the brainchild of Trump’s adviser for trade and manufacturing policy, Peter Navarro, who happens to also be the key architect of the president’s trade wars.

      Navarro, however, can hardly take sole credit for the administration’s latest economic plan, since the lead agency for developing it was also the most interested of all in the project, the Pentagon itself, in particular its Office of Defense Industrial Policy. In addition, those producing the report did so in coordination with an alphabet soup of other agencies from the Department of Commerce to the Director of National Intelligence. And even that’s not all. It’s also the product of an “interagency task force” made up of 16 working groups and 300 “subject matter” experts, supplemented by over a dozen industry “listening sessions” with outfits like the National Defense Industrial Association, an advocacy organization that represents 1,600 companies in the defense sector.

      Before jumping into its substance and implications for the American economy and national defense, let me pause a moment to mention two other small matters.

      First, were you aware that the Pentagon even had an Office of Defense Industrial Policy? It sounds suspiciously like the kind of government organization that engages in economic planning, a practice anathema not just to Republicans but to many Democrats as well. The only reason it’s not a national scandal -- complete with Fox News banner headlines about the end of the American way of life as we know it and the coming of creeping socialism -- is because it’s part of the one institution that has always been exempt from the dictates of the “free market”: the Department of Defense.

      Second, how about those 300 subject matter experts? Since when does Donald Trump consult subject matter experts? Certainly not on climate change, the most urgent issue facing humanity and one where expert opinion is remarkably unified. The Pentagon and its contractors should, however, be thought of as the ultimate special interest group and with that status comes special treatment. And if that means consulting 300 such experts to make sure their “needs” are met, so be it.

    • Why Is WWE Creating Propaganda for Saudi Arabia?

      So while WWE has less of a need for the Saudi deal than ever before—worth somewhere from $20 million to $45 million in revenue per event and much less in profits, based on the hazy details in their SEC filings—the deal nevertheless fits into WWE’s new overall revenue strategy. The modern WWE is all about guaranteed or near-guaranteed money, removing the volatility of the traditional wrestling business from the equation. Vince McMahon doesn’t even have to be motivated to put together quality shows regularly anymore, because the biggest revenue streams have little or nothing to do with that sort of micro-level detail. Throw in how hard WWE has stressed the need for record revenue in the past at times when profits weren’t super high, and it becomes more clear how, at least fiscally, the Saudi deal made sense to McMahon and his family.

    • Khashoggi murder: Turkish leader blames Saudi state directly

      "We also know that those individuals came to carry out their orders: Kill Khashoggi and leave. Finally, we know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government."

      Writing that the murder had involved a "lot more than a group of security officials", President Erdogan called for "the puppet masters behind Khashoggi's killing" to be exposed.

    • The Khashoggi Gambit
      Khashoggi’s assassination puts Saudi Arabia’s “de facto ruler” and “reformer” Prince Mohammed bin Salmon (MbS) in the glare of a harsh spotlight when he can least afford it.


      The myth of the “moderate jihadist” that Khashoggi embodied as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, brought the United States into Afghanistan in the 1970s and keeps American troops there today fulfilling America’s longest war. That mythology rests on the still cherished assumption that Western-hating radical Islamists will eventually evolve into “freedom loving” democratic/neoliberal free market capitalists if given the time, money and military muscle. That self-serving mythology plays into the very heart of the neoliberal agenda that at once keeps the U.S. fighting a vague, endless war on multiple terrorist organizations like the Taliban or barely disguised al Qaeda-surrogates while simultaneously supporting them. That this idiocy has already destroyed numerous secular Middle East states that were well on their way to modernity, and has since failed miserably in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria should by now be self-evident, yet the empire’s need to rule everywhere at any cost rolls on. Don’t be fooled by the gushing “free world” democracy PR campaign. Jamal Khashoggi, nephew of billionaire arms-dealer Adnan Khashoggi was not evolving toward liberal democracy, conservative democracy or anything remotely having to do with a “free world”. In the words of Alastair Crooke, “Khashoggi symbolized too, in a personal way, that ambiguous tentacle stretching between [Osama] bin Laden’s Al-Qaed’da and the Muslim Brotherhood”. Despite his friendly, smiling face wearing an – oh so American – baseball cap on the opinion pages of the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi was a loyal propagandist for a brutal Saudi regime and an unreformed jihadist. Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to Washington even broke off a close relationship with Khashoggi, admonishing him for his blind adherence to the Brotherhood and its “cult” status “that has used terrorist actions to promote its views”. That he found a home at the Washington Post speaks to his pedigree as a dedicated neoconservative. As Alastair Crooke points out, “Khashoggi is hailed in the West as a liberal, favoring democratic reform, but in fact he was a staunch supporter of the monarchical system (of which MbS is the effective head). He contended however, that all these monarchies were ‘reformable’. Only the secular republics, he suggested (such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya) were unreformable, and required to be overthrown.”

    • Mass Murder and American History
      This is bigger than hate, this latest mass shooting, last weekend, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which, oh my God, 11 more innocent souls died at the hands of a home-grown terrorist.

      The president’s anti-immigrant tweets may have been in grotesque synchronicity with the killer’s: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. . . . This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” And they no doubt fed the climate in which Robert Bowers acted, but this is bigger than Donald Trump. He may be the trigger, but the weapon has been ready and waiting for a long time.

      Every mass shooting happens in a context, and every mass shooting cries out that we must examine the social infrastructure of dehumanization and violence.

      “Yet this too needs to be contextualized as a current manifestation of the racist foundations of our country,” Rabbi Michael Lerner wrote the day after the murders, reminding us of such matters as slavery, Native American genocide and the wars of the last half century.

      “This pattern of violence and demeaning of ‘the Other’ has become so deeply embedded in the culture of the U.S. that only a true consciousness transformation will undermine its prevalence in both major political parties.”

      “Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

      These are the words I can’t get out of my head — the killer’s final post on his social media platform before he took his guns and headed off to the Tree of Life Synagogue. This is war talk — or rather, the pretend war talk of a boy playing with guns . . . a boy who has become an adult and now has real guns and a “real” enemy — the immigrants swarming into our country, aided by the Jews — and he’s about to leap to glory and save his people.

    • CNN not commenting on Don Lemon’s remark about white men and terrorism
      Lemon’s statement, on his show Monday, attracted criticism in conservative circles. He was talking about the negative attention given to a caravan of potential refugees in Central America. Meanwhile, white men are the suspects in recent shootings of two blacks in Kentucky and at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

      Lemon said that, “we have to stop demonizing people and realize that the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.”

    • Twitter apologizes for 'Kill all Jews' trending topic

      Twitter is apologizing for the fact that "Kill all Jews" appeared as a trending topic on its platform Friday.

    • Tweets by Russian trolls aim to rouse conflict over Islam in Britain

      The overwhelming majority of tweets in 2017 from accounts associated with Russian trolls centered around the status of Islam within Britain, a study by think tank Demos has revealed.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Cruel Lie that Julian Assange Can Leave the Embassy “Whenever He Wants”
      If Julian Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy, he’ll be arrested, tortured, and may be executed. A UN panel has found that Assange is being effectively detained in the embassy through the threat of formal imprisonment. And the Trump administration, ironically with the support of the same Democrats who warn about Trump’s attacks on the free press, is prepared to seek charges against Assange so that they can arrest him right after he’s ejected from the embassy.

      He isn’t staying in the embassy out of “pride,” as some have accused him of doing, but out of physical self-preservation; if the UK extradites him to the U.S, he’ll very likely be tortured in prison, like he was tortured during his experience with solitary confinement in 2010. The U.S. will no doubt try to prevent him from having a fair trial, and it’s possible that he’ll be executed if or when he’s convicted.

      In the meantime, he’s effectively being tortured every day. Assange’s isolation in the embassy has qualified as solitary confinement, a punishment that human rights officials have repeatedly classified as torture. And after over six years of not stepping outside, Assange’s physical and mental health have become seriously damaged. In January, three doctors assessed that Assange “badly needs care.” As the doctors wrote in their column, he’s also “unable to avail himself of his right to access medical institutions due to the threat of imminent arrest should he step outside the embassy, even for a medical emergency.”

    • New Threats to Julian Assange; Consortium News to Broadcast Emergency Meeting Live on Saturday

    • Gov't Says Accused CIA Hacking Tools Leaker Leaking Even More Classified Info From Behind Bars
      The DOJ is still waiting for accused Vault 7 leaker Joshua Shulte's trial to begin, but that's not stopping it from adding to the long list of charges he already faces. The former NSA/CIA operative's house was raided last year by the feds who were looking for evidence of Shulte's leak of CIA hacking tools to Wikileaks. It found some of that, but also found 10,000 child porn images in the 5+ terabytes of data seized.

      The child porn alone will likely see Shulte put away for a long time if the prosecution can secure a conviction. Leaking top secret tools isn't likely to be greeted with a wrist slap -- not with the forever War on Leakers still in progress. For some reason, the government felt compelled to add copyright infringement to the list of charges after discovering a few pieces of pirated content on Shulte's personal server.

      Shulte -- who is locked up in a New York detention facility until he goes to trial -- must figure he has nothing to lose. That's one conclusion that can be drawn from the latest set of charges being brought by the DOJ. (via Slashdot)

      According to new court documents filed late Wednesday, October 31, US prosecutors plan to file three new charges against Joshua Schulte for allegedly leaking more classified data while in detention at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC).

      The filing [PDF] is quite the read. According to the allegations, Shulte had access to multiple smuggled cellphones and was using them to disseminate classified info to "third parties" outside the prison walls. It appears the info Shulte smuggled out of the prison came from classified documents released to him as part of his pre-trial discovery. The DOJ has now stripped him of access to classified documents, restricting him to unclassified info released by the FBI.


      Three more charges are headed Shulte's way, all of them related to unlawful disclosure of classified documents. This isn't charge stacking -- not if the government's allegations are true -- but it could definitely nudge Shulte towards a plea deal that will save the DOJ a lot of time, energy, and arguments over presenting sensitive information in open court.

      Then again, Shulte appears to be anything but cooperative. Leaking classified documents directly under the fed's nose while in supervised detention is a bold move that bears a lot of resemblance to a middle finger extended in the direction of the government. This may end up being a very fun trial to watch.

    • CIA Vault7 leaker to be charged for leaking more classified data while in prison
      According to new court documents filed late Wednesday, October 31, US prosecutors plan to file three new charges against Joshua Schulte for allegedly leaking more classified data while in detention at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC).

      Prosecutors say they first learned of Schulte's behavior back in May, when they found out that "Schulte had distributed the Protected Search Warrant Materials to his family members for purposes of dissemination to other third parties, including members of the media."

    • EFF Asks California Supreme Court to Hear Case on Anonymization and the Ability to Access Data Under the California Public Records Act
      EFF is filing an amicus letter in support of a petition for review, asking the California Supreme Court to overturn a harmful appellate court decision in Sander v. State Bar of California that could prevent people from requesting public records from databases that contain private information, even if the requesters specifically ask for private information to be anonymized.

      The First District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in August that effectively rewrites the California Public Records Act (CPRA) in a way that could limit Californians’ access to the vast amount of public data that state and local agencies are generating on our behalf. The court ruled that requiring the State Bar of California to de-identify personal information that could be linked to specific bar applicants creates a “new record” because it requires the State Bar to “recode its original data into new values.”

      The petition raises “an important question of law” that the California Supreme Court must settle: does anonymization of public data amount to a creation of new records under the CPRA? If the appellate court’s opinion becomes the standard across California, the holding would undermine the purpose of the CPRA–the right to access government data and records in order to understand what the government is doing and allow oversight to prevent government inefficiencies or malfeasance. This is especially important today as modern governments generate and consume vast amounts of digital data about members of the public.

    • Wikileaks: Congress Leaders Competed in November 1984 to Shed More Sikh Blood

    • 1984: Thirty-Four Years On, Survivors of India's Deadliest Massacre Await Justice
      Khalistan movement, Operation Bluestar, Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Anti-Sikh massacres — 1984 is etched in public memory as a disastrous, tragic year for India.

      Operation Bluestar, ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to wipe out the Khalistani militants holed up inside the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, saw the death of hundreds of civilians, militants and military personnel alike. The Akal Takht, one of the sacred religious sites of the Sikhs within the complex, was badly damaged too, enraging a section of the Sikh population. Bluestar ultimately led to a cycle of violence: the prime minister was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, and anti-Sikh killings on a massive, mind-numbing scale were orchestrated by leaders and supporters of the ruling Congress party in Delhi and elsewhere, claiming the lives of more than 3,000 persons from the Sikh community. Unofficial estimates place the death toll at more than 5,000.

    • Christine Assange, mother of persecuted WikiLeaks publisher, endorses Niles Niemuth, SEP candidate for Congress
      Christine Assange, the mother of persecuted Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, endorsed Socialist Equality Party Congressional candidate Niles Niemuth in Twitter post Wednesday.

      Assange encouraged Wikileaks supporters in Michigan’s 12th district to vote for Niles due to his consistent defense of her son, who is currently confined to the Ecuadorian embassy.

      “Candidate NILES NIEMUTH is running for Congress (Michigan's 12 District). He has consistently publicly defended journalist Julian Assange! Consider voting for an anti-corruption/ pro Assange candidate!

    • What Empire Loyalists Are Really Saying When They Bash Julian Assange
      Wired has just published what might be the single most brazenly dishonest and manipulative piece of down-punching empire smut that I have ever read. An article by Virginia Heffernan titled “The Real Houseguest of the Ecuadorian Embassy” revolves around the outright lie that Julian Assange is suing the Ecuadorian government because he doesn’t feel like cleaning up after his cat and maintaining basic hygiene in the embassy he’s been confined to since 2012. In reality, the legal case arose from the fact that despite being granted political asylum for his journalism, Assange has for months been cut off from the world and forbidden to practice journalism by the new government of Ecuador, and would remain unable to practice journalism under the new conditions Quito recently imposed upon him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • West Virginia’s Large-Scale Purge Raises Concerns Among Voters
      West Virginia’s secretary of state reported last month that more than 100,000 voters — about one in 12 registered voters — had been purged from the rolls prior to the upcoming election.

      As we documented in a major July report, West Virginia is one of several states that have purged their rolls more aggressively in recent years, raising concerns that eligible voters could be disenfranchised.

      In order to keep voter rolls accurate, election officials need to periodically remove the names of voters who have died or moved. But purges conducted without sufficient care can lead to the removal of eligible voters.

      West Virginia’s removals deserve close scrutiny. Some voters in the state have reported problems including being unable to access their records online, and counties reported differing remedies for restoring the registrations of those removed by mistake.

      The Brennan Center reviewed public reports and conducted interviews with voters and election officials to assess West Virginia’s voting landscape leading up to next month’s election. Here’s what we found:

    • “Jobs Alliance” Backed by Coal Giant Loses Bid To Stop West Virginia Natural Gas Plant
      The state Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the state Public Service Commission’s approval of Brooke County Power LLC’s gas plant, turning aside objections by the Ohio Valley Jobs Alliance and saying the plant’s developers had “substantially complied” with state power plant siting rules.

      Separately, the jobs alliance appears to have abandoned challenges of gas plant permits issued to the Brooke County Power plant and another in Harrison County. The group’s lawyers did not file appeals of permit approvals prior to the legal deadline for doing so, developers and supporters of the plants said this week.

      In September, the Charleston Gazette-Mail and ProPublica detailed how Murray Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal companies, had been quietly funding the jobs alliance’s litigation aimed at stopping the natural gas power plants proposed for Brooke and Harrison counties and another in Marshall County.


      A lawyer for the OVJA did not respond to a request for comment. A Murray Energy spokesman declined to comment. OVJA leader Jim Thomas has previously said that other than legal fees, Murray Energy does not provide any funding to the group.

    • Barley shortages from climate change could mean less beer worldwide

      Beer brewers account for roughly 17 percent of the barley consumption worldwide, although it varies from region to region, with the vast majority of crops harvested as feed for livestock. If barley becomes too scarce, more of it will be funneled to livestock, since beer is technically a luxury good. The shortage of barley will give rise to steep price hikes and corresponding decreases in global consumption. While the most affluent beer lovers will still be able to indulge in a pint or two, "Future climate and pricing conditions could put beer out of reach for hundreds of millions of people around the world," says study co-author Steven Davis of the University of California, Irvine.

    • Global warming will have us crying in what's left of our beer

      In a study published today in Nature Plants, researchers from the University of California, Irvine and other institutions report that concurrent droughts and heat waves, exacerbated by anthropogenic global warming, will lead to sharp declines in crop yields of barley, beer's main ingredient.

    • The UN's Devastating Climate Change Report Was Too Optimistic

      But there are fault-lines in the IPCC report. Among them is that its dire warning of coming catastrophe, though devastating, could well be conservative. A number of scientists point out that the report fails to fully acknowledge the role of amplifying feedbacks as highlighted by Hansen.


      This self-reinforcing feedback loop could lead to an ‘Arctic death spiral,’ where the loss of the sea ice accelerates the melting of permafrost, which some scientists believe could release large quantities of methane—a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent in driving warming than CO2—into the atmosphere.


      That worst-case outcome is not inevitable—but certain catastrophic outcomes are already locked in. According to a study in Climatic Change in 2016, parts of the Middle East and North Africa will become uninhabitable by 2050 due to intense summer heatwaves, even if we stay within 1.5€°C.

    • New UN Report Warns of Impending Catastrophe as World Warms, Glaciers Melt
      have come to accept the bittersweet nature of my mountain trips. I venture into the heights for solace from the political, social and ecological demise that is raging across the planet. While camping at 7,000 feet in the central Cascade Mountains, I take in the view of the grand east face of Glacier Peak from atop Fortress Mountain. I gulp in the thick stars above. I find solace in the fact that those who are wrecking the planet will never be able to desecrate the stars.

      However, while marveling at the glaciers glowing in the morning sun on Glacier Peak, their rapid retreat is starkly highlighted by the barren Earth below, where they once resided.

    • Big Banks Just Flunked Their Own Test on Climate, Indigenous Rights
      On the very same day, in a bitter irony, many of those same banks re-upped their support for Enbridge, the Canadian company behind the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, which tramples Indigenous rights and is flatly incompatible with the goals of the Paris climate agreement. They did so just days after the publication of a landmark United Nations report showing the desperate urgency of taking concrete steps to tackle the climate crisis. It’s as if the banks wanted to supply their own headline example of exactly why the Equator Principles are broken and in dire need of repair.

      The current round of soul-searching around the Equator Principles dates back to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Indigenous-led campaign calling out the banks behind the project. DAPL was a crisis for those banks, and it was a scandal for the Equator Principles Association. How did such an obviously flawed project pass muster?

      In response to activist pressure, in 2017, the Equator Principles Association agreed to a revision process, including examining how the principles deal with the internationally accepted standard that projects cannot be built unless directly impacted Indigenous communities give their free, prior and informed consent. The Equator Principles currently ignore these principles in rich countries like the US — and ignore climate impacts everywhere.

  • Finance

    • Amazon Raises Minimum Pay for Everyone—Except These Workers

      On Thursday, Amazon is raising the minimum wage for all U.S. employees to $15 an hour, a move that was seen as a response to political pressures. The company said it’s also giving raises to every operations and customer service employee in hourly jobs, including part-time and temps. Flex workers are not eligible because they’re contractors.

    • Carl Icahn sues Dell over $21bn plan to go public again

    • Inequality Figures Heavily on the Ballot This Midterm
      It’s been a whirlwind two years since the 2016 US elections, and we’ve seen the Trump administration forge forward with disastrous policies that protect and enrich our elites while damaging the most vulnerable among us. But Americans have been pushing back at every opportunity, from our workplaces to our borders.

      That opposition will continue at the polls on Election Day, and inequality will figure heavily in the decisions voters make. On the ballot will be a host of local and state initiatives that target the concentration of income and wealth and an even greater number of candidates who have run on platforms that press for greater equality.

      As voters head to the polls, here are a few of the key inequality stories we’ll be monitoring on Election Day.

    • How to Make College More Affordable
      When Michelle Nielsen, 46, decided to return to school at Houston Community College to become a pastry chef, she quickly discovered that she had no room in her budget for food. Even with financial aid covering her tuition and a work-study program to help with rent, Nielsen knew she wouldn’t be able to get by without extra help.

      Nielsen swallowed her pride and accepted help in the form of a food scholarship offered by her school that distributes food to students twice a month.

      “It took me awhile to say, you know what, you need the help,” Nielsen said. Having to work on an empty stomach is a distraction, she said.

      Her food scholarship has eliminated the stress of finding ways to pay for food each month. Now, Nielsen can focus on learning how to pay for food as a chef.

    • Chicago Creates New Office of Labor Standards to Combat Wage Theft
      Pay in restaurants isn’t usually high to begin with, but line prep cook Juan Sandoval says he rarely even gets the full pay he’s due.

      Sandoval, who has worked in the Chicago restaurant scene for six years, told Truthout that his employers frequently fail to pay him time-and-a-half for working overtime hours above 40 hours a week. Right now, he said, he’s working 12 hours a day, yet he’s only getting paid $900 a week — what he’s owed for each regular hour, but minus the extra $400 he should get for overtime.

      That missing $400 creates hardship not just for him and his two children, ages 17 and 19, but also for the siblings he often supports financially. “It leaves you with less money and also leaves you less time,” he said, speaking in Spanish through a translator. “So, it’s less money for your family and less time for your family.”

      If he got paid correctly for his extra hours, he could cut his schedule down a bit more and go to culinary school. He could spend more time with his children. “When I don’t spend time [with them] it runs the risk of them being influenced by other people, me not being able to be as much of a role model,” he said.

      But he hasn’t reported his mistreatment to anyone. “I wasn’t really sure where to go,” he said.

      That’s why he got involved in a campaign to create a labor rights agency to closely regulate workplaces like his. “After many years of experiencing this kind of mistreatment, discrimination and rejection, I decided that it was really enough,” he said. “I felt an urge to really do something.”
    • A Trash Industry Union Thrives, and Employees Say They Are Left Holding the Bag
      When Carl Orlando began work as a driver for the private trash hauler Liberty Ashes in July 2015, the job quickly proved punishing. His shift ran from about 4:30 p.m. to 9 a.m., he said, sometimes as often as six days a week. His route collecting trash from commercial businesses took him through three of New York City’s five boroughs.

      “You were one truck trying to do the work of three trucks,” Orlando said.

      After three months on the job, Orlando estimated he was racking up about 77 hours a week but being shorted on his overtime pay. Orlando said he asked another driver how he could go about collecting the money he was owed. Technically, the driver was his shop steward, but that didn’t mean much at Liberty Ashes. Orlando had heard there was a union at the company, and that someone would sign him up, but it hadn’t happened. The driver told Orlando he’d make a call and get back to him, Orlando said.

      Liberty Ashes has been in the trash hauling business for decades, and today it is run by brothers Michael and Stephen Bellino out of a depot in Jamaica, Queens. It has roughly 3,000 customers, 17 trucks and not the most spotless record for safety. Federal records show the company’s trucks have in recent years been cited by inspectors for defective brakes, broken axles and worn tires. On one troubled truck, three workers lost fingers in accidents, ProPublica found.

    • Economy Adds 250,000 Jobs in October, Employment Hits Recovery High
      While the news in the household survey is overwhelmingly positive, there were a couple of discouraging data points. The share of unemployment due to voluntary quits, a measure of workers’ confidence in the labor market, dropped to 11.9 percent. This compares to an average of almost 14.0 percent and a peak of over 15.0 percent in 2000.

      There also has been a drop of 156,000, or 1.0 percent, in the number of workers who report being self-employed over the last year. This could be due to uncertainty over health insurance. The share of the self-employed rose following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. With its future now in question, many workers may not want to take the risk of leaving jobs that provide health insurance.

      The job gains in the establishment survey were broadly based. Health care led the way, adding 35,600 jobs. There appears to have been a pick-up in job growth in the sector, as it added an average of 33,900 jobs over the last three months. This compares to an average of 26,900 over the last year.

    • AFSCME Workers Find Their Power on the Picket Line
      Some 24,000 members of AFSCME Local 3299, which represents support staff and patient care staff in the University of California (UC) medical and school systems, took to the picket lines on October 23-25 for the second three-day strike of this year. The 15,000 members of University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) Local 9119 workers at UC also went on strike and were out on the picket lines with AFSCME.

      The picket lines last week were lively, with strikers stopping several scab deliveries at various campuses. On the second day of the walkout, members of UNITE HERE on strike at Marriott hotels in the Bay Area joined UC strikers from other campuses in converging on UC San Francisco for a rally of more than 1,000 people. That day, all of the service units from campuses without medical centers (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Merced and Riverside) joined big picket lines on campuses with big medical centers (San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Davis and Irvine.)

      AFSCME members at UC have been without a contract for 20 months, while UPTE’s agreement expired one month ago. AFSCME organized a three-day strike in May — members of UPTE and the California Nurses Association at UC medical facilities joined AFSCME workers for the final two days of the walkout. The main sticking points in negotiations with management have been inadequate pay increases, the university’s plan to turn workers’ pensions into 401(k)s, outsourcing of jobs to contractors who pay less money and increases in health care premiums. Another major point of contention is pay differences because of race and gender — something that isn’t always taken on by the union movement. AFSCME has highlighted pay discrimination and differences in career advancement in several reports and is trying to eliminate these injustices.

    • Trump or Brussels: Brexit and the art of 'No deal'
      How is it possible that Britain is contemplating a ‘No deal’ breakdown of the Brexit talks only weeks away from their deadline? How can it conceivable that the Chancellor of the Exchequer while warning against it, is budgeting €£500 million for scoping out a ‘No deal’ as the authoritative S&P Global Ratings publishes a financial analysis that shows “A no-deal Brexit could push the U.K. economy into a moderate recession and lower the economy's long-term growth potential [leading to] the economic loss of about 5.5% GDP over three years”? Which means, the agency spells out, “a loss per household of €£2,700 in income per year, 2019-2021”. A more hair-raising overview of the likely consequences is elegantly presented under 29 headings in the London Review of Books. For a thorough description of what a ‘No deal’ could be like we have to turn away from the London media to Der Spiegel’s Peter Müller and Jörg Schindler, to learn what could happen on 30 March 2019 if Britain leaves the EU without any agreement.

      The New Statesman’s political editor, George Eaton, quotes Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer MP as saying ‘No deal’ is inconceivable: Parliament, would not let it happen. Eaton himself says a ‘No deal’ would represent “The greatest failure of statecraft in British post-war European history”. Nonetheless, his colleague Steven Bush, in his lucid ‘Morning Call’ emails, insists there is no “plausible path to a parliamentary majority” for any agreement the Prime Minister brings back from Brussels and therefore “unless the politics shift” the UK will indeed leave “without a deal”. When the ex-Secretary of State for Brexit, David Davis MP appeared to disagree, saying “Terror… the fear of no deal… That will win and there will be a deal”, he promptly recanted the next morning on Twitter to predict that no agreement between the Prime Minister and Brussels will pass the Commons.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Twitter deletes 10,000 accounts engaging in voter suppression

      The number of accounts is small compared to the millions it has deleted linked to misinformation, but still show that a not insignificant number of accounts engage in voter suppression tactics on Twitter's platform.

      The media seem to be impaled on the horns of a dilemma: Cover Donald Trump and, if they do so with a shred of integrity and concern for the truth, their reportage will inevitably be negative. Trump and his minions then say it’s fake news and throw the resulting red meat right to the base, dividing the country ever more deeply. The media refuse to change, and so does Trump. We spiral downward into a rabbit hole whose surprises we dread to encounter. More frightening yet—we may be closer to the beginning than the end.

      Here’s a thought: What if the media just stopped covering Trump on a daily basis? Why must they dutifully replay every infuriating word from every canned, rigged, reality-TV campaign rally and faux news conference and then bemoan his total narcissism, his complete lack of empathy, his wedge-driving failure of leadership, his dog whistles for racists, his winks and nods to neo-Nazis, his total and unrelenting lack of human decency?

      In a world in which Trump has driven normal out the window, why must journalists play along and keep sliding down the slippery slope of trying to cover Trump like a normal president? For one thing, it isn’t working; in fact it feeds directly into his egomaniacal wet dreams. Just imagine how it would infuriate him if no one covered him in West Virginia and Montana and North Dakota or even on the White House helipad.

    • Missouri Counties Face Uphill Climb to Prepare for High-Stakes Midterm
      Missouri is rushing to retrain thousands of poll workers just days ahead of the midterm election because of a new court ruling that forced changes to the state’s voter ID law.

      The law, enacted in June 2017, said that voters could provide a non-photo ID at the polls, such as a utility bill or voter registration card, and sign an affidavit in order to vote. But on Oct. 23, just two weeks before Election Day, a decision by Missouri Circuit Judge Richard Callahan prohibited local election authorities from requiring voters to sign an affidavit, effectively making a non-photo ID adequate for voting on a regular ballot.

      Now, election offices statewide are scrambling to retrain poll workers in the new procedures, and officials expressed uncertainty about whether poll workers will grasp the legal changes.

    • Israel as Irony
      Just over a month later the Jerusalem Post reported on Alam’s article under the headline, “US prof justifies Palestinian terror attacks.” The Boston Herald followed two days later with an article headlined, “Prof shocks Northeastern with defense of suicide bombers.”

      “It is curious,” Alam later wrote, “how these reports had inverted the objective of my essay.” Indeed the inversion of reality is at the very core of Zionism, according to which the aggressors in Israel are the Palestinians, while its Jewish residents merely desire a safe haven free of anti-Semitism.
    • Trump - don’t let ‘Tommy Robinson’ preach his anti-Muslim message in the US
      Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, has been invited to speak at a major conference in Washington DC. If he’s allowed to attend, it will give him a big platform to push his anti-Muslim agenda. It will give him the respectability of appearing alongside members of Congress. And it could net him in the range of €£1million via fundraising. The question is whether – given his long criminal record – he’ll be allowed to attend.

      Here’s the situation: the Middle East Forum has, in conjunction with the David Horowitz Freedom Center, invited Lennon to the United States in mid-November. In addition, Rep. Paul Gosar and six other members of Congress have invited Lennon to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society in a closed-door event.

      Our analysis suggests that Lennon will raise in the range of €£1m as a result of the exposure and links he can foster on this trip if he is allowed into the US. We expect him to use his media profile and funding to tour the country organising demonstrations about grooming scandals. Previous demonstrations organised by, or for, Lennon have descended into violence and left a trail of division.
    • Restricting Election Reporting to Issues That Don’t Matter - A guest perspective
      A campaign for state auditor can provoke an intense, even exciting, discussion of significant issues via their cost to government. Or they can sink into boring aspects of state finance. Or politicians can try to turn debates into a circus of insults. Which campaign the voters see depends very much on which aspects news media choose to cover. As the Green Party candidate for Missouri state auditor, I brought up in the first candidates’ debate (9/14/18) the trial of Monsanto/Bayer, which resulted in a California jury awarding groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million in July 2018. The jury determined that his terminal illness resulted from use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

      As a Green candidate, I am very aware of environmental dangers of herbicides. I explained that the state auditor should examine how much Missouri spends purchasing Roundup for use on state parks, roadways, and lands surrounding state colleges, universities and governmental offices. After all, with over 8,000 pending lawsuits against such a widely hated agribusiness, continued use of its poisons could put state finances at high risk.

    • The X Factor in the Midterms
      Are people in U.S. awakened to the importance of the rapidly approaching midterm election? With both Democrats and Republicans vying for control of the House and Senate, the majority party will have the advantage to pass their legislative agendas – producing outcomes that could hugely impact Trump’s presidency and the direction of the nation. On this episode of Making Contact, we speak with Dr. James Lance Taylor about the how the midterm elections actually work, and its significance in shaping our political landscape. Redistricting? Voter Disenfranchisement? (more) conservative Supreme Court judges? What’s the power of local and state elections without the Electoral College in play? If there’s such a thing as a blue wave and a pink wave what would a Black wave mean?

    • How Facebook Let Advertisers Target ‘White Genocide’ Enthusiasts
      They ran a series of tests on Facebook’s automated platform and found that Facebook’s system had identified such a category on its own. The company offered this racism based category among its predefined suggestions for advertisers.
    • Signature Match Laws Disproportionately Impact Voters Already on the Margins
      We sign things all the time – to pay for groceries with a credit card or end a letter to a friend, for example. Rarely do our signatures come under scrutiny. Yet, a number of states are denying people the right to vote because the signature on their absentee ballot – and sometimes even on their application for a ballot itself– doesn’t exactly match their signature on the voter registration rolls. And in many cases, the state does not even tell the affected voter that their ballot has been rejected.

      Ballots being rejected because of a perceived signature mismatch heavily affects voters already at the margins -- people with disabilities, trans and gender-nonconforming people, women, people for whom English is a second language, and military personnel.

      Over the past year, the ACLU has brought a series of lawsuits across the country which challenge signature matching processes that result in the unconstitutional disenfranchisement of eligible voters. In August, we won a case in New Hampshire on the behalf of citizens whose ballots were discarded without their knowledge, who did not even know they had been disenfranchised until the ACLU of New Hampshire called to tell them. In April, we were victorious in California state court on the same issue. Earlier this fall, in Michigan, when signatures were being counted for ballot initiatives, we sued for the same reason. And most recently, the ACLU sued the state of Georgia for rejecting close to 600 absentee ballots for suspected signature mismatches. The ACLU won a temporary restraining order in that case on October 24.

    • Secret service to testify on 'political paedophiles' at child abuse inquiry
      ritain's spy agencies will reveal its knowledge of alleged Westminster-related child abuse at a public inquiry amid concerns it aided in an establishment cover-up.


      Mr O'Connor said: "We have been asked expressly on behalf of several of the core participants [of the inquiry] whether all of the evidence from the security and intelligence agencies will be given in public hearings, or...

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Pakistan's Islamist Party Warns Government of Countrywide Protests on Blasphemy Verdict

      The video message is being circulated on social media and the mainstream media and has generated a debate inside Pakistan over the fate of Asia Bibi.

    • Criminal conviction over disparaging religious doctrines not a violation of freedom of expression: potential IP implications of the latest ECtHR ruling
      A few days ago the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued yet another interesting judgment, which - albeit not directly related to IP - might be nonetheless relevant for the interpretation and application of public policy/morality exclusions, especially in the case of blasphemous and offensive subject matter.


      In light of all these principles, the ECtHR concluded that, although Austria would enjoy a wide margin of appreciation, the fact that the applicant had made her statements in public in the context of seminars entitled in such a way as to convey the impression of objectivity, meant that the seminars were attended by different groups of people. As such, she should have been aware that "her statements were partly based on untrue facts and apt to arouse (justified) indignation in others."

      As such, Austrian courts did not unduly interfered with the applicant's freedom of expression.

    • Upholding the Jihadist’s Veto

      This remains true today. There is ample evidence to debunk the claim that laws against blasphemy are a necessary and effective tool for ensuring social peace. The vast majority of European democracies have abolished their blasphemy bans without an increase in religious conflict, unrest or violence. And those who do seek to enforce the “Jihadist’s Veto” by killing and threatening journalists and authors in Amsterdam, Paris and Copenhagen, should not be rewarded for their efforts. Enforcing blasphemy bans is neither a sign of progress and tolerance nor likely to appease religious extremists.

    • Why The Whole Freaking World Knows That Rep. Jeff Fortenberry Hates Being Called Fartenberry
      I have to admit that before yesterday, I'd never even heard of US Representative Jeff Fortenberry from Nebraska's 1st Congressional District (even though I visited his district while he was in office). However, boy am I hearing an awful lot about Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, and the one thing I will now always associate with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry is that he and his staff are so offended that anyone might call him "Fartenberry" that they'll ignore the 1st Amendment of the Constitution and threaten a professor for the grievous offense of liking a Facebook post with an image of a defaced campaign sign changing his name.

      No, really.


      Again, let's just be clear what'a happening here (and it's going to get crazier). Someone else made some additions to the sign. Someone else took a photo. Someone else posted it to Facebook. The sole thing that Kohen did was click the "like" button because he found it amusing. And Fortenberry's chief of staff emailed Kohen's boss, Kohen's boss's boss and Kohen's boss's boss's boss to complain.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Tim Berners-Lee warns that tech giants may need to be 'broken up'

      The combined market value of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft is $3.7tn; equal to Germany's 2017 GDP, and, arguably, they wield just as much influence.

    • Father of Web says tech giants may have to be split up

      The digital revolution has spawned a handful of U.S.-based technology companies since the 1990s that now have a combined financial and cultural power greater than most sovereign states.

    • Stockholm says no to Apple 'town square' in its oldest park

      But the retail strategy Apple announced last year suggests that it was no misjudgment: blurring the boundaries between public and private space is exactly what the company is trying to do.

    • Tim Cook Rebranding Apple as a Privacy Warrior Is a Cynical Joke
      Tim Cook understands rebranding. He transformed Steve Jobs' scrappy, innovative company into a sleepy, iterative cash cow. Now he's trying to change the rules for big tech.


      The problem is that the narrative is not remotely true. Users understand that services free to them are supported by advertising. They know Google keeps track of their search history, Facebook knows their friends and likes and Amazon logs what they buy. They are not being duped.

      Cook knows this, too. He's not worried about data collection. He's worried about competitors building better products and services than Apple. So he is attempting to rewrite the rules.

      Artificial intelligence is the future of commerce. In the old days, companies came up with ideas. They ran focus groups and other testing, then put live products out into the market place. It was hit and mostly miss. Now innovative companies are use AI and massive simulation to fashion new products and services. It is a revolution made possible by data. And companies are locked in mortal combat to get it.

    • UK gov begs Apple to unlock NFC for passport-scanning Brexit app

      The app allows users to apply for "settled status" with three simple questions, a selfie, and a scan of the NFC chip on their EU passport. Bosh. Should be easy.

    • Snowden Files Declaration in NSA Spying Case Confirming Authenticity of Draft Inspector General Report Discussing Unprecedented Surveillance of Americans, Which He Helped Expose
      EFF filed papers with the court in its long-running Jewel v. NSA mass spying case today that included a surprising witness: Edward Snowden. Mr. Snowden’s short declaration confirms that a document relied upon in the case, a draft NSA Inspector General Report from 2009 discussing the mass surveillance program known as Stellar Wind, is actually the same document that he came upon during the course of his employment at NSA contractor. Mr. Snowden confirms that he remembers the document because it helped convince him that the NSA had been engaged in illegal surveillance.

      Mr. Snowden’s declaration was presented to the court because the NSA has tried to use a legal technicality to convince the court to disregard the document. The NSA has refused to authenticate the document itself. This is important because documents gathered as evidence in court cases generally must be authenticated by whoever created them or has personal knowledge of their creation in order for a court to allow them to be used. The NSA is claiming that national security prevents it from saying to the court what everyone in the world now knows: that in 2009 the Inspector General of the NSA drafted a report discussing the Stellar Wind program. The document has been public now for many years, has never been claimed to be fraudulent, and was the subject of global headlines at the time it was first revealed. Instead of acknowledging these obvious facts, the NSA has asserted that the plaintiffs may not rely upon it unless it is confirmed to be authentic by someone with personal knowledge that it is.
    • Sen. Ron Wyden Introduces Bill That Would Send CEOs to Jail for Violating Consumer Privacy

      Wyden’s bill proposes that companies whose revenue exceeds $1 billion per year—or warehouse data on more than 50 million consumers or consumer devices—submit “annual data protection reports” to the government detailing all steps taken to protect the security and privacy of consumers’ personal information.

      The proposed legislation would also levy penalties up to 20 years in prison and $5 million in fines for executives who knowingly mislead the FTC in these reports. The FTC’s authority over such matters is currently limited—one of the reasons telecom giants have been eager to move oversight of their industry from the Federal Communications Commission to the FTC.

    • Senator Wyden Releases Draft Of Privacy Rules That Silicon Valley Probably Won't Like Very Much
      As I've pointed out repeatedly, we're really really bad at regulating "privacy" in large part because most people don't understand privacy -- and it means different things to different people. And, so far, most attempts at regulating privacy have created massive negative consequences, while doing very little to actually protect privacy. The ones most making the news are the GDPR in the EU (though reaching well outside of the EU), which is a total mess and California's unmitigated disaster of a privacy bill that was passed in an insane rush to stop an even worse privacy law from being on the ballot. And, of course, all of this comes against the backdrop of various companies doing a horrifically bad job of protecting the public's private information.

      Given all of that, it is inevitable that Congress will, at some point, attempt to pass some sort of privacy bill. And, it seems likely that it will be a disaster. In the last year or so, Senator Ron Wyden, who historically has been seen (unfairly and inaccurately) as an "ally" of Silicon Valley companies is now the first to throw his hat into the ring, releasing a discussion draft of the bill (you can also see a one pager about the bill and a section by section breakdown -- all also embedded below).

      Above, I mentioned that it's been unfair to argue that Wyden was a booster of Silicon Valley companies. If you look at his history, he has always been focused mainly on being an ally of the users of the internet. Many times, those two things align, but when they do not, Wyden has repeatedly taken the side of the users, not the companies. And that is the case here, for the most part. Over the last year, Wyden has been on a bit of a rampage in basically telling the companies that they've had decades to do the right thing in regards to protecting their own users, and they have failed to do so.

    • Google Chrome’s Users Take a Back Seat to Its Bottom Line
      Google Chrome is the most popular browser in the world. Chrome routinely leads the pack in features for security and usability, most recently helping to drive the adoption of HTTPS. But when it comes to privacy, specifically protecting users from tracking, most of its rivals leave it in the dust.

      Users are more aware of, and concerned about, the harms of pervasive tracking than ever before. So why is Chrome so far behind? It’s because Google still makes most of its money from tracker-driven, behaviorally-targeted ads. The marginal benefit of each additional bit of information about your activities online is relatively small to an advertiser, especially given how much you directly give Google through your searches and use of tools like Google Home. But Google still builds Chrome as if it needs to vacuum up everything it can about your online activities, whether you want it to or not.

      In the documents that define how the Web works, a browser is called a user agent. It’s supposed to be the thing that acts on your behalf in cyberspace. If the massive data collection appetite of Google’s advertising- and tracking-based business model are incentivizing Chrome to act in Google’s best interest instead of yours, that’s a big problem—one that consumers and regulators should not ignore.
    • Report: Israel sold $250m. of sophisticated spy systems to Saudi Arabia
      Saudi Arabia and Israel held secret meetings which led to an estimated $250-million deal, including the transfer of Israeli espionage technologies to the kingdom, Israeli media reported on Sunday, citing an exclusive report by the United Arab Emirate news website Al-Khaleej.

      Some of the spy systems, which are the most sophisticated systems Israel has ever sold to any Arab country, have already been transferred to Saudi Arabia and put into use after a Saudi technical team received training in operating them, the report added.

      The exclusive report also revealed that the two countries exchanged strategic military information in the meetings, which were conducted in Washington and London through a European mediator.

    • [Reposted] Private messages from 81,000 [cracked] Facebook accounts for sale

      The [crackers] offered to sell access for 10 cents (8p) per account. However, their advert has since been taken offline.

    • Private messages from 81,000 Facebook accounts advertised for sale by Russian [crackers]

      Facebook has denied [crackers] gained access to its servers and instead blamed the breach on users who have installed malicious web browser extensions that can store private messages.

    • [Crack] Brief: Someone Posted Private Facebook Messages From 81,000 Accounts

      Rosen added that users should check the browser extensions they’ve installed and delete any they don’t fully trust. This incident is a good reminder that free extensions—like, say, shopping tools or bookmarking shortcuts—may be tempting, but they can sometimes come with a malware surprise. It’s also never a bad idea to check you’re not downloading a copycat: Last year, Google caught three malicious extensions masquerading as AdBlock Plus, one of which had been downloaded tens of thousands of times before it was removed.

    • How to See Which Facebook Advertisers Have Your Private Info
      It’s widely known that Facebook allows advertisers to specifically target groups of people, but did you know that you can see which advertisers are actively targeting you? You can—and it may blow your mind.

      As part of Facebook’s attempt to be more transparent, you can easily find out which advertisers are showing ads using a contact list that contains your info. This info is gathered by the advertiser, then uploaded to Facebook as a way to control who the ads are shown to.

      Here’s how to find that info on both the web and in the Facebook app.

    • Proposed data privacy law could send company execs to prison for 20 years

      Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. announced a discussion draft of his Consumer Data Protection Act yesterday. The bill would establish new privacy rules that major companies must follow and establish fines and prison sentences big enough to make even the largest companies take notice.

    • Google beefs up account security with new step-by-step checkup, notifications, and JavaScript requirement

      Finally, Google will now require that JavaScript is enabled on the Google sign-in page. As Skelker noted, an array of JavaScrip-based risk assessments run every time users enter their username and password, and block suspicious sign-ins automatically.

    • How Mark Zuckerberg Became Too Big to Fail

      The social network also put me on the phone with a top executive who argued boisterously for Mr. Zuckerberg’s leadership, but declined to do so on the record. The executive explained that fixing Facebook would involve deep costs. The company is hiring more people to review content, for example, and it might have to slow down some of its most ambitious projects to address its impact on the world. The executive argued that Mr. Zuckerberg’s total domination of Facebook’s equity, plus the reverence in which employees hold him, allowed him to weather the financial consequences of these changes better than any other leader.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Leaked EU documents show Finland leading efforts to undermine human rights standards

      Recently-leaked internal documents from the European Commission reveal that Finland, Sweden, and the UK are at the heart of an opposition to proposed legislation which would improve human rights safeguards across the EU.


      In an EU Council meeting in May 2018, Finland and Sweden submitted a joint paper setting out their opposition. In it, they describe proposals to increase the scrutiny of surveillance technology exports as “completely unnecessary”, believing it would undermine competitiveness. They also expressed fears that the proposals would put “over 1 million” EU jobs at risk, as authoritarian regimes would presumably purchase such technology from elsewhere.

    • Uzbek Deputy PM Fired For 'Shortcomings' In Wake Of RFE/RL Report

      The RFE/RL report prompted a range of reactions on social networks. Many Facebook users took part in flash mob, tagged #Ariqchallenge, in which they condemned Mirzaev's conduct and mocked the officials' readiness to follow orders from their superiors.

    • Ferguson Protester Melissa McKinnies Believes Her Son, Danye Jones, Was Lynched

      Social media posts have also pointed out that Jones isn’t the first person connected with Ferguson protests to have died in recent years.

    • Inside Hunter S. Thompson’s Battle Against American Fascism
      Hunter Thompson had America’s number before most of us even knew. Attending the 1964 Republican convention that resulted in hard-right Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater becoming the party’s nominee for president, Thompson was “genuinely frightened at the violent reaction [the gathering] provoked,” including hostility toward the media. Several years later, he noted that Richard Nixon “represents that dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character almost every other country in the world has learned to fear and despise.” The country itself, he wrote, was “just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.”

      For all his legend as a gonzo journalist who embedded himself with Hells Angels and eviscerated the Kentucky Derby and Las Vegas culture, Thompson was also an astute chronicler of American politics. That sliver of his life and work is now laid out in Timothy Denevi’s Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson’s Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism, which sheds new light on Thompson’s politically awakening and reporting — and the toll it took on him and his later work and life. Few books this season will give you a stronger and more chilling sense of déjà vu.

      An assistant professor at George Mason University, Denevi didn’t want to write another full-on Thompson biography, but rather focus on the 11 years between John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Nixon’s resignation, when Thompson found himself in the middle of history more than a few times. “When people think of Hunter Thompson, they don’t necessarily think of the talented journalist with a very clear political mindset that speaks to us today and that helped bring about change at the time,” says Denevi. “As a freelance journalist he really had the chance to be present for these world-changing moments. He had an ear for history, moments that might in retrospect define not just a year or an event but a kind of segment of American history, and that’s something that’s been overlooked in his writing.”

    • Audrey Sasson on Antisemitism and Resistance
      This week on CounterSpin: There’s a reason the man who murdered 11 Jewish people in a Pittsburgh synagogue also ranted online about some thousands of mostly women and children making their way from Honduras to the US/Mexico border to seek asylum. It’s the same reason torch-wielding marchers chanting “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville in 2015 stopped to beat up a black man: White supremacists connect Jewish people and black people and immigrants (and LGBTQ people and uppity women) in a worldview, about an existential threat to them as white Christian Americans.

    • Children Cruelly Handcuffed Win Big Settlement Against the Police in Kentucky
      For years, a sheriff’s office defended its use of handcuffs on elementary school students. Now it will pay up. On Thursday, a sheriff’s office in Kentucky has agreed to pay more than $337,000 for the painful and unconstitutional handcuffing of elementary school students with disabilities. The two plaintiffs, both of whom were children of color and both of whom have disabilities, were so small that the deputy sheriff locked the handcuffs around the children’s biceps, forcing their hands behind their backs.

      One of the cuffings was recorded in a video that went viral. The footage of the little boy, identified as “S.R.,” painfully squirming and sobbing in handcuffs drew national media attention and sparked debate over the role of law enforcement officers in schools.

      Despite this video, and information that the deputy sheriff had handcuffed several other elementary school children — one as young as five — the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office insisted that the handcuffings were a proper use of force and refused to reconsider its policies. The ACLU, along with the Children’s Law Center and Dinsmore & Shohl, filed suit. In October 2017, a federal district court ruled that the punishment was “an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force.”

      After the handcuffings, both children had repeated nightmares, started bed-wetting, and would not let their mothers out of their sight. Both families left the school district, and moved to areas where their children could receive the treatment and accommodations they needed.

    • Why legal aid matters and what you can do about it
      Between 2010 and 2016, the Coalition government reduced the budget of the Ministry of Justice by 34%. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) brought swingeing cuts to legal aid, ending financial support for those who rely on vast areas of social welfare law – including most debt, benefits, housing, employment and immigration advice.

      The result was an 84% reduction in the number of civil (non-criminal) cases funded by legal aid. Hundreds of thousands of people each year are now denied access to justice as a result of the cuts to legal aid.

      As well as partially or wholly removing significant areas of the law from scope, LASPO also increased the financial eligibility thresholds. This means that even when a case is theoretically covered by legal aid – indicating that a person’s situation must be serious – they may not be eligible, even if they are living well below the poverty line. If someone has equity in their home this now counts towards what is considered to be disposable capital.

      Our society is in a sorry state if a person must sell their home or sacrifice their ability to maintain a reasonable standard of living in order to enforce their basic rights.

    • Michigan Cops Destroying Drug Cartels With Microscopic Drug Busts, Seizures Of 20-Year-Old Vehicles
      Crushing drug dealers and criminal cartels: that's the asset forfeiture narrative. The reality is something completely different. It's the government taking property from people with a minimum of due process, urged on by a set of perverse incentives. Law enforcement agencies directly profit from the stuff they take from people, so there's really no reason not to.

      When the general public hears forfeiture is being used to target criminal cartels, they tend to think of piles of cash, luxury vehicles, sprawling mansions, and the occasional aircraft. In reality, it's whatever cash cops can find laying around (usually less than $1,000) and vehicles a couple of decades old that are someone's barely-reliable ride.

      Whatever statistics can be obtained -- and it isn't much, given the secrecy cloaking these state-ordained seizures -- always tell the same story: 99% of civil asset forfeiture is penny ante bullshit. It's this way for several reasons. First, smaller forfeitures aren't worth fighting in court, so small ball seizures are almost guaranteed to end up in the hands of law enforcement. Second, it all adds up over the year. A bunch of small seizures turns into real money eventually. Third, cops aren't willing to let drug lords walk. But they'll take stuff from anyone they can imagine might be part of a cartel, even when it's someone busted carrying nothing more than a personal stash.

    • Thousands of Google employees slam execs’ response to sexual misconduct

      Organizer: "I expect them to meet the demands or be faced with an escalation."

    • The Next Level Of Tech Activism: Google Employees Walk Out, Demand Changes From Management
      Over the summer we wrote about the increase in employees at big tech companies leading internal protests against business decisions made by those companies -- mostly around providing tools to the government or military that might be used in ways that many people find to be immoral. It was interesting to see this play out (and stay tuned for next week's podcast, where this will be discussed). More recently, there have been similar protests from within Google over its plans to reenter the Chinese market with a government-approved version of its search engine.

      Yesterday, thousands of Google employees took this to another level. Following a recent (horrific) NY Times piece on massive failures by Google management in dealing with sexual misconduct at the company, Google employees all over the world participated in a walkout protest over management's activity. They also put together what appears to be a fairly modest list of demands, including an end to forced arbitration over harassment and discrimination claims, further commitments to fight pay and opportunity inequality at the company, transparency on sexual harassment at the company, a better way for reporting sexual misconduct, an elevated role for a "Chief Diversity Officer," and adding an "Employee Representative" to the Board of Directors.

      I have a bunch of thoughts on this -- some of which I may explore more deeply in future posts, but at a first pass, I think this kind of activism by employees is a very good thing. Remember, Silicon Valley has long promoted the idea that its workforce is much more closely aligned with management than traditional companies, in part because of the free flowing nature of stock options and grants. As someone who spent years studying traditional labor/management malfunctions, the more mutually aligned approach that Silicon Valley claimed to have had in the past was a huge part of its strength and a key reason why the industry as a whole has been so innovative. Unfortunately, in the past few years, it does seem that this alignment has diverged, and in too many cases, management has been pursuing growth and opportunities in ways that go against the interests and beliefs of the employees. There may be reasons for this, but they're not good ones.

      While Silicon Valley has long had an antagonistic view towards traditional labor organizing and unions (which I think is the right call for a whole host of structural reasons), it's fascinating to watch employees at these companies gravitate toward these kinds of protest behaviors to make their voices heard.
    • Two Indiana Police Officers to be Charged After Video Shows Them Beating Handcuffed Man
      Two Elkhart, Indiana, police officers who punched a handcuffed man in the face more than 10 times will face criminal charges — 11 months after the fact, and only after The South Bend Tribune requested video of the incident as part of an ongoing investigation with ProPublica.

      The two officers, Cory Newland and Joshua Titus, will be charged with misdemeanor counts of battery, the police department announced Friday. Both have been placed on administrative leave pending the case’s outcome, department spokesman Sgt. Travis Snider said.

      The department also released the video of the beating after 5 p.m. Friday — more than three weeks after The Tribune requested a copy.

      Five months ago, the two officers were disciplined for this incident. But they received reprimands rather than suspensions or possible termination.

      Speaking to the city’s civilian oversight commission in June, Police Chief Ed Windbigler said the officers used “a little more force than needed” with a suspect in custody, and “just went a little overboard when they took him to the ground.” But Windbigler offered no other details, saying nothing of the two officers punching the man in the face.
    • Palestine’s forgotten refugees in Lebanon
      Massive cuts by the Trump administration to the budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency will exacerbate an already marginal existence for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
    • The rising tide of national populism: we need to talk seriously about immigration
      In National Populism: the Revolt against Liberal Democracy, Matt Goodwin and I examine the factors which lie behind major political developments such as: the Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s victory, and the growth of political parties like the French National Rally (formerly National Front), the Austrian Freedom Party, the Alternative for Germany and the League in Italy, whose entry into government in 2018 has been followed by its rise from third to first place in opinion polls.

      Two broad academic interpretations have emerged to explain these developments. The first stresses economic change and its effects on ‘the losers of modernisation’/the ‘left behinds’. The second, and more common, approach holds that the key driver has been cultural. The rise of parties like the National Front began well before the onset of recession, and some of the strongest can be found in rich countries like Austria. For the culturalist approach, support is fired by opposition to immigration and by linked themes like law and order.

    • Bolton Hails Bolsonaro as Welcome Ally in Crushing Latin American Left
      Declaring not just sympathy but outright admiration for a fascist who has threatened violence against his leftist political opponents, celebrated the use of torture, and promised to give the police free rein to murder at will, US national security adviser John Bolton on Thursday praised Brazil’s newly elected strongman President Jair Bolsonaro as a “like-minded” partner who shares the Trump administration’s commitment to so-called “free market principles.”

      “The recent elections of like-minded leaders in key countries, including Ivan Duque in Colombia, and last weekend Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, are positive signs for the future of the region, and demonstrate a growing regional commitment to free-market principles, and open, transparent, and accountable governance,” Bolton said during a speech at Miami-Dade College.

      “[T]oday, in this hemisphere, we are also confronted once again with the destructive forces of oppression, socialism, totalitarianism,” Bolton added.

      But Bolton went on to proclaim that with the rise of Bolsonaro, “the Troika of Tyranny in this hemisphere — Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua — has finally met its match,” coining a phrase that immediately drew comparisons to former President George W. Bush’s infamous “Axis of Evil” line, which was used repeatedly to justify America’s disastrous invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

      Vox’s Alex Ward described Bolton’s remarks as a “modern-day ‘Axis of Evil’ speech.”

    • Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson: the missing link between neoliberalism and the radical right
      Men of science, self-described classical liberals, Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson wouldn’t be seen dead among the gaming, trolling, LOL-ing white nationalists of the alt right. These are serious guys. Pinker is a Harvard evolutionary psychologist, and has been a major voice of public science since the early 1990s. Peterson, newer to the fame, has manoeuvred the attention he received for refusing to adopt non-conventional pronouns for trans and non-binary students, into a huge and lucrative speaking platform, but his academic career is as a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto.

      We take the word of Peterson’s following that the reactionary Kulturkritik and admonitions to “tidy your room” in his YouTube lectures and hybrid self-help book manifesto, 12 Rules for Life, has pulled young men back from the brink of radicalisation or suicide. We take his word that, as a practitioner, he has “helped people deal with things that most people can’t imagine”. And no doubt the effect of Pinker’s elegant and twinkly-eyed brand of scientific optimism on most of its audience is yet more benign. We needn’t get personal, so let’s evoke a composite figure wherever possible, returning to the differences between these two figures where necessary. Call him Pinkerson. My point is that whatever Pinkerson’s motivations, he is an academic whose manner of deploying his huge platform lends credibility to other radical right ideas on the up across the culture. What is more, these ideas are inconsistent in themselves, and I want Pinkerson’s followers to think again.

    • Trump’s Immigration Stunts Are Driving Progressive Voter Turnout
      President Trump’s statement this week that he is preparing an executive order to end birthright citizenship was quickly called out by immigrant rights advocates as a patent political ploy to appease the Republican voting base ahead of midterm elections.

      Under the 14th Amendment, birthright citizenship is granted to all persons born in the US. Advocates are calling Trump’s plan illegal and counter to established immigration laws and the Constitution.

      “President Trump cannot overturn the Constitution by executive fiat,” said Kerri Talbot, director of federal advocacy at the Immigration Hub, an immigrant rights advocacy group. “This is yet another example of the president thinking he is above the law.”

      The president made the claim Tuesday after promising to send 5,200 National Guard troops to the Southern US border for 45 days in response to a migrant caravan of some 3,000 unarmed men, women and children heading north through Mexico from Honduras. Trump’s executive order would prompt legal challenges on behalf of the established judicial consensus on the 14th Amendment, which scholars have said remains clear.

    • Allan Nairn: The U.S. Is Facing Incipient Domestic Fascism, But Rightist Revolution Can Be Stopped
      The 2018 U.S. midterm elections mark a critical point in the era of President Donald Trump, as the potential Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives has unleashed a torrent of white supremacist vitriol in the run-up to November 6. In the past week alone, a militant Trump supporter was accused of mailing three pipe bombs to CNN and 12 bombs to people Trump frequently criticizes; two African-Americans were murdered by a white supremacist outside Louisville, Kentucky; and 11 Jewish worshipers were massacred in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a white supremacist who railed on social media against Jews who help refugees. Both the gunman and Trump have called immigrants “invaders.” Meanwhile, Trump has sharply escalated his attacks on immigrants, threatening to send as many as 15,000 U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and to rewrite the Constitution to revoke birthright citizenship. We speak with investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who says that fascism is on the rise in the U.S. Nairn has been a fierce longtime critic of the Democratic Party and its support for war and neoliberal policies, but he is calling for the public to mobilize to elect Democrats in the midterm elections.

    • ICE, Dispelling Rumors, Says It Won’t Patrol Polling Places
      Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers will not patrol polling locations on Election Day, an ICE spokeswoman said in response to social media rumors of potential voter intimidation from the federal law enforcement agency.

      False claims that ICE is interfering at polling locations have cropped up intermittently over the past two years. In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, for example, an image spread on Twitter appearing to show an immigration officer arresting someone in line to vote. The image was a hoax.

      Concerns re-emerged last week after a wallet-sized flyer bearing the Department of Homeland Security seal, found on a sidewalk in Milwaukee, claimed that ICE officials would patrol polling stations on Election Day. Nicole Alberico, a spokeswoman for ICE, described the flyers as fake.

      “Rumors that ICE plans to engage in patrols or enforcement operations at polling locations are false,” Alberico wrote in a statement. “Any flyers or advertisements claiming otherwise are incorrect and not sanctioned by ICE.”

    • Noam Chomsky: Members of Migrant Caravan Are Fleeing from Misery & Horrors Created by the U.S.
      As President Trump escalated his attacks and threats against the Central American migrant caravans making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration unveiled new sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba on Thursday. National security adviser John Bolton declared Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua to be part of a “troika of tyranny” and a “triangle of terror.” We speak with world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky about U.S. foreign policy in Central America. He joins us in Tucson, Arizona, where he now teaches at the University of Arizona. Chomsky is also institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught for 50 years.

    • Noam Chomsky on Pittsburgh Attack: Revival of Hate Is Encouraged by Trump’s Rhetoric
      The nation is continuing to grieve the 11 Jewish worshipers who were gunned down at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh Saturday in what is being described as the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. Funerals were held Thursday for three more victims of the shooting: husband and wife Sylvan and Bernice Simon, and Richard Gottfried. Robert Bowers, who is accused of the mass shooting, pleaded not guilty Thursday. Bowers is charged with 44 counts, including murder and hate crimes. We speak with Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident, about the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh and other recent white supremacist and right-wing attacks.

    • A Storm of Dirty Tricks and Presidential Racism Mar the 2018 Midterms
      In his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: 1972, Hunter S. Thompson tells an apocryphal tale about one of Lyndon Johnson’s early Senate campaigns. The race was too close for comfort, so Johnson told his campaign manager to spread the word that his opponent was “having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children.” The campaign manager was aghast: We can’t say that! You know it’s not true! “Of course it’s not true,” Thompson quotes Johnson as replying, “but let’s make the bastard deny it.”

      Dirty tricks during political campaigns are about as old as the moon, and persist to this day for a reason: They often work. That line they fed you in first grade – “Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win” – is goopy nonsense. One could make a sound, well-documented argument that the world is the way it is today in part because cheaters have been winning well before the cornerstone was laid for the first pyramid.

    • Trump Returns to an Old Formula: Lies and Hatred
      Midterm elections are approaching. The first major election since Trump took office, our current political landscape could shift dramatically depending on the results.

      If Democrats can take back control of the House of Representatives — or even the Senate — that could have a major effect on Trump’s ability to pass legislation.

      The damage that Trump has created since he’s been president has motivated a record number of women and people of color to run for office. Democrats are banking on this new wave of hope, and for candidates to assert progressive ideas and policies on the state and federal levels.

      With many media outlets forecasting a potential “blue wave” in favor of Democrats, Republicans are ramping up their campaigns to secure their majority in Congress.

    • With a Week to Go, Two States Explain the 2018 Midterms
      Somehow, this feels worse. There is a profound sense right now of a nation trapped in an existential crisis, a vicious confrontation over who gets to call this place home. The siren of inflicted panic blaring from the White House – white people are losing the country! – has ignited the violence of the few against the many. It is the shriek of dying paradigms we bear witness to today – white supremacy, the patriarchy, perhaps even mighty capitalism itself – and no paradigm departs without a bloodletting.

    • Parkland Dad Fred Guttenberg: Voters Must Reject Racist, Anti-Semitic NRA on Election Day
      In the wake of a series of hate-fueled gun attacks in the United States, we speak with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history this February. As the nation reels from the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the Kentucky grocery store killing of two African Americans, Guttenberg is calling on voters to elect politicians who stand for gun control in next week’s midterm elections.

    • 'We've Never Seen Anything Like This': Unprecedented Early Voting Gives Progressives Hope
      President Donald Trump has traveled the country in recent weeks telling crowds in states including Texas, Florida, and Arizona that a vote for Republican politicians is a vote for his agenda—and high early turnout among typically Democratic groups suggests that anti-Trump voters are taking in that message as well.

      Early voting turnout is breaking records and vastly exceeding expectations in several closely-watched states, with Democrats hopeful that enthusiasm among young people, African-Americans, and Latino voters will lead to Democratic victories and deliver a strong message of resistance to Trump.

      "We've never seen anything like this," Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, told the Brennan Center for Justice, sharing research showing that voters in North Carolina, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, and Nevada have cast twice as many ballots so far as they did four years ago.

      Across the country, more than 22 million Americans have already voted in state and federal elections, with six days left to go until Election Day—compared with 83 million total voters who went to the polls in the 2014 midterms. Tom Bonier, CEO of the political data firm TargetSmart, suggested that the high turnout is a result of new levels of enthusiasm for—and against—candidates.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Future of Net Neutrality

      Meanwhile, the #NetNeutrality moment has largely dissipated. Although it remains popular in principle, predictions that it would resurface as a hot midterm topic were wildly inaccurate. A recent Morning Consultant poll found that 59 percent of self-identified Democrats considered support for net neutrality an important factor in deciding whom to vote for, but noted its absence in the vast majority of campaigns. “It’s not something that people bring up in their top list of concerns,” said Democratic strategist Achim Bergmann, “and it’s not something that they’re getting riled up about.” As the regulatory struggle branched into a diffuse web of local initiatives, public outrage fizzled into tempered patience and eventually a quiet resignation.

    • AT&T Blackout Of HBO On Dish Highlights Perils Of Megamerger Mania
      You might recall that AT&T recently defeated the DOJ's challenge to their $86 billion merger with Time Warner thanks to a comically narrow reading of the markets by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon. At no point in his 172-page ruling (which approved the deal without a single condition) did Leon show the faintest understanding that AT&T intends to use vertical integration synergistically with the death of net neutrality to dominate smaller competitors and squeeze more money from consumers in an ocean of creative new ways.

      Throughout the case the DOJ tried to demonstrate (poorly) that a bigger AT&T has every incentive to behave badly. Admittedly those efforts were pretty feeble since the multi-decade steady lobbyist erosion of antitrust law left them trying to make the case within very narrow confines of legally-acceptable economic theory. The DOJ also shot itself in the foot by refusing to even mention AT&T's attacks on net neutrality, likely because it didn't want to highlight the fact that another arm of the government (the FCC) was actively harming the same consumers the DOJ claimed it was trying to protect.

    • The Benefits of Decentralization Go Far Beyond Ideology

      In a broad sense, decentralization refers to a process that disperses information from an area of concentration and power so it can be retrieved and accessed even if that centralized area became compromised. Many entities can be decentralized - governments, economies, corporations - but decentralizing technology is one of the defining issues of our era. The decentralization of technology is a concept most often associated with free market economic theories as well as democratic, libertarian or even anarchic political ideologies, which are among the reasons why people are often interested in technological decentralization. While technology decentralization can be approached from many different perspectives, we’re hoping to explore the practical benefits of decentralization with respect to how it can make technology better.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • How will the USPTO study gaps in patenting by women, minorities, and veterans under the new SUCCESS Act?
      There is already great empirical work on gender and racial gaps in patenting, including the "lost Einsteins" work by Alex Bell, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, and John Van Reenen and Colleen Chien's Inequality, Innovation, and Patents. The USPTO could expand on this work, including by adding to its excellent collection of research datasets. Accurately quantifying the net benefits of increasing patenting by certain groups will be more difficult—especially if the agency follows Jonathan Masur's suggestions for improving its economic analysis—though the second half of the study doesn't depend on getting this number right.

      The second half of the study—recommending how to promote entrepreneurship and patenting by women, minorities, and veterans—will require the USPTO to master a different strand of the empirical literature. I've spent some time digging into this work for my upcoming discussion group on Innovation and Inequality, and suffice it to say that there is robust debate about why certain groups are underrepresented in science, engineering, entrepreneurship, and patenting. (Though I haven't seen anything focused on veterans.) There's also increasing academic interest in these issues. For example, at the new Cardozo-Google Project for Patent Diversity, the goal is "to increase the number of U.S. patents issued to women and minorities," mostly by matching resource-constrained inventors with pro bono patent attorneys.

    • Apple stresses ramifications for 5G in public interest statement filed in Qualcomm's ITC case
      On Halloween, shortly after the United States International Trade Commission (USITC, or just ITC) released a public redacted version of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Thomas B. Pender's initial determination (ID) regarding Qualcomm's first ITC complaint against Apple, the parties' public interest statements were due.

      Let's talk about procedures first. The ID on the merits must be viewed separately from the recommended determination (RD) on remedies. On the merits, ALJ Pender sided with Qualcomm on one of three remaining patents-in-suit, but not on the other two. But even to the extent Qualcomm might ultimately prevail on the merits, the ALJ spoke out against an exclusion order in light of the anticompetitive effect this would have in light of Intel being the only Qualcomm competitor in terms of a baseband chipset maker willing to sell to actual customers as opposed to just making chips for its own devices (such as Huawei's HiSilicon).

    • USA: LiquidPower Specialty Products Inc. v. Baker Hughes Inc., United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, No. 2018-1141, 18 October 2018
      Substantial evidence did not support the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s finding that patentee LiquidPower Specialty Products Inc. (“LSPI”) failed to establish nexus, and thus the PTAB erred in not weighing LSPI’s objective evidence of non-obviousness in its decision invalidating a patent related to polymers added to crude oil, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held, vacating the Board’s decision and remanding.

    • USA: Brand Services, LLC v. Irex Corp., United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, No. 17-30660, 17 October 2018
      A company that claimed a competitor misappropriated its trade secrets involving invoicing and job productivity software could proceed on its Louisiana Uniform Trade Secrets Act (LUTSA) and some of its common law conversion claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled, reversing in part the district court’s dismissal of the claims.

    • Exhaustive list of SPC nullity grounds according to Swiss Federal Patent Court
      In a decision issued this summer, the Swiss Federal Patent Court had the opportunity to comment on the catalogue of grounds for invalidity which can be brought against a Swiss SPC.

      The Federal Patent Court issued a PI based on Genzyme Corporation’s Swiss SPC for sevelamer, although it was unclear whether the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) had approved an application for re-establishment of rights correctly when Genzyme Corporation applied for its SPC.

      The Federal Patent Court confirmed in the ordinary proceedings following the PI proceedings that it was irrelevant whether the application for re-establishment of rights was lawful or not. In any case, an unlawful re-establishment is not a ground for invalidity that can be brought against a Swiss SPC under the Swiss Patent Act (PatA). According to the Federal Patent Court, the list of nullity grounds that can be brought against a Swiss SPC is exhaustive.

    • Report: Is China Gaining The Inside Track On Standards For “Internet Of Things” Technology
      A new US private sector report asserts that China is gaining the inside track on international standard-setting for “Internet of Things” technology, and offers strategies for the United States to keep competitive in the marketplace by maintaining influence over standard-setting while protecting data security.

    • FTC chairman recused from Qualcomm antitrust litigation: The Capitol Forum
      The subscription service cites "sources familiar with the matter." They contacted spokespeople for two FTC commissioners and Qualcomm, but they declined to comment or elected not to respond.

      One of the sources said the remedy resulting from a settlement could involve arbitration. It's unclear what exactly would be arbitrated. The question of whether Qualcomm must extend a license to rival chipset makers such as Intel is binary and does not lend itself to arbitration, and I just recently, in connection with Huawei v. Samsung, reiterated my longstanding position on coerced FRAND arbitration.

      I don't know what exactly caused Chairman Simons's recusal. I do, however, have concerns about the ties of certain key FTC officials (not commissioners, but nevertheless highly influential) with Qualcomm.

      While I can imagine why the Capitol Forum's headline puts the chairman's recusal into the context of a potentially partisan vote, I absolutely positively don't view this here as a left-right, conservative-liberal, Republican-Democrat issue. Case in point, no senator was a more positive force in the previous fight against SEP abuse (when Motorola Mobility and Samsung were the culprits) than Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). I would recommend to any Republican concerned about the Qualcomm case being a "Democrat" affair to read some of the letters and listen to some of the speeches Senator Lee gave at the time.

    • Device hybrid approval not the same as substance authorisation, rules CJEU
      In a decision that will disappoint medical device manufacturers, the CJEU in the Boston Scientific case has addressed the authorisation that must form the basis of an SPC. This is in contrast to recent referrals that address what products can be protected

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Office Extends Anti-Circumvention DMCA Exemptions To All Filmmakers, Not Just Documentarians
        Earlier this year, we wrote a bunch of posts on the Copyright Office's request for comment on changes needed to the DMCA's anti-circumvention exemption list. There were lots of interesting submissions, but one that caught my attention was a whole bunch of film association groups, most of them for documentarians, advocating that the anti-circumvention they enjoyed to be able to use clips from other films and content be expanded to include filmmakers generally. This would address the copyright industries' cynical attempt to route around Fair Use usage by filmmakers by simply locking up their content behind all kinds of DRM that, unless you're a documentarian, you can't circumvent. The MPAA, as you would expect, said that allowing for this would kick off "widespread hacking" of all the DVDs on the planet, while all it was really concerned about was the licensing agreements it was able to secure by filmmakers who didn't want to violate the DMCA to get the Fair Use clips they wanted.
      • Small And Medium Publishers Protest EU Link Tax, Which Will Harm Them, While Helping Only Large Publishers
        As the EU continues to march towards wrecking the internet with a variety of dangerous proposals in the EU Copyright Directive, many are desperately trying to explain to policymakers there just how much damage they are going to do and asking them to take simple steps to prevent the worst possible outcomes. While most of the attention has been on the awful Article 13 upload filters, the Article 11 link/snippet tax is almost as bad.

        Of course, to hear EU supporters of Article 11 explain things, such a brand new "publisher's right" is necessary to help save media organizations who have been undermined by the basic business model of the internet. This is already insanity (and, as we've pointed out, when both Germany and Spain passed similar laws, it harmed media sites, and did nothing to increase their revenue), but if that were the case, you'd expect most media organizations to be totally on board with the plan. That is not the case. A few of the very largest media sites are totally on board (with German publisher Axel Springer being the leading voice in support).

      • Software Company ‘Fines’ Pirates After Monitoring Their Computers

        Individuals and companies using 'cracked' copies of graphics software are receiving worrying emails demanding large cash settlements. Information reviewed by TorrentFreak reveals that UK-based company Foundry is demanding thousands of dollars in compensation after unlicensed software 'phoned home' with details of users' alleged offending.

      • Swedish ISP Protests ‘Site Blocking’ by Blocking Rightsholders Website Too

        Bahnhof has suffered a major defeat against publisher Elsevier after a court ordered the Swedish ISP to block a series of domain names, including Sci-Hub. The decision goes against everything the company stands for but it can't ignore the blocking order. Instead, the ISP has gone on the offensive by blocking Elsevier's own website and barring the court from visiting

      • Landmark Anti-Piracy Database Agreement Signed in Moscow

        Russia's most powerful tech companies including Yandex, Group, and Rambler have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation designed to rid their platforms of infringing content. Signed today in Moscow alongside movie and TV companies, the agreement will see the formation of a central database of infringing sites which will provide information on what content to delete.

Recent Techrights' Posts

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Corporate militants disguised as "good manners"
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Listen to staff
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