Links 30/11/2018: Mesa 18.3 RC5, Blender 2.8 Beta, Wine 3.0.4 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 6:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • Linux and Supercomputers

      As we sit here, in the year Two Thousand and Eighteen (better known as “the future, where the robots live”), our beloved Linux is the undisputed king of supercomputing. Of the top 500 supercomputers in the world, approximately zero of them don’t run Linux (give or take…zero).

      The most complicated, powerful computers in the world—performing the most intense processing tasks ever devised by man—all rely on Linux. This is an amazing feat for the little Free Software Kernel That Could, and one heck of a great bragging point for Linux enthusiasts and developers across the globe.

      But it wasn’t always this way.

      In fact, Linux wasn’t even a blip on the supercomputing radar until the late 1990s. And, it took another decade for Linux to gain the dominant position in the fabled “Top 500″ list of most powerful computers on the planet.

    • OpenShift Commons Briefing: Container Deployment and Security Best Practices John Morello (Twistlock) and Dirk Herrmann (Red Hat)

      In this briefing, Twistlock’s John Morello and Red Hat’s Dirk Herrmann gave an in-depth look at the recent NIST Special Publication SP800-190 on Container Security and why it matters if you are deploying containers. They covered best practices for achieving the SP800-190 recommendations on OpenShift.

    • Red Hat achieves AWS Container Competency status
    • Getting started with CI/CD: 6 pitfalls to avoid

      What shapes the long-term success of your CI/CD effort? A faster, more automated pipeline for software development? We recently outlined 4 success factors when getting started with CI/CD – and all led back to culture.

      That’s helpful, but it’s also productive to look at the downsides – not of CI/CD itself, but of common mistakes organizations make, especially when they’re just starting out.

    • IBM’s Red Hat Deal Leaves Investors Without A Margin Of Safety
    • Open Outlook: Red Hat on Red Hat

      When I think about the target customer for Red Hat products and services, someone seeking innovative technologies for driving digital transformation at organizational scale, I imagine a customer who looks an awful lot like the IT department at Red Hat. Our challenges mirror those of other IT departments around the world: IT optimization, agile integration, cloud-native application development, automation—these challenges impacting the way IT departments operate today.

      On top of that, Red Hat has grown in the past five years, from roughly 5,700 associates to more than 12,500. Scaling that quickly has been an incredible (and important) stress test for the IT organization. As the needs of our people have changed, the way we assess the IT products we use has also matured.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • LHS Episode #260: The Sun’s Massive Ejection

      Welcome to Episode 260 of Linux in the Ham Shack. We’re so glad you could join us. In this episode, the hosts talk about the results of JOTA 2018, FCC Part 15 rules, the sun and its atmosphere, new satellites, cryptocurrency vulnerabilities, Fedora, SDR with the Raspberry Pi and much more. Thank you for listening!

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux’s ALSA HDA Code Finally Seeing AMD Stoney Ridge Support

      While Stoney Ridge was AMD’s 2016 APU platform with Excavator CPU cores and GCN 1.2 graphics, the Linux support in some regards is still being settled in some areas.

      It was just earlier this year that AMD CPU temperature driver added Stoney support and now with the upcoming Linux 4.21 cycle but to be back-ported to the existing stable series is the ALSA HDA audio support.

    • 5/2.5Gb Ethernet To USB Aquantia AQtion Driver Coming For Linux 4.21

      Now queued in the networking subsystem’s “-next” branch ahead of the Linux 4.21 cycle is the Aquantia AQtion driver, which is for new hardware supporting USB-based 2.5Gb and 5Gb Ethernet support.

      In 2017 Aquantia introduced their AQtion 5G/2.5G adapters for PCI Express multi-Gigabit networking while now they are working on USB-based adapters with the same capabilities. Unfortunately details on these USB-based AQtion adapters is light outside from this Linux kernel patchwork. The USB adapters are based on the AQC111U/AQC112 ASICs.

    • What to expect of Linux in 2019

      The chilled-out Linus Torvalds suggests that we’ll see the 5.0 kernel in 2019. We’ll have to wait to see whether the changes will qualify as major. 4.20 is ready for testing now.

    • Adiantum Queued Ahead Of Linux 4.21 As Google’s Speck Replacement

      Adiantum is the new crypto algorithm Google is backing for disk encryption on low-end (Android) devices following their change of course regarding the controversial NSA-developed Speck algorithm earlier this year.

      Initially after Google abandoned their Speck plans following public outcry, they were developing HPolyC for encryption on low-end hardware. Adiantum took things a step further as being based upon an improved version of HPolyC. Early tests of Adiantum show it being about four times the speed of AES-256-XTS for encryption and around 5x for decryption. This is also about 30% faster than Speck128/256-XTS and 20% faster than the original HPolyC without compromising any security. This is great news for low-end CPUs/SoCs that generally lack native crypto extensions in the hardware.

    • ktask: optimizing CPU-intensive kernel work

      As a general rule, the kernel is supposed to use the least amount of CPU time possible; any time taken by the kernel is not available for the applications the user actually wants to run. As a result, not a lot of thought has gone into optimizing the execution of kernel-side work requiring large amounts of CPU. But the kernel does occasionally have to take on CPU-intensive tasks, such as the initialization of the large amounts of memory found on current systems. The ktask subsystem posted by Daniel Jordan is an attempt to improve how the kernel handles such jobs.
      If one is going to try to optimize CPU-intensive work in the kernel, there are a number of constraints that must be met. Obviously, that work should be done as quickly and efficiently as possible; that means parallelizing it across the multiple CPUs found in most current systems. But this work needs to not interfere with the rest of the system, and it should not thwart efforts to reduce power consumption. The current patch set tries to meet those goals, though some parts of the problem have been deferred until later.

    • iwd: simplifying WiFi management

      It has been nearly 13 years since Jeff Garzik proclaimed that Linux was “proving its superiority in the area of crappy wireless (WiFi) support”. Happily, the situation has improved somewhat since then, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t get better yet. During the Embedded Linux Conference portion of the 2018 Open Source Summit Europe, Marcel Holtmann described the work being done to create iwd, a new system for configuring and managing WiFi connections. If this project has its way, future users will have little room for complaint about how WiFi works on Linux systems.
      At the moment, Holtmann said, WiFi on Linux is far too complicated for users to deal with; it asks them for far too much information. Users have to contend with complicated configuration dialogs to provide details that, much of the time, the system should be able to figure out for itself. The situation is bad even on basic open networks, but it gets worse on corporate networks, where it is often not possible to create dialogs that can work right in all settings.

      The problem comes down to the old wpa_supplicant daemon, which is a complex “Swiss army knife”. It is “awesome work”, he said, but it has two big problems. One is that the wpa_supplicant project doesn’t make releases, with the result that nobody picks up the bug fixes that are made. And there are no usable APIs for controlling it, so users have to figure out everything themselves. It is a great tool, but few people have any idea of how to use it.

      For some time, Holtmann and his collaborators thought that they could improve wpa_supplicant and turn it into a proper management daemon. But the upstream project does not want things to go that way; they have, he said, a lot more interest in producing a toolbox that can be used for tasks like testing new protocol specifications. This focus and the lack of proper releases mean that everybody ships their own version of wpa_supplicant, with unpleasant consequences. There is, for example, no Linux distribution support for the WPA3 protocol, even though wpa_supplicant has that support.

    • Linux Foundation

      • A report from the Automated Testing Summit

        In the first session of the Testing & Fuzzing microconference at the 2018 Linux Plumbers Conference (LPC), Kevin Hilman gave a report on the recently held Automated Testing Summit (ATS). Since the summit was an invitation-only gathering of 35 people, there were many at LPC who were not at ATS but had a keen interest in what was discussed. The summit came out of a realization that there is a lot of kernel testing going on in various places, but not a lot of collaboration between those efforts, Hilman said.

        The genesis of ATS was a discussion in a birds-of-a-feather (BoF) gathering at the 2017 Embedded Linux Conference Europe (ELCE) on various embedded board farms that were being used for testing. A wiki page and mailing list were created shortly after that BoF. The summit, which was organized by Tim Bird and Hilman, was meant to further the work going on in those forums and was set for October 25 in Edinburgh, Scotland during ELCE 2018. There were 22 separate testing projects represented at ATS, he said.

      • Linux and RISC-V Foundations cosy up

        The RISC-V Foundation includes over 210 institutional, academic and individual members from around the world and has realized 100 percent year-over-year membership growth.

        This partnership with the Linux Foundation will enable the RISC-V Foundation to grow the RISC-V ecosystem with improved support for the development of new applications and architectures across all computing platforms.

      • Open Source RISC-V Silicon Project and Linux Foundation Form Partnership

        First fruits of the collaboration between the Linux Foundation and the open source project will be two “getting started” guides to be made available at next week’s RISC-V Summit.

      • Linux Foundation Continues to See Increasing Commitments to Open Source With Twenty-Three New Members

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced the addition of 16 Silver members and 7 Associate members recently. Linux Foundation members help support development of shared technology resources, while accelerating their own innovation through open source leadership and participation in some of the world’s most successful open source projects including Hyperledger, Kubernetes, Linux, Node.js and ONAP.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA have released the 415.18.02 Vulkan beta driver

        It’s worth noting, some users have seen issues with this newer driver breaking Unity games in Wine. So if you’re using Steam Play or DXVK with Wine directly, you may want to hold off or do some extra research before using it. Not just this beta driver, the whole 415 series from NVIDIA seems to be suffering issues.

      • AMD Wires In A Few More Extensions For Their Open-Source OpenGL Driver

        It looks like open-source AMD driver developer Marek Olšák is finishing out the month by working on a few remaining extensions to benefit not only their RadeonSI driver but also the old R600g and other Mesa drivers.

      • A Radeon RX 590 Workaround For Linux But With Abysmal Performance

        While AMD is able to reproduce the Radeon RX 590 Linux failure and is currently investigating the necessary Linux driver fix(es) for getting this latest Polaris refresh graphics card working correctly, if you already upgraded and don’t have the luxury of switching to another graphics card until a solution is in place, there is a workaround to getting the RX 590 on Linux with working hardware acceleration but very slow performance.

      • AMD’s RX 590 is still going dark on Linux gaming rigs thanks to a b0rked vBIOS

        The AMD RX 590 graphics card has been lighting up gaming PCs across the land thanks to its combination of a decent price and its updated 12nm Polaris GPU. At least it has on Windows-based systems. On machines running the sysadmin’s best buddy, Linux, however, it’s not been looking too good for some RX 590 cards.

        In fact, it doesn’t sound like it’s displaying anything at all, according to recent reports by Michael Larabel at Phoronix. Since the RX 590’s launch the Sapphire card he picked up for testing hasn’t been lighting up his monitor to allow for any Linux GPU testing, even after contact with AMD and a whole host of different tries over the last couple of weeks.

      • mesa 18.3.0-rc5

        The fifth release candidate for Mesa 18.3.0 is now available.

      • Mesa 18.3-RC5 Released As The Stable Release Looms

        Mesa 18.3 release manager Emil Velikov announced the release of Mesa 18.3-RC5 on Thursday as this cycle enters overtime due to an active blocker bug.

        Mesa 18.3.0 was supposed to be released by now, but there is one blocker bug left: a regression causing a user pointer “userptr” deadlock within the Vulkan Conformance Test Suite (CTS) for the Intel ANV driver is that problem holding up the release. The few other blocker bugs have since been cleared, so once this ANV driver deadlock issue is resolved, the official 18.3.0 release should ship unless other major bugs appear first.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux 4.19 I/O Scheduler SSD Benchmarks With Kyber, BFQ, Deadline, CFQ

        As it has been a while since last running some Linux I/O scheduler benchmarks, here are some fresh results while using the new Linux 4.19 stable kernel and tests carried out from a 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SATA 3.0 SSD within a 2P EPYC Dell PowerEdge R7425 Linux server.

        Given the uptick in I/O scheduler interest from Phoronix readers recently with Endless OS switching over to the BFQ I/O scheduler while the CK patch set dropped this Budget Fair Queuing I/O scheduler, here are some fresh benchmarks of the different options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Necunos Mobile: A New Open-Source Linux Phone With KDE Plasma Mobile

        Most of those wanting an open-source, GNU/Linux-based smartphone have been looking forward to Purism’s Librem 5 that will hopefully be shipping in 2019. But now a new option appears to be jumping on the scene: the Necunos Mobile developed by Necuno Solutions in cooperation with the KDE camp.

        Necunos Mobile is a “truly open-source hardware platform” based on an NXP i.MX6 SoC. There will be closed-source firmware involved but it’s reported that the firmware blobs will not have access to the main system memory.

      • Across the Troubles in Northern Ireland: the Great Famine

        No wonder that the next day, after a quick inspection of the Book of Kells in the stunning college library, I departed on the train for the West Country, yet another Irish refugee in search of a newer world.

        I liked my train ride across Ireland to Limerick, a modest city on the west coast, but the ride did not inspire the delight in me that I have heard from many friends, when they return from Irish driving tours. In those conversations, I hear about soaring coastal cliffs and the crashing beauty of the ocean as it washes ashore in places like Sligo and Dingle.

        Instead, from my train window and over Irish Rail coffee, I saw the landscape of a country that (in 1990) both England and the European Union had forgotten.

      • Qt 5.12.0 rc2 released

        We have released Qt 5.12.0 rc2 today. As earlier you can get it as an update to existing installation or just doing fresh installation & selecting Qt 5.12.0-rc2 from ‘Preview’ section. Offline installers are also available in qtaccount (for commercial users) or qt.io downloads page (for opensource users). Delta to rc1 release can be found as an attachment.

        Plan is to release these packages as Qt 5.12.0 5th December 2018. And don’t worry if some issues aren’t fixed in these packages; we will release Qt 5.12.1 quite soon as well (current target is to do that early January 2019) so there isn’t that long time to wait. Just make sure needed fixes are in ’5.12′ as soon as possible.

        Jani Heikkinen
        Release Manager

      • Qt 5.12 On Track For Releasing Next Week

        Released yesterday was Qt 5.12 RC2 while on track for next week is the official release of this tool-kit under its latest long-term support banner.

        Qt 5.12 RC2 is now available for testing with the very latest fixes for the Qt5 tool-kit. There are not any new features with being well past the feature freeze. The latest fixes to land include addressing build errors against OpenSSL 1.1, a potential crash when reloading forms, and other problems.

  • Distributions

    • Intel’s Clear Linux Ups Their Desktop Offering, Rolling Out New Installer

      For those that may have been wanting to try out Clear Linux of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center on desktops/workstation, it’s now easier to do thanks to a new “desktop live” image accompanied by a new OS installer to make it more akin to conventional desktop Linux distributions.


      For novice Linux users their new installer may still be a bit intimidating with it being text-based, but it is very easy to work and straight-forward, and a simpler install process than some of the other Linux TUI installers from over the years.

    • Reviews

      • Void Linux: Built From Scratch for Full Independence

        Void Linux is a bit out of the ordinary. It offers an unusually interesting alternative to many of the traditional Linux distros affiliated with a larger Linux family such as Debian or Ubuntu or Arch.

        Void Linux is an independently developed, rolling-release, general-purpose operating system. That means that its software is either homegrown or plain-vanilla compiled.

        Some of Void Linux’s under-the-hood specifics include its own package management system, dubbed “XBPS,” for X-binary Package System, an initialization system called “runit,” and integration of LibreSSL instead of OpenSSL for Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.

        In fact, Void Linux was among the first distributions to switch to LibreSSL by default, replacing OpenSSL when developers forked from OpenSSL in 2014. Their goal was to modernize the code base, improve security, and apply best practice development processes.

        The latest release, version 20181111, comes with an interesting selection of desktop environments: Base system, Enlightenment, Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce, LXDE and LXQt.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Gentoo Family

      • Calculate Linux Desktop 18 LXQt released

        We are happy to announce the release of a new Calculate Linux Desktop flavour, featuring the LXQt desktop and therefore named CLDL. As well as other Calculates, it is backward compatible with Gentoo. As well as Gentoo, it uses Portage to install and manage packages. Our repository contains 13033 binary packages. The system boots with OpenRC. For network configuration, you have the choice between NetworkManager or OpenRC. For sound management, ALSA is suggested, PulseAudio is not needed.
        CLDL is the fifth little one in the Calculate Linux Desktop family, providing a full-fledged workplace both in office and at home. This new distribution perfectly combines the advantages of Qt5, which is indeed the base for its interface, with the low system requirements of the Openbox window manager. CLDL is localized out-of-box in all standard European languages.

      • Calculate Linux 18 LXQT Run Through

        In this video, we look at Calculate Linux 18 LXQT, the cleanest and well rounded LXQT distro, I have seen, but also the most customized.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Thunderbird, YaST, Sudo Updates Arrive in Tumbleweed

        The three Tumbleweed snapshots this week brought a newer Linux Kernel, several rubygem package updates and improvements for an Xfce support library.

        Snapshot 20181126 brought the 4.19.4 Linux Kernel, which fixed accelerated VLAN handling and fixed a memory leak with the Nouveau secure boot. Yet another Setup Tool (YaST) had some updates with yast2-fonts 4.0.2 that changes the desktop file fonts to system-wide fonts and multiple translations were also updated with the yast2-trans package. The support library for Xfce desktop environment, exo, updated to version 0.12.3; it improved layout spacing and alignment and hides the exo launchers from GNOME Software. The package for Integrated Development Environment cross-platform, kdevelop5 5.3.0, brought improved language support for php, python and c++; it also offers a new clazy analyzer plugin. Multiple other libraries were updated including libjansson 2.11, libsemanage 2.8, libsepol 2.8, libzypp 17.9.0 and more. Several rubygem packages were updated in the snapshot and rubygem-bundler 1.17.1 had a significant amount of additions and improvements including an add config option to disable platform warnings. The mailutils 3.5 package for the handling of email fixed a bug in the base64 encoder. Parser generator bison 3.2.2 brought massive improvements to the deterministic C++ skeleton, lalr1.cc and the library for manipulation of TIFF images, tiff 4.0.10, added a few patches that address the 10 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) patches that were removed.

    • Fedora

      • Improved translation po file handling by ditching gettext autotools integration

        The libvirt library has long provided translations of its end user facing strings, which largely means error messages and console output from command line tools / daemons. Since libvirt uses autotools for its build system, it naturally used the standard automake integration provided by gettext for handling .po files. The libvirt.pot file with master strings is exported to Zanata, where the actual translation work is outsourced to the Fedora translation team who support up to ~100 languages. At time of writing libvirt has some level of translation in ~45 languages.

        With use of Zanata, libvirt must periodically create an updated libvirt.pot file and push it to Zanata, and then just before release it must pull the latest translated .po files back into GIT for release.

      • Fedora AMIs for EC2 Instances (A1) Powered by Arm-Based AWS Graviton Processors
      • Fedora 27 End of Life

        With the recent release of Fedora 29, Fedora 27 officially enters End Of Life (EOL) status on November 30, 2018. This impacts any systems still on Fedora 27. If you’re not sure what that means to you, read more below.

        At this point, packages in the Fedora 27 repositories no longer receive security, bugfix, or enhancement updates. Furthermore, the community adds no new packages to the Fedora 27 collection starting at End of Life. Essentially, the Fedora 27 release will not change again, meaning users no longer receive the normal benefits of this leading-edge operating system.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian, Rust, and librsvg

        Debian supports many architectures and, even for those it does not officially support, there are Debian ports that try to fill in the gap. For most user applications, it is mostly a matter of getting GCC up and running for the architecture in question, then building all of the different packages that Debian provides. But for packages that need to be built with LLVM—applications or libraries that use Rust, for example—that simple recipe becomes more complicated. How much the lack of Rust support for an unofficial architecture should hold back the rest of the distribution was the subject of a somewhat acrimonious discussion recently.

        The issue came up on the debian-devel mailing list when John Paul Adrian Glaubitz complained about the upload of a new version of librsvg to unstable. Librsvg is used to render Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) images; the project has recently been switching some of its code from C to Rust, presumably for the memory safety offered by Rust. Glaubitz said that the new “Rust-ified” library had been uploaded with no warning when the package maintainer “knows very well that this particular package has a huge number of reverse dependencies and would cause a lot of problems with non-Rust targets now”. The reverse dependencies are the packages that rely on librsvg in this case.

      • Debian welcomes its new Outreachy intern

        Debian continues participating in Outreachy, and we’d like to welcome our new Outreachy intern for this round, lasting from December 2018 to March 2019.

        Anastasia Tsikoza will work on Improving the integration of Debian derivatives with the Debian infrastructure and the community, mentored by Paul Wise and Raju Devidas.

        Congratulations, Anastasia, and welcome!

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The alternatives to Windows 10 if you are tired of broken updates

            Linux-based operating systems are free alternatives to Windows 10 which are available in various distributions.

            The term “Linux” technically only refers to the kernel or core program of an operating system, but it is often used as shorthand for any operating system that uses Linux.

            Apart from the obvious advantages of being free and open-source, the vast library of Linux distributions available means that most users should find a version of the operating system which suits their needs.

            Popular Linux distributions which feature similar interfaces to Windows include Ubuntu, Mint, and Manjaro, although there are a variety of other projects, including an actively-developed desktop version of the Android operating system.

            Installing Linux is straightforward, especially for popular distributions such as Mint and Ubuntu.

            Users can visit a secure website hosting the distribution, and download the correct ISO file for their destination system.

            It is important to note that while popular Linux distributions are compatible with a wide variety of hardware, it is still a good idea to check for any compatibility issues before installing.

            Linux falls short of Windows 10 in its ability to run games and certain software suites, however, as there are more Windows-supported games than titles which run properly on Linux.

          • S11E38 – Thirty-Eight Nooses

            It’s Season 11 Episode 38 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

          • Running Android in the Cloud with Amazon EC2 A1 instances

            Specifically, at AWS re:Invent, we demonstrated a fully automated solution deployed by Juju to run Android within LXD containers in the cloud and stream out the display of a gaming app from an Amazon EC2 A1 instance to a mobile phone over the internet. We ran 10 containers each providing an individual Android system on the same EC2 instance. As Ubuntu natively supports a wide range of server architectures including x86-64, Arm, POWER and S390X we used the very same technology our users are familiar with.

          • GitKraken picks up community demand to adopt snaps

            Used by the likes of Netflix, Tesla and Apple, GitKraken is the go-to home for developers who are looking for a more user-friendly interface for Git with integrations for GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket and VSTS (Azure DevOps). Established a couple of years ago, GitKraken offers a Git Client for Windows, Mac and Linux, and Glo Boards for task and issue tracking—both available for teams or individuals, with the former available at an enterprise level, too. Earlier this month, GitKraken published their first snap which is already proving popular amongst Linux users.

            James Quigley, Director of IT at Axosoft (makers of GitKraken), recently attended the Snapcraft Summit in London to progress the release of their snap. James explains how a member of their community kicked off GitKraken’s exploration of snaps…

          • Ubuntu Touch OTA-6 Call for Testing, openSUSE T-Shirt and Poster Design Contest, RISC-V Foundation Joins The Linux Foundation, Location Tracking in Android Violates GDPR and FSF Announces 18 GNU Releases

            UBports announces a call for testing for Ubuntu Touch OTA-6. They are asking the community for feedback and have prepared a GitHub project for OTA-6 quality assurance. See the UBports blog for more info on how you can help with the testing and also to see what’s new in the OTA-6 release, which is scheduled for December 7th.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 3 emerging tipping points in open source

    Over the last two decades, open source has been expanding into all aspects of technology—from software to hardware; from small, disruptive startups to large, boring enterprises; from open standards to open patents.

    As movements evolve, they reach tipping points—stages that move the model in new directions. Following are three things that I believe are now reaching a tipping point in open source.

  • Largest Linux Open Source Deal Ever

    IBM is acquiring Linux software provider Red Hat in a deal worth approximately $34 billion — the largest Linux or open source business deal in history. The company will pay $190 per share in cash for Red Hat, which had a market capitalization of about $20.5 billion prior to the deal. IBM said the acquisition builds on its move to re-engineer its software portfolio with containers.

    Container technologies are fast becoming a safe and reliable way to move applications across multiple IT footprints, from existing data centers to the public cloud and vice versa,’’ the company said in a statement. “Going hand-in-hand with IBM’s shift to containerized software, is Red Hat’s expansive portfolio of enterprise-grade, cloud-native, and hybrid cloud infrastructure solutions, which, when combined, provide a clear pathway for enterprises to adopt hybrid cloud computing.”

  • Connecting software freedom and human rights

    Over the last few days, while attending the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, I’ve had various discussions with people about the relationship between software freedom, business and human rights.

    In the information age, control of the software, source code and data translates into power and may contribute to inequality. Free software principles are not simply about the cost of the software, they lead to transparency and give people infinitely more choices.

    Many people in the free software community have taken a particular interest in privacy, which is Article 12 in the declaration. The modern Internet challenges this right, while projects like TAILS and Tor Browser help to protect it. The UN’s 70th anniversary slogan Stand up 4 human rights is a call to help those around us understand these problems and make effective use of the solutions.

    We live in a time when human rights face serious challenges. Consider censorship: Saudi Arabia is accused of complicity in the disappearance of columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the White House is accused of using fake allegations to try and banish CNN journalist Jim Acosta. Arjen Kamphuis, co-author of Information Security for Journalists, vanished in mysterious circumstances. The last time I saw Arjen was at OSCAL’18 in Tirana.

  • Nithya Ruff on Open Source Contributions Beyond Code

    Sometimes when we think about open source, we focus on the code and forget that there are other equally important ways to contribute. Nithya Ruff, Senior Director, Open Source Practice at Comcast, knows that contributions can come in many forms. “Contribution can come in the form of code or in the form of a financial support for projects. It also comes in the form of evangelizing open source; It comes in form of sharing good practices with others,” she said.

    Comcast, however, does contribute code. When I sat down with Ruff at Open Source Summit to learn more, she made it clear that Comcast isn’t just a consumer; it contributes a great deal to open source. “One way we contribute is that when we consume a project and a fix or enhancement is needed, we fix it and contribute back.” The company has made roughly 150 such contributions this year alone.

    Comcast also releases its own software as open source. “We have created things internally to solve our own problems, but we realized they could solve someone else’s problem, too. So, we released such internal projects as open source,” said Ruff.

  • Startup diary: You’d be crazy not to tap into open-source software and communities

    By ‘open-source software’ I mean not only such famous examples as the Linux operating system that runs most of the world’s websites, but also large swathes of system infrastructure that goes unseen but is essential internet ‘plumbing’.

  • Events

    • Open Source Summit

      The European leg of the Open Source Summit took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on October 22-24, 2018. The conference was co-located with the Embedded Linux Conference and the OpenIoT Summit.

      The the Open Source (OS) Summit [1] kicked off when Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, gave a general introduction to the state of open source software. Throughout the conference, Jim made several more appearances, with helpful updates on what was happening each day.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla B-Team: happy bmo push day!
      • WebRender newsletter #32

        OMTP, for off-main-thread painting, is a project completely separate from WebRender that was implemented by Ryan. Without WebRender, painting used to happen on the main thread (the thread that runs the JS event loop). Since this thread is often the busiest, moving things out of it, for example painting, is a nice win for multi core processors since the main thread gets to go back to working on JS more quickly while painting is carried out in parallel. This work is pretty much done now and Ryan is working on project Fission.

        What about WebRender? WebRender moved all of painting off of the main thread by default. The main thread translates Gecko’s displaylist into a WebRender displaylist which is sent to the GPU process and the latter renders everything. So WebRender and OMTP, while independent projects both fulfill the goal of OMTP which was to remove work from the main thread. OMTP can be seen as a very nice performance win while waiting for WebRender.

      • Mozilla Open Innovation Team: Prototyping with Intention

        At the start of any project our Open Innovation team concepts with the intention that things will change. Whether it be wireframe prototypes or coded experiments, iteration is inevitable. First ideas are often far from perfect… it’s with help from new or returning contributors and collaborating project teams that we’re able to refine initial ideas more readily and efficiently. How? Through feedback loops designed with tools such as Discourse, GitHub, contact forms, on-site surveys and remote testing. Our overall goal being: Release assumptions early and learn from those engaging with the concept. In this way we set our experiences up for incremental, data influenced iteration.

      • A new look for rust-lang.org

        We want Mario to use Rust, the fireflower, and turn into the ever-awesome Fire Mario. But there’s a corollary here: it’s better to say “we will make you into Fire Mario” than it is “we sell fire flowers.”

      • Firefox Reality update supports 360 videos and 7 additional languages

        Firefox Reality 1.1 is now available for download in the Viveport, Oculus, and Daydream app stores. This release includes some major new features, including localization to seven new languages (including voice search support), a new dedicated theater viewing mode, bookmarks, 360 video support, and significant improvements to the performance and quality of our user interface.

  • Databases

    • How Innovative Is MongoDB?

      Last time, I looked at the innovative power of HubSpot (NYSE:HUBS) and came away pleased. Can we say the same about MongoDB (NASDAQ:MDB), another Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick that’s showing signs of capturing the imaginations of the millions of developers who use the product daily?

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice monthly recap: November 2018

      As we head towards LibreOffice 6.2, which is due to be released in late January (or early February), our worldwide community is organising events to test the software. Check out the LibreOffice 6.2 Bug Hunting Session in Ankara, Turkey, where participants tested the alpha version on Linux, Windows and macOS.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • [Podcast] PodCTL #56 – Windows Containers with Microsoft
    • Amazon now has its own version of Java: Corretto

      The open source Corretto distribution of OpenJDK currently is in beta. It is multiplatform and can be deployed in the cloud, on premises, and on a user’s local computer. Licensed under the Gnu Public License Version 2, Corretto is designed as a drop-in replacement for all Java SE (Standard Edition) distributions, unless users are using features not included in OpenJDK.

    • What now, Larry? AWS boss insists Amazon will have dumped Oracle database by end of 2019
    • Google Code-in in KDE

      So far, so good! We’re having quite a variety of students and I’m happy to see new ones still joining. And surprising to me, we’re still getting beginner tasks being done, which keep us busy.

      New this round were some tutorials written by Pranam Lashkari. I hope we can expand on this next year, because I think a lot of students who are willing to do these tutorials one by one are learning a lot. His thought is that they can be added to our documentation after the contest is over. I think we can re-use some stuff that we’ve already written, for next year. What do you think?

  • BSD

    • Language: Assembly | BSD Now 274

      Assembly language on OpenBSD, using bhyve for FreeBSD development, FreeBSD Gaming, FreeBSD for Thanksgiving, no space left on Dragonfly’s hammer2, and more.

    • The Power to Serve – FreeBSD Power Management

      Time for FreeBSD article covering its power management features. It also applies to FreeBSD Desktop series but its not limited to it. Popular opinion seems to be that FreeBSD is so server oriented that it lacks any power management mechanisms. Nothing more far from the truth. While less important on the desktop (but will still lower your electricity bill) or servers it is desirable to properly configure power management on laptops to so they will have longer battery life and will run more quiet.


    • GNU Hurd Toolchain Support Added To LLVM Clang Compiler

      While GNU Hurd is designed to go hand-in-hand with the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC), there is now upstream compiler toolchain support with the more liberally licensed LLVM Clang C/C++ compiler.

      The GNU Hurd target was merged into the Clang compiler for Hurd toolchain support and handling of its triple. The 300+ lines of code adding support for this GNU platform into Clang was merged overnight in time for LLVM/Clang 8.0 due out early next year.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Appeal Moving Forward in GPL Compliance Suit Against VMware

      Conservancy dedicates itself to fighting for software freedom for as long as it takes. GPL enforcement requires steadfast, unwavering diligence. Two years have passed since Christoph Hellwig announced his intention to appeal the Hamburg District Court’s decision, and more than three and a half years have passed since Conservancy announced its financial support for this lawsuit. Christoph’s case is in Germany against VMware for their failure to provide the complete source code of the kernel they distribute, which is covered by the GPL and based on Linux. The lower court dismissed the case as a result of evidentiary rules and likely an incomplete understanding of the documentation of the code in question. Yesterday, the German Court of Appeal held the first hearing on the appeal.

      As staunch proponents of community-driven enforcement, Conservancy remains committed to supporting Hellwig’s case for as long as it takes. The hearing yesterday was a tiny step in a long process toward resolving this issue, and, as we understand the situation, nothing is yet decided. As courts always do, they encouraged the parties to settle their dispute out of court. VMware could still choose to do the right thing here, admit that they did not meet the terms of the GPL and acquiesce to Christoph’s request. The Courts have set a deadline of January 24, 2019 for settlement. If Christoph and VMware cannot reach a settlement by then, the Court is expected to adjudicate the appeal.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The EOMA68 Libre Computer Developer Wants To Tackle A Quad-Core RISC-V Libre SoC Design

        Stemming from the recent proposal about a libre GPU using a RISC-V chip running a Rust-based software renderer like a software-based Vulkan implementation, the developer appears to be ready to take on designing a quad-core RISC-V libre SoC that he believes can be competitive for mobile devices.

        Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton, the developer most commonly known for his multi-year effort on the EOMA68 libre computer cards/laptop that still is in the works, wants to design a quad-core 64-bit RISC-V SoC that is a fully open-source/libre design.

  • Programming/Development

    • PyPy Development

      At PyPy we are trying to support a relatively wide range of platforms. We have PyPy working on OS X, Windows and various flavors of linux (and unofficially various flavors of BSD) on the software side, with hardware side having x86, x86_64, PPC, 32-bit Arm (v7) and even zarch. This is harder than for other projects, since PyPy emits assembler on the fly from the just in time compiler and it requires significant amount of work to port it to a new platform.

    • PyCharm 2018.3.1 RC Out Now
    • The Python API for Juniper Networks

      Juniper networks have always been a favorite among the service provider crowd. If you take a look at the service provider vertical, it would make sense that automating network equipment is on the top of their list of requirements. Before the dawn of cloud-scale data centers, service providers were the ones with the most network equipment.

    • Explorative Data Analysis with Pandas, SciPy, and Seaborn

      In this post we are going to learn to explore data using Python, Pandas, and Seaborn. The data we are going to explore is data from a Wikipedia article. In this post we are actually going to learn how to parse data from a URL, exploring this data by grouping it and data visualization. More specifically, we will learn how to count missing values, group data to calculate the mean, and then visualize relationships between two variables, among other things.

      In previous posts we have used Pandas to import data from Excel and CSV files. Here we are going to use Pandas read_html because it has support for reading data from HTML from URLs (https or http). To read HTML Pandas use one of the Python libraries LXML, Html5Lib, or BeautifulSoup4. This means that you have to make sure that at least one of these libraries are installed. In the specific Pandas read_html example here, we use BeautifulSoup4 to parse the html tables from the Wikipedia article.

    • Common Mistakes about Generational Garbage Collection

      When talking about garbage collection, the notion of “generational collection” comes up. The usual motivation given for generational garbage collection is that “most objects die young”. Therefore, we put the objects that survive a collection cycle (and therefore have proven some resistance) in a separate generation that we scan less often.

      This is an optimization if the probability of an object that has survived a cycle to be garbage by the time the next collection cycle has come around is lower than the probability of a newly allocated object to be garbage.

    • Go 2, here we come!

      At GopherCon 2017, Russ Cox officially started the thought process on the next big version of Go with his talk The Future of Go (blog post). We have called this future language informally Go 2, even though we understand now that it will arrive in incremental steps rather than with a big bang and a single major release. Still, Go 2 is a useful moniker, if only to have a way to talk about that future language, so let’s keep using it for now.

    • Funding for 64-bit Armv8-a support in PyPy

      At PyPy we are trying to support a relatively wide range of platforms. We have PyPy working on OS X, Windows and various flavors of linux (and unofficially various flavors of BSD) on the software side, with hardware side having x86, x86_64, PPC, 32-bit Arm (v7) and even zarch. This is harder than for other projects, since PyPy emits assembler on the fly from the just in time compiler and it requires significant amount of work to port it to a new platform.

    • Refactoring allowed URLs in librsvg

      While in the middle of converting librsvg’s code that processes XML from C to Rust, I went into a digression that has to do with the way librsvg decides which files are allowed to be referenced from within an SVG.

    • Python Data Visualization with Matplotlib
    • Python Application Dependency Management in 2018

      We have more ways to manage dependencies in Python applications than ever. But how do they fare in production? Unfortunately this topic turned out to be quite polarizing and was at the center of a lot of heated debates. This is my attempt at an opinionated review through a DevOps lens.

    • Rust Survey 2018 key findings: 80% developers prefer Linux, WebAssembly growth doubles, and more

      Yesterday, the Rust Survey team published the results of their annual Rust survey of 2018. This year’s survey was launched in 14 different languages which helped in increasing the number of responses to 5991. The survey highlights that there is a slight increase in medium to large investments in Rust, most of the users prefer Linux over Windows for development, and more.

    • C library system-call wrappers, or the lack thereof

      User-space developers may be accustomed to thinking of system calls as direct calls into the kernel. Indeed, the first edition of The C Programming Language described read() and write() as “a direct entry into the operating system”. In truth, user-level “system calls” are just functions in the C library like any other. But what happens when the developers of the C library refuse to provide access to system calls they don’t like? The result is an ongoing conflict that has recently flared up again; it shows some of the difficulties that can arise when the system as a whole has no ultimate designer and the developers are not talking to each other.
      Calling into the kernel is not like calling a normal function; a special trap into the kernel must be triggered with the system-call arguments placed as the kernel expects. At a minimum, the system-call “wrapper” provided by the C library must set up this trap. In many cases, more work than that is required; the functionality provided by the kernel does not always exactly match what the application (or the relevant standards) will expect. Features like POSIX threads further complicate the situation. The end result is that a lot of work can be happening between the application and the kernel when a system call is made. Doing that work is, in most cases, delegated to the C library.

    • Device-tree schemas

      Device trees have become ubiquitous in recent years as a way of describing the hardware layout of non-discoverable systems, such as many ARM-based devices. The device-tree bindings define how a particular piece of hardware is described in a device tree. Drivers then implement those bindings. The device-tree documentation shows how to use the bindings to describe systems: which properties are available and which values they may have. In theory, the bindings, drivers and documentation should be consistent with each other. In practice, they are often not consistent and, even when they are, using those bindings correctly in actual device trees is not a trivial task. As a result, developers have been considering formal validation for device-tree files for years. Recently, Rob Herring proposed a move to a more structured documentation format for device-tree bindings using JSON Schema to allow automated validation.

      Device-tree documentation today is free-form text with some defined structure and optional examples (like the generic GPIO clock multiplexer documentation in gpio-mux-clock.txt). For new bindings, the review process is entirely manual and depends on the reviewers to find typos and errors that an automated system might be expected to catch. No tool exists to check whether any given device-tree file conforms to the binding documentation. In addition, the bindings documentation files sometimes either duplicate information that is also contained elsewhere or are missing information that is necessary to validate a device-tree file.

      Numerous proposals have been made in the past to address the validation of device trees. One went as far as using YAML as a source format for device-tree files. Herring does not go that far; instead he proposes to convert only the documentation files, using JSON Schema for the schema vocabulary, while leaving the device-tree format itself unchanged. He explained the choice in the submission cover letter: “the language has a defined specification, maps well to DT data, and there are numerous existing tools which can be leveraged”. He prefers to use a YAML subset because it is generally considered more human-readable and allows certain additions, including comments. This solution also takes advantage of existing technology and libraries and avoids inventing a new language. The goal was to allow validating device-tree files at build time and verifying the correctness of the documentation. In addition, error and warning messages can be made more meaningful.

    • Getting started with Web Scraping using Python [Tutorial]


  • 9 top tech recruiting mistakes to avoid

    Some of my best friends and colleagues are tech recruiters, and a bunch of my favorite humans are on the job hunt. With these fine folks in mind, I decided to help them connect by finding out what kinds of recruiting efforts stand out to potential hires. I reached out to my colleagues and contacts and asked them what they like (and hate) when it comes to recruiting, then I rounded up a list of top tech-recruiting mistakes to avoid and best practices to use instead.

  • OneDrive is broken: Microsoft’s cloudy storage drops from the sky for EU users

    It is OneDrive’s turn to get a beating with the stick of fail as the service took a tumble this morning.

    Issues first began appearing at around 08:00 GMT as users around Europe logged in, expecting to find their files, and found instead a picture of a bicycle with a flat tyre or a dropped ice cream cone. Oh, you guys!

  • Science

    • Scientist Who Crispr’d Babies Bucked His Own Ethics Policy

      Lulu and Nana are reported to have a genetic mutation, courtesy of Crispr, that makes it harder for HIV to invade and infect their white blood cells. The claim, which has yet to be independently verified or backed up by published data, has ignited furious criticism, international outrage, and multiple investigations. The scientific outcry has been so swift because He’s purported work, conducted in secret, bulldozes past existing ethical guidance on so-called “germline editing,” in which alterations to an embryo’s DNA will be passed down to subsequent generations.

    • The End of Illusion

      If we are to believe the sociobiologists, such as E.O. Wilson, the altruistic gene may only be present in three percent of the human population—may their gene pool increase! But, hell, that’s still three times as many people as the one-percenters who are running the show! If you want hope, there’s a microdot to swallow.

      Small, scruffy and unruly as it is, we’ve seen the power of our movement in the past. When our backs are—often literally—against the wall, when the battle lines are clear from the immobilizing fog of liberal rhetoric and free from the timid advice of professional compromisers. We’ve seen it emerge from the Lacandon jungle to say enough is enough and overtake the streets of Seattle to shut down the World Trade Organization. We’ve seen grandmothers and housewives expose the toxic crimes of Love Canal and corn farmers shut down nuclear power plants. We’ve taken the international timber industry to its knees on its home turf, blocked strip mines, pipelines and river-killing dams. We’ve thrown monkey-wrenches big and small into the gears of the System. It has been done and it will be done again and again. No grant applications or protest permits needed.

      As Ed Abbey used to say: there’s no battle more important, no fight more fun waging, no comrades more trusty-worthy than those in the trenches with us when we rise up together in defense of life on Earth. To crib a line from Leonard Cohen: “we may be ugly, but we’ve got the music.”

      So draw a line and take a stand—almost any place will do, since the whole shebang is under threat—and let loose an old battle cry so that others will know where to come join you: Earth First!

  • Hardware

    • Taiwan’s TSMC Could Be About to Dethrone Intel

      What Intel investors really worry about is that the largest [I]nternet companies will start making their own chips. This week, Amazon.com Inc., the biggest cloud-computing company, announced its first in-house server processor. The Graviton is made by TSMC, and it supports a new version of an Amazon cloud service that’s more than 40 percent cheaper than a similar offering powered by Intel chips, the company said.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Hearts and Lungs Still at Risk Months After California Wildfires

      For two weeks after the fire ignited, the air in Northern California, stretching as far as 200 miles from the flames, was so full of smoke that it was deemed unhealthy to breathe, especially for people with heart and respiratory ailments.


      The life-threatening effects of smoke disproportionately harm the elderly, children and low-income people of color. More than 2.3 million adults and 644,000 children in California have asthma and another 1.7 million suffer from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention andCalifornia Department of Public Health. Adult asthma rates are highest for multiracial people and African Americans, while heart ailments tend to afflict the state’s poorest and least educated residents across all racial groups.

      Reveal’s analysis does not take into account other factors that might have driven up the emergency room visits, such as other pollutants or the weather. But the conclusion is in line with a growing body of research that has found more people suffer respiratory problems and heart attacks within days of being exposed to wildfire smoke.

      “The uptick in ER visits is very consistent” with scientific research about smoke, said Dr. Kari Nadeau, director of Stanford University’s Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research.

      Dr. John Balmes, a pulmonologist and professor at the University of California San Francisco who studies air pollution, is not surprised that emergency room visits increased three months after the wine country fire.

      “People with asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and other lung diseases could have persistent exacerbations,” he said, adding that inhaling ash could have longer-term consequences, too. The effects of smoke months or years after a fire are not well understood.

      There was only a slight increase in immediate emergency room visits during the days when last year’s Tubbs Fire burned. That’s because two of the largest hospitals were evacuated and a third was destroyed. As a result, the analysis was based on the period three to five months later, using data from California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

    • California’s Climate Refugees

      HUNDREDS OF people, left with nothing, wracked by illness and threatened with further displacement as they try to rebuild their lives.

      This could easily describe the refugees from Central America who have traveled for weeks in the migrant caravan and are now — after facing violence and incredible hardship — attempting to find refuge in the U.S.

      But it’s also a description of the hundreds of survivors of Northern California’s Camp Fire.

      Of course, those displaced by the massive fire — the most destructive in the state’s history, which claimed at least 88 lives, with 203 still missing as this article was being written — are receiving aid and assistance, including from the U.S. government, while those in the migrant caravan are on the receiving end of volleys of tear gas.

    • The Dangerous, Low-Paid World of Nail Salons

      Whether nail salon employees get good pay, time off and fair treatment at work currently varies widely depending on the salon they work for.

      Sarah, a Vietnamese Californian (who asked to be identified only by her first name to avoid negative consequences at work), got into the nail salon industry six years ago so she could help ease her family’s financial problems. She was having trouble finding a job with her psychology degree, all while trying to support two children alongside her husband. So, she took a job as a manicurist as a “fast way of finding money,” she said.

      In her current salon in West Hollywood, she makes a bit over minimum wage plus tips. “It gives me a chance to put food on my table and pay the bills,” she said. But it can get tough for her family to get by. “Sometimes we have to take out … a little loan here and there,” she said. “But pretty much, we’re surviving.”

      Her current job also gives her some leniency in taking breaks and sick days when she needs them. Others haven’t been so generous. Past salons she worked in didn’t always pay her minimum wage or offer her sick days. Once, Sarah says, her daughter had an emergency doctor’s appointment and her boss said to her, “I know you have things to take care of, but we really need you today.”

      So, she faced a dilemma. “I had a choice: either it’s my daughter or it’s my job,” Sarah said. She was luckily able to call her husband and have him take her. “Thank god my husband had time to take care of the girls.”

      Even her current job comes with problems nail salon workers commonly face. In the hot summer season, when demand spikes, she may work intense and long hours. As the weather cools, those hours drop off, and now she’s working an average of about 30 a week. She just became an Uber driver to supplement her income.


      Worse, many may not get the pay that they’re owed. Thirty percent are self-employed, including independent contractors, which is three times higher than the national average. Some may actually be independent, renting space in salons to serve their own clients, but “there are concerns that many manicurists are purposely misclassified to avoid labor laws and protections,” the report notes. Employers can shirk wage and hour obligations by classifying workers as independent contractors even if they should be labeled regular employees. Without employee status, salon workers “are being denied … paid sick leave, breaks, having their lunch break, workers comp,” Fu said. “Those are important benefits … that they deserve.”

      Benefits are generally scarce. Nationally, 62 percent of workers get health insurance through work, but just 42 percent of nail salon workers do, according to the report. Over a quarter instead get coverage through public programs like Medicaid and Medicare.


      Most commonly, nail salon employees are exposed to the “toxic trio”: toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, all of which are common in nail polish. Disinfectants like alcohol can also cause skin disease and infections. Workers take these chemicals in through inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption while they scrub feet and paint nails.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • Pornhub hackers choked by Google, the FBI and Proofpoint

      Cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, which worked to take down the network dubbed 3ve, noted that the network was made up of nearly two million devices and was run by a group of hackers who were involved in creating the Kovter ad malware.

    • New Zealand become latest country to ban Huawei’s 5G equipment

      Spark, the country’s largest telecommunications company, said on Wednesday that government officials warned it that using 5G equipment from Chinese firm Huawei “would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks.”

    • Hackers Stole Nearly Quarter Million Dollars Our Revolution Raised for Standing Rock Protests

      The money stolen from the compromised account had been raised for the Standing Rock Sioux Native American tribe, which was at the time fighting vigorously to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      Lucy Flores, a former Our Revolution board member, told Politico that the organization still gave the tribe the $242,924 it had raised on its behalf, though it was forced to dip into other funds to do so.

      “We’d done fundraising specifically on behalf of the tribe, and to have that money just be gone and never reach its intended purpose was unacceptable,” Flores said. “So we decided to give them the money that was raised and take the loss as an organization.”

    • Remember Those Leaked NSA Tools? Hackers Are Still Using Them To Hijack Computers

      When UPnProxy attack was first spotted, about 3.5 million devices were vulnerable to the attack. Months later, Akamai reported that 277,000 remained vulnerable. As per the latest development, about 45,000 of these systems have already been compromised.


      The security researchers are calling the newly discovered implementation Eternal Silence. This is because the attack uses the already popular EternalBlue (affecting Windows devices) and EternalRed (affecting Linux devices) exploits; they also found ‘galleta silenciosa’ or ‘silent cookie/cracker’ in Spanish written in the description field on the affected routers.

    • Mass Router Hack Exposes Millions of Devices to Potent NSA Exploit

      More than 45,000 Internet routers have been compromised by a newly discovered campaign that’s designed to open networks to attacks by EternalBlue, the potent exploit that was developed by, and then stolen from, the National Security Agency and leaked to the Internet at large, researchers said Wednesday.

    • Updated AMD Zen CPU Microcode Posted

      AMD has just dropped a new Family 17h “Zen” microcode file for Linux users.

      Just posted to the kernel mailing list is the latest CPU microcode file for Family 17h. Unfortunately there is no change-log/notes and obviously with it being binary-only there isn’t anything to glean by itself.

    • ‘Butter’ attack still victimizing Linux servers: Report [Ed: By brute forcing SSH you're not exploiting any real security issues]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Has the United States Been Fighting the Wrong War in the Middle East?
    • The Murky Sea of Azov

      Russia is very definitely acting illegally in putting military personnel of another state on television to make statements, whether coerced or not (personally I found them precisely as believable – no more and no less – as Yulia Skripal’s strained statement to British TV).

      Please note that Ukrainian ships have the right of innocent passage through the Kerch Strait irrespective of whether the Crimean side is viewed as Ukrainian or Russian. The coastal state does have the right to make arrangements for maritime safety which may include designating sea lanes and a notification regime akin to air traffic control. If Ukraine violated these provisions, (which seems probable), Russia had a right to take enforcement action. But that enforcement action specifically does not extend to substantive detention of vessels and crew.

      The situation changes if Russia genuinely has evidence that the military vessels were engaged in a military attack. But it only changes, and the civilian rules only cease to apply, if one side or the other acknowledges that a state of war now exits. Ukraine came close to this
      by demanding that its servicemen be treated as prisoners of war. There is no option to treat uniformed military personnel of another state as terrorists. But if Russia does not acknowledge a state of war, it has to let them go. Russia is certainly not entitled to impose a wider blockade of the strait to shipping to or from Ukraine – any more than Israel is entitled to blockade Gaza.

    • In a Historic First, Senate Advances Bill to End U.S. Support for Illegal War in Yemen

      The Senate voted Wednesday to advance a resolution to end military support for the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war in Yemen. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the Senate has voted to advance a bill to withdraw military forces from an unauthorized war using the War Powers Resolution Act. Wednesday’s vote sets the stage for a possible final vote on the measure within days, and has been seen as a rebuke of President Trump’s handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Just hours before the vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis held a closed-door briefing with U.S. senators, urging them to vote against the resolution. Administration officials warned senators not to compromise ties with Saudi Arabia over the killing of Khashoggi and said U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen is necessary to counter Iran’s influence in the Middle East. We speak with Shireen Al-Adeimi, Yemeni scholar, activist, and an assistant professor at Michigan State University.

    • Yemen: To Build a Fire in the Heart of Our Country

      When I was young and the war in Vietnam was raging, I rejected much of what I associated with a government and a society that could undertake the destruction of an entire people and still carry on as if there were nothing in the least bit abnormal about that state of affairs. In time, I saw that the way forward, at least for me, was to join those who understood just how evil the war was and how imperative it was for people to lift their voices, take to the streets, and risk their personal well being to protest the war.

      Reading Zinn’s account of the Vietnam antiwar movement (in his book You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train) and how it grew from isolated pockets of opposition into a massive, nation-wide wave of resistance, I felt re-united with feelings that have languished inside me for the past decade and a half. In the winter of 2003, as the US prepared to invade Iraq, I was on the streets with hundreds of thousands of others who truly cared about preventing the needless deaths of both Iraqis and fellow Americans. For a time, I believed we would prevail over the Pentagon, the defense contractors, and the Department of Defense—each of which had its own reasons for wanting to prosecute yet another act of criminal aggression against a relatively defenseless country. This time around, however, it was conceivable that our passionate commitment to peace and its expression through movement building, rallies, and demonstrations might actually stay the hand of our “Commander-in-Chief” and his war-mongering, neo-conservative ideologues: Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, et al.

      On a frigid, fingertip-freezing day in February 2003, close to a million of us hit the streets of New York to make our voices heard. Together with comparable numbers of our brethren in other countries, we declared our united opposition to a war against Iraq—a war that many in the peace movement judged would be both illegal and immoral, and unconscionably destructive.

    • It’s Time. We Must Jam the ‘Demonic, Destructive Suction Tube’

      Now the work begins: to hold our political leadership accountable for real change —the sort of change that is too easily ducked by the powerful. The time has come to change who we are as a nation, to transform the national identity.

      Here’s a simpler way to put it: “Will the new House Democrats take on the war lobby?”

      This question is the headline of a Common Dreams op-ed by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies earlier this week, and it touches the furious heart of who we are. I would put it this way: As long as 60 percent or so of our discretionary spending is diverted to militarism; as long as there is no official acknowledgment of the horrific and pointless hell our wars have created, with no benefits even to our “national interests”; as long as we refuse to face our own history of genocidal behavior and our addiction to “conquest” . . . we will not change, we will not grow, we will not survive.

      Benjamin and Davies quote Martin Luther King’s iconic Riverside Church address in 1967, in which he notes the collapse of the country’s anti-poverty efforts: “Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube.”

      The demonic suction tube! Nothing much has changed in 50 years. The tube is still sucking resources and spewing fear. And it still owns the media.

    • G20 Host Argentina Considers a Probe of Saudi Crown Prince

      Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman could face prosecution in Argentina for alleged complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi-led humanitarian crisis in Yemen. On Wednesday, an Argentine prosecutor reportedly accepted a request by Human Rights Watch to prosecute the crown prince, just hours after he landed in Argentina ahead of the G20 summit. Argentina recognizes universal jurisdiction for war crimes and torture, which means it is able to press charges against the crown prince while he is in the country. We speak with Reed Brody, counsel and spokesperson for Human Rights Watch, and Shireen Al-Adeimi, Yemeni scholar, activist, and an assistant professor at Michigan State University.

    • Senate Delivers Powerful Rebuke to Trump, Saudi Arabia

      I should declare my own interest by saying that I was one of 50-some Middle East experts and policymakers who signed a letter to the senators urging them to take this step. The letter, organized by Bruce Ackerman, Laurence Tribe and former U.S. ambassadors to Yemen Barbara Bodine and Stephen Seche, pointed out that the U.N. estimates that some 14 million Yemenis could die of starvation within months if the Saudis continue their total-war tactic of attacking port infrastructure to deprive civilians of access to staples.

      The vote was the most significant bipartisan measure to come out of the Senate in ages, and fell just short of a veto-proof two-thirds majority. The bill, co-sponsored by Bernie Sanders and a bipartisan set of his colleagues, calls on Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from their support role in Yemen within 30 days. Since the war begin in 2015, the U.S. (initially under President Obama) has given the Saudis logistical support, including in-air refueling of bombers, as well as strategic advice on targeting.

      The senators voted to get out even though Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned them not to vote for withdrawal. Pompeo threatened them with losing their next election if they were seen by their constituents to have allowed Iran a free hand in Yemen. The Saudis and the U.S. right-wing vastly exaggerate Iran’s role in Yemen; the rebellion is mainly led by indigenous Yemeni Zaydis, who belong to a branch of Shiite Islam that differs significantly from the Twelver branch practiced in Iran and Iraq. In any case, it is likely that most of the senators’ constituents would be rather more upset about U.S. involvement in provoking the biggest humanitarian crisis since the end of WWII. The Saudi-led war has already killed 85,000 children by malnutrition and has killed tens of thousands of other civilians (which official statistics cover up).

    • We Need to End the Yemen War Now – Not in January

      With yesterday’s vote to advance a bill ending US support for the war in Yemen, a vital change has taken place. The principle is reestablished that we can force a vote in Congress on unauthorized — and therefore unconstitutional — wars anytime we can get a single member of Congress to insist on a vote.

      Let us look each other in the eye and commit that we will push by any and all legal and nonviolent means necessary to force as many votes as necessary in the Senate and the House before Congress adjourns for the year, in order to end the Yemen war and stop the famine. The United Nations and aid groups have said forcefully that there must be a sustained cease-fire right now in order to get the people and resources into Yemen that are necessary to stop the famine. Not in January. Right now.

      Any member of the House, any day the House is in session, can now introduce a new House Yemen War Powers Resolution, and that resolution will be privileged, guaranteed a vote on the House floor. That resolution does not need to be led by the sponsors of the last bill. There can also be more than one bill. There can be a Republican bill, there can be a Democratic bill, there can be a bipartisan bill, or all of the above.

      House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Rules Committee can try to block a vote by bringing forward a rule that de-privileges each bill. But advocates for ending the Yemen war right now and stopping the famine can beat Paul Ryan and his Rules Committee by having the votes on the floor to defeat any such rule. Last time, we were only seven votes shy of defeating Ryan on the vote on the rule — and that was before yesterday, when the Senate voted 63-37 to advance the Sanders-Lee-Murphy bill, with every single Democratic senator and 14 Republicans voting in favor. That was also before House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi finally agreed to co-sponsor the House Yemen War Powers Resolution. We should expect every single member of the House Democratic Caucus to vote with us on the rule next time, unlike last time, when six House Democrats voted against us. That’s six of the seven missing votes right there, if every Democrat votes with us in the House, as they just did in the Senate.

    • The Arms Race in the Pacific: China and Japan Boost Their Naval Power

      Two myths, that Japan does not have an aircraft carrier and that China is sticking with two, have just been torpedoed.

      Chinese authorities confirmed on Tuesday that they were building the country’s third aircraft carrier. But it was hardly an iron-clad secret.

      In June, the image on a publicity picture in the boardroom of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, the ship’s builders, in Wuhan City, showed three aircraft carriers, whereas Beijing only has two. The third was an artist’s impression of the one the corporation was building in Shanghai.

      The two are the Liaoning, the country’s first aircraft carrier, refurbished from the hulk of a Ukranian vessel and the still-to-be-named Type 001A, undergoing sea trials since 2017 before coming into service in 2019. It is the country’s first domestically developed carrier.

      Both have ski-jump decks, but the new warship will have a flat-top deck, suggesting a catapult aircraft launch system.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Guardian campaign against WikiLeaks takes another fact-free turn

      The UK’s Guardian newspaper seemed to have quite a scoop this week when it published the claim, from unidentified sources, that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had met with Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy in London on multiple occasions, including in 2016. Here, perhaps, was the smoking gun connecting the Trump campaign with the Democrat emails stolen by Russia and passed to WikiLeaks.

    • Claims and counterclaims fly around Guardian Manafort–Assange scoop

      EVEN BY THE DRAMATIC STANDARDS of the Mueller investigation, it was a bombshell moment when, on Tuesday, The Guardian’s Luke Harding and Dan Collyns reported that Paul Manafort met repeatedly with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy, including around the time Manafort became chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. With the special counsel’s recent focus around the Trump campaign’s ties to WikiLeaks—looking, specifically, at the latter’s dump of internal Democratic Party emails procured from Russian hackers—The Guardian’s story introduced a huge new lead (and one that other reporters believe was not previously on Mueller’s radar).

      Both Manafort and WikiLeaks strongly denied that the meetings took place. Manafort called The Guardian’s story “deliberately libelous” and said he was weighing his legal options. WikiLeaks, meanwhile, tweeted that it was willing to bet The Guardian a million dollars and “its editors head” that the paper was wrong, then started to crowdfund a lawsuit (as of this morning, it posted $33,000 in donations). No other news outlet has yet been able to confirm The Guardian’s reporting.

    • MSM Is Like Big Pharma: The Rewards Of Malpractice Outweigh The Penalties

      “As part of the plea bargain, Purdue agreed to pay the federal government $600 million and 27 states $20 million. The three executives agreed to $34.5 million in fines but avoided jail-time. By contrast, Purdue has earned an estimated $31 billion in total revenues from extended-release oxycodone since its launch. Rather than deterring fraudulent marketing, the penalties simply became a cost of doing business.”

      A cost of doing business. The preceding is an excerpt from a Harvard study published last year titled “The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market”. It describes the illicit marketing practices advanced by Purdue’s executives for its wildly profitable opioid Oxycontin, and how the criminal and civil cases brought against the company for those practices weren’t consequential enough to prevent those practices from remaining highly profitable.

    • Yanis Varoufakis on Assange and the Political Economy and Future of Europe

      In this exclusive interview with bestselling author, former finance minister of Greece and the co-founder of the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, Yanis Varoufakis, we talk about the case of Julian Assange, the socio-economic transformations taking place within the core of the European Union, and how much time is left until it disintegrates

    • Manafort denies meeting Assange, as passports’ stamps don’t match accusations

      Paul Manafort’s three passports show two visits to England in 2010 and 2012, aiding his denial of a Guardian newspaper story that claimed he met secretly with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2013, 2015 and 2016 in London.

      A review of Manafort’s passports since 2008 shows he entered Heathrow Airport on two occasions. There are no other stamps for arriving in Great Britain.

      It is conceivable that Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, could have entered from a European country and not received a stamp. But a Manafort representative told The Washington Times that Manafort has only made those two visits to England since 2008. The source said a libel suit against The Guardian is under discussion.

      Two of his passports were entered as evidence at his tax evasion trial. The Times acquired a copy of his third passport on Thursday.

    • There Is No Case Against Julian Assange So Lies Take the Place of Evidence

      Julian Assange is not guilty of any crime. But Washington is going to convict him anyway. Documents are being fabricated to show that Assange met inside the Ecuadoran Embassy in London with Paul Manafort and some Russians.

      The logs of all visits to the Embassy have been released and show no such meetings.

      This latest fabrication was dumped on the public by the Guardian, formerly a leftwing newspaper but today an MI6 asset. Luke Harding, who was leaked the fake documents, is either extremely gullible or himself a MI6 asset.

      The purpose of the leak is to create in the public’s mind that Assange was involved in “Russiagate” along with Trump and Putin. The fact that no evidence has been found that Russiagate exists except as a made-up allegation to justify a special prosecutor to investigate President Trump has not stopped the continued use of this canard.

      Washington and London are relying on the public’s insouciance to shield their shamelessness.

      Julian Assange’s life has been ruined because he was a professional journalist who told the truth instead of serving as a shill for the ruling elite. Now the intention is to give him a show trial and to convict him without evidence, relying on presstitutes to spread fake evidence that a meeting that did not occur occurred and with no explanation of how such a meeting if it had actually occurred would constitute espionage.

    • Guardian: Manafort met secretly with Julian Assange

      “I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him,” Manafort said in a statement. “I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.”

    • Wikileaks threatens to sue “fake news producers”

      Wikileaks, furious about a report in The Guardian claiming that founder Julian Assange met with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, said that it plans to sue it for libel. Moreover, it expects to create a “business model” from such lawsuits.

    • Charges Under Seal: US Prosecutors Get Busy With Julian Assange – OpEd

      Critics indifferent to the plight of Julian Assange have seen his concerns for prosecution at the hands of US authorities as the disturbed meditations of a sexualised fantasist. He should have surrendered to the British authorities and, in turn, to the Swedish authorities. It was either insignificant or irrelevant that a Grand Jury had been convened to sniff around the activities of WikiLeaks to identify what, exactly, could be used against the organisation and its founder.

      Cruelty and truth are often matters of excruciating banality, and now it is clearer than ever that the United States will, given the invaluable chance, net the Australian publisher and WikiLeaks founder to make an example of him. This man, who dirtied the linen of state and exposed the ceremonial of diplomatic hypocrisy, was always an object of interest, notably in the United States. “He was,” confirmed Andrea Kendall-Taylor, former deputy national intelligence officer for Russia under the director of national intelligence, “a loathed figure inside the government.”

    • You Don’t Have to Love Assange to Fear His Prosecution

      The Department of Justice showed its cards last week when it accidentally confirmed that the U.S. is planning to prosecute Wikileaks head Julian Assange, who has been sequestered in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012.

      What happens to Assange will be one of the biggest test cases for press freedoms in America ever. At stake? The ability of all journalists to inform the public of things the government wants to withhold.

      But this has been largely ignored because Assange, once a darling of the progressive activist press, is now regarded as a hero-turned-zero, mostly because of Wikileaks’ role in publishing hacked emails that proved damaging to the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign ahead of the 2016 elections.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Arctic Drilling Is “Ecocide on an Incredible Diversity of Wildlife”

      “What side of history do you want to be on?” Indigenous Alaskan Tonya Garnett asked the Department of Interior officials seated at the dais. “What legacy do you want to leave behind for your children?”

      Garnett had journeyed from her small Gwich’in community of Venetie, Alaska, to speak on behalf of her people. “Our way of life is at stake,” she explained. “We speak for our ancestors, and we speak for our children’s children. I want to see my son — my 9-year-old son — be able to get his first caribou. I want to see his sons or his daughters get theirs.”

      Her questions and concerns echoed throughout the evening.

      On June 15, in Washington, DC, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held its final public hearing for the scoping process on the controversial issue of oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

      Several months earlier, Republican leaders had snuck an Arctic drilling provision into the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was approved by Congress and signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017. Ever since, the Trump administration has been moving aggressively to begin seismic testing on the Arctic coastal plain, and to rush through the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the leasing program. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act called for an initial lease sale in the next four years, but the administration now claims that it would hold the first sale by next summer. Given the scope of Arctic drilling, the critical importance of the refuge’s habitat and the region’s ever-changing conditions caused by climate change, many speakers testified that a proper EIS should take years to complete, but the Trump administration intends to release its draft in the next several weeks, with a final version slated for early next year. This expedited timeline severely limits public input and prioritizes outcome over process.

    • Why the Migrant Caravan Story Is a Climate Change Story

      Less than a mile south of the U.S.-Mexico border, in Sasabe, Mexico, a Guatemalan man named Giovanni (whose first name is used to protect his undocumented status) propped up his feet while an EMT applied antibiotic ointment to his feet in the shade of a cottonwood. Giovanni left his home country because of a catastrophic drought and was attempting to unite with his brothers who were already in Dallas. After trying to cross the border into the Arizona desert, his feet were ravaged: discolored, covered in gashes and tender red blisters. One toenail had been ripped off. Across the arroyo, or dry wash, were about 30 more prospective border crossers, primarily Guatemalan, some awaiting a similar medical checkup, others stocking up on water and food.

      It was July, and several days before in a 110-degree heat wave, he had crossed the border with a small group of about five other people from Guatemala. After 14 hours, they ran out of water. After 21 hours, Giovanni gave up and turned back alone. He had no water, no food, and quickly lost his orientation, but he made it back to Sasabe.

      Giovanni is part of a Central American exodus of people that has been increasing for decades. The recent caravans are the most recent chapter. And while there are complex and compounding reasons for the massive displacements and migrations—especially rising violence (in places like Honduras, for example, after the 2009 military coup) and systemic poverty—there is another driver behind the movement of people seeking refuge in the U.S.: climate change.

    • It’s a Borderful World

      As a means of organizing territory, they seem to be a brief transition period between large empires and an even larger, borderless world. Sure, nation-states might live on in the form of anthems and flags and independence days, but the idea of fixed borders just don’t make sense in a world of cell phones, the Internet, and global assembly lines. Borders just seem like a twentieth-century contrivance that slows everything down, like those paper forms you still have to fill out at the doctor’s office.

      But just when you think you’ve progressed to the next level, along comes a reminder that the past is nipping at your heels, eager to bring you down.

      This Sunday, Donald Trump temporarily closed the border crossing at San Ysidro in San Diego, across from Tijuana, Mexico. In response to a surge in migrants and asylum-seekers from Central America, the president has threatened to close the entire border permanently and even shut down the U.S. government if Congress doesn’t fund his border wall.

      Also this Sunday, the European Union approved British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit proposal. If the British parliament gives its okay, Britain will begin its formal withdrawal from the transnational pact at the end of March. Parliamentary approval, however, is far from certain, which leaves the border between the EU and its second most economically powerful member still very much up in the air.

    • Bitter Legal Fight Between Climate Deniers Ends With $630,000 Transfer to New Group Targeting Climate Scientists and Campaigners

      A bitter court battle between climate science deniers known for pursuing scientists with legal demands for their emails has ended with a former Trump EPA official releasing $630,000 to his former colleagues.

      A dispute over the assets, legal status and ultimate control of the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC) began in late 2017, sparking two lawsuits against the clinic’s co-founder, David Schnare.

      Schnare and former FMELC colleague Christopher Horner have worked together, sometimes through another group, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (EELI), to file multiple requests for the emails of scientists and state and federal officials working on climate change.

      Both Schnare and Horner, who is a senior fellow at the fossil fuel-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, were part of Trump’s EPA “landing team.” Schnare went on to join a “beachhead” EPA team, but quit during former administrator Scott Pruitt’s tenure.

      But Schnare and Horner’s relationship turned very sour. Schnare had admitted to making mistakes when incorporating the group after new board member Matthew Hardin, an associate of Horner’s, had asked to see FMELC’s banking information.

      In two suits that followed, Schnare was accused of financial misconduct, of trying to conceal the group’s financial history, and then of demanding payments in return for staying quiet.

    • What You Need To Know About the UN Climate Talks in Poland

      The UN’s annual climate talks kick off next week in the southern Polish city of Katowice, in the country’s coal heartland. The stakes are high, but — as always — it won’t be plain sailing.

      The two-week meeting will be another pivotal moment in the global climate negotiations and the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. Countries are expected to finalise the accord’s rulebook and start the process of a global stocktake to ramp up ambition to reduce emissions.

      The talks are taking place against a backdrop of mounting urgency and expectations following a report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which warned that the world has 12 years to halve its carbon dioxide emissions if it is to keep warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid catastrophic climate change.

      In the UK, the report has become the call for action of the grassroots climate campaign Extinction Rebellion, which uses civil disobedience tactics to push the government to take meaningful action to prevent climate breakdown and aims to reach net zero emissions by 2025.

    • Climate Scientist Michael Mann Releases Emails Ahead of University of Arizona Response to E&E Legal

      Nearly a decade ago, in late 2009, a server at the University of East Anglia was hacked and thousands of emails from the university’s Climatic Research Unit were subsequently released in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate talks. Within these thousands of emails, climate change deniers attempted to cherry-pick a few sentences to falsely suggest scientific malfeasance. This so-called “Climategate” incident managed to briefly cast doubt on the public’s acceptance of the scientific realities of climate change. But ultimately, numerous investigations found there was no wrongdoing, and the media storm was found to only have a fleeting public impact.

      I have discussed the manufactured scandal in the context of the larger industry-funded, bad faith attack on climate science in my book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.

      In increasingly desperate attempts to recreate this short-lived machination, there have since been repeated efforts to obtain my and other climate scientists’ emails via fishing expeditions through misuse of the legal system. Led by David Schnare, one coal-funded group masquerading as a think tank — which currently goes by the name of Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) — brought a lawsuit in Virginia seeking to obtain virtually every email I had ever sent or received during the six years I was a professor at the University of Virginia.

    • Green Corridors, Mental Maps: A Call for the End of Deer Control

      Ecologists have long “speculated” that ungulates—hooved animals including deer, sheep, and bison—learn from their families and peers. That they learn strikes me, an avid walker-through-the-woods, as obvious.

      Why wouldn’t they trust others in their communities, and adopt the elders’ patterns of movement?

      But science requires verification. And in a recent study of rams and moose, a team of academic and government researchers recently confirmed that ungulates learn and teach through their generations.

      They learn the spots were new shoots spring up, and when. They time their travel accordingly. Their memories’ maps, collectively drawn, guide the migration of hooved animals. Each generation confirms what earlier generations knew, then expands upon it. This is how ungulates maximize the nourishment available from accessible territory. This is how they find the optimal fat and protein sources to fortify them for the harshest winters.

    • Trump dismantling US climate efforts as warnings grow dire

      President Donald Trump has moved steadily to dismantle Obama administration efforts to rein in coal, oil and gas emissions, even as warnings grow — from his own administration and others — about the devastating impact of climate change on the U.S. economy as well as the Earth.

      Trump has dismissed his administration’s warnings about the impact of climate change, including a forecast released Friday that it could lead to economic losses of hundreds of billions of dollars a year by the end of the century.

  • Finance

    • Supreme Court Weighs Whether Apple’s App Store Is a Monopoly

      The Supreme Court this week heard the latest arguments in a longstanding lawsuit accusing Apple of operating a locked down, price-gouging monopoly in the form of its App Store. A ruling in the case would not only open the door to users suing Apple for its iOS walled garden, but could impact antitrust enforcement over tech giants for years to come.

    • Workers Petition Congress: Protect Our Pensions

      The total number of workers at risk is 1.2 million. In my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), 100,000 are threatened. Daryl A. Bugbee of Olivet, Michigan, is one of them. He wrote Congress’ Joint Select Committee on Multiemployer Pensions on August 8:

      “I am the father of a special needs child who will always need assistance. Without my pension, I will not be able to help meet his needs.”

      Workers like Daryl count on that money. Most didn’t earn enough to invest in stocks or a 401(k) for retirement. The pension was everything.

    • ‘This Is About Systematically Impoverishing People’ – CounterSpin interview with Felicia Kornbluh on ‘welfare reform’

      Janine Jackson: The policies and practices known as “welfare reform,” marked by Bill Clinton’s 1996 signing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, always traded on a number of myths, often abetted by the media. Myths about how much money the government, or “taxpayers,” spent on Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and what those families receiving assistance looked like. And the myth that the receipt of state support discouraged people from working, creating what was bemoaned as a “culture of dependency” that might affect two or three generations.

      But at the center of the myths around welfare and the need for its for reform were always women, and particularly black women. Shouldn’t they work more? How many children should they have? How is their working, or not working, affecting black men, and the perennially troubled and troubling black family?

      For a policy that always claims to be about economics, welfare policy has always been about much more. Recognizing and understanding that can be part of a necessary “reboot,” as my next guest describes it, of the policy conversation around poverty.

    • ‘The One Financial Institution That Stuck with Trump’: Deutsche Bank Headquarters Raided in Germany

      As news broke Thursday morning that Deutsche Bank’s German headquarters had been raided in Frankfurt over, numerous observers were quick to note the bank’s deep ties to U.S. President Donald Trump.

      The bank’s offices were reportedly raided in connection with the Panama Papers money laundering investigation. Two employees and several “unidentified people in positions of authority” are suspected of failing to report the laundering of more than $350 million which were kept by the bank in accounts located in the British Virgin Islands.

      According to NPR, more than 900 Deutsche Bank clients were able to keep their money on the islands in 2016.

    • Do the Democrats Have a Plan for General Motors?

      President Trump has GM egg on his face.

      He repeatedly promised that the car industry would create more and more jobs in the U.S., thanks to his “magic wand” of aggressive tax and tariff policies. But by announcing the elimination of 14,000 U.S jobs, GM revealed that conjurer tricks are no match for voracious capitalists.

      Trump, of course, can never appear to back down. Instead, he is threatening to cut all subsidies to GM like tax credits for electric cars, which are vital to their development and sales. But, it’s doubtful he has the power to match his bluster.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook expanding ‘Today In’ local news feature

      The feature aggregates information from local media outlets, government, community organizations and first responders. Users can either check in directly at their “Today In” page or allow the feature to promote local news on their main newsfeed.

    • American Voter Turnout Is Shameful, No Matter the Historic Midterms

      But what is also true, less than half of eligible voters voted: 47 percent. Even though it represents the highest midterm voter turnout in half a century, it is shameful. Chief among the reasons is the Republican Party’s aggressive voter suppression efforts that it has successfully pursued for decades, primarily in states where Republicans have control of the state legislature and the governor’s office. People are organizing against this wholesale disenfranchisement, with two major lessons immediately apparent from the midterms: First, grassroots organizing gets results; and second, there is a huge amount of work yet to be done to ensure a fair, representative democracy with an engaged and empowered electorate.

    • Missouri’s Newest Senator Apparently Can’t Read The Law, Pushing For Greater Censorship

      Missouri’s incoming Senator, Josh Hawley, has been getting some attention as being a “fierce critic” of big internet companies. Specifically, in his role as Missouri State Attorney General, he famously launched an investigation into Google, sending a subpoena that had many of the same hallmarks found in the subpoena Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood sent to Google years earlier, that was later revealed to have been drafted by MPAA lawyers as part of their Project Goliath, in which the MPAA deliberately used a NY Times article about using state AGs to attack competitors to do just that. As a reminder, a judge eventually found that subpoena to be in bad faith and Hood withdrew it.

      Still, given that Hawley specifically campaigned on being willing to “stand up to big tech”, it’s really no surprise that he’s now going around yelling about Twitter temporarily suspending a user (who happens to play on the same red/blue team as Hawley). The problem is that Hawley — who as a lawyer, Attorney General, and incoming Senator should be expected to know the law — actually gets its entirely backwards.

    • Our Bipolar Free-Speech Disorder And How To Fix It (Part 2)

      Although it’s clearer when we visualize all the players in the free-speech regulation landscape that a “free-speech triangle” at least captures more complexity than the usual speakers-against-the-government or speakers-against-the-companies or companies-against-the-government models, the fact is that our constitutional law and legal traditions predispose us to think of these questions in binary rather than, uh, “trinary” terms. We’ve been thinking this way for centuries, and it’s a hard habit to shake. But shaking the binary habit is a necessity if we’re going to get the free-speech ecosystem right in this century.

      To do this we first have to look at how we typically reduce these “trinary” models to the binary models we’re more used to dealing with. With three classes of actors, there are three possible “dyads” of relationships: user–platform, government–platform, and user–government.

    • Trump is Violating the Three Basic Principles of the Rule of Law

      There’s no question why Trump appointed Whitaker. When asked by the Daily Caller, Trump made it clear: “As far as I’m concerned this is an investigation that should have never been brought. It should have never been had…. It’s an illegal investigation.”

    • Censoring Facebook Censors Us All

      The Times, the leader of the anti-free-speech crusade, employs a logic all its own. Not only does it assume that Facebook must be at fault because someone, somewhere, is using it for nefarious purposes, but it cherry-picks the data to make the situation seem worse than it really is—rather as if not one but every diner in America was filled with baddies plotting murder and mayhem. A mammoth front-page article that ran Nov. 14 thus asserts that unnamed malefactors have used the network “to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe.” When Trump called for a shutdown on Muslim immigration in December 2015, the story adds, it “illustrat[ed] the site’s power to spread racist sentiment” because Facebook users shared the item some 15,000 times.

    • Trump Foundation tax return reveals finances during Trump’s first year in office as lawsuit heats up

      During his first year in office, President Donald Trump was listed as president of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which was entirely funded by a half-million dollar donation from Trump’s business along with a six-figure “reimbursement” from one of his golf clubs, according to a new tax return obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics.

      Trump remained president of his namesake foundation through 2017 despite daughter Ivanka Trump officially resigning from her director position in January 2017, according to the tax return, which was filed under the penalty of perjury.

      The Trump Foundation did not make any grants in 2017 after contributing $3.1 million in 2016 and reported no spending whatsoever during Trump’s first year in office, according to the tax return.

      This follows an October 2016 notice from the New York attorney general’s office claiming that the Trump Foundation was in violation of state law for soliciting donations without proper authorization and ordering it to cease fundraising immediately.

    • Demands for Trump Labor Secretary to Resign After ‘Jaw-Dropping’ and ‘Enraging’ Story About Sweetheart Deal for Billionaire Pedophile

      President Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is rumored to be on the short list of possible attorney general nominees, but he is now facing demands to resign immediately after an “incredibly disturbing” bombshell investigation by the Miami Herald on Wednesday revealed that—in his previous role as Miami’s top prosecutor—Acosta “bent over backwards” to give a sweetheart plea deal to billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who has been accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls.

      “Epstein could have ended up in federal prison for the rest of his life,” the Herald noted. But, thanks to Acosta, “an extraordinary deal” was struck that “conceal[ed] the full extent of Epstein’s crimes” and allowed the billionaire hedge manager to skate by with just 13 months in county jail and a non-prosecution agreement.

      “Court records reveal details of the negotiations and the role that Acosta would play in arranging the deal, which scuttled the federal probe into a possible international sex trafficking operation,” the Herald found. “Among other things, Acosta allowed Epstein’s lawyers unusual freedoms in dictating the terms of the non-prosecution agreement.”

    • Jill Stein Touts Historic Victory for Pennsylvania Voters

      Electronic voting machines are prone to failures. In a 2015 report, the Brennan Center for Justice detailed how these systems are “often unauditable, susceptible to malware, frequently difficult to repair, and more prone to failure.” Researchers haven’t found much cause for optimism in follow-up reports. States are using machines that are more than 10 years old, and only one state—Virginia—has replaced its paperless machines. The settlement of a lawsuit against Pennsylvania, however, may be a small but notable first step in the fight for fairer elections.

      After the 2016 election, former presidential candidate Jill Stein sued Pennsylvania, calling for an end to the use of paperless voting machines susceptible to tampering, hacking and general errors. On Thursday, Stein announced a settlement with the state.

      The settlement guarantees that Pennsylvania will replace its current system with paper ballots by 2020. In addition, by 2022, the state will enact automatic audits after every election to ensure the accuracy of vote counts before results are certified.

    • Chile-Brazil: A New Laboratory For The Far-Right

      Still shocked by the electoral results in Brazil, many Brazilians are asking how an avalanche of votes for Jair Bolsonaro and General Hamilton Mourão took place and what exactly will happen when a right wing extremist government takes over. We are still a long way off from answering this, but the connections between Bolsonaro’s main economic guru, Paulo Guedes, and the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990), give us important leads about the underlying plans.

      Until recently, Paulo Roberto Nunes Guedes (69) was relatively unknown to the Brazilian public. Although he was a columnist for Epoca magazine and O Globo newspaper and founder of the Millenium Institute, the economist spent decades isolated from the mainstream, rejecting all of Brazil’s economic plans for the last 35 years, from those of President José Sarney to Dilma Rousseff. Reading some of his articles it becomes clear why. Guedes shows an aversion to the social contract guaranteed in the 1988 Constitution, which he interprets as an obstacle to his political project. For him, Brazil suffered from an “interventionist curse” which has blocked the “irreversible evolutionary process (…) towards a great open society.”

    • ‘Immediate Trouble’ for Don Jr. Predicted After Michael Cohen Guilty Plea

      Trump cancels scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin and calls former lawyer ‘weak’ in response to new guilty plea in federal court

    • Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty to Lying to Congress

      Flanked by his lawyers, Cohen admitted making false statements in 2017 to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the project.

    • The Audacity of Struggle

      The madness around us is no accident. Donald Trump is not an anomaly, but he is the worst of what this nation has to offer. Intentional ignorance fuels his hatred and money fuels his bloated and undeserved ego. We live in a nation ruled by small minded and heartless men and women whose egos match their ill begotten bank accounts. Their perception of justice is that which serves the market and the market is only viable as far as it serves their paymasters. Men and women with no place to live idle away their days in libraries and doorways, their hope for a different future slowly fading into their lives of despair. Work for any gain like a place they can afford to rent or even a car to live in grows more distant with each ordinance passed against the state of being poor. Police in their obeisance to the state and the class it serves enforce these ordinances with nary a pang of conscience. Or, even worse, a conscience that demands they beat the poor and obey the wealthy. Meanwhile, the wealthy spread their gospel of prosperity as if they actually believe the lies they tell themselves. Angry and ultimately misanthropic citizens accept the rich people’s lies hoping that their deliverance will soon arrive. Maybe if they believe the gospel of wealth they will become wealthy. It’s the myth upon which US capitalism is built. P.T. Barnum put it more succinctly when he spoke about suckers being born every minute.

    • Sorry Democrats, the Green Party Came Up With the Green New Deal!

      This week progressives nationwide are talking about a Green New Deal and, while mainstream media is saying that insurgent Democrats came up with this, we beg to differ! We applaud the efforts of Democrats for finally adopting what the Global Greens began to work on in in 2006 while noting that the delay of 12 years is very significant when it comes to climate change.

      The Green Party has been advocating for a massive jobs and public works program to transition our energy infrastructure rapidly over to renewable energy for more than a decade [1]. The project truly began with a Global Greens ‘Green New Deal Task Force’, first formulated in 2006. It was brought into American Green political campaigns by Howie Hawkins when he ran for governor in 2014 [2]. Next Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka highlighted it in their 2016 presidential campaign [3] while many more American Green candidates have run campaigns using it since that time.

      Our Green New Deal is formulated as a transitional set of demands in a Four Point program with the understanding that fundamental structural change, moving our society away from the inhumane, imperial logic of a capitalist market system and towards a radical democratic reconfiguration of forces in the United States, is the only way that a popular program for change can occur.

    • Sheryl Sandberg Is Said to Have Asked Facebook Staff to Research George Soros

      Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros’s financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies, according to three people with knowledge of her request, indicating that Facebook’s second in command was directly involved in the social network’s response to the liberal billionaire.

      Ms. Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, asked for the information in an email to a senior executive in January that was forwarded to other senior communications and policy staff, the people said. The email came within days of a blistering speech Mr. Soros delivered that month at the World Economic Forum, attacking Facebook and Google as a “menace” to society and calling for the companies to be regulated.

      Ms. Sandberg — who was at the forum, but was not present for Mr. Soros’s speech, according to a person who attended it — requested an examination into why Mr. Soros had criticized the tech companies and whether he stood to gain financially from the attacks. At the time, Facebook was under growing scrutiny for the role its platform had played in disseminating Russian propaganda and fomenting campaigns of hatred in Myanmar and other countries.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Google CEO Sundar Pichai will face lawmakers at a hearing next week

      “The technology behind online services like social media and Internet search engines can also be used to suppress particular viewpoints and manipulate public opinion,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a press release announcing the hearing.

      But there are plenty of other controversial topics that members of Congress may want to ask Pichai about.

    • Only Donald Trump Can Make a Martyr Out of CNN

      One of the more challenging aspects of covering this White House involves trying to explain exactly how fraught with nonsense Donald Trump’s ongoing feud with the corporate news media is. Trump is of, by, and for that media. He is what would happen if New York City tabloid journalism and reality TV had a baby together and painted it orange. He is them and they are him; they feed off each other and have disturbingly similar personalities.

      The irony and hypocrisy involved on both sides can be thoroughly unbearable, and when Trump on Tuesday took a break from tweeting stumble-phrased attacks against his own Justice Department and Fed chair to launch another broadside against CNN, the last sentence jumped out: “Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”

      Where to begin?

      CNN, mostly in the form of journalist Jim Acosta, has certainly been no friend to the Trump administration with its reporting. This seemingly aggressive coverage, however, is self-serving. CNN learned all too well during the first Gulf War, September 11 and the long slog of the Iraq War that crisis breeds ratings and advertising dollars. CNN’s viewership went up 500 percent after 9/11. The network made a fortune peddling fear on behalf of the Bush administration, and helped to parlay those fears into a war based on lies it ravenously promoted.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Mozilla Hosts Round-Table With Indian Tech Companies On Data Privacy

      California-based Mozilla recently hosted a round-table conference during its first Indian edition of ‘Privacy Matters’ to discuss issues related to data privacy.

      The round-table conference involved various prominent people from companies such as Aditya Birla Group, Dunzo, Ibibo, Practo, Ola, Zeotap, Zomato, for data privacy prior to the introduction of the data privacy protection law.

    • EFF, ACLU Petition Court To Unseal Documents From DOJ’s Latest Anti-Encryption Efforts

      Back in August, the DOJ headed to court, hoping to obtain some of that sweet sweet anti-encryption precedent. Waving around papers declaring an MS-13 gang conspiracy, the DOJ demanded Facebook break encryption on private Messenger messages and phone calls so the government could eavesdrop. Facebook responded by saying it couldn’t do that without altering — i.e., breaking — Messenger’s underlying structure.

      Not that breaking a communications platform would give the FBI any sleepless nights. Worthless encryption is better than good encryption when it comes to demanding the content of communications or, as in this case, operating as the unseen man-in-middle when suspected gang members chatted with each other.

      Unfortunately (for the FBI), this ended in a demurral by the federal court. The details of the court’s decision are, just as unfortunately, unknown. Reuters was able to obtain comments from “insiders familiar with the case,” but the public at large is still in the dark as to how all of this turned out.

    • Welcome to the burgeoning, globalized business of implementing government surveillance

      That fact that massive surveillance is taking place around the world is hardly a secret, not least since Edward Snowden revealed the extraordinary scale and reach of Western spying. But what is less obvious is how globalized the business of surveillance has become. Snowden explained how important the Five Eyes partnership of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is in terms of sharing information and techniques. But the rise of the Internet – now the most important medium for carrying out spying – and the globalized trade of goods and services has led to a burgeoning market for implementing government surveillance around the world.

    • People Who Buy Smart Speakers Have Given Up on Privacy, Researchers Find

      If you find always-listening smart devices creepy, but bought an Amazon Echo anyway, you’re not alone. A recent study from researchers at the University of Michigan found that people who own smart speakers are aware of the risks, but feel resigned to the idea that the erosion of privacy is now a fact of life.

      “What was really concerning to me was this idea that ‘it’s just a little bit more info you give Google or Amazon, and they already know a lot about you, so how is that bad?’” said Florian Schaub, an assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Information and a co-author of the study. “It’s representative of this constant erosion of what privacy means and what our privacy expectations are.”

    • Six months in, Europe’s privacy revolution favors Google, Facebook

      But six months after coming online, research suggests the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has also dampened investment in startups on the EU tech scene. Big companies like Google and Facebook are more dominant than ever in their markets, and no Silicon Valley giant has yet felt the sting of eye-watering financial penalties linked to the rules as regulators struggle to keep up with an increased workload.

      These are some early lessons from the EU’s half-year experience with an unprecedented new privacy regime that U.S. lawmakers are considering whether to adopt, albeit in very different terms, according to conversations with senior EU officials, data protection watchdogs, privacy professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and private citizens in several European countries.

      Key findings include: [...]

    • Facebook Considered Charging for Access to User Data

      Internal emails show Facebook Inc. considered charging companies for continued access to user data several years ago, a step that would have marked a dramatic shift away from the social-media giant’s policy of not selling that information, according to an unredacted court document viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    • Facebook Once Considered Selling User Data, Internal Emails Reveal

      018 has been a train wreck for Facebook so far, and the situation doesn’t seem to change even in the ending months of the year. Some internal documents of Facebook seized by British lawmakers have revealed that the social media giant had plans to sell user data between 2012 and 2014, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    • Amazon will reportedly sell software that reads medical records

      The program scans medical files to pick out relevant information such as the medical condition and patient’s procedures and prescriptions. While other algorithms that try to do the same thing have been stymied by doctors’ abbreviations, Amazon claims to have trained its system to recognize the idiosyncrasies in how doctors take notes, sources told the WSJ. The company had already developed and sold this same software to other businesses, including ones focused on travel booking and customer service. For Amazon, this is another move into the health care market on the heels of the retailer buying the online pharmacy PillPack in June.

    • Amazon is opening its machine learning courses to everyone

      Global tat repository Amazon has announced that it is to make its machine learning training, previously only available to its internal engineers, available to anyone interested.

      30 courses, all self-service and self-managed, are now available, totalling 45 hours across four groups – developers, data scientists, data platform engineers, and business professionals.

    • FBI Faked Up A FedEx Website To Track Down A Scam Artist

      A second warrant application dug up by Motherboard details pretty much the same process: an NIT deployed via email attachment to force the target to relinquish identifying info like IP addresses and device information. The twist in the second application is that the malicious embed (an image contained in a Word document) would require the recipient to turn off “Protected Mode” to open the attachment. Simply harvesting info from an end user is one thing. Having them perform an action on their end to give the government access to their computer is another. “In an abundance of caution,” the FBI requested a warrant, even though the application makes it clear the FBI believes it shouldn’t need a warrant to force targeted devices to give up potentially-identifying info.

      The impersonation of FedEx may be novel, but the FBI’s use of NITs began well before its extrajurisdictional searches were codified by Rule 41 changes. NITs have been in the FBI’s toolkit for most of this decade. Here’s a 2012 application and returned warrant showing the FBI using an NIT to obtain IP addresses and device info to locate a wanted felon using an email address the agency believed belonged to the target.

      The FBI’s impersonation of people, places, and things is likely just as widespread, even if the rules (very loosely) governing this investigative technique suggest it shouldn’t be. FedEx may have questions about the FBI’s use of its name to obtain IP addresses from criminal suspects, but so far, it hasn’t commented on the news. What’s seen in these applications suggests some care is being taken to avoid sweeping up innocent internet users, but there’s only so much that can be implied from this very small sampling of federal investigative activity.

    • Facebook investigated Russian data harvesting in 2014, emails seized by MPs reveal
    • Facebook was warned of apparent Russian data trawl in 2014, MPs told

      “An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with Russian IP addresses had been using a Pinterest API key to pull over 3bn data points a day [from Facebook],” he said. “Now was that reported to any external body at the time?”

    • Google accused of breaching GDPR with ‘misleading’ location tracking

      A consortium of consumer groups from across Europe have banded together under the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) lobby group to add teeth to recent US action over Google’s “it’s off, but it’s actually on” approach to tracking the location of Android and Chrome powered devices.

      The Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden have filed complaints with their native regulators, and are hoping to use their combined weight to force Google into action.


      Research from Norway concludes that Google is deliberately misleading people into keeping the tracking feature switched on.

    • Encryption bill: EFA questions need to rush proposed legislation

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

    • DOJ made secret arguments to break crypto, now ACLU wants to make them public

      On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union formally asked the judge to unseal court dockets and related rulings associated with this ongoing case involving alleged MS-13 gang members. ACLU lawyers argue that such a little-charted area of the law must be made public so that tech companies and the public can fully know what’s going on.

    • Online Chat With Customer Support Has a Creepy Privacy Risk You Probably Don’t Know About

      Why? Because on some live chat platforms – particularly commercial ones like these geared to customer service – support staff can actually see what you’re writing as you type it, even before you hit the return or enter key, or click send.

      In fact, as Gizmodo adroitly points out, in circumstances like this, “the send button is an illusion”.

    • Be Warned: Customer Service Agents Can See What You’re Typing in Real Time

      On the upside, you get fast answers. On the downside, your thought process is being unknowingly observed. For the creators, this is technological magic, a deception that will result, they hope, in amazement and satisfaction. But once revealed by an agent who responds too quickly or one who responds before the question is asked, the trick falls apart, and what is left behind feels distinctly creepy, like a rabbit pulled from a hat with a broken neck. “Why give [customers] a fake ‘Send message’ button while secretly transmitting their messages all along?” asks Scocca.

      This particular magic trick happens thanks to JavaScript operating in your browser and detecting what’s happening on a particular site in real time. It’s also how companies capture information you’ve entered into web forms before you’ve hit submit. Companies could lessen the creepiness by telling people their typing is seen in real time or could eliminate the send button altogether (but that would undoubtedly confuse people, as if the useless buttons in elevators to “close door” or the placebos to push at crosswalks disappeared overnight.).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Ex-Facebook manager: black staffers face discrimination and exclusion

      A shocking story of police and lethal force. Just not the one you might expect.


      The woman inside 119 Marie called 911 again. It was 2:57. Her name was Bethany Gilmer. R.J. Williams, her ex-boyfriend and the father of their baby, had a gun, she told the dispatcher. But the gun was not loaded, she said. He’d taken the magazine out. He was drunk.

    • Matthew Whitaker Was Illegally Appointed and Should Be Removed

      After forcing Jeff Sessions to resign as attorney general on November 7, President Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, even though Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was next in line for the job. As a result, Whitaker assumed the functions of attorney general.

      Whitaker’s appointment was an illegal and blatant end run around the Attorney General Succession Act and the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. Whitaker must be removed and Rosenstein should be appointed acting attorney general.

      Trump’s firing of Sessions and replacement with Whitaker appears to be an effort to terminate or dilute special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump election campaign. Infuriated after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel, Trump had been champing at the bit to replace Sessions with an attorney general who would have his back. As acting attorney general, Whitaker will assume authority over the Mueller probe.

      However, legal challenges to Whitaker’s appointment are mounting. Three senators have filed litigation to prevent Whitaker from carrying out the functions of attorney general. The state of Maryland has requested an injunction to remove Whitaker and substitute Rosenstein as acting attorney general. Moreover, a group of Congress members wroteto the Justice Department’s ethics officer demanding Whitaker’s recusal from the Russia investigation.

    • Pundits Policing Protest at Tucker Carlson’s House – Shrinking the space for dissent to white supremacy

      Commentary on a demonstration outside the home of Fox News host Tucker Carlson earlier this month used an exaggerated version of events to try to delegitimize a wide range of protest tactics. These articles use the protest at Carlson’s house as an occasion to make broad claims about “the left” and about protest in general.

      Alan Pyke (Think Progress, 11/9/18), a journalist who was present at the anti-Carlson protest, described a “10-minute demonstration” carried out by about a dozen people armed with “signs, a megaphone and a tambourine.” One person knocked on Carlson’s door three times, then walked away when no one answered. (Carlson wasn’t home, and neither were his four kids, but his wife, it turned out, was present.) A few minutes later, one of the protesters went to the door, leaned a sign against it that had Carlson’s name and address on it, and walked away.

      Among the demonstrators’ chants were the phrases “We know where you sleep at night” and “We’ll be back! We won’t tell you when!” Later, one of the demonstrators spray-painted an anarchy symbol on the Carlsons’ driveway. No one was arrested, even though, as Pyke pointed out, local police have a recent history of heavy-handedness with protesters, as evidenced by the hundreds of arrests at the J20 protests that greeted President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

      The people outside of Carlson’s home brought four legal observers with them, which would be an odd move for people planning to engage in violence or, for that matter, law-breaking of any kind, as legal aid attorney Rebecca J. Kavanagh pointed out.

    • We’re Suing the CIA to Find the Body of a Torture Victim

      The U.S. government’s obsessive secrecy has deprived a man’s family of basic dignity and closure.
      In November 2002, the CIA tortured Gul Rahman to death in a secret prison in Afghanistan. Sixteen years later, Rahman’s family is still desperately searching to find out what the CIA did to his body.

      To date, the CIA has told his loved ones nothing, and his daughter cannot even give her father a decent burial.

      That same month, Gina Haspel oversaw the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at a CIA black site in Thailand. Sixteen years later, Haspel has been promoted to CIA director by President Trump, while Nashiri remains “one of the most damaged victims of torture” a psychiatric expert has ever seen.

      To date, the CIA has told the American public nothing about Haspel’s role in the agency’s torture program — even as it waged an unprecedented propaganda campaign on her behalf to win her Senate confirmation. Even a CIA spokesman confirmed that under the Trump administration, the agency pushed harder than usual to get the American public to accept the CIA’s favored choice for director. And now that Haspel has been installed at the top, she is effectively in control of whether her own record of torture remains secret.

    • Trump’s border violence is sick entertainment for his fans: And they love it

      Eliminationism is violence, usually encouraged by powerful social and political elites, against whole groups of people who are deemed to be “pollutants,” “subhuman” or in some other way “inferior.” Such language and values have been almost fully normalized in America under Donald Trump.

      For several decades the right-wing echo chamber has told its followers (and the general public) that Democrats, liberals, progressives and any other group that Republicans and conservatives viewed as the enemy were to be vanquished and destroyed — literally. This violent language is so commonplace that when Republicans and other conservatives use it, most critics, and the public as a whole, do not take the matter seriously. It is now the equivalent of background noise in America’s public discourse.

    • Making Native Americans Strangers in Their Own Land

      In the 1950s, I grew up in the heart of New York City and had a remarkable amount of contact with Native Americans. As you might expect, I never actually met one in those years. What I had in mind was all the time I spent at the local RKO and other movie theaters watching Hollywood westerns. They were, of course, filled with Indians, and in those films, we — and I don’t mean the 12-year-old Tom Engelhardt, but the blue coats, the stage coach drivers and their passengers, the cowboys, and the pioneers I identified with — were regularly ambushed by those Indians. In the end, with rare exceptions, the natives predictably fell as they circled the wagon train or stagecoach or attacked those cavalrymen, whooping and shooting their arrows. They went down, naturally enough, before the implacable power of “our” weaponry, “our” marksmanship. And here’s the thing: they deserved it. After all, they were attacking us. We never ambushed them. They, that is, were “the invaders” and we, invariably, the aggressed upon.

      All of this came to my mind when, in the midst of the 2018 midterm election campaign, Donald Trump labeled as “invaders” a caravan of desperate refugees, including women and small children fleeing their violent, impoverished lands (which the U.S. had a significant hand in making so) for asylum or refuge in this country. And then, of course, he sent almost 6,000 military personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border to protect us (and twiddle their thumbs).

      I was reminded then of that celluloid past because Donald Trump, who is only a couple of years younger than me and undoubtedly grew up in the same movie world, felt — I suspect — so comfortable lambasting those refugees as invaders exactly because the term fit perfectly the “history” we had learned in our mutual childhoods. His claim was, in fact, a twenty-first-century version of the way, in our youth, the history of this country was regularly turned on its head, making the desperate and invaded into the nefarious and invasive. And, in truth, even without the helping hand of Donald Trump, that version of our history has never really ended, as TomDispatch regular Aviva Chomsky shows today. Native Americans are still being treated as if they were the invaders in what was once their own land and, like that caravan from Latin America, slapped down for it. Let her tell you how what she calls the DNA industry and various parts of our government, local and national, have been working overtime to recreate, after a fashion, the movie world of my childhood.

    • The Day I Almost Went to Prison for Life

      Larry and I took the bus from Augusta to Atlanta, Georgia on a Friday night in November 1969. We were at the halfway point of basic training at Fort Gordon and the first weekend pass was our reward for surviving the rigors of military training during the Vietnam era. We were both in the National Guard, and unlike some others in our training unit, we would get to go home in the early spring following the completion of both basic and advanced training in our military specialty.

      I was completely against the Vietnam War, but that is not the subject of this essay. I read Martin Luther King’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? as the bus sped along the roads to Atlanta through the night. My first stop in Atlanta was at what would become King’s temporary tomb next to the church where he preached along with his father: Ebenezer Baptist.

    • My Black Son Was Sent Home From First Grade Because of His Natural Hair

      My 6-year-old was turned away from his school for the offense of wearing locs.
      Six-year-olds never seem to run out of questions, and my son is no exception. But in August, CJ asked me a question that was harder than the rest: He wanted to know if there was something wrong with his hair.

      As a father, I’d tried to shield him from racism for as long as I could. But we had just been turned away in humiliating fashion from A Book’s Christian Academy in Apopka, Florida, on the first day of classes. The school’s administrators, led by John Book, barred CJ from entering the building because of his locs. They treated him like a leper, and then they gave me an ultimatum: my son’s hairstyle or his schooling.

      I was bewildered that the all-white staff in charge of a predominantly Black school would have the audacity to shame something so closely tied to Black identity. In the months since the degrading ordeal, I’ve given a lot of thought to what I should do. And in that time, Book has made it clear that harmless affirmations of Black cultural pride remain unwelcome at his school.

      And so today, I’ve decided to pursue legal action with the help of the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It’s not right for a school to take taxpayer dollars while singling out and shaming Black natural hair. On behalf of my son and other Black children in my community, I’m urging the Florida Department of Education to hold A Book’s Christian Academy accountable.

    • Philly Cops Skirting Forfeiture Restrictions By Seizing Cars As ‘Evidence’

      A couple of months ago, a consent decree drastically restructured Philadelphia’s severely-abused asset forfeiture program. It didn’t eliminate the program entirely, but it did eliminate the small-ball cash grabs favored by local law enforcement. The median seizure by Philly law enforcement is only $178, but it adds up to millions if you do it all the time. Small seizures like this now need to be tied to arrests or the property needs to be used as evidence in a criminal case.
      Other restraints will hopefully eliminate local law enforcement’s worst practices — like seizing someone’s house because their kid sold $40 of drugs to a police informant. It also should slow down seizures of whatever’s in a person’s pockets by forbidding forfeitures of under $250 entirely.

    • Chicago Throws Out 23,000 Duplicate Tickets Issued Since 1992 to Motorists Who Didn’t Have Vehicle Stickers

      The city of Chicago said Thursday it has dismissed some 23,000 outstanding duplicate vehicle sticker tickets and will refund motorists who have already paid for an additional 12,000 duplicates dating to the early 1990s.

      The decision was made Wednesday, city officials said, five months after a ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ investigation revealed that, on nearly 20,000 occasions since 2007, motorists had been been cited more than once on the same day, in apparent violation of the municipal code.

      The city’s decision affects even more drivers because its analysis of ticket data extends to duplicate citations issued since 1992, adding 15 years’ worth of sticker tickets to the equation.

      Motorists in black and low-income neighborhoods see the highest rate of ticketing for vehicle sticker violations, including duplicates, ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ have found.

    • Review: Documentary Connects Revolutionary Feminist Struggles In The Middle East

      In August 2014, the women of the “Women’s Protection Units” (YPJ) captured the attention of the world when they helped rescue 50,000 people from a massacre by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq.

      The “Sinjar massacre,” as it has come to be known, represented the two extremes of contemporary life for women in the Middle East. On one hand, women were threatened with lifelong subjugation by Islamic fundamentalists. Yet, on the other hand, women picked up arms in defense of themselves and their sisters.

      While the YPJ’s rescue operation in Sinjar was heralded around the world, it was perhaps most inspiring to the women of the Middle East, whose lives were restricted by patriarchy and could now see a way out.

      The YPJ’s victory over ISIS was cemented in October 2017, when Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital in Syria, fell. It reverberated throughout the Middle East, giving renewed strength to feminist struggles across the region.

      It is these connections that director Benedetta Argentieri highlights in her eye-opening new documentary, “I Am the Revolution,” which had its world premiere at the DOC NYC festival earlier this month.

    • DeVos’ Inspector General to Audit Dismissals of Civil Rights Complaints

      The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Education has announced that it is scrutinizing how the department handles civil rights complaints, potentially fueling a debate over the Trump administration’s scaled-back vigilance on a hot-button issue.

      Under Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the department has pulled back from the Obama administration’s emphasis on investigating allegations of systemic civil rights violations by school districts and colleges, instead focusing its attention on individual complaints of mistreatment, as ProPublica has reported in a series of articles.

      According to its annual report released Wednesday, one of the inspector general’s priorities is determining whether the department’s civil rights division has been appropriately dismissing discrimination complaints in accordance with federal policies and procedures. OIG reviews typically assess the efficiency, effectiveness and integrity of department operations and look for fraud, waste or abuse.


      Under the Trump administration, the department is less likely than it was under Obama to find wrongdoing by school districts and colleges on a range of issues, from racial and sexual harassment to meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

      We also found that the department has scuttled more than 1,200 civil rights investigations that were inherited from the Obama administration and were open for at least six months. These cases were closed without any corrective action or findings of wrongdoing, with the department often citing insufficient evidence.

    • Trump’s Tear-Gassing of Migrants Is the Next Step in a Cruel Dehumanization Campaign

      The Trump administration’s use of tear gas at the U.S. border with Mexico over the weekend has rightfully generated outrage. Just as the photo of a 2-year-old Honduran girl crying at the border this summer became a symbol for Donald Trump’s family separation policy, a photo of a terrified mother dragging her screaming twin daughters away from tear gas fired by the U.S. Border Patrol last weekend embodies the latest Trumpian act of cruelty toward desperate refugees. Maria Lila Meza Castro and her five children had made the long and arduous journey from Honduras to the U.S. border with the refugee caravan only to find herself shut out by Trump’s troops and fleeing toxic fumes.

    • Researchers Explain How Trump Wins Men Over by Appealing to Their Insecurities

      Donald Trump built his career by pretending he was a strong, successful man. He bragged in interviews about having a $9 billion fortune. He bragged in the 1980s, posing as his publicist, that Madonna wanted to go out with him. On “The Dr. Oz Show,” he claimed to have an unusually high testosterone level. All of this seems to have attracted male voters (53 percent in 2016), but, as researchers Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio argue in The Washington Post, not because these voters are as confident as Trump appears to be. In fact, they say, “Trump appears to appeal more to men who are secretly insecure about their manhood.”

      Knowles and DiMuccio call this the “fragile masculinity” hypothesis. They posit that this phenomenon occurs because men feel pressure to act in a certain way, to appear aggressive and strong, as far from feminine as possible. “This unforgiving standard of maleness,” Knowles and DiMuccio say, “makes some men worry that they’re falling short. These men are said to experience ‘fragile masculinity.’ ”

      The researchers say that the political process provides an opportunity for such men to mask their insecurity “by supporting tough politicians and policies, men [who] can reassure others (and themselves) of their own manliness.”

    • GM and Tear Gas: MAGA Open on Two Fronts

      Last week, Hillary Clinton said the EU should close the door to migration, lest it ‘roil the body politic’, liberty depends on it. Her worry isn’t ragged foreigners, but native imaginations. But they’re choice words; reminds us it’s the head she’s protecting.

      I suspect she had us in mind, too. The US presidency seems to preoccupy her. And, like any alcoholic, she knows the first step is to surrender. But she’s wrong as usual. Cracking down on immigration won’t deflate ‘populism’, because migrants aren’t driving it. Even our most-bonified populists, Clive and Ammon Bundy say so (check out Ammon’s facebook page for a more-liberal view on immigration).

      Regardless how -and I doubt she knows- Americans feel, the numbers aren’t there. Immigration has been dropping. New PEW data says undocumented labor has dropped more than 8% since 2007. In other words, migrants didn’t take our jobs. Rather, when the banks took our jobs, they took theirs, too. Then more went home than came.

      There are far-fewer ‘recent-arrivals’ (here 5 years or less) than in past surveys. So even if we’re still convinced that migrants are the problem, the border still isn’t. Moreover, it was Bill Clinton’s 1996 Immigration Act that made petty crime grounds for deportation. (Priorly, the threshold was a conviction yielding 5+ years in prison.) The report finds ‘the overwhelming majority have been here a decade or more’. That casts doubt that most are criminals.

      And there’s less unemployment. 3.7%. The lowest in a half-century. I know facts aren’t everything, there’s fear, but fear’s not impenetrable, either. Trump tweets that the job market is growing and growing, near as often as he tweets we’re being invaded. So even within his playlist there’s a contradiction. And if it’s not, and we’re losing jobs, it’s because jobs are leaving, not because workers are coming. Ask 1 in 5 GM workers who ruined their Christmas. Emigrating capital, not immigrant labor.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • OpenBGPD – Adding Diversity to the Route Server Landscape

      OpenBGPD used to be one of the most popular Route Server implementations until the early 2010s. OpenBGPD’s main problem was that its performance couldn’t keep up with the Internet’s growth, so it lost market share. An analysis by Job Snijders suggested that a modernised OpenBGPD distribution would be a most viable option to regain diversity on the Route Server level.

    • Congress has refused to restore net neutrality as Dec. 10 deadline nears

      In the House, 218 members (a majority) would have to sign a discharge petition to force a floor vote, but only 177 have signed it (176 of them are Democrats). The discharge petition must be filed by December 10.

      Technically, the House could vote on reversing the repeal until its session ends on January 3. But the House’s Republican leadership almost certainly would not bring the measure to a vote voluntarily. Advocates are thus centering their efforts around the December 10 discharge petition deadline.

    • House Democrats Who Haven’t Supported Net Neutrality Yet Have All Taken Money from Telecoms

      You don’t even have to scroll very far through any of these members’ campaign contribution filings on the FEC’s website to find a donor from the telecom industry (hint: sort by amount and they’ll be right near the top). To be clear, getting a campaign contribution from a telecom company does not preclude one from supporting net neutrality regulations. In fact even Rep. Mike Doyle, who introduced the discharge petition, has received money from the NCTA. But it’s worth noting these ties, especially because the Democrat holdouts in the House are also in groups that telecom lobbyists aggressively target: those who represent areas where telecom headquarters are located, and Tri-Caucus members.


      Here are all the Democratic members of house who have yet to sign the petition, and an example of some of the companies that have contributed to their campaigns: [...]

    • Google Fi wireless service now works with iPhones and most Android phones, but there’s a catch
    • Project Fi Is Now “Google Fi” — Now Available For iPhone, Samsung, OnePlus

      Project Fi, which prioritizes Wi-Fi calling over traditional carrier calling, has been renamed to Google Fi and is now available for iPhones and certain Samsung and OnePlus devices.

    • Project Fi re-branded as Google Fi, Expands Device Compatibility for iOS and Android

      In 2015, Google launched Project Fi as a cellular service. Over several years, various new features have been added to it along with support for more phones. Early last year it was revealed by Stephen Hall (managing Editor of 9to5Google) that Project Fi will no longer be simply a ‘project’. Similar to his suggestion, this MVNO has finally been dropped as ‘project’ by Google and has been named as Google Fi today. The company is greatly expanding its support for iPhones and compatibility for Android devices.

    • ESPN Has Lost 14 Million Viewers In 7 Years Thanks To Cord Cutting

      ESPN has long personified the cable and broadcast industry’s tone deafness to cord cutting and TV market evolution. Executives not only spent years downplaying the trend as something only poor people do, it sued companies that attempted to offer consumers greater flexibility in how video content was consumed. ESPN execs clearly believed cord cutting was little more than a fad that would simply stop once Millennials started procreating, and ignored surveys showing how 56% of consumers would ditch ESPN in a heartbeat if it meant saving the $8 per month subscribers pay for the channel.

      The penalty for ESPN’s failure to adapt has been severe. Disney’s recent earnings revealed that ESPN lost another 2 million regular viewers this year. And while ESPN still has 86 million regular viewers, that’s a 14 million regular viewer dip from the 100 million regular viewers it enjoyed in 2011. Those 14 million lost users generated around $1.44 billion per year for the “worldwide leader in sports,” which is still saddled with the severe costs of set redesigns and sports licensing contracts the company struck while it was busy not seeing the massive locomotive of market change bearing down upon it.

    • ‘The Whole Internet Is Watching’: As Deadline Nears, Day of Action Takes Aim at House Members Still Standing Against Net Neutrality

      “Net neutrality is not dead yet. Not even close,” Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future (FFTF), said in a statement. “But as the clock runs out for this Congress to act, we have an opportunity to show the entire world which elected officials are willing to fight for net neutrality, and which ones decide to sit on their hands and let big telecom companies take control over what we can see and do on the internet.”

      According to FFTF, 18 House Democrats still haven’t signed on to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would restore net neutrality protections—and one possible explanation is that they are major recipients of telecom cash.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Coloplast A/S’ claimed co-inventor ship to invention contained in patent application filed by Hollister Inc. was not proved

      On November 5th 2018 the Eastern High Court of Denmark ruled in favor of Hollister Inc. in a case regarding an invention described in a patent claim filed by Hollister Inc. Coloplast A/S claimed they were co-inventors of the invention and therefore co-owners of it. However, the Eastern High Court found that Coloplast had failed to prove this and dismissed their claim.

      The case concerned a patent application filed to EPO by Hollister regarding hydrophilic catheters. Coloplast claimed they were co-inventor and thus co-owner of the invention described in claim one of the patent application regarding activation of catheters by wet installation.

      Coloplast based their claim on the argument that Hollister had used laboratory test results from Coloplast, which Hollister had attained from an opposition case between the two parties, to change the way claim one of Hollister’s patent application was expressed. Coloplast argued that the change was based solely on Coloplast’s test results and that they were co-inventors and co-owners of the invention due to this.

    • Economically Sound And Fair Global Genetics Benefit-Sharing System Possible, Panellists Say [Ed: Some ‘pirates’ who try to steal life itself (claiming to ‘own’ genetics) under the guise (lie) of “inventions protected by intellectual property rights.”]

      UN Convention on Biological Diversity members were trying this week to address questions that were left open when its protocol on access and benefit-sharing was adopted eight years ago. One of them is how to deal with genetic resources which are not yet covered by the protocol. A side event to the biennial conference of CBD members this week presented a solution, which they say could provide a more efficient, cost-effective and fairer system of access and benefit-sharing, based on inventions protected by intellectual property rights.

    • UN Biodiversity Convention Agrees On Precautionary Approach To Synthetic Biology [Ed: "Synthetic Biology" is another new BS term. It means a loophole for some corporations to "steal" biology, claiming to "own" it because they edited something (without even understanding it much)]
    • Shared Indigenous Knowledge And Benefit-Sharing Needs Particular Attention, Panel Tells CBD

      Traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources held by indigenous and local communities is often not confined to one group or one specific geographical location. Displacement whether cultural or forced, political redesigning of borders, and exchanges with other communities have all contributed to the dispersion of that knowledge. This shared knowledge poses an issue in the context of benefit-sharing of commercial benefits on inventions derived from this knowledge. A side event on the side of the biennial meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity looked at how to address shared traditional knowledge.

    • Trademarks

      • High Court employs ‘intention to target’ approach to determine application of EU/UK law in online trade mark infringement case

        A few days ago the High Court of England and Wales (Arnold J) issued an interesting judgment concerning determination of the law applicable to an online trade mark infringement. It is Easygroup Ltd v Easy Fly Express Ltd & Anor [2018] EWHC 3155 (Ch) (21 November 2018 ).

        The claimant, easyGroup is the owner of a large number of marks. In particular, it is the proprietor of the word mark EASYJET for goods and services in Class 39 (transport, packaging and storage of goods, travel arrangement) of the Nice Classification, and a device mark including device mark the word easyFlights registered in respect of (inter alia) “transportation of goods … by air …; … cargo handling and freight services”, also in Class 39.

      • Fight Over .Amazon: ACTO Countries Cancel Meeting With ICANN CEO

        The fight over delegating the .amazon top-level domain to Amazon LLC is not over. But the effort of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to cut a deal between the regional Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) and online retailer Amazon has failed, according to ICANN CEO Göran Marby.

    • Copyrights

      • 12,564 Sites Preemptively Blocked to Protect India’s Most Expensive Movie

        Entertainment companies see the practice as crucial to preventing the flow of pirated content but critics claim the process is overly-aggressive and can lead to collateral damage. Following a ruling in India yesterday, opponents of blocking will have yet more ammunition.

        Following an application by Lyca Productions Private Limited, the producer of the sci-fi movie ‘2.0’, the Madras High Court handed down a super-aggressive blocking order yesterday that puts most – if not all – similar injunctions in the shade.

        In order to protect the movie – which is due for release today – Justice M Sundar ordered 37 local Internet service providers to block a staggering 12,564 websites on the basis that they are likely to offer illegal copies of the movie.

      • 12,564 Websites Blocked To Stop Torrenting Of India’s Most Expensive Movie

        The Madras High Court has ordered the internet service providers to block 12,564 pirate sites in India, as reported by TorrentFreak.

        The report also states that it’s the “most aggressive website blocking order” granted anywhere around the globe. This step has been taken in response to an application filed by Lyca Productions Private Limited, the makers of 2.0.

      • Nintendo Shuts Down Its ‘Creators’ YouTuber Program, Replaces It With Simpler But Still Confusing Guidelines For Streaming

        Way back in 2014, after years of waging a prolonged war on let’s play streamers and game reviewers, Nintendo introduced a bureaucratic mess of a policy that would eventually become its “Creators Program.” After being insanely heavy-handed towards streamers for years, the new program, that would allow for game streaming so long as the program rules were followed, initially was thought to be a major step forward for Nintendo. All too quickly, however, the whole thing devolved into a bureaucratic mess that saw applicants not getting responses to applications, and the revelation that Nintendo had some unethical rules for just how positive about Nintendo’s games streamers had to be to remain in the program. Many of the bigger names in streaming simply swore off doing anything with Nintendo games, while others attempted to soldier on until Nintendo suddenly revised the program to essentially ban live-streams, the lifeblood of streamers. That last bit occurred roughly a year ago, rendering confusion and anger at Nintendo in the streaming space.

      • Australian Parliament Passes Tough New Anti-Piracy Law

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

      • Anti-Piracy Group BREIN Stopped 75 Pirate IPTV Sellers This Year

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has convinced 75 vendors of copyright-infringing IPTV and VOD services to halt their sales this year. All targets agreed to pay settlements and other costs, totaling roughly 300,000 euros. While BREIN’s efforts are mostly directed at online sellers, the group agreed to provide training to local police to detect infringing devices in brick-and-mortar stores.

      • Music Industry Asks US Govt. to Reconsider Website Blocking

        US companies have successfully lobbied and litigated extensively for pirate site blockades around the world. On their home turf, the issue was categorically avoided following the SOPA outrage several years ago. It now appears that this position is slowly beginning to change.

      • EU Council poised to insist on mandatory upload filters

        The closed-door trilogue efforts to finalise the EU Copyright Directive continue. The Presidency of the Council, currently held by Austria, has now circulated among the EU member state governments a new proposal for a compromise between the differing drafts currently on the table for the controversial Articles 11 and 13.

        Politico Europe has published the documents here. Under this latest proposal, both upload filters and the “link tax” would be here to stay – with some changes for the better, and others for the worse.

      • YouTube and the music industry are both wrong on Article 13

        YouTube and the music industry are battling it out over a key section of the new EU copyright directive as it heads into final negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council. At issue is whether the streaming site and other internet platforms should be held responsible when their users post content that violates someone else’s copyright.

        In this corporate tug of war, nothing less than our freedom of expression online is tragically under threat from both sides. And as usual in copyright debates, while both sides talk a good game about the supposed interests of artists, it remains up in the air whether they will actually end up benefiting at all.


        If the draft law continues to prescribe either inescapable platform liability or upload filters, Europeans will have no choice but to demand that their representatives reject the directive as a whole when it comes up for a final vote in the new year, just a few months ahead of the next European elections.


António Campinos is Working for Patent Trolls at the Expense of Science and Technology

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

António Campinos FTI

Summary: By continuing to lower the quality of patents and pretending the challenge is to remove the causes of criticism (i.e. axe the critics) Mr. Campinos reaffirms that he’s another Battistelli if not something even worse (a better-marketed Battistelli)

AS WE NOTED two posts ago, EPO President António Campinos is a major booster of software patents in Europe (more so than Battistelli and far more so than Brimelow). What is going on? Has the EPC been burned to ashes at the top floor of the EPO’s building in Munich? Is the management drunk at the pub? No, they’re just drunk on power and knowing they’re immune from prosecution they go “all the way” (giving themselves bonuses while diminishing the value of every European Patent ever granted!).

Is Europe about to become a patent trolls’ favourite destination? Where low-quality patents can be used for extortion and blackmail? Against actual innovators? The EPO told examiners that patents were just fluffy cuddly things that “promote innovation”. But if examination cannot be done properly, innovation in Europe will only be harmed, not promoted. It’s innovation — not litigation — that examiners want, right? Unlike law firms…

“According to RPX Corp.,” said this new tweet, “half of the patent suits filed yesterday were filed by patent trolls.”

This is pretty typical. Some days as many as 90% of new lawsuits are filed by patent trolls. They typically use software patents (this is no secret) for all sorts of logistical reasons we’ve covered here for many years.

Imagine how bad things may become for European firms if the EPO continues along the same trajectory. I personally worry but also collectively, both as a programmer and writer who published over 10,000 articles/blog posts about patents.

A day ago the EPO wrote: “Nearly 18 000 patent applications relating to self-driving vehicle technologies have been filed with the EPO in the last decade, almost 4 000 of them in 2017 alone. More interesting findings on patents and self-driving vehicles here: http://bit.ly/SDVstudy #SelfDriving pic.twitter.com/C2mzKuiyCh”

I developed some software in the above area and it's crystal clear to me that they speak of software patents for the most part because the "self-driving" part just means computer vision, i.e. algorithms.

Worryingly enough, the EPO is willing to throw science away; today’s EPO serves neither science nor technology, just big litigation firms. Appalling change in policy. Here it is liaising with CIPA (a Team UPC nest). It retweeted this tweet yesterday: “We are teaming up with @EPOorg to deliver an online services workshop, making online filing easier to understand. 🖥️🖱️ Join us on 13 or 14 Dec at @TheCIPA in #London.”

“I developed some software in the above area and it’s crystal clear to me that they speak of software patents for the most part because the “self-driving” part just means computer vision, i.e. algorithms.”I responded with the simple analogy that when you’re a patent office it is like liaising with oil giants when you’re the EPA (in the US). It’s not appropriate. CIPA, by the way, is lying as usual and it is using terms like “AI” to promote software patents in Europe. This is from yesterday: “At the outset of the Conference, the Chairman, International Liaison Committee introduced the speakers, who were expert in various field of IP Laws. He further enlightened the delegates with highlighting that Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA) is agroup of over 2400 Chartered Patent Attorneys in UK qualified to act before European Patent Office (EPO).”

Yes, EPO. And on they move to “AI” by saying: “Various other attorneys shared their experiences on Patent searching, novelty, inventive step to the objections faced during prosecution in comparison with EPO and US practices etc. Among other, the session regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI) by Mr. Saiful Khan was an eye opener about the present scenarios about upcoming automation world. He highlighted AI patents and the role that AI would play in day to day life. The use of AI would omnipresent in everything from home automation to transportation, communication, healthcare, education industries etc. He pointed on the need of developing an IP law that should focus on AI around the Globe. The UK Attorney’s covered almost all areas of technology from pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, biopharma, biology, electrical, electronics, software, communication etc in Patents. Various case laws were discussed that made a mark in the history of UK Laws and IP practices.”

Is CIPA telling the Office what to do? Who does the Office serve or work for?

“Is CIPA telling the Office what to do? Who does the Office serve or work for?”Patrick Wingrove, a Managing IP writer (the site is cheerleading for UPC and patent trolls, which this site’s authors view as the Good Guys™), has just been speaking to lawyers when he framed a trolls’ case outcome (victory) as “helps telecoms and automotive companies” (incredible spin!) and we suppose the target audience includes politicians like Battistelli and Campinos. As we noted some days ago, patent trolls are being made principal speakers at EPO events (even the most notorious trolls, such as Mr. Spangenberg!).

Well, with friends like these one can tell that the EPO lost its mind completely; Erich Spangenberg sent me death wishes and now he is engaging in promotion of software patents under the guise at “AI” (at this think tank of patent lawyers).

Managing IP, covering a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office-centric event, has just said this:

Impact of artificial intelligence on IP strategy

The talk after lunch was about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on IP strategy.

Steve Harris, CTO at Aistemos, talked about how AI can help in the IP world. He said: “AI is particularly suited to making very complex but not strategic decisions.” As a result, it can provide answers about, for example, what patents relate to.

Erich Spangenberg CEO of IPwe, said that AI tools can reveal who owns a patent, regardless of the name of the subsidiary on the cover of the patent. He stated that prices will fall and everyone will be using this technology in the next few years. He added that this will “massively increase productivity” and informed the audience that the result will be that “people other than IP experts will begin asking about metrics”. He later observed that AI will lead to transparency as there will be “so much information sitting on the cover of a patent”.

The EPO has just advertised this similar event (to the one with Spangenberg in it), painting everything with the “blockchain” brush: “EPO experts will attend the @IPRHelpdesk event on blockchain and IP. We look forward to seeing you all there: https://bit.ly/2SelloP”

Meanwhile (also this week) the software patents boosters from Marks & Clerk published “Artificial Intelligence: Is your business ready?”

“”AI-related inventions” in this context is just a nonsensical term for software patent that are banned by the EPO’s founding document, the EPC. Does anyone at the EPO still have a hard copy of it?”So these Team UPC boosters who profit from patent trolls and predation help spin software patents as “AI”. How predictable. The EPO joined in yesterday with this tweet: “Our recent conference on patenting #artificialintelligence came up with some bold suggestions for drafting patent applications for AI-related inventions. To find out what they were, click here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents”

“AI-related inventions” in this context is just a nonsensical term for software patent that are banned by the EPO’s founding document, the EPC. Does anyone at the EPO still have a hard copy of it?

Even Sites That Served UPC Propaganda for Years (for These Sites’ Owners) Have Come to Admit That the UPC Might Already be Dead

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The tone has changed a lot and few remain openly enthusiastic about the UPC’s prospects, e.g. a patent trolls' attorney (Tilman Müller-Stoy) and Kevin Mooney

Tilman Müller-Stoy
Image source

Summary: The Unified Patent Court Agreement (“UPCA”) is dead; the German Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) won’t be ruling on the matter any time soon, leaving it to die on the altar; most of Team UPC, which spent nearly a decade on this horrible legislative coup, is just mortified, shell-shocked and silent

DO NOT expect to hear much about the UPC; we track the subject very closely (with triggers and alerts) and it is quickly grinding to a complete halt/stop. Bristows’ UPC blog, for instance, published only one post in about 3 months and other UPC blogs are completely dead.

IAM’s Adam Houldsworth has just talked about UPC — yet again — in relation to the US (IAM was paid by the EPO‘s PR firm to promote UPC in the US, showing utter lack of ethics and morality, having already intervened in USPTO affairs). Other than that? Almost nothing. Nothing. It’s dead.

Battistelli’s abusive if not seriously illegal behaviour against EPO judges is one of the factors that killed the UPC. As one EPO-centric blog put it yesterday:

The disciplinary case against Elisabeth Hardon should not let us forget that the disciplinary case which keeps the Federal constitutional court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) busy at present is about a DG3 member. Are there any news about him? Not really. He is still officially supposed to work at the Hague in a room without a phone number.

Even more puzzling: there were several DG3 members reappointed in the last Council session and new posts were created as well, yet he is still not reintegrated. Märpel thinks he is probably the only DG3 member which did not see his contract renewed.

The Federal constitutional court shall therefore have little choice but notice that DG3 members can be removed at will and therefore are not independent. This will have consequences for the implementation of the UPC, obviously.


In simple words: President Campinos seeks to increase its power even beyond what “sun-king” President Battistelli had.

A few days ago the pro-Unified Patent Court blog of Kluwer took note of the CJEU Teva-Gilead case, dubbing it “a word of warning for UPC seafarers”. From the relevant part: “Certainly, the move in judgment of 25 July 2018 will disappoint those who pushed for the removal of substantive patent law from the text of Regulation 1257/2012 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, hoping that this trick would prevent the CJEU from interpreting substantive patent law. From this perspective, the recent Teva v. Gilead decision may be interpreted as a word of warning for Unified Patent Court (“UPC”) seafarers.”

As readers may recall, the Federal Constitutional Court signaled that it may take a very long time to issue a decision. UPCA ratification is extremely unlikely in Germany and the German attorney Thorsten Bausch wrote about it one day after the above, soon to be mentioned by Team UPC, which seems to agree: “Excellent summary on status of UPC vs German constitutional complaint and Brexit as well as on various hypotheticals spread by interested parties.”

Citing a patent trolls’ attorney (Tilman) as ‘proof’ or ‘support’ for the UPC, Bausch wrote:

The prophets forecasting an early decision by the Bundesverfassungsgericht in view of the urgency of the matter for Europe – or perhaps rather for their own pockets, have so far consistently been proven wrong. Dr. Stjerna’s constitutional complaint was filed on 31 March 2017 and has definitely not been decided “by Christmas”, as some predicted (in 2017). It was put on the (wish)list of court cases to be decided in 2018. But this does not mean much, as many cases on this list have been there for years. So much for the facts.

What do the complainant and interested third parties suspect?

Dr. Stjerna himself made abundantly clear that he has no idea when the BVerfG will decide on his case. He complained about this on his website by pointing to the fact that the court does not provide any information about the proceedings and their expected course even to the complainant, who is currently the only party to the proceedings. BTW, he can only know this, if he is the complainant himself, which he has never explicitly conceded, but also never denied.

The German Government also does not know when (and how) the case will be decided, as Dr. Pakuscher from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection recently confirmed during a seminar in Munich.


Be that as it may, most observers seem to think that a pre-requisite for the UK to join or stay in the UPCA is a successful closure of the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU. Otherwise, there would be no transition period and the UK would automatically drop out of the EU by virtue of Art. 50 TEU on 29/3/2019, i.e. before the UPCA will enter into force. As the Unified Patent Court shall be a court common to the Contracting Member States (Art. 1 UPCA), the “Contracting Member States” are “Member States” party to the UPCA (Art. 2 c UPCA) and “Member States” are defined as member states of the European Union (Art. 2 d UPCA), the UK’s participation is difficult to argue if the UK ceases to be a “Member State” before the UPCA is even enacted.

How realistic is the successful closure of a withdrawal agreement? Hmm… let us return to this question after the debate in the House of Commons in early December and assume, just for the moment, the best possible scenario from a UPCA point of view, i.e. that a Withdrawal Agreement will be closed by 29 March 2019 and that the German Constitutional complaint will be dismissed in December (aka “the Tilmann/Mooney scenario”).

This scenario will then pose the interesting question what Germany will (or should) do, i.e. proceed with the ratification at the risk that the UK may eventually not agree to the supremacy of Union Law and the CJEU as final arbiter, when push comes to shove, and/or that the EU and the UK will not manage to cut a “deal” on their further political and economic relationship at the end of the transition period. This could then mean an early end of the UK’s participation in the UPC Agreement and result in quite a bit of turmoil.

Mind that first comment:

Thorsten, thank you for sticking to the facts. It is much appreciated. There are, however, one or two points upon which it might be interesting to speculate.

The first point is a question of timing. That is, even if one assumes that Prof. Tilmann is well informed regarding how and when the BVerfG will decide the constitutional complaint (and putting aside the question of how he could have possibly come into the possession of the information upon which he based his statements), will Germany deposit its instrument of ratification for the UPCA before the Agreement governing the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has been ratified by all relevant Parliaments?

The second point is a question of legal mechanisms. That is, given that the UPCA does not contain any provision to (forcibly) expel Participating Member States, what could the EU (Participating) Member States do if the UK refused to withdraw from the UPCA even if (e.g. in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, or after the transitional period provided by the Withdrawal Agreement) it was no longer bound by judgements of the CJEU?

It is also worth considering how these two points might interact with one another. For example, even if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, might it still be foolish for Germany to ratify the UPCA … on the grounds that there are no guarantees regarding the relationship with the UK (and the UK’s approach to judgements of the CJEU) after the end of the transitional period?

Frankly, from considering these points (and others), it appears to me that it would be reckless (to say the least!) for the UPC to be launched unless and until:
(1) the precise nature of the UK’s status after the end of the transitional period (if any) can be determined; and
(2) the CJEU has confirmed that, despite not having the status of an EU Member State, the UK can participate in the UPC without contravening EU law.

My experience is that many UPC enthusiasts are wilfully blind to the true nature of the legal risks for the UPC that are associated with the UK’s departure from the EU. In this regard, I can only hope that Germany will take a more realistic approach than such enthusiasts when it comes to assessing the chances (and the consequences) of the CJEU bringing down any UPC that is based upon the current legislation.

The remaining six (as of this moment) comments show Team UPC creeping in with some typical spin, citing the recent stacked debate with Kevin Mooney in it. Same old boring lies… (and yes, posted anonymously, as usual as of late)

Union Syndicale Fédérale Tells António Campinos to End ‘Political’ Cases Against EPO Staff Representatives

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: EPO Insider: Under António Campinos “the Union Busting Done by the Administration Continues Even Worse Than Before”

EUIPO outsourcing

Summary: Having failed to make a positive first impression, Campinos is now kindly asked to stop union-busting and silencing of staff representatives; “amnesty should be envisaged” for those who have been subjected to abuse, Union Syndicale Fédérale recommends

THE European Patent Office’s (EPO) promotion of software patents in Europe is a daily routine; we cannot even emphasise strongly enough that it got a lot worse under António Campinos (compared to Battistelli, under whom it hadn’t been done as much). As one EPO blog has just put it: “President Campinos seeks to increase its power even beyond what “sun-king” President Battistelli had.” (we will say more about this separately, in our next post and later we’ll focus on software patents in Europe as well).

SUEPO has just published German and English translations of a letter we mentioned earlier this week. It was in French, the mother’s tongue of Campinos (his mother is French and he was born/studied in France). SUEPO’s English translation [PDF] shows Bernd Loescher (Union Syndicale Fédérale) speaking about the rulings from the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation*. Here it is as HTML:


26 November 2018

To: Mr. Campinos

Mr. President,

The Union Syndicale Fédérale is perfectly aware of the serious difficulties created at the EPO in numerous spheres of activity by your predecessor. Matters relating to union members at the EPO have been widely presented in the media over the past six years. The recent rulings by the Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (proceedings of the 126th session) as well as the proceedings before the national German courts, provide details which are now widely accessible to the public at large.

Some union members have been acquitted, while others are still awaiting the results of internal procedures or proceedings brought before the Tribunal.
The lengthy nature of these proceedings necessarily raises the issue of the individual suffering caused to these union members and the effectiveness of the system of appeals at the EPO.
The USF takes the view that sufficient details of the matters still unresolved at the EPO are known, and these are sufficient to conclude that these conflicts are essentially political in nature, and not of a disciplinary nature.

We therefore propose, both in the interests of the new President of the EPO as well as of the blameless parties concerned, and in the general interest of social dialogue at the EPO, that an amnesty should be envisaged rapidly by the President of the EPO for the whole of the matters of a political nature.
With our respectful regards

Dr. Bernd Loescher
USF President

CC: Mr. Michels

We should meanwhile note that the patent maximalists’ propaganda site Managing IP, a routine booster of the UPC, has just published “The 50 most influential people in IP” [sic], crowning/highlighting António Campinos as “Most influential people in IP” [sic].

Yes, well… it helps to have a violent and corrupt compatriot like Battistelli exchanging seats and swapping influence.
* There were more rulings from the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation yesterday and it’s our understanding that at least 3 outcomes were favourable to staff, but we await informed analysis, which typically comes from those better familiar with the cases and background to them (it’s hard to guess based on the pertinent decisions alone).

Links 29/11/2018: Mesa 18.2.6, Cockpit 183, Dell.com Cracked

Posted in News Roundup at 6:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • My open source journey: From Pong to microservices

    In 1990, I was a 9th grader living in Vietnam. I had never had access to a computer. One day my mother returned from a trip and gave me a book titled “How to program with Turbo Pascal.” I was delighted—everything I read in that book made sense, and I started to write code on paper.

    When the local university opened a computer lab that offered rentals, I spent all of my allowances for weeks, trying to write the classic Pong game in Pascal.

    Soon after that, I moved to Austin, Texas, where I took computer programming courses in high school and community college. Since I needed a computer for school, I decided to build my own PC. A family friend who worked for IBM kindly offered to help install the operating system. My home-built PC seemed to give him a lot of trouble; it took nearly an entire evening to get everything working. To this day, I’m not sure why he decided to set up a dual-boot with Slackware Linux and IBM OS/2, but his decision had a positive impact on my path.

  • Why giving back is important to the DevOps culture

    In the DevOps CALMS model (which stands for Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing), Sharing is often overlooked or misunderstood. While each element of CALMS is just as important as the others, sharing knowledge is something that we often neglect.

  • Convincing your manager that upstreaming is in their best interest

    In an ideal world, everyone would implicitly understand that it just makes good business sense to upstream some of the modifications made when creating your Linux powered devices. Unfortunately, this is a long way from being common knowledge, and many managers still need convincing that this is, in fact, in their best interests.

    Just so that we are clear, I’m not suggesting here that your next Linux powered device should be an entirely open design. We live in the real world and unless your explicit aim is to produce a completely open platform, doing so is unlikely to be good for your companies’ profitabilty. What does make sense however is to protect the parts of your product that drive your value proposition, while looking for ways to reduce costs in places which don’t drive the value add or unique selling point. This is where upstreaming and open source can offer you a massive advantage, if done right.

  • Events

    • What a roadtrip! QtCon Brasil

      Earlier this month I had the chance to give a keynote speech at QtCon Brasil in São Paulo, Brazil. It was the second leg of a three weeks long trip across the Americas that began with a company meeting in the US.

    • KDAB demos at Qt World Summit, Berlin

      At Qt World Summit KDAB will show the Qt Quick Software Renderer in action on the very competitively priced NXP i.MX6 ULL platform. Thanks to some clever coding from KDAB, it provides a fluid 60fps touch UI and H.264 video decoding in spite of having neither GPU nor video decoding acceleration on the hardware.

    • KDAB at Embedded Technology in Japan

      Embedded Technology in Japan took place earlier this month and we are thrilled about our first participation in this event which attracted more than 400 exhibitors and over 25000 visitors.

      We are also thankful to our partners SRA group and ISB Corporation for welcoming us heartily to their booths and for making this cultural experience possible.

      IoT and embedded were at the center of the exhibition and we were proud to support our Japanese partners during the event by providing our expertise in C++, Qt and 3D.

    • OpenStack Summit Recap

      The OpenStack Summit kicked off with an exciting announcement that OpenStack Summit Berlin would be the last OpenStack Summit. The gathering is now to be called the Open Infrastructure Summit.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Multilingual Gecko Status Update 2018.2

        Welcome to the third edition of Multilingual Gecko Status Update!

        In the previous update we covered the work which landed in Firefox 59 and Firefox 60.

        At the time, we’ve been finalizing the platform work to support Fluent localization system, and we were in the middle of migration of the first Firefox UI component – Preferences – to it.

      • Thessaloniki GNOME+Rust Hackfest 2018

        A couple of weeks ago we had the fourth GNOME+Rust hackfest, this time in Thessaloniki, Greece. This is the beautiful city that will host next year’s GUADEC, but fortunately GUADEC will be in summertime!

        We held the hackfest at the CoHo coworking space, a small, cozy office between the University and the sea.

        Every such hackfest I am overwhelmed by the kind hackers who work on [gnome-class], the code generator for GObject implementations in Rust.

      • Firefox 64 Beta 12 Testday Results

        As you may already know, last Friday November 23th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox 64 Beta 12.

        Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Gabriela, Kamila kamciatek, Amirtha V and Priyadharshini A.

      • This Week in Rust 262
  • CMS

    • Paving new paths out of dead-end blog archive page navigation

      I’ve found some WordPress plugins and themes that have tried to do link up disparate archive pages by subtracting and adding one to the current month or year. This can lead to “navigational hazards” as they sometimes blindly link to months or years where there were no posts; creating 404 Not Founds and empty archive pages. It only takes a tiny extra effort to make sure that you only link to the next or previous page that actually have posts on them.

      You can apply similar solutions for other types of archive pages such as tag/topic and category archives. Try to provide good solutions for where a visitor may want to go next when they’ve reached the last page in a topic archive. You could suggest they go back to the front page or to a list of trending posts. Perhaps branch out to other related tags. There are many possible options here and the right choice will be up to how you’ve organized your website.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Mozilla Funds Research Grants in Four Areas

      We’re happy to announce the recipients for the 2018 H2 round of Mozilla Research Grants. In this tightly focused round, we awarded grants to support research in four areas: Web of the Things, Core Web Technologies, Voice/Language/Speech, and Mixed Reality. These projects support Mozilla’s mission to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all.


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-spec board opens up I2C

        Excamera’s “I2CDriver” I2C debugging board has a logic-analyzer display, a micro-USB link to a PC, and support for 3x I2C modules. Options include up to 20x I2C sensor and I/O modules and 3x carriers.

        Earlier this year, Excamera Labs launched an SPIDriver board for analyzing and testing SPI-connected gizmos. Now it has returned to Crowd Supply to launch a similar I2CDriver board that takes on the more daunting challenge of I2C debugging.

  • Programming/Development

    • Install Python3 on Ubuntu 18.04 and Set Up a Virtual Programming Environment
    • Support Python 2 with Cython
    • Python Community Interview With Emily Morehouse

      Emily is one of the newest additions to the CPython core developer team, and the founder and director of engineering of Cuttlesoft. Emily and I talk about the recent CPython core developer sprint and the fact that she completed three majors in college at the same time! We’ll also get into her passion for compilers and abstract syntax trees.

    • Python programming: Searching for Mersenne primes
    • What, No Python in RHEL 8 Beta?

      Of course we have Python! You just need to specify if you want Python 3 or 2 as we didn’t want to set a default. Give yum install python3 or yum install python2 a try. Or, if you want to see what we recommend you install yum install @python36 or yum install @python27. Read on for why.

      For prior versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and most Linux Distributions, users have been locked to the system version of Python unless they got away from the system package manager. While this can be true for a lot of tools (ruby: rvm; node: nvm) the Python use case is worse because so many Linux tools (like yum) rely on Python.

      In order to improve this experience for RHEL8 users, we have moved the Python used by the system “off to the side”. In RHEL 8 we also introduced Modularity. As a result, in combination with Python’s ability to be parallel installed, we can now make multiple versions of Python available and installable, from the standard repositories, installing to the standard locations. Now, users can choose what version of Python they want to run in any given userspace and it simply works. For more info, see my article, Introducing Application Streams in RHEL 8.

    • Clang Picks Up Support For Per-Function Speculative Load Hardening (Spectre V1)

      For several months now the mainline LLVM Clang compiler code has offered Speculative Load Hardening (SLH) for the compiler-based approach for Spectre Variant One protection for critical software that might not be mitigated by hand against Spectre V1 vulnerabilities that can be picked up by Smatch and other utilities. The Clang compiler now has support for SLH on a function-by-function basis.

      Enabling Speculative Load Hardening can be done with LLVM/Clang 7.0+ via the “-mspeculative-load-hardening” flag, which enables SLH for all functions being compiled. But with this latest addition to Clang as of this week, an SLH attribute is now available for C/C++ functions and Objective-C methods for enabling the behavior on a function-by-function manner.

    • The technological transition of OpenJDK

      As we explored in our last post, there are major changes coming to Java. By way of quick refresher – OpenJDK is the open source reference implementation of the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE). Oracle has recently announced changes that affect both the upstream community releases and Oracle’s proprietary distribution of OpenJDK. With many organizations depending on Java for their core business-critical applications, the changes are a big deal and many customers are still only just realizing the impact it has on their plans.

    • Understanding Conda and Pip
    • Create a game’s start scene for pygame project
    • Create a score manager class for pygame project
    • Dockerizing a Python Django Web Application
    • Continuous Deployment of a Python Flask Application with Docker and Semaphore
    • Learning Python: From Zero to Hero
    • RMOTR: Google Sheets with Python (live demo)
    • Let PyCharm Do Your Import Janitorial Work
    • Saving Text, JSON, and CSV to a File in Python
    • AutoHotkey, Python style
    • Search Algorithms in Python
    • Report from PyCon Zimbabwe 2018

      The 3rd edition of Pycon Zimbabwe was held from the 19th to the 20th of October, 2018 under the theme: “For the community, by the community”. The conference was hosted at Cresta Oasis Hotel in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    • Kubernetes for Python Developers: Part 1

      Kubernetes is an open-source container-orchestration system for automating deployment, scaling and management of containerised apps.

    • Measuring community opinion: subreddits reactions to a link

      As everyone knows a lot of subreddits are opinionated, so I thought that it might be interesting to measure the opinion of different subreddits opinions. Not trying to start a holy war I’ve specifically decided to ignore r/worldnews and similar subreddits, and chose a semi-random topic – “Apu reportedly being written out of The Simpsons”.

      For accessing Reddit API I’ve decided to use praw, because it already implements all OAuth related stuff and almost the same as REST API.

    • The DSF Board elections – what about you?

      I’m standing down from my position on the Django Software Foundation Board, having served for three years as the DSF’s Vice-President (it’s a nice role to have – but not nearly as grand as it sounds).

      Unfortunately, people do in fact often think that being on the DSF board is somehow a grand role, an exclusive kind of position for exclusive people, or even that it’s only for people who somehow “deserve” to be Board members. Needless to say, that’s really not true.

    • Simple is Better Than Complex: Advanced Form Rendering with Django Crispy Forms
    • String copying in the kernel

      One of the many areas that the kernel self protection project looks at is making sure kernel developers are using APIs correctly and safely. The string APIs, in particular string copying APIs, seem to be one area that gets developers confused. Strings in C aren’t real1 in that there isn’t a proper string type. For the purposes of this discussion, a C string is an array of characters with a terminating NUL (\0) character.

    • RcppArmadillo

      A new RcppArmadillo release arrived at CRAN overnight. The version is a minor upgrade and based on the new Armadillo bugfix release 9.200.5 from yesterday. I also just uploaded the Debian version.

      Armadillo is a powerful and expressive C++ template library for linear algebra aiming towards a good balance between speed and ease of use with a syntax deliberately close to a Matlab. RcppArmadillo integrates this library with the R environment and language–and is widely used by (currently) 539 other packages on CRAN.

    • Fortran is still a thing

      Fortran is not, of course, outdated, and it’s not at all complex. In fact, it has grown into these myths exactly because it is that good at what it does. It was designed to make number-crunching easy and efficient. Its users are scientists and engineers; not computer scientists and software engineers, but the real ones. And when engineers have a tool for the problem, they solve the problem with the tool. The problem comes first, not the code.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Downloading the newest Wi-Fi protocols: 802.11ax and 802.11ay explained

      If all this isn’t bad enough, the Wi-Fi Alliance has not-so-helpfully decided to replace some—not all!—of the 802.11 designations in consumer marketing with a supposedly simpler scheme. 802.11ac, which most of us are using now, becomes “Wi-Fi 5″ under this new scheme. 802.11ax will be marketed as “Wi-Fi 6.” This new numeric designator conveniently ignores some protocols, unfortunately: neither 802.11ad nor 802.11ay will get “Wi-Fi Numbers” at all.


  • Manchester is voted one of the most innovative cities in the world – beating Beijing but not London

    Manchester has been named as one of the most innovative cities in the world – beating competition from Shanghai, Beijing and Madrid.

    The city jumped 11 places in this year’s 2018 Innovation Cities Index which ranks top destinations from across all continents.

    Home to the largest creative, digital and technology cluster outside of London, Manchester is the only British city apart from the capital to feature in the top 50 list – coming in at 34.

  • UK cities named among world’s best for innovation

    The UK capital was usurped at the summit of the 2018 Innovation Cities Index by Tokyo in Japan while Silicon Valley in California climbed above New York to sit third. Los Angeles rounded out the top five.

    Data firm 2thinknow compiled the list after scoring cities on three key factors: cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets.

    They also assessed the locations against 31 segments in their industries and economy as well as 162 indicators for innovation.

    The other UK city to make the top 50 was Manchester, which jumped 11 places to 34th and is ranked higher than Chinese cities Shanghai and Beijing as well as Spanish capital Madrid.

  • Prey and Predator: The End of a Dialectic?

    Current scientific knowledge suggests that the predator/prey relationship began very soon after life itself arose.

    Although Hegel himself never discussed this natural phenomenon, it could be interpreted as an example of Reason and Dialectic working itself through Nature.

    The very idea, however unpalatable, that with life’s initial appearance predation was an immediate “logical/reasonable” response should give us philosophic pause.

    This ancient antagonistic natural relationship often gave and gives rise to what is known as an “evolutionary arms race” or what might be considered in Hegelian terms as a dialectical relationship.

    As prey continually seek to evade predator, and as predator continually seeks to engulf prey, both develop further survival strategies and physical adaptations in this deadly existential dialectical embrace.

    In short, gazelles develop in relation to lions and vice versa.

    However, there is of course asymmetry in the relationship in that if the lion fails to catch the gazelle it misses a meal whereas if the lion is successful the gazelle ceases to exist. Yet, on the other hand, if the lion consistently fails to catch a gazelle, he too will, at some point, pass out of existence.

  • Science

    • AI thinks like a corporation—and that’s worrying

      A central promise of AI is that it enables large-scale automated categorisation. Machine learning, for instance, can be used to tell a cancerous mole from a benign one. This “promise” becomes a menace when directed at the complexities of everyday life. Careless labels can oppress and do harm when they assert false authority. In protest at inadequate labels that are used to “know” the world, many young people today proudly defy unwelcome categorisations, be they traditional gender binaries or sexual binaries.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • It’s Time for Nancy Pelosi to Embrace Medicare for All

      A little over a year ago a resolution was introduced to the central committee of the San Francisco Democratic Party titled “Resolution Urging Senator Feinstein and Leader Pelosi to Support Medicare for All”. It was a pretty straightforward request: thank you for defending the Affordable Care Act, but it’s time to move forward. The resolution was passed 19 to 2 with 7 abstentions, and with Feinstein and Pelosi’s representatives mysteriously absent.

      This is unsurprising considering the local party and state party delegates have overwhelmingly gone to progressives, including several Democratic Socialists who burst onto the scene after Bernie Sanders’s bid for President. We also saw a single-payer bill make its way through the state senate, which was supported unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the California Democratic Party. And currently HR676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act, is supported by the majority of House Democrats after years of lukewarm support.

    • New Database Documents The Power Of TRIPS Flexibilities

      Medicines Law & Policy has published an on-line database of instances of the use of TRIPS flexibilities in public health contexts, titled the TRIPS Flexibilities Database. The publication of the TRIPS Flexibilities Database merits sharing a bit of its history because it has been a work in progress for some time. The database includes cases of actual use of TRIPS flexibilities and instances in which countries planned or threatened to use them. The collection of such cases started ten years ago as part of a research project to document and examine the uptake of the flexibilities contained in the TRIPS Agreement in medicines procurement.

    • What’s Keeping the World From Ending AIDS: Greedy Big Pharma, Bad Policy
    • Big Pharma, Bad Policy Are Keeping the World From Ending AIDS

      If you cure illnesses, said Goldman Sachs Vice President Salveen Richter, it will disrupt “sustained cash flow.” Far better to find medical treatments that provide some solace but that prolong illnesses. Even better if these treatments are both necessary and expensive. If you find a cure for an illness, then you will find—as Richter wrote in her analysis for Goldman Sachs—“a gradual exhaustion of the prevalent pool of patients.” That’s the worst thing imaginable for pharmaceutical companies and their investors. Keep the goose alive as long as it keeps laying golden eggs.

    • Opioids for Depression? Not So Fast Says An FDA Advisory Committee

      The mental illness “franchise” has been very good to Pharma. While it could not “grow” the number of people with actual schizophrenia, it has successfully grown those diagnosed with amorphous “schizoaffective” and bipolar disorders and, of course, depression.

      Thanks to Pharma’s everyone-is-mentally-ill ploy, buoyed by the Pharma-funded writers of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, an estimated one quarter of the population now takes psych drugs. Gone are the days when bad moods were attributed to problems with finance, romance, jobs, housing, family, marriages and health.

      Especially lucrative to Pharma is its concoction of “treatment resistant” depression which allows expensive psych drugs to be added to antidepressants while side-stepping why the aggressively advertised SSRIs aren’t effective on their own. (And whether the patient was ever really depressed.) The resulting “cocktails” are exceedingly hard for patients to quit––with new drugs added to treat the side effects of other drugs––and what is the original “mental illness” versus the drug effects is almost impossible to distinguish. Adding expensive psych drugs for “treatment resistant” depression has become such a common, profitable practice for Pharma, prescribing only one drug is now dismissed as just “monotherapy.”

      The latest attempt to cash in on “treatment resistant” depression is by the Dublin-based biopharma company Alkermes. It hopes to jump start revenues with a “treatment resistant” depression drug candidate that combines the opioid buprenorphine (used to treat opioid addiction) with samidorphan, an opioid blocker to counteract the abuse potential of buprenorphine.

  • Security

    • Multiple vulnerabilities in FreeBSD NFS server code

      FreeBSD is a free and open source operating system. The NFS (Network File System) is a server and client application that turn FreeBSD into a file sharing server. Users can upload or update files on a remote NFS server. NFS is standard on NAS (network attached storage) devices or sharing data for web servers. A new bug found in NFS server code which could allow a remote attacker to crash the NFS server, resulting in a denial of service (DoS) attack. Another possibility is to execute arbitrary code on the server.

    • Cybersecurity Threats Keep Evolving, Research Shows

      Cybersecurity industry research is a great way to stay on top of the latest threats — and the controls that can keep those vulnerabilities from affecting your organization. Research released in November 2018 spanned the gamut of IT risk concerns, including identity, application containers, vulnerability disclosures, and the global threat landscape itself. Here are key takeaways from 11 reports released this month, along with cyber defenses organizations should consider implementing.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • “New Tech” From DriveSavers Unlocks Locked iPhones With 100% Success Rate

      DriveSavers’s website strictly says that they do not offer their “passcode lockout data recovery” service to law enforcement agencies and it is meant only for the owners of the locked devices.

    • Daniel Lange: Security is hard, open source security unnecessarily harder

      Now it is a commonplace that security is hard. It involves advanced mathematics and a single, tiny mistake or omission in implementation can spoil everything.

      And the only sane IT security can be open source security. Because you need to assess the algorithms and their implementation and you need to be able to completely verify the implementation. You simply can’t if you don’t have the code and can compile it yourself to produce a trusted (ideally reproducible) build. A no-brainer for everybody in the field.

      But we make it unbelievably hard for people to use security tools. Because these have grown over decades fostered by highly intelligent people with no interest in UX.
      “It was hard to write, so it should be hard to use as well.”
      And then complain about adoption.

    • NSA Leaked Tool Used to Exploit Computers, UPnProxy Vulnerability Surfaces

      IT has been over a year since The National Security Agency (NSA) hacking tool was leaked online but its aftermath is coming back to haunt everyone again. Security agency Akamai has warned everyone that the UPnProxy vulnerability can now target your personal computers that are still prone to hacks and other cyber attacks.

      When the NSA was hacked, there were patches released over the time in order to counter the exploits that were being done, but now it looks as if the security vulnerability is back again. Security agency researchers believe that the unpatched computers are now at high risk with hackers using the leaked tool of NSA to create some malicious proxy network.

      The unpatched computers are at risk of being targeted by hackers through the router’s firewall. The hackers are now using more powerful tools through which they can exploit through your personal computer. This can be done by making way through your internet Wi-Fi router that can cause damage to your personal computer on the Wi-Fi network.

    • Dell.com Breached: Hackers Tried To Steal Customer Data

      Dell also revealed that a password reset was initiated for all customer accounts on Dell[.]com online electronics store on November 14 for security purposes.

      While the company didn’t discuss the complexity of the password-hashing algorithms used to protect them, some of them — such as MD5 can be broken within seconds to reveal the plaintext password.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Three Thanksgivings – Snapshots From a Career of Failure

      Millions of American troops have spent countless holidays away from home, in Iraq, Afghanistan and various smaller wars across the region – it’s worth asking what it’s all for.

    • Argentine Prosecutors Consider Charges Against Saudi Crown Prince Ahead of G-20

      The investigation in Argentina, initiated by a complaint lodged by Human Rights Watch, the advocacy group, is in its early stages, and diplomatic or other kinds of immunity may ultimately shield the prince from any potential charges. Argentine officials called it extremely unlikely that the inquiry might produce an arrest warrant before the gathering, which is set to begin on Friday.

    • Amid Outrage Over Yemen War Crimes and Khashoggi Murder, Argentina Prosecutors Considering Charges Against Saudi Crown Prince

      At the behest of human rights advocates, Argentinian prosecutors are considering bringing criminal charges against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), days before he is set to arrive in Buenos Aires for the G20 summit, alleging that he has committed war crimes in Yemen.

      Citing Argentina’s robust human rights law, Human Right Watch (HRW) filed a petition on Monday asking a federal prosecutor to bring charges against the crown prince, a close ally of President Donald Trump, for “violations of international law committed during the armed conflict in Yemen” including the killings of more than 15,000 civilians and blockades which have pushed 14 million people to the brink of famine.

    • Nothing Justifies the Killing of Children in Yemen. Nothing.

      When I was young and the war in Vietnam was raging, I rejected much of what I associated with a government and a society that could undertake the destruction of an entire people and still carry on as if there were nothing in the least bit abnormal about that state of affairs. In time, I saw that the way forward, at least for me, was to join those who understood just how evil the war was and how imperative it was for people to lift their voices, take to the streets, and risk their personal well being to protest the war.

    • Capitalist Society Under the One Party of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

      That puking up barbarism in this enclave of genocide and perpetual war, resource theft and global toxification comes in a coat of many colors. In the simplest terms I see it daily in my job as underpaid and spat upon social worker jiggering with the penury, punishment and putrefying systems of bureaucratic hell and legal rape exemplified in the schizophrenic American version of capitalism.

      In no way am I ever not entertained by the magical thinking and retrograde beliefs of those I serve – homeless veterans who in some cases decry welfare for the masses while picking up their welfare checks and benefits from the Veterans Administration. On top of that, they feel entitled because they ended up in the economic draft of the US Military Industrial Complex. These are not the ones who saw “battle” overseas, but the ones who were snookered into thinking a tour here or there, in a non-combatant role would get them somewhere in life.

      Broken people come to the military, and the military breaks them again, and, the gift that keeps on giving are the systems of oppression and criminalization of living life in Trump’s “MAGA, MAGA über alles, über alles in der Welt.”

      Reality is that this thing called America, united snakes one in all, was running on that manifest destruction at the moment those Puritanical misanthropes ended up on the east coast with their fears, dark perversions, warped criminal religiosity and white DNA primed for a taking, eminent domain and killings far and wide.

    • Bowing to Saudi Pressure, Trump stops UN Yemen Ceasefire

      Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates launched the war on Yemen in spring of 2015. It has killed tens of thousands of people directly (far more than the frozen 2016 estimate of 10,000), and has led to the starvation of 85,000 children. Much of the country of some 28 million is now food insecure, that is, about 10 million Yemenis are one economic setback away from starving. No public health crisis of this enormity has been known since WW II.

      The Saudis and their allies are determined to unseat the Helpers of God (Houthi) militia, which took over the capital of Sana’a in September 2014 and halted the constitutional process whereby Yemenis were trying to craft a new, democratic government in the wake of 2011-2012 revolution against long-lived dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Houthis hail from the moderate Zaydi branch of Shiite Islam, which is often closer to Sunnis than the Twelver Shiism of Iran and Iraq. About 1/3 of Yemenis are Zaydis, while some Sunni tribes and urban quarters are willing to ally with them against outsiders. The Saudis do propaganda that the Houthis are controlled by Iran, but although the Iranians might have provided a little money and a few weapons, their involvement has been vastly exaggerated by Saudi and UAE propaganda. The Houthis are an authentic local Yemeni reaction against Saudi hegemony over Yemen and against attempts of Riyadh to convert Zaydis to the puritanical Wahhabi form of Islam, which is hyper-Sunni.

    • Senate Challenges Trump on Yemen War

      The Senate voted 63-37 on Wednesday to advance a resolution that would end United States support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions more face starvation and the outbreak of disease in what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

      Before the vote, senators from both parties expressed frustration with the ongoing bloodshed in Yemen, the lack of transparency around the Trump administration’s relationship with the Saudi Arabian government, and its response to the abduction and killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi.

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said, “It is a vote … that says that the United States Senate respects the Constitution … and understands that the issue of war making, of going to war, putting young men and women’s lives at stake, is something determined by the US Congress, not the president of the United States.”

    • In Open Letter, Scholars and Activists Call on Bernie Sanders to Embrace Foreign Policy That Rejects US Militarism, Bloated Pentagon Budget

      Offering their “advice in a spirit of friendship” in an open letter issued on Wednesday, over 100 noted intellectuals, left-wing academics, and progressive activists have urged Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to lay out clear proposals for a foreign policy that rejects U.S. militarism, overseas misadventures, and the outrageous Pentagon budget that continues to cripple funding for many of the progressive programs and policy solutions the senator advocates.

      Given the $1 trillion annually in so-called “national security spending” as well as the military industrial complex’s impact on the environment and “the erosion of liberties,” Sanders’s public comments and policy proposals should address head-on the military and its spending, the group writes in the open letter.

      They write that they have “great respect for [his] domestic policies,” but in terms of foreign policy, Sanders has come up quite short. His recently laid-out “bold agenda” for Democrats, for example, has no mention of foreign policy, the group notes. And while the progressive lawmaker has pushed for a Senate vote on ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen, the letter urges Sanders to go further by being laser-focused on “the existence of the military and its price tag” to show how easily the nation could fund his proposals like Medicare-for-All and tuition-free public colleges.

    • Bolton and Rubio Keep Pushing the “Sonic Attacks” Tale

      There has been an intense and extensive media campaign that involved a group of U.S. officials accredited as diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana with strange acoustic attacks. Their origin and actors could not be identified, and then Washington decided to reduce the staff of its representation in Cuba. This had a big impact on consular, political and tourist relations between the two countries.

      Washington’s rhetorical indictment didn’t identify presumed culprits or evidence of the supposed crimes, nor the sources for the speculative comments that were always anonymous. This peculiarity later served to justify the fact that the main victims could not be met with, given that they were agents of the U.S. intelligence services, and therefore unable by the nature of their functions, to contribute to the inquiries with testimonies related to their secret work at the Embassy.

      The Cuban authorities, from the beginning, took on themselves the task of clarifying the facts. Cuba contributed to the U.S. investigative work. This included including supporting the work in Cuba of an ad hoc FBI delegation that traveled especially for that purpose. Then the U.S. government decided to drastically reduce the personnel in its mission in Havana. That aroused distrust with respect to the cooperation offered by the Cuban side.

    • Afghan Officials: US Air Strike Kills At Least 30 Civilians, Including 16 Children

      Officials in Afghanistan’s Helmand province and international media are reporting at least 30 civilians, including 16 children, were killed in the latest US air strike targeting Taliban militants.

      Reuters reports the latest US mass casualty bombing in Afghanistan came amid a surge in aerial operations aimed at forcing the Taliban to the negotiating table after more than 17 years of US-led war there. Officials said Afghan government advisers and US troops were attacked late on Tuesday by Taliban fighters based in a compound in Garsmir district, south of Marjah, in southern Helmand. The militants attacked the Afghans and Americans with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, according to the NATO-led Resolute Support forces.

      Provincial governor Mohammad Yasin Khan said Afghan troops called in air strikes, with US warplanes responding with attacks that killed both Taliban fighters and local civilians. A local resident told Reuters that “foreign forces bombed the area and the bombs hit my brother’s house.” He said the victims included women and 16 children. Another local resident, Feda Mohammad, said more victims remained buried beneath the rubble of the compound.

    • Why U.S. Senate Vote To Advance Resolution To End Military Involvement In Saudi War In Yemen Is Remarkable

      The United States Senate took a significant step in withdrawing U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen and advanced debate on a war powers resolution by a vote of 63-37.

      The vote discharged the resolution on withdrawing U.S. military support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was a key obstacle when Senators Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee attempted to bring this resolution up for debate about eight months ago.

      “Let me thank all of the people at the grassroots level throughout our country, who helped us today with a major vote on the path toward ending U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen,” Sanders said after the vote.

      Sanders also declared, “For the first time, the U.S. Senate voted to advance a resolution withdrawing U.S. armed forces from an unauthorized and unconstitutional war.”

      “The situation in Yemen now is the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. Eighty-five thousand children have already starved to death and millions more are on the brink of starvation.”

      “All of which was caused by Saudi intervention in the civil war in Yemen,” Sanders added. “Instead of being part of the killing in Yemen, we have got to do everything we can to bring peace to that country and humanitarian aid so that we stop this horrific humanitarian disaster.”

    • In Historic Vote, Senate Advances War Powers Resolution to End US Complicity in Saudi Assault on Yemen

      “Today’s victory is a testament to the power of grassroots activism across the country to bring about change,” said Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). “This vote sets a historic precedent for future action Congress can take to reclaim its constitutional authority over war and end American involvement in wars around the world.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • WikiLeaks sets up legal fund to sue the Guardian

      The GoFundMe page has a goal of $300,000, and had raised more than $12,000 as of 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, after an hour of being active.

      The Guardian had reported that Manafort secretly met with Assange in 2013, 2015, and 2016 at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

      According to the report, which was written in London and Ecuador, the last meeting took place in March 2016, right before WikiLeaks released hacked Democratic National Committee emails in June and July of 2016. Manafort was hired by Trump on March 29, 2016.

      However, the story by the Guardian has since been softened, according to the website News Sniffer. For example, 90 minutes after publication, the Guardian modified its “Manafort held secret talks with Assange” headline to add “sources say.”

      “Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange,” WikiLeaks’ official Twitter account said early Tuesday when the article was first published.

    • It Is Possible Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange. If True, There Should Be Ample Video and Other Evidence Showing This.

      THE GUARDIAN TODAY published a blockbuster, instantly viral story claiming that anonymous sources told the newspaper that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange at least three times in the Ecuadorian Embassy, “in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016.” The article – from lead reporter Luke Harding, who has a long-standing and vicious personal feud with WikiLeaks and is still promoting his book titled “Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House” – presents no evidence, documents or other tangible proof to substantiate its claim, and it is deliberately vague on a key point: whether any of these alleged visits happened once Manafort was managing Trump’s campaign.

      For its part, WikiLeaks vehemently and unambiguously denies the claim. “Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper’s reputation,” the organization tweeted, adding: “WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor’s head that Manafort never met Assange.” The group also predicted: “This is going to be one of the most infamous news disasters since Stern published the ‘Hitler Diaries.’”

      (Manafort denies it the claim as well; see update below.)

      While certain MSNBC and CNN personalities instantly and mindlessly treated the story as true and shocking, other more sober and journalistic voices urged caution and skepticism. The story, wrote WikiLeaks critic Jeet Heer of the New Republic, “is based on anonymous sources, some of whom are connected with Ecuadorian intelligence. The logs of the embassy show no such meetings. The information about the most newsworthy meeting (in the spring of 2016) is vaguely worded, suggesting a lack of certitude.”

      There are many more reasons than the very valid ones cited by Heer to treat this story with great skepticism, which I will outline in a moment. Of course it is possible that Manafort visited Assange – either on the dates the Guardian claims or at other times – but since the Guardian presents literally no evidence for the reader to evaluate, relying instead on a combination of an anonymous source and a secret and bizarrely vague intelligence document it claims it reviewed (but does not publish), no rational person would assume this story to be true.

      But the main point is this one: London itself is one of the world’s most surveilled, if not the most surveilled, cities. And the Ecuadorian Embassy in that city – for obvious reasons – is one of the most scrutinized, surveilled, monitored and filmed locations on the planet.

    • Why you should be skeptical of the Guardian’s big Manafort-Assange claims

      Critics and supporters of WikiLeaks voiced skepticism at what appeared to be an explosive report published by a British newspaper on Tuesday, tying Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to the transparency organization’s founder Julian Assange.

      The article, published in the Guardian, claimed that Manafort met with Assange in the run up to the 2016 presidential election and on two other occasions—in 2013, 2015, and in March 2016—at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has resided since 2012 to avoid U.S. extradition.

      WikiLeaks, of course, went on to publish hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the run-up to the Election Day, in late 2016, to devastating effect on the Democrat’s presidential bid.

    • Prisoner for free speech

      CNN correspondent Jim Acosta returned to the White House on 17 November, a few days after a US judge had forced President Donald Trump to reverse the revocation of his press pass. Smiling before 50 or more photographers and cameramen, Acosta said triumphantly: ‘This was a test and I think we passed the test. Journalists need to know that in this country their First Amendment rights of freedom of the press are sacred, they’re protected in our constitution. Throughout all of this I was confident and I thought that … our rights would be protected as we continue to cover our government and hold our leaders accountable.’ Fade-out, happy ending.

      Julian Assange probably did not watch the moving conclusion of this story live on CNN. He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London six years ago, and his life there has become that of a prisoner: he cannot go outside for fear of being arrested by the British police, then probably extradited to the US; his access to communications is limited and he has been harassed repeatedly since Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, decided to please the US and make conditions less comfortable for his ‘guest’ (see Ecuador veers to neoliberalism, in this issue).

      The reason for his detention, and the threat of several decades in prison in the US (in 2010 Trump wanted him executed), is his WikiLeaks website which has been behind the major revelations that have inconvenienced the world’s powerful over the last decade: photographic evidence of US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, US industrial espionage, secret bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. The dictatorship of former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was shaken by the leaking of a US State Department cable that referred to this kleptocracy, a US ally, as a ‘sclerotic regime’ and ‘quasi-mafia’. WikiLeaks also revealed that two senior figures in France’s Socialist Party, François Hollande and Pierre Moscovici, had visited the US embassy in Paris in June 2006 to say that they regretted the vigour of President Jacques Chirac’s opposition to the US invasion of Iraq.

      What the ‘left’ cannot forgive Assange for is WikiLeaks’ publication of stolen emails from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. They believe this favoured Russian designs and Trump’s election, and forget that, in this matter, WikiLeaks only unveiled her efforts to sabotage Bernie Sanders’s campaign during the Democratic primaries. In 2016 media around the world, especially in the United States, eagerly relayed the information, as they had done with previous leaks, without editors being called foreign spies or threatened with imprisonment.

    • Manafort/Assange Drama Proves Media Buys Any Russia Conspiracy

      Many media figures have swallowed whole, without evidence, a conspiracy theory that Donald Trump became president by treasonously colluding with Russia to steal the 2016 election from its rightful owner, Hillary Clinton. The information operation that pushed this story turned out to have been secretly developed and funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, a fact uncovered only through the tenacious digging of Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the face of major opposition from the media and Democrats on the committee.


      Even on first read the story seemed difficult to believe. It was based on anonymous sources so non-descript that they could be any of literally millions of people. A document from Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency allegedly claimed a “Manaford” had visited Assange along with “Russians.” The story mentioned the discredited dossier that journalists wrote about and intelligence agencies used to secure wiretaps on Trump associates despite the failure to verify its claims.

    • The Forgotten Story of the Julian Assange of the 1970s

      If Julian Assange leaves the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he’ll likely face criminal charges in the United States. We know this thanks to an inadvertent disclosure in a federal court filing—the result of a cut-and-paste blunder by prosecutors.

    • Federal prosecutors fight effort to unseal Assange charges

      Federal prosecutors are fighting a request to unseal an apparent criminal complaint against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      In papers filed Monday in Alexandria, prosecutors argued that the public has no right to know whether a person has been charged until there has been an arrest.

      “Any contrary rule would completely undermine the proper functioning of the criminal process at this stage: anyone could petition the Court to require the government to confirm whether the time was right to flee or evade arrest,” prosecutor Gordon Kromberg wrote.

      Assange has been staying in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 under a grant of asylum and has long expressed fear of a U.S. prosecution. Recently, Ecuadorian officials have placed restrictions on Assange’s use of the embassy, including requirements that he clean up after his cat.

    • US won’t ‘confirm or deny’ charge against Wikileaks’ Assange
    • Guardian ups its vilification of Julian Assange

      It is welcome that finally there has been a little pushback, including from leading journalists, to the Guardian’s long-running vilification of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.

      Reporter Luke Harding’s latest article, claiming that Donald Trump’s disgraced former campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly visited Assange in Ecuador’s embassy in London on three occasions, is so full of holes that even hardened opponents of Assange in the corporate media are struggling to stand by it.

      Faced with the backlash, the Guardian quickly – and very quietly – rowed back its initial certainty that its story was based on verified facts. Instead, it amended the text, without acknowledging it had done so, to attribute the claims to unnamed, and uncheckable, “sources”.

      The propaganda function of the piece is patent. It is intended to provide evidence for long-standing allegations that Assange conspired with Trump, and Trump’s supposed backers in the Kremlin, to damage Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.

    • WikiLeaks launches legal fund to sue Guardian for Manafort report

      WikiLeaks launched a crowdfunding campaign Tuesday in an effort to sue The Guardian for a report about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holding secret discussions.

      “WikiLeaks launches legal fund to sue the Guardian for publishing entirely fabricated story … which spread all over the world today,” the organization tweeted. “It is time the Guardian paid a price for fabricating news.”

    • Assange-Manafort fabricated story is a plot to extradite WikiLeaks founder – Max Blumenthal

      The apparently fabricated report by The Guardian linking Russiagate and Manafort to WikiLeaks is laying the case to arrest and extradite Julian Assange to the US, investigative journalist Max Blumenthal told RT.
      WikiLeaks is ready to sue Britain’s Guardian newspaper for a “fabricated Manafort story” that accused Julian Assange of secretly meeting Donald Trump’s former election campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

      Manafort agreed to take part in the Mueller probe over Russia’s alleged meddling into the 2016 US election but he denies co-operating with Russia or ever meeting Assange.

    • Manafort passport stamps don’t show he entered London in all years Guardian claimed

      Paul Manafort’s passports don’t show he entered London in all the years claimed by Guardian newspaper when it said he met secretly with WikiLeaks Julian Assange.
      The Guardian said he met with Mr. Assange in London in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
      A review of Manafort’s two passports shows he entered Heathrow Airport since 2008 on two occasions, in 2012 and on another time where the customs stamp year is blurred. It appears to be either 2010 or 2016.
      Prosecutors entered two of the three passports into evidence.

    • Assange-Manafort meeting claim backed by anonymous sources, what else do ‘collusion skeptics’ need?

      A bombshell Guardian claim that US President Donald Trump’s campaign manager secretly met with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange lacks any verifiable sources, standing solely on its authors’ reputations. Is that enough?
      Written by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns and published earlier this week, the article claims that Paul Manafort secretly met with Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, unseen by security cameras and unnoted in security logs – not once, not twice, but three times.

      In the total absence of verifiable information, the story has come to be judged by the credibility of its authors. Harding has been hailed as a reputable reporter and the story as a slam-dunk by a range of figures, from journalists who have previously flogged tall tales from Christopher Steele’s salacious “Trump-Russia dossier,” to professional Russia-haters at the Atlantic Council and #Resistance Twitter activists.

    • Manafort denies meeting with Assange as Mueller zeroes in – WCBI
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Good Step Forward But Not Enough, Say Climate Campaigners of EU’s Proposal to Go Climate Neutral by 2050

      Climate campaigners welcomed what they saw as a “step forward” and “glimmer of hope” following the European Commission’s announcement Wednesday that it had set a goal of 2050 to get to net zero climate emissions. But, they warned, the plan still doesn’t go far enough to avert planetary crisis.

      “Going climate neutral is necessary, possible, and in Europe’s interest,” stated Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete. He added that it “is in Europe’s interest to stop spending on fossil fuel imports and invest in meaningful improvements to the daily lives of all Europeans.”

      The latest IPCC report, Arias Cañete told reporters, was “a real wake-up call,” and “today we are responding to this call.”

      The proposal, put forth days before the United Nations climate summit known as COP24 kicks off in Katowice, Poland, declares that the “status quo is not an option.” It also says the “vision presented today does not propose to change the 2030 climate and energy targets but will enable the EU to build on them and develop in due time policies towards 2050.” Greenpeace adds in a press statement: “The IPCC report also clearly states that emission cuts between now and 2030 are what will make or break the world’s response to climate change.”

    • Polish Government Issues Terrorism Alert in Katowice Days Before Start of UN Climate Talks

      The Polish government has implemented a terrorism alert in the province where the annual UN climate talks are about to start.

      Climate campaigners are warning of a “tense atmosphere” in and around the city of Katowice in southern Poland, where the global climate negotiations, known as COP24, are due to kick off on Monday.

      Katowice, a city of around 300,000 people — and the smallest city to host the UN climate talks yet — is about to welcome nearly 30,000 people for the climate conference, including heads of state, government representatives and UN officials.

      Over the weekend, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has signed an order declaring an ALFA alert — the first of four increasing terrorism security levels — across the entire southern province of Silesia, where Katowice is located, and the city of Krakow.

    • The Game-Changing Promise of a Green New Deal

      LIKE SO MANY others, I’ve been energized by the bold moral leadership coming from newly elected members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley in the face of the spiraling climate crisis and the outrageous attacks on unarmed migrants at the border. It has me thinking about the crucial difference between leadership that acts and leadership that talks about acting.

      I’ll get to the Green New Deal and why we need to hold tight to that lifeline for all we’re worth. But before that, bear with me for a visit to the grandstanding of climate politics past.

      It was March 2009 and capes were still fluttering in the White House after Barack Obama’s historic hope-and-change electoral victory. Todd Stern, the newly appointed chief climate envoy, told a gathering on Capitol Hill that he and his fellow negotiators needed to embrace their inner superheroes, saving the planet from existential danger in the nick of time.

      Climate change, he said, called for some of “that old comic book sensibility of uniting in the face of a common danger threatening the earth. Because that’s what we have here. It’s not a meteor or a space invader, but the damage to our planet, to our community, to our children, and their children will be just as great. There is no time to lose.”

    • No, We Won’t be Raking Our National Forests

      By now the worst wildfire in California has been extensively covered, even as rains drown the ashes and bones during the grim search for the missing. Despite their best attempts to deceive the American public and push their commercial deforestation agenda for the timber industry, both President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s comments about managing our national forests have been widely rebutted by firefighters and scientists who correctly assessed the disaster for what it was — a climate change-fueled urban fire that started in chaparral causing homes, not forests, to burn. And no, the blame can’t credibly be laid on failures by federal forest management agencies or “environmental extremists.”

      By now most Americans — and the rest of the world’s citizens — are all-too-well acquainted with Donald Trump’s propensity to lie about issues large and small. But he may have set a new low with his false claim that the president of Finland told him that they have fewer forest fires because they rake their forest floors.

      To quote our very stable genius president: “I was with the president of Finland, he said ‘We have a much different — we’re a forest nation.’ He called it a forest nation. And they spent a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem. So I know everybody’s looking at that to that end. And it’s going to work out, it’s going to work out well.”

      It was such a blatant misrepresentation that the Finnish president himself had to clarify that he never told Trump any such thing and that, no, the Finnish people do not rake their forest floors.

      To anyone with even elementary knowledge of an actual forest, the entire idea of raking the forest is ludicrous. That, of course, would exclude Trump since he’s spent most of his life in high-rise New York penthouses or on manicured golf courses. His understanding of nature and functioning ecosystems is about on par with his claim that he has a “natural instinct” for science. Uh yeah, science is definitely an instinct — unless you’ve actually studied organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, physics and the host of other intellectually demanding disciplines that form the basis for real, not imagined, science.

    • Meat and Consequences: More Bad News for Climate Change

      Thanksgiving is quite a holiday. In one day, we manage to eat and enjoy 44 million turkeys, twice the number consumed at Christmas. Yes, vegetarians may live longer and vegans even more so, but the smell of a roasting turkey in the kitchen lingering in the nostrils, titillating appetites as friends and relations gather, is synonymous with Thanksgiving — a meal where it is politic to keep politics away from the table.

      Yet the news about our world cannot cease. The annual greenhouse gas bulletin issued by the World Meteorological Organization reports a new high in CO2 levels of 405.5 parts per million reached in 2017; it is 46 percent higher than preindustrial levels. The rising trend continues for on May 14, 2018, another high of 412.60 ppm was recorded.


      COP24 or to give it its official name the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is upon us (December 3rd to 14th in Katowice, Poland). Its purpose is to develop an international agreement compelling all countries to implement the Paris accord on climate change; it limits global mean temperature rise to 2 degrees C.

      Meanwhile the IPCC was charged with comparing the 2C rise with a 1.5C rise and the risks to the world of both. The IPCC report unveiled to the world on October 8, 2018 was far from sanguine. There the matter rests as we await COP24.

      The U.S. government’s Fourth Climate Assessment was released Friday afternoon. A massive undertaking involving 13 Federal Agencies and 300 scientists it portrays a somber reality of hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses, damage to health and a compromised quality of life. It warns of crop failures, altered coastlines, expanding wild fires and severe weather events.

    • Honduras: As Berta Cáceres Murder Trial Nears End, Will True Perpetrators Be Brought to Justice?

      Eight men are on trial in Honduras for the murder of environmentalist Berta Cáceres, who was gunned down in her home in La Esperanza in 2016. A verdict is expected this week. The assassination of Cáceres came a year after she won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work protecting indigenous communities and her campaign against a massive hydroelectric dam project. We speak with Dana Frank, professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her new book is titled, “The Long Honduran Night: Resistance, Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup.”

    • Saving the Environment: Is Degrowthing the Answer?

      A friend recently sent me a piece by Jason Hickel, arguing that growth can’t be green and that we need to move away from growth oriented economics. I am not convinced. It strikes me both that the piece misrepresents what growth means and also confuses political obstacles with logical ones. The result is an attack on a concept that makes neither logical nor political sense.

      In the piece, Hickel points out the enormous leaps that will be required to keep our greenhouse gas emissions at levels that will prevent irreversible environmental damage. He then hands us the possibility, that even if through some miracle we can manage to meet these targets with the rapid deployment of clean energy, we still have the problem of use of other resources that is wiping species and wrecking the environment.


      But whatever happens in the transition period, what would keep the economy from growing in subsequent years? We have locked down all the resources in short supply and preserved large chunks of the world from encroachments by roads and settlements, but it is hard to see why we would not be developing better health care technology, better software, more types of cultural output, better housing (in the sense of being more pleasant – not necessarily larger) and other improvements in living standards, all of which count as growth in GDP.[1] Where is the war with growth?

      Or to flip it over, let’s put Hickel and the anti-growthers in charge. (I confess, I have just read two essays by him, so I may be misrepresenting his views). He explicitly doesn’t want us to have growth, but in the Hickel world will we stop people from developing better software, improved medical treatments, improved educational techniques, and other advances that mean growth? I assume that won’t be the case, but then how is Hickel’s world different than the world that any pro-growther who takes the environment seriously would want?

    • CNN’s Anderson Cooper Cancels Segment With Climate Report Author to Give Rick Santorum More Air Time

      In a thread on Twitter, Hayhoe said that, despite being interviewed by Cooper, the segment was replaced with airtime for far-right former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum. “Please! they said, we will send a car! Ok, I said. It’s important. I will do it,” she tweeted. “I get my hair and make up done, we drive across the city, I do the interview, Anderson is lovely, the whole thing takes three hours …. and they don’t air the interview. Instead, they give more airtime to Santorum, so he can to continue to spread disinformation.”

      Santorum became a CNN senior political commentator in January 2017 and is paid to regularly espouse right-wing views, only occasionally disagreeing with the Republican line. Most recently, he claimed on-air that climate change scientists are “driven by money,” before praising the Trump administration for attempting to bury Hayhoe’s report.

      Hayhoe went on to tweet that she had been cancelled by All In with Chris Hayes three times, “once when I was literally in a chair with that earpiece in my ear.” In July of this year, Hayes tweeted that climate change was a “palpable ratings killer.”

      Stefan Rahmstorf, Head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, commiserated with Hayhoe, tweeting, “Has happened to me several times, although yours is particularly bad. It just made me more reluctant to oblige to media calls.”

    • The Scourge of the American Petroleum Tankers That Prowl the British Columbia Coast

      November 26 marked a dreadful anniversary for the tanker-bedraggled British Columbia coast. One year ago in Hecate Strait, the American ATB “pusher tug” Jake Shearer broke apart from its fully loaded 10,000 deadweight-ton capacity petroleum barge and came within a stone’s throw of destroying the most magnificent, wild and precious region of the Pacific Ocean.

      The Jake Shearer is a new-generation tugboat which is set up to lock into, and push its petroleum barge rather that towing it by cable in the conventional manner. The bow of the tug is fitted with two giant hydraulic locking pins, while its tanker barge is fitted with a large notch cut out of its transom. Once mated together, these two vessels then become an “articulated tug/barge unit” or “ATB.” The tug pushes into the transom notch and the locking pins extend out sideways from the bow and engage into large racks fitted within the transom of the barge. Then, mated together “doggy style” as it were, the tug/barge combo goes about its business.

    • Tripled climate cuts needed to fulfil pledge

      The world is not yet living up to its undertaking to tackle global warming, and it will have to make tripled climate cuts − at least − if it is to do so, a report says.

      The emissions gap − the difference between the global emissions of greenhouse gases scientists expect in 2030 and the level they need to be at to honour the world’s promises to cut them − is the largest ever.

      The 2018 Emissions Gap Report is published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). While it is still possible to keep global warming below 2°C, its authors say, the world’s current pace of action to cut emissions must triple for that to happen.

      In 2015 almost 200 governments adopted the target of keeping global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to try for a lower level, 1.5°C. Their decision is set out in the Paris Agreement.

  • Finance

    • Trump tariff threat a double whammy for Apple

      Just when things are already looking shaky for Apple this quarter, President Donald Trump has delivered a further kick in the groin by threatening to slap a 10% tariff on iPhone imports from China. However, analysts are saying China’s possible response could make things even worse for the company.

    • Amazon Gives to End Homelessness? That’s Rich.

      They call it Giving Tuesday, and we’ve just marked the seventh annual this week. It’s supposed to kick off a season of charitable giving, but the way some corporate robber barons use it for public relations is enough to turn your stomach.

      So let’s rename it Stomach-Turning Tuesday. This year’s prime stomach-turner was Amazon, of course. The corporate megastore that would sell everything to everybody and put all competition out of business publicizes its December-long #DeliveringSmiles program that supposedly gives away toys to kids. This year, they announced they’ll give half a million dollars away in toys and throw in an additional $1 for every mile their #DeliveringSmiles trucks drive during their holiday giving tour.

      Whom will Amazon give those extra dollars-on-the-mile to? The National Alliance to End Homelessness. That’s rich.

    • Across the Troubles in Northern Ireland

      This is the first in a series of five articles about Northern Ireland on the eve of Brexit, which threatens to put a “hard border” between the six counties of the North and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union. This is part I.

      For almost thirty years, when the chance has arisen, I have tried to make sense of the issues that have divided Northern Ireland, which found peace from the Troubles in the late 1990s but now threatens to pull apart not just the United Kingdom but the European Union over the issue of a “hard border” between the North and the Republic.

      I wish I could report more success in my lifelong enterprise. For whatever reasons, until recently I have never found it easy to get around Ireland, be it in the North or down south in the Republic. Much of that has to do with my loathing of rental cars, and by and large Ireland is as much a car island as it is emerald. That said, I have gotten around on trains and buses, and sometimes on ferries—but it has meant missing things along the way.

    • Why the Brexiteers May be More Dangerous Than Trump

      When a majority of the British people voted to leave the EU in 2016, I was struck by the similarity between the Brexiteers’ plans for their perilous voyage and those of Edward Lear’s characters in The Jumblies as they set to sea in their sieve. The analogy became more apt as the proponents of Brexit showed that they did not know nor care very much about the nature of the world into which they were proposing to sail other than to hope that everything would be alright on the night.

      The Jumblies, like the Brexiteers, were swift to dismiss critical comment predicting a disastrous end to their venture, saying: “Our sieve ain’t big / But we don’t care a button, we don’t care a fig! / In a sieve we’ll go to sea!”

      The water did indeed come in, but the Jumblies were not downhearted “because they wrapped their feet / in pinky paper all folded neat”. For extra safety, they pass the night in a crockery jar where they sang of their wisdom as they set their pea-green sail for lands where, among other things, they secured an owl, a pig and some green-Jack-daws, and “a lovely monkey with lollipop paws”.

    • Why This Long Island City Resident Opposes the Amazon Deal

      In Mel Brook’s 1976 film Silent Movie, the villain is a corporation, “Engulf and Devour,” that is seeking to affect a hostile takeover of the independent studio Brook’s character, Mel Funn, is trying to convince to produce the first silent movie since the 1920s. When I first learned that Amazon had concluded a deal to locate part of its so-called HQ 2 in Long Island City, where I’ve lived for four years, I was inclined to oppose it. Like a lot of my fellow LICers, I feared Amazon’s presence would accelerate the already fast pace of gentrification, increase the area’s already sky-high rents and create more crowding on our already overcrowded subways. I also didn’t like what I was reading about how Amazon treats its employees, overworking them, encouraging cut throat competition between them, refusing bathroom breaks and indoctrinating them as if the company was some kind of cult. As I began to research more about Amazon and the deal, I found that both are worse than I could have ever imagined. Amazon is Engulf and Devour for real.

      Before I go further, I need to confess that as a confirmed compulsive reader, I’ve done a fair amount of business with Amazon in the past. Its website is one of several browser tabs (including CounterPunch) I open daily. Though I’m usually just looking at books referenced in articles, which I can almost always find and reserve through the magnificent Queens and New York Public Library systems, I have also bought a few books the libraries don’t have, as well as some clothing and ink cartridges for my printer. I never gave a second thought to what I was doing until now.

    • Ross Barkan: General Motors, Sears and Toys R Us: Layoffs across America highlight our shredding financial safety net

      Today’s aging workforce faces an uncertain future. The announcement this week that General Motors will lay off 15 percent of its salaried workforce and shutter multiple plants in North America was a sobering reminder of how far the American worker has fallen. Unlike most large private sector corporations today, thousands of employees at GM still enjoy some union benefits. The company has reportedly set aside $2 billion for layoffs and buyouts. It’s not much, but it’s something — many workers, if they are laid off en masse, will be far less lucky.

      Some older Americans are lucky enough to have been grandfathered into generous pension plans and others hope social security and personal savings will be enough to sustain themselves. But for millions of younger people, the outlook is bleaker — an ever-diminishing social safety net, with retirement dependent almost entirely on how well they manage savings. Two-thirds of millennials have nothing saved for retirement.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Here’s To the State of Mississippi

      Campaigning in a bus dubbed the MAGA Wagon, Hyde-Smith won despite multiple, now-infamous gaffes, aka moments where she revealed her repugnant beliefs. Apparently unaware the savage murder of black people is unfunny, she jovially told a crowd she’d be “on the front row” at a lynching, then offered a bristly non-apology Espy wasn’t having: “No one twisted your comments. They came out of your mouth.” She “joked” about not letting liberals vote. Others dug out atrocities from her repugnant past: She posted a gleeful photo of herself in a Confederate cap, rifle in hand, with the noxious title, “Missisisippi history at its best!”, she promoted a bill honoring a Confederate soldier for trying to “defend his homeland,” she sent her daughter to the same “segregation academy” she attended, evidently not having learned over time to find the idea of black fellow-students any less icky.

    • Democracy as an information system

      But in order for this to work, there needs to be common knowledge both of how government functions and how political leaders are chosen. There also needs to be common knowledge of who the political actors are, what they and their parties stand for, and how they clash with each other. Furthermore, this knowledge is decentralized across a wide variety of actors­—an essential element, since ordinary citizens play a significant role in political decision making.

      Contrast this with an autocracy. There, common political knowledge about who is in charge over the long term and what their policy goals are is a basic condition of stability. Autocracies do not require common political knowledge about the efficacy and fairness of elections, and strive to maintain a monopoly on other forms of common political knowledge. They actively suppress common political knowledge about potential groupings within their society, their levels of popular support, and how they might form coalitions with each other. On the other hand, they benefit from contested political knowledge about nongovernmental groups and actors in society. If no one really knows which other political parties might form, what they might stand for, and what support they might get, that itself is a significant barrier to those parties ever forming.


      The Power of the Documentary is an unusual film festival, because its aim is to break a silence that extends across much of film-making, the arts and journalism. By silence I mean the exclusion of ideas that might change the way we see our world, or help us make sense of it.

      There are 26 films in this festival and each one pushes back a screen of propaganda – not just the propaganda of governments but of a powerful groupthink of special interests designed to distract and intimidate us and which often takes its cue from social media and is the enemy of the arts and political freedom.

      Documentary films that challenge this are an endangered species. Many of the films in the festival are rare. Several have never been seen in this country. Why?

      There is no official censorship in Australia, but there is a fear of ideas. Ideas of real politics. Ideas of dissent. Ideas of satire. Ideas that go against the groupthink. Ideas that reject the demands of corporatism. Ideas that reach back to the riches of Australia’s hidden history.

    • Trump is Crazy, Invoke the 25th

      Never mind the policies. For the purpose of this discussion—a discussion our country desperately needs to have—politics are an annoying, distracting rabbit hole.

      Donald Trump should be removed from office under the 25th Amendment.

      The reason Trump should be de-presidented has nothing to do with his legislative actions or foreign policy initiatives. Unlike George W. Bush in 2000 (and arguably in 2004), Trump won fairly. Unlike Barack Obama, he has kept his promises. His presidency is legitimate.

      It has nothing to with his alleged ethical and legal breaches. Impeachment is the proper instrument for charging and possibly removing a sitting president.

      The 25th Amendment was ratified in 1965 following the Kennedy assassination. It provides a mechanism for replacing a president who has become incapacitated physically—or, as seems to be the case for Trump, mentally.

      “Section 4 stipulates that when the vice president and a majority of a body of Congress declare in writing to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House that the president is unable to perform the duties of the office, the vice president immediately becomes acting president,” according to the History channel. Currently then, Mike Pence and a majority (currently Republican) either of the House or the Senate would write to Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

    • Trump Runs PR For The Saudis But Congress Can Shut Him Down

      Last week’s absurd statement from the White House was supposed to resolve any lingering questions about Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi’s murder by the Saudi government. Instead, the statement only made clear that Donald Trump will do nothing to hold Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) accountable—for his role in the Khashoggi murder or his destructive war in Yemen. Fortunately, this week the Senate can impose a reality check on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia by voting to end the shameful U.S. role in the Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) war in Yemen.

      Congressional impatience with the war in Yemen, which has been growing over the last three years, came to a fever pitch when MbS’s role in the murder of Khashoggi became irrefutable. Ending U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen has now become the de facto position of the Democratic Party. Attempts to force votes in the House and Senate have attracted bipartisan support in Congress and from the American public.

    • “American Nightmare” Is an Antidote to Misguided Faith in Liberal Politics

      Evidence abounds all over the world that oppressed people are no longer convinced. Workers in European Amazon fulfillment centers walked off the job during the peak of the Christmas buying season over the weekend, and citizens of France are demonstrating all over their country against a new punishing diesel fuel tax. Migrants from Central America defied a tear gas assault by Trump’s military forces at the Mexico-US border, bringing anew their own message of democratic defiance and courage to the world at large.

      Meanwhile, back in the US capitol, House Speaker-in-Waiting Nancy Pelosi took to the pay-walled pages of the Amazon Empire’s Washington Post mouthpiece in yet another attempt to convince the oppressed that her plutocratic Congress is in their corner.

    • Tax returns reveal one six-figure donor accounts for entirety of “dark money” funding Whitaker’s nonprofit

      A single six-figure donor accounted for 100 percent of funding raised by a nonprofit run by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker before he became Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff last year, new tax documents obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics reveal.

      President Trump tapped Whitaker to become acting Attorney General earlier in November after Jeff Sessions was asked to resign.

      The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) is a self-proclaimed 501(c)(3) “watchdog” nonprofit.

      This is not the first year a single big donor has accounted for the entirety of FACT’s funding, according to an exclusive new analysis by CRP. Nearly 100 percent of FACT’s funding — all but a few dollars in interest accrued on money left-over from prior years — came from a single anonymous donor again in 2015, 2016 and again last year.

      CRP discovered FACT’s first tax return back in 2016, revealing its funding — $600,000 for 2014, its first year of operation — came entirely from a donor-advised fund called DonorsTrust, which acts as a pass-through vessel managing the money flow from wealthy individuals and foundations to nonprofit organizations while allowing the donors to remain anonymous. Beneficiaries of DonorsTrust include a breadth of conservative and libertarian initiatives. Due to DonorsTrust’s design, although CRP is able to reveal the direct funder of FACT by piecing together grants from different tax returns, the ultimate donor remains hidden.

    • Stacey Abrams Files Federal Lawsuit Detailing Georgia’s Extensive Voter Suppression in 2018

      The federal lawsuit filed by thwarted Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and a coalition of mostly female domestic workers on Tuesday portrays Georgia’s 2018 election as a veritable horror show of intentionally anti-democratic and often racist voter suppression tactics—possibly unmatched since Ohio’s 2004 presidential election.

      At every stage of the voter registration, ballot distribution, ballot validation and vote-counting process, a system of rules and state laws overseen by the governor-elect, Republican Brian Kemp—the top state election official until his resignation after Election Day—and State Election Board failed to help every eligible voter participate and cast a ballot that would be counted, the 65-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court enumerated in great detail.

      “Without the right to vote, all other democratic rights are illusory,” the complaint begins. “In the 2018 General Election, Georgia’s election officials broke that compact. The Secretary of State and State Election Board grossly mismanaged the election that deprived Georgia citizens, and particularly citizens of color, of their fundamental right to vote. This complaint describes the serious and unconstitutional flaws in Georgia’s elections process—flaws that exist today.”

    • Lying to Robert Mueller Is Just a Terrible Idea

      Donald Trump announced last week that he has completed his written answers for special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russian collusion investigation. “I write the answers. My lawyers don’t write answers,” he said during an Oval Office bill signing when asked if he had completed the questions himself. “I was asked a series of questions. I answered them very easily.” Then he finished his choco-milk like a big boy, you betcha.

      One question remains open and unresolved: Will Trump agree to a sit-down interview with Mueller? His attorneys make bold noises about how great a witness Trump would be, but here in reality, the lot of them would sooner be devoured by crabs than allow their client anywhere near the special counsel and a recording device.

      The truth simply does not exist within the man, and his lawyers know it. If such an interview ever took place, Trump would lie with such volume and velocity that Mueller would have to invent a new crime to charge him with, like Double Super Mega Perjury With Extra Perjursauce or something. Common sense dictates such an event will never take place, but if Trump and his ego decide on a showdown, all bets are off.

    • Trump Administration Quietly Resumes ‘Zero Tolerance’ by Another Name
    • How to Get Your Lawmakers to Listen

      The User’s Guide to Democracy has always wanted to help you become not only a more informed voter, but also a more engaged citizen. So, with the winners declared, how do you get your elected representatives in Washington to listen to your voice now?

      At a live event on Nov. 13 with the New York Public Library, Derek Willis (my colleague here at ProPublica) and Paul Kane (an ace Congressional reporter for The Washington Post) tackled this question with the help of a panel of Capitol Hill insiders. The event, called “Irregular Order: How Congress Really Works,” was moderated by comedian/actor/writer Wyatt Cenac.

      James Wallner, senior fellow for the think tank R Street (and a former Republican Senate staff member); Lindsey Cormack, Stevens Institute of Technology assistant professor of political science; and Stephanie L. Young, communications director for When We All Vote (also a former Democratic House staffer); explained how to get lawmakers to listen to you and act on the issues you care about.

    • Chuck Schumer Ignites Calls for Ouster as Senate Minority Leader
    • ‘This Is Political Cowardice’: Fury at Schumer for Offering $1.6 Billion for Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      With the brutal consequences of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda on full display after U.S. Border Patrol fired tear gas at asylum seekers in Mexico, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sparked fury from progressives and immigrant rights groups on Tuesday by telling reporters that he is perfectly willing to cede ground to the president’s xenophobic policies and offer up $1.6 billion for “border security” funding in upcoming budget talks.

    • How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime

      On a muggy October morning in 2007, Miami’s top federal prosecutor, Alexander Acosta, had a breakfast appointment with a former colleague, Washington, D.C., attorney Jay Lefkowitz.

      It was an unusual meeting for the then-38-year-old prosecutor, a rising Republican star who had served in several White House posts before being named U.S. attorney in Miami by President George W. Bush.

      Instead of meeting at the prosecutor’s Miami headquarters, the two men — both with professional roots in the prestigious Washington law firm of Kirkland & Ellis — convened at the Marriott in West Palm Beach, about 70 miles away. For Lefkowitz, 44, a U.S. special envoy to North Korea and corporate lawyer, the meeting was critical.

      His client, Palm Beach multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein, 54, was accused of assembling a large, cult-like network of underage girls — with the help of young female recruiters — to coerce into having sex acts behind the walls of his opulent waterfront mansion as often as three times a day, the Town of Palm Beach police found.

    • Progressives Outraged as House Democrats Elect ‘Big Money’ Centrist Hakeem Jeffries Over Barbara Lee for Caucus Chair

      In a bid to move the party’s leadership in a more bold direction, progressive groups and activists mobilized urgently in recent weeks to pressure House Democrats to elect Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) as the party’s next Caucus Chair.

      But, ultimately, their campaign was not enough to overcome the party establishment’s support for the more “moderate” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who was elected on Wednesday by a vote of 123-113.


      “He is a fan of charter schools and fiscal rectitude,” The Economist reported. “Though he supports the principle of universal healthcare coverage, he speaks of ‘the importance of market forces and getting things done in a responsible fashion.’ Quoting Ronald Reagan approvingly, he suggests this means promoting a flourishing private sector outside the ‘legitimate functions’ of government.”

      Additionally, critics recalled after he won Wednesday’s election that Jeffries issued a fawning statement in support of Israel as the nation carried out Operation Protective Edge, the vicious 2014 attack on the occupied Gaza Strip that left thousands of Palestinians dead.

      “When you live in a tough neighborhood Israel should not be made to apologize for its strength,” Jeffries declared. “You know why? Because the only thing that neighbors respect in a tough neighborhood is strength.”

      Aida Chavez, a reporter for The Intercept, also called attention to Jeffries’ derisive 2016 comments about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who he smeared as a “gun-loving socialist with zero foreign policy experience.”

    • ‘Run Bernie Run!’: New Campaign by Progressive Democrats Says ‘Courage and Vision’ of Sanders Best Choice for 2020

      “At this hour of our history, we need to hear from America’s strongest advocate for working people, for honest democracy, and a courageous response to the climate emergency. We need Bernie Sanders on the main stage,” declared PDA executive director Alan Minsky in a statement. “Bernie Sanders is prepared to lead the United States. PDA does not want a Medicare for All gradualist or a money-in-politics or voting rights gradualist. We do not want a candidate too timid to address the realities of institutional racism, and most certainly, we cannot support a climate change gradualist.”

      “On all of these issues and more, Bernie Sanders has demonstrated that he has the courage and vision to lead,” Minsky continued. “Bernie Sanders would be a great President. Therefore, we at PDA are, once again, proclaiming Run Bernie Run!”

    • UK Hosts Theatrical Facebook Hearings On ‘Fake News’… Undermined By Creating Fake News Itself

      As you may have heard, the UK Parliament put on quite a show on Tuesday in what it claimed was an attempt to go after Facebook for its “fake news” problem. Of course, in the process, the hearings themselves created some fake news that undermined the entire point. To be clear, upfront, Facebook does have many issues that should be taken seriously. But this hearing did not get at those, and actually showed how, when political grandstanding is the focus, it’s quite easy to create “fake news” in the process. Still, boy, was that hearing theatrical. It was apparently the first time since 1933 that the UK Parliament had representatives from other countries participate in a hearing, and so there were nine other countries present, including Canada, France, Belgium, Brazil, Ireland, Latvia, Argentina and Singapore.

    • ‘Republicans Just Don’t Want All the Votes to Count’ – CounterSpin interview with Ari Berman on 2018 voter suppression

      Janine Jackson: You can read analysis all day long about the effect of the 2018 midterm elections on Republicans, on Democrats, on Congress and on Donald Trump, but in an election that saw broken voting machines, overheated machines, missing machines, confusion over absentee ballots, over provisional ballots, long lines—someone needs to be looking out for what the midterms meant and mean for people.

    • Aiming to ‘Revitalize Our Democracy,’ Sanders Institute to Host 250 Progressive Leaders at Weekend Gathering Focused on Bold Solutions

      With the stated mission of “revitalizing our democracy,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jane O’Meara Sanders are hosting a gathering of 250 progressive thinkers, politicians, and activists this weekend in Burlington, Vermont, where they’ll discuss bold solutions to persistent inequality, the climate crisis, human rights violations, and other issues in the U.S. and around the world.

      The inaugural Sanders Institute Gathering—which Common Dreams plans to cover over the three days—will include panel discussions and speeches including an opening keynote speech given by the senator on Thursday evening, as well as appearances by author Naomi Klein and Cornel West; politicians such as Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz; economists Stephanie Kelton and Jeffrey Sachs; former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis; U.S. labor leaders Roseann DeMoro and Peter Knowlton; organizers Bill McKibben and Nina Turner; and many others.

      “The core intent of the Sanders Institute Gathering is to share replicable policies, develop actionable steps, establish ongoing networks and articulate a progressive vision,” the Institute shared on the event website. “Economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues will be threaded throughout the conference as we discuss the climate crisis, healthcare, housing, democracy, foreign policy, criminal justice, labor issues, and more.”

    • First Step Post-Election – Open Up the Closed, Secretive Congress

      Following the mid-term elections, progressive citizen groups have to advance an agenda that makes Congress work for all Americans. The first step, however, is to acknowledge that Capitol Hill has walled itself off from the people, on behalf of corporate autocrats.

      Currently, Congress is open for avaricious business, not for productive democracy. Congress itself is a concentrated tyranny of self-privilege, secrecy, repressiveness, and exclusive rules and practices. Congress fails to hold public hearings on many important matters and too often abandons oversight of the executive branch, and shuts out citizens who aren’t campaign donors. (See my new book, How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress at ratsreformcongress.org.)

      Having sponsored in the nineteen-seventies the bestselling book ever on Congress – Who Runs Congress, I have a frame of reference for the present, staggering institutional narcissism of the Congress as the most powerful, though smallest, branch of our federal government.

    • ‘Revealing and Alarming’: US President Donald Trump Spends Wednesday Morning Retweeting Wacko Right-Wing Memes and Other Nonsense

      President Donald Trump fired out a flurry of tweets Wednesday morning, including retweets from a Trump fan account depicting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller in jail for treason, and a tweet suggesting the special counsel is engaged in McCarthyism in his probe of potential Russian election interference.


      Hillary Clinton also continued to be a target of the president in the tweets. In addition to showing her among the group behind bars, Trump retweeted twice a recent video clip of an interview she had with Recode, in which the interviewer appeared to confuse Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) with former Attorney General Eric Holder.

      The posts include four retweets from “The Trump Train,” which describes itself as a fan account and “the greatest political movement in history.” Its recent tweets include calling the Democratic Party “the party of abortions and pedophilia” and giving a plug for a “Great Christmas gift”—an “LGBT Merica Style” t-shirt, which says “Liberty, Guns, Beer, Trump.”

    • A Statement About Facebook and Color of Change

      Recently, some concerning allegations regarding practices by Facebook have been raised in high-profile media coverage, including a New York Times article. We are pleased that Facebook is meeting with Color of Change to discuss these issues. We hope Facebook and Color of Change can identify ways that we, as a tech community, can work together to address the biggest challenges facing the internet.

    • Firefox fights for you

      That’s why thousands of you made Facebook listen when the news broke showing they and Cambridge Analytica had played fast, loose and irresponsible with millions of users’ personal information. Hundreds of thousands of you installed our Facebook Container extension to keep yourself free from Facebook’s cross-site tracking.

      Tens of thousands of you joined us and stood up in the fight to protect net neutrality. We faced a setback with the vote to effectively end net neutrality in the United States, but we’re not giving up. Just last week Mozilla filed arguments in the US courts to keep the fight going. Our efforts to reinstate net neutrality in the United States will continue.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Antiterrorism Censorship: Macron teams up with the Web giants to set up mass surveillance

      Two months ago, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on terrorist censorship. We denounced it, explaining that this project would destroy the entire decentralized Web. Since then, we have met the French Ministries in charge of the file: our fears have increased.

      France, with the support of Germany and the European Parliament, will do everything to prevent a democratic debate on this text: the government does not talk about it in the press, wants to force its urgent adoption and invokes “national security secrets” to avoid any facts-based debate.

      Why so many secrets? Probably because this text, written with Google and Facebook, will submit the whole Web to these giants, to whom the State is already selling out its role in the fight against terrorism online. The collaboration announced on Monday by Macron between the State and Facebook is just a small, but revealing, step towards such a broader alliance.

    • Will the anti-terrorist Regulation destroy Signal, Telegram and ProtonMail?

      Two weeks ago, we gave an update on the proposition of the European Regulation on anti-terrorism censorship. As a reminder, this text will impose on all actors of the Internet unrealistic censorship obligations: removal within one hour of content reported by the police, surveillance of all content leading to automatic censorship…

      Today, we focus on another danger of this text: as it targets not only content disseminated to the public, but also those which are exchanged privately (such as emails and instant messaging), this text could bring an end to the possibility of protecting our exchanges through end-to-end encryption.

      A careful reading of the Regulation reveals that this text is indeed not limited to content disseminated to the public.

    • Our Bipolar Free-Speech Disorder And How To Fix It (Part 1)

      When we argue how to respond to complaints about social media and internet companies, the resulting debate seems to break down into two sides. On one side, typically, are those who argue that it ought to be straightforward for companies to monitor (or censor) more problematic content. On the other are people who insist that the internet and its forums and platforms—including the large dominant ones like Facebook and Twitter—have become central channels of how to exercise freedom of expression in the 21st century, and we don’t want to risk that freedom by forcing the companies to be monitors or censors, not least because they’re guaranteed to make as many lousy decisions as good ones.

      By reflex and inclination, I usually have fallen into the latter group. But after a couple of years of watching various slow-motion train wrecks centering on social media, I think it’s time to break out of the bipolar disorder that afflicts our free-speech talk. Thanks primarily to a series of law-review articles by Yale law professor Jack Balkin, I now believe free-speech debates no longer can be simplified in terms of government-versus-people, companies versus people, or government versus companies. No “bipolar” view of free speech on the internet is going to give us the complete answers, and it’s more likely than not to give us wrong answers, because today speech on the internet isn’t really bipolar at all—it’s an “ecosystem.”

      Sometimes this is hard for civil libertarians, particularly Americans, to grasp. The First Amendment (like analogous free-speech guarantees in other democracies) tends to reduce every free-speech or free-press issue to people-versus-government. The people spoke, and the government sought to regulate that speech. By its terms, the First Amendment is directed solely at averting government impulses to censor against (a) publishers’ right to publish controversial content and/or (b) individual speakers’ right to speak controversial content. This is why First Amendment cases most commonly are named either with the government as a listed party (e.g., Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire) or a representative of the government, acting in his or her government role as a government official, as a named party (e.g. Attorney General Janet Reno in Reno v. ACLU).

    • California Is Still Trying to Gag IMDb. We’re Telling A New Court: Don’t Let It.

      California is still trying to gag websites from sharing true, publicly available, newsworthy information about actors. While this effort is aimed at the admirable goal of fighting age discrimination in Hollywood, the law unconstitutionally punishes publishers of truthful, newsworthy information and denies the public important information it needs to fully understand the very problem the state is trying to address. So we have once again filed a friend of the court brief opposing that effort.

      The case, IMDB v. Becerra, challenges the constitutionality of California Civil Code section 1798.83.5, which requires “commercial online entertainment employment services providers” to remove an actor’s date of birth or other age information from their websites upon request. The purported purpose of the law is to prevent age discrimination by the entertainment industry. The law covers any “provider” that “owns, licenses, or otherwise possesses computerized information, including, but not limited to, age and date of birth information, about individuals employed in the entertainment industry, including television, films, and video games, and that makes the information available to the public or potential employers.” Under the law, IMDb.com, which meets this definition because of its IMDb Pro service, would be required to delete age information from all of its websites, not just its subscription service.

    • Google employees demand that Google stop work on censored Chinese search

      “Many of us accepted employment at Google with the company’s values in mind, including its previous position on Chinese censorship and surveillance, and an understanding that Google was a company willing to place its values above its profits,” the protesting employees wrote in a Tuesday Medium post.

      “Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China,” the employees added. “We object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be.”

    • Google employees push to cancel Chinese search engine in new letter

      Over a thousand Google employees signed a letter protesting Dragonfly in August. This new Medium post focuses on similar concerns, but it’s being posted online, rather than circulated internally. “Google leadership has failed to respond to employees who have raised questions for months,” it says. “So far, there have been no satisfactory answers.”

    • Employees call on Google to cancel China project

      More than 200 Google employees have published a letter, calling on the company to cancel its proposed censored search engine for China, a project that has been named Dragonfly.

    • Google staff urge firm to ditch ‘oppressive’ Chinese search engine

      The plans, codenamed ‘Project Dragonfly’, were recently confirmed by Google head honcho Sundar Pichai, who said that the development of the controversial search engine is going “very well.”

    • Google employees call on firm to abandon plans for a censored search engine in China

      The plans, code-named Dragonfly, mark a U-Turn by Google, which pulled out of China in 2010 following cyberattacks by the Chinese government. It has since been vocal in its opposition to censorship in the country.

    • Googlers: Google Must Stop Drop Chinese Search Project “Dragonfly”

      In response to Google’s work on Project Dragonfly, a censored version of Google’s search service for China, numerous Google employees have joined hands with Amnesty International. They’ve signed an open letter, calling on the search giant to cancel the project altogether.

    • Sundar Pichai To Testify Before Congress On December 5 On Biased Search Results
    • We are Google employees. Google must drop Dragonfly.

      We are Google employees and we join Amnesty International in calling on Google to cancel project Dragonfly, Google’s effort to create a censored search engine for the Chinese market that enables state surveillance.

      We are among thousands of employees who have raised our voices for months. International human rights organizations and investigative reporters have also sounded the alarm, emphasizing serious human rights concerns and repeatedly calling on Google to cancel the project. So far, our leadership’s response has been unsatisfactory.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • EFF Asks Court to Unseal Secret Docket in Case Involving Wiretap of Encrypted Facebook Messenger Calls

      EFF joined an effort to unseal court records today in a groundbreaking case where the government reportedly tried to force Facebook to compromise the encryption in Facebook Messenger voice calls. Earlier this year, Reuters reported that the government sought the company’s assistance in carrying out a wiretap and intercepting Messenger calls in connection with the investigation of suspected MS-13 gang activity. Although later reports indicated that the court ruled Facebook did not have to comply, the entire proceeding took place under seal, so we could only speculate about the legal arguments made by both sides and the case’s implications for user security.

      According to press reports, the U.S. Department of Justice tried to get Facebook to turn over customer data and unencrypted Messenger voice calls using a wiretap order. To our knowledge, this hasn’t been done before, and it raises novel questions about modern communication providers’ duties to assist with wiretaps involving encryption. The Wiretap Act is written to cover companies that have the ability to monitor communications traveling over their networks, like traditional phone companies. Facebook, however, likely cannot decrypt encrypted Messenger texts and voice calls. (Read our explanation of how we think Facebook Messenger secures communications.)

      In our petition filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, EFF, the ACLU, and Riana Pfefferkorn of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society seek to shed light on this important issue. We’re asking the court to release all court orders and related materials in the sealed Messenger case.

    • Questions We Should Be Asking About Facebook’s Smear Campaign Against Its Critics

      The New York Times published a blockbuster story about Facebook that exposed how the company used so-called “smear merchants” to attack organizations critical of the platform. The story was shocking on a number of levels, revealing that Facebook’s hired guns stooped to dog-whistling, anti-Semitic attacks aimed at George Soros 1 and writing stories blasting Facebook’s competitors on a news site they managed. As Techdirt points out, however, while the particulars are different, the basic slimy tactics are familiar. Any organization that runs public campaigns in opposition to large, moneyed corporate interests has seen some version of this “slime your enemies” playbook.

      What is different here is that Facebook, the company seeking to undermine its critics, has a powerful role in shaping whether and how news and information is presented to billions of people around the world. Facebook controls the hidden algorithms and other systems that decide what comes up in Instagram and Facebook experiences. And it does so in a way that is almost completely beyond our view, much less our control.

    • Euro consumer groups: We think Android tracking is illegal

      Seven European consumer organisations have filed a blockbuster complaint arguing that Google’s location tracking in Android lacks a valid legal basis in the European Union.

      At the heart of the complaint is that the user control of location tracking falls far short of what’s required by the union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – the consent controls are both deceptive and ineffective.

    • European consumer groups want regulators to act against Google tracking

      Google is already facing a lawsuit in the United States for allegedly tracking phone users regardless of privacy settings.

      The consumer groups, which included those in the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden, filed complaints with their respective national data protection authorities, based on research by their Norwegian counterpart.

      Consumer lobby the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) alleges that Google uses various methods to encourage users to enable the settings ‘location history’ and ‘web and app activity’ which are integrated into all Google user accounts.

      “These unfair practices leave consumers in the dark about the use of their personal data,” BEUC, speaking on behalf of the countries’ consumer groups, said.

    • Google Faces GDPR Violation Complaints For Location Tracking

      European countries that have filed complaints with their respective national data protection authorities include Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

      In an interview with AP News back in August, the Silicon Valley tech giant confirmed it does track your location for its Maps, Google Search, and Weather — even if you have turned location services off.

    • WhatsApp’s chief business officer is leaving

      Roughly one year after WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton made his highly-publicized exit from Facebook, another executive and early employee of the messaging platform is doing the same. Neeraj Arora, WhatsApp’s chief business officer, announced today that he would be “taking some time off to recharge and spend time with family.”

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • A Journalist Was Killed in Mexico. Then His Colleagues Were [Cracked].

      Javier Valdez, a prominent investigative reporter, had been shot dead only a day earlier. Then came a sudden breakthrough: According to a text message received by his colleagues, his killers had been detained.

      Despite the tragedy, his co-workers were suspicious. More than 90 percent of murders go unsolved in Mexico. How did the authorities solve the case so soon?

      More likely, they worried, the text messages were an attempt to infiltrate their smartphones — part of a pattern of [cracking] attempts involving sophisticated spying technology bought by the Mexican government.

      They were right.

    • Ottawa should press for release of Saeed Malekpour

      For just over a decade now, a Canadian resident has languished in an Iranian prison on trumped-up charges. Saeed Malekpour has been subjected to torture and for years lived under a sentence of death. Now his family and friends say he has suffered a heart attack and his health is failing.

    • “Red Flag Laws”: Rights Can’t be “Suspended,” Only Violated

      Hanna Scott of Seattle’s KIRO radio reports that prosecutors in Washington are wrestling with the question of whether or not the state’s “Red Flag law” applies to minors, and trying to stretch it to do so. Under the “law,” Scott writes, a judge can issue an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” to “temporarily suspend a person’s gun rights, even if they haven’t committed a crime.”

      Scott gets that part wrong. Judges who issue ERPOs aren’t “suspending” their victims’ gun rights and constitutionally mandated due process and property protections. They’re ordering police to violate those rights and ignore those protections. There’s a difference.

      Rights are inherent characteristics possessed by all human beings, not privileges to be granted or withheld at the whim of a bureaucrat in a black dress. And the point of the 5th Amendment’s due process clause is precisely to protect the life, liberty, and property of Americans against arbitrary judicial edicts. Under the US Constitution, “laws” which violate those protections are null and void.

      Several state governments have passed, or begun more active implementation of, these “Red Flag laws” since a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida in February.

    • How Trump Weaponized the Government’s Refugee Resettlement Agency

      Back in April, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, both under the Department of Homeland Security, entered into a memorandum of agreement with an obscure government agency known as the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. The office, known by its initials ORR, had traditionally served vulnerable immigrant youth coming to the United States without an adult. The agency took custody of those children while it worked to place them with a sponsor, often a relative, who would care for them. But thanks to the Trump administration’s family separation policy, ORR also began taking custody of the thousands of immigrant children forcibly separated from their parents in the past year.

      The memorandum of agreement (MOA) transformed ORR from an agency intended to protect the best interests of children into an arm of the government’s deportation force with devastating consequences for children and sponsors alike, as the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Thanks to the MOA and a new information-sharing system under which ORR is essentially conducting surveillance for DHS, there has been a nearly sixfold increase in children detained by the Trump administration. The ACLU strongly objected to these policy changes when they were first proposed.

    • Ignorance Of The Law Is No Excuse, Court Tells Cop

      We’ve grown accustomed to law enforcement being given a pass for not knowing the laws they’re enforcing. A 2014 Supreme Court decision made being ignorant precedential, providing cops with an out citizens can’t use. Ignorance of the law can be the best excuse when it’s a cop trying to keep his evidence from being thrown out of court.

      With rare exceptions, courts have said it’s okay for officers to predicate stops on perceived traffic violations, rather than actual traffic violations. Officers really have to make an effort to run afoul of the Supreme Court-created Fourth Amendment loophole.

      Another rare exception to the Heien rule has surfaced. The Kansas State Court of Appeals has denied an officer’s attempt to salvage a stop and the evidence derived from it by asking for an application of the “ignorance of the law is an acceptable excuse” band-aid. The appeals court isn’t willing to allow an officer’s personal interpretation of motor vehicle laws to stand in for the actual wording of the law used as an excuse to pull a driver over. (via The Newspaper)

      In this case, the driver was ultimately charged with DUI and not operating a vehicle with an ignition interlock device. The defendant argued the stop wasn’t reasonable under the Fourth Amendment because the violation stated as the reason for the stop wasn’t actually a moving violation.

    • Migrant Teens at Risk as FBI Checks Are Waived for Detention Staff

      The Trump administration has put the safety of thousands of teens at a migrant detention camp at risk by waiving FBI fingerprint checks for their caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, according to an Associated Press investigation and a new federal watchdog report.

      None of the 2,100 staffers at a tent city holding more than 2,300 teens in the remote Texas desert are going through rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks, according to a Health and Human Services inspector general memo published Tuesday.

      “Instead, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children,” the memo says.

      In addition, the federal government is allowing the nonprofit running the facility — BCFS Health and Human Services — to sidestep mental health care requirements. Under federal policy, migrant youth shelters generally must have one mental health clinician for every 12 kids, but the federal agency’s contract with BCFS allows it to staff Tornillo with just one clinician for every 100 children. That’s not enough to provide adequate mental health care, the inspector general office said in the memo.

      BCFS acknowledged to the AP that it currently has one mental health clinician for every 50 children at Tornillo.

    • Border Fence Quietly Slated to Expand as Congress Debates “the Wall”

      Legislators are moving toward a final showdown over one of President Trump’s central campaign promises: a southern border wall. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations funding will make up part of a year-end spending deal that is expected to dominate the remainder of the congressional session.

      The negotiations could spark a partial federal government shutdown in coming weeks, as newly emboldened Democrats seek to push back against the president’s agenda.

      Meanwhile, even as debate continues over wall funding, the existing fence at the US-Mexico border is poised to expand. A new section of border fence is slated to come up in South Texas in February, and activists there are already pushing back.

    • With Sinclair’s Latest “Must-Run” Segment Defending Tear Gassing of Refugees, Trump’s Dream of State TV Comes True

      Though President Donald Trump this week expressed an interest in establishing a state-run TV news network due to his dissatisfaction with the media’s coverage of his historically unpopular presidency, the Sinclair Broadcast Group on Tuesday appeared to fulfill that role with another of its “must-run” pro-Trump segments, this time defending the use of tear gas on migrant children at the southern U.S. border.

      In a segment all 173 Sinclair stations were ordered to air, former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn rejected criticism of the tear gassing and said the actions taken by U.S. border patrol agents on Sunday were necessary for the nation’s security.

      As Tim Karr of the media advocacy group Free Press wrote on Twitter, the network is already effectively serving as the state TV station the president has alluded to.

    • Government Use of Tear Gas Is Illegal in War. It Should Be Illegal Here, Too.

      Pictures of migrant women and children fleeing in panic as tear gas canisters were fired at them by U.S. border agents this week shocked many Americans, but the Trump administration praised the Border Patrol for responding “admirably and responsibility” in deploying the “accepted use of nonlethal force.”

      But using tear gas on a crowd of unarmed, largely peaceful migrants, including children, is far from “accepted.” Under international human rights law, U.S. border officials may use force only when necessary, and the force used must be proportionate to the seriousness of the offense and the legitimate objective to be achieved — when it is necessary to maintain order and protect lives. By the Border Patrol’s own unverified account, only four of its agents were hit by rocks or other projectiles, and their protective gear ensured that they were not injured. That clearly doesn’t justify hurling Triple-Chaser tear gas grenades against a crowd of a few hundred largely peaceful men, women, and children.

      And while tear gas has been outlawed as a method of warfare on the battlefield by almost every country in the world, that prohibition does not apply to domestic law enforcement officers using tear gas on their own citizens. Unfortunately, U.S. law enforcement personnel use tear gas all too often against peaceful crowds.

    • How Tear Gas Became a Favorite Weapon of U.S. Border Patrol, Despite Being Banned In Warfare

      As the Trump administration continues to defend firing tear gas into crowds of asylum seekers, we look at the history of tear gas, which is banned in warfare but legal for federal authorities and police to turn on civilians. Border authorities’ use of tear gas has spiked under the Trump administration, with the agency’s own data revealing it has deployed tear gas over two dozen times this year alone. Customs and Border Protection told Newsweek Tuesday it began using tear gas under the Obama administration in 2010. The agency’s use of tear gas has now reached a seven-year record high. We speak with Stuart Schrader, lecturer in sociology at Johns Hopkins University. He has studied how tear gas went from a weapon of war used in Vietnam to being deployed by law enforcement at home. His forthcoming book is titled “Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing.”

    • America Has Desegregated in Name Only

      It’s a little-acknowledged reality that housing markets distribute more than mere dwellings. That’s because people’s place in the social order is intimately related to their geographic place generally, and where they live specifically.

      Housing quality functions both as a reflection and driver of inequality. Beyond that, however, better homes come with better neighborhoods that afford other opportunity-expanding advantages: good, well-funded schools; high-quality and readily available health care; agreeable recreational facilities and parks; full-service grocery stores with healthy foods; excellent retail outlets; nice sit-down restaurants; well-kept roads and other infrastructure; safe distance from pollutants, major transport and cargo routes; proximity to pleasing natural vistas and settings; a vibrant civic and institutional life; abundant professional services; enjoyable public facilities, events and more. The least pleasant, spacious, healthy and expensive homes are commonly found in places where these and many other interrelated social premiums are scarce.

      One’s chances of moving up in the social order are enhanced when one can move over in the spatial order—­over to communities that offer more opportunity for social advancement. That’s the underlying truth of the classic theme song from “The Jeffersons,” a TV show that followed the travails of a middle-class black family that leaves the ghetto for a more affluent neighborhood of Manhattan. “Well we’re movin’ on up,” the lyric went, “To the East Side.” (Of course, gaining spatial entry to the privileged Upper East Side required the Jeffersons to first move up the economic ladder in order to afford access to the spatial and residential premiums of predominantly wealthy white living.)

    • Court Tells Former NRA President The First Amendment Protects Far More Than Polite Speech

      Here in America, unpleasant speech is still protected speech, something a federal court recently reminded a plaintiff. (h/t Adam Steinbaugh)

      The person bringing the lawsuit is Marion Hammer, the first female president of the National Rifle Association. A frequent target of online criticism, hate mail, and harassment, Hammer decided to sue a handful of her many, many detractors. The lawsuit [PDF] alleges an ongoing campaign of harassment and cyberstalking engaged in by the four defendants.

      The suit was filed in July. Three of the four defendants failed to respond. The fourth, Lawrence T. “LOL” Sorensen, responded with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Sorensen argued his communications with Hammer were protected speech. The judge agrees. In Robert Hinkle’s short decision [PDF], the judge reminds Hammer that the First Amendment protects a lot of speech people don’t like, even when it’s targeting them.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • From $1.50 To $10 Per Month: How Comcast’s Bogus Fees Are False Advertising

      The Trump administration has put the safety of thousands of teens at a migrant detention camp at risk by waiving FBI fingerprint checks for their caregivers and short-staffing mental health workers, according to an Associated Press investigation and a new federal watchdog report.

      None of the 2,100 staffers at a tent city holding more than 2,300 teens in the remote Texas desert are going through rigorous FBI fingerprint background checks, according to a Health and Human Services inspector general memo published Tuesday.

      “Instead, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children,” the memo says.

      In addition, the federal government is allowing the nonprofit running the facility — BCFS Health and Human Services — to sidestep mental health care requirements. Under federal policy, migrant youth shelters generally must have one mental health clinician for every 12 kids, but the federal agency’s contract with BCFS allows it to staff Tornillo with just one clinician for every 100 children. That’s not enough to provide adequate mental health care, the inspector general office said in the memo.

      BCFS acknowledged to the AP that it currently has one mental health clinician for every 50 children at Tornillo.

    • Activists Make One Last Push To Restore Net Neutrality Via Congressional Review Act

      Efforts to reverse the FCC’s historically unpopular attack on net neutrality using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) have been stuck in neutral for several months, but activists are backing one last push in a bid to get the uphill effort over the hump.

      The CRA lets Congress reverse a regulatory action with a simple majority vote in the Senate and the House (which is how the GOP successfully killed broadband consumer privacy protections last year). And while the Senate voted 52 to 47 back in May to reverse the FCC’s attack on net neutrality, companion efforts to set up a similar vote in the House haven’t gained much traction as the clock continues to tick. A discharge petition needs 218 votes to even see floor time, and another 218 votes to pass the measure.

      But the needed votes have lingered at around 172 for months, split (quite stupidly, given broad public support) along strict partisan lines.

    • Pompous ‘International Grand Committee’ Signs Useless But Equally Pompous ‘Declaration On Principles Of Law Governing The Internet’

      So just a few weeks after a bunch of countries (and companies and organizations) signed onto a weird and mostly empty Paris Call for Trust and Safety in Cyberspace, a group of nine countries — Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore and the UK, have declared themselves the “International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News” and signed onto a Principles of the Law Governing the Internet. If that list of countries sound familiar, that’s because it’s the same list of countries that put on that grandstanding inquisition of Facebook that produced fake news in its own way, by falsely claiming that Facebook had discovered Russians extracting 3 billion data points via its API back in 2014 (it wasn’t Russia, it was Pinterest; it wasn’t 3 billion, it was 6 million; it wasn’t abuse of the API, but using it correctly).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Changes to draft EU legislation introducing an export manufacturing waiver to SPCs

      A consolidation and modernization of Europe’s intellectual property framework, featuring a “recalibration” of patent and SPC protection and possibly the creation of a unitary SPC title – those were the ambitious aims set out in the European Union’s single market strategy adopted in 2015. This was followed by a comprehensive evaluation of the legal aspects of the SPC system and its economic impact, which gave reason to believe that the groundwork for a fundamental reform had been laid.

    • Copyrights

      • Open Music Initiative: Seeking To Drive The Beat On Global Standards, Rights Attribution

        The Open Music Initiative provides a forum for collaboration across academic, tech and music industry stakeholders around the world, and is working to develop the global standards for music rights attribution that could stand for the next 100 years. Establishing such standards will enable fair compensation to rights holders and creators, and establish a basis for ongoing innovation in the music industry, leading to new digital platforms and services, and new music, according to Open Music members.

      • Australian Parliament Moves Copyright Amendment Out Of Committee and Into Law

        As we have been discussing over the past few months, Australia has been considering updating its copyright law from one which does site-blocking with judicial oversight to one which does site-blocking, mirror-blocking without judicial oversight, search results blocking, and expands the definition of the types of sites to be blocked from those with the primary “purpose” of infringement to those with the primary “effect” being infringement. These changes came with concerns in tow, both from government officials and tech companies, and it’s understandable why. Any time the government looks to lessen its own oversight in the interest of making it easier for corporate interests to censor the internet for the common citizen, it creates a situation practically begging for abuse with the principal effect being dampening the primary purpose of the internet as a communications tool. The concerns raised over this change in the law focused on those very things, while also highlighting how the copyright industries have been touting the site-blocking already in place as a success.

      • Marrakesh Treaty is no paper tiger: EU Commission sues 17 countries for non-compliance

        On 26 November 2018, the EU Commission initiated proceedings for infringement of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union against 17 (out of 28) Member States for non-compliance with the Directive requiring the transposition into national law of the Marrakesh Treaty (Directive (EU) 2017/1564).

        The Marrakesh Treaty is a WIPO-administered convention that was signed on 27 June 2013 and entered into force on 30 September 2016. The convention seeks to facilitate “the production and international transfer of specially-adapted books for people with blindness or visual impairment” (here). This was done by creating copyright limitations and exceptions to allow the creation of copies of protected works accessible to the visually impaired, when none is otherwise available.


Links 28/11/2018: Red Hat Buys One Last Company, Mozilla’s Annual Report

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Anatomy of an OSS Institutional Visit

    I recently visited the UK Meteorology Office, a moderately large organization that serves the weather and climate forecasting needs of the UK (and several other nations). I was there with other open source colleagues including Joe Hamman and Ryan May from open source projects like Dask, Xarray, JupyterHub, MetPy, Cartopy, and the broader Pangeo community.

    This visit was like many other visits I’ve had over the years that are centered around showing open source tooling to large institutions, so I thought I’d write about it in hopes that it helps other people in this situation in the future.

  • The Future of Technological Advancement Is Open Source

    The influence of open source on the IT industry for the past few decades has been undeniable, and the scale and speed of the open source development have been remarkable. The primary reason behind this is, it is cost-effective and also provides an opportunity for faster and more reliable innovation which allows enterprises to scale their infrastructure. Many employers allow developers to work on projects within the given time frame. Removing internal restrictions about open source will encourage developers, rather than making them feel like they are violating IT policies.

    Employers are enabling developers to work in conjunction with the latest innovations and accelerate the way at which these technologies are being adopted. Open source is a crucial area one can encounter in the present and the future. It is quickly becoming a necessity for success as enterprises realize the benefits it can offer and also provides a cost-effective option as compared to proprietary alternatives.

  • Lambda Debuts First Ever Blockchain Open-Source PoST Algorithm on GitHub

    Lambda recently unveiled its transparent Proof-of-Space-Time (PoST) protocol with high-speed verification capabilities, repetition computation, and streamlined proofs. It is reportedly the first ever blockchain open source PoST algorithm available to developers on GitHub – the popular software development platform.

  • Blockchain Storage Revolutionist Lambda Surpasses FileCoin Unveiling First Open-Source Proof-of-Space-Time Algorithm Available to Developers on GitHub

    Lambda, the leading decentralized infrastructure project providing innovative unlimited and scalable data storage capabilities on the blockchain, today announced its groundbreaking open-source Proof-of-Space-Time (PoST) protocol is the first available to developers worldwide on GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform

  • Open Source VoIP Specialist Ecosmob Launches Next-Generation Softswitches

    Ecosmob, a specialist in open source VoIP technologies, has launched a wholesale softswitch solution for VoIP service providers.

    Over the years Ecosmob has been refining its expertise in open source technologies in the softswitch area, including class four and five softswitch technology for VoIP services.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • State of Mozilla 2017: Annual Report

        The new report outlines how Mozilla operates, provides key information on the ways in which we’ve made an impact, and includes details from our financial reports for 2017. The State of Mozilla report release is timed to coincide with when we submit the Mozilla non-profit tax filing for the previous calendar year.

        Mozilla is unique. We were founded nearly 20 years ago with the mission to ensure the internet is a global public resource that is open and accessible to all. That mission is as important now as it has ever been.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 50
      • The Rust Programming Language Blog: Rust Survey 2018 Results

        Another year means another Rust survey, and this year marks Rust’s third annual survey. This year, the survey launched for the first time in multiple languages. In total 14 languages, in addition to English, were covered. The results from non-English languages totalled 25% of all responses and helped pushed the number of responses to a new record of 5991 responses. Before we begin the analysis, we just want to give a big “thank you!” to all the people who took the time to respond and give us your thoughts. It’s because of your help that Rust will continue to improve year after year.

      • Brussels Mozilla Mornings: Critically assessing the EU Terrorist Content regulation

        On the morning of 12 December, Mozilla will host the first of our Brussels Mozilla Mornings series – regular breakfast meetings where we bring together policy experts, policy-makers and practitioners for insight and discussion on latest EU digital policy developments. This first session will focus on the recently-proposed EU Terrorist Content regulation.

        The panel discussion will seek to unpack the Commission’s legislative proposal – what it means for the internet, users’ rights, and the fight against terrorism. The discussions will be substantive in nature, and will deal with some of the most contentious issues in the proposal, including the 60 minute takedown procedure and upload filtering obligations.

      • Mozilla Localization (L10N): Multilingual Gecko Status Update 2018.2

        Welcome to the third edition of Multilingual Gecko Status Update!

        In the previous update we covered the work which landed in Firefox 59 and Firefox 60.

        At the time, we’ve been finalizing the platform work to support Fluent localization system, and we were in the middle of migration of the first Firefox UI component – Preferences – to it.

        Today, we’ll pick up right where we left off!

      • Next Steps in DNS-over-HTTPS Testing

        Over the past few months, Mozilla has experimented with DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH). The intention is to fix a part of a DNS ecosystem that simply isn’t up to the modern, secure standards that every Internet user should expect. Today, we want to let you know about our next test of the feature.

        Our initial tests of DoH studied the time it takes to get a response from Cloudflare’s DoH resolver. The results were very positive – the slowest users show a huge performance improvement. A recent test in our Beta channel confirmed that DoH is fast and isn’t causing problems for our users. However, those tests only measure the DNS operation itself, which isn’t the whole story.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice localisation sprint: Bengali

      LibreOffice’s localisation communities translate the software’s user interface and documentation. They help to make a powerful office suite available to millions of people around the world, in over 100 languages!

  • CMS

    • Upgraded my blog to Ghost 2.6

      I have been maintaining my blog. It is a self hosted Ghost blog, where I have my theme as Casper, the Ghost default. In the recent past, September 2018, Ghost has updated its version to 2.0. Now it is my time to update mine.

      It is always advisable to test it before running it into production server. I maintain a stage instance for the same. I test any and all the changes there before touching the production server. I did the same thing here also.

  • BSD

    • DragonFly 5.4rc1 image to use

      I uploaded the current 5.4 release candidate – there’s an ISO and an IMG file, though your local mirror may be a better place to get it than those links. Or just wait; I think the release won’t be long.

      Note that I was smart for once and named it ‘rc1’, so if there’s another release candidate, it can be named ‘rc2’. I used ‘rc’ in previous releases and was never sure if I should name a second candidate rc1, rc2…

    • Intel Cascade Lake Target Added To LLVM / Clang Compiler

      Similar to the GCC patch for Intel Cascade lake CPU support that was posted last week, the LLVM Clang compiler stack now supports these forthcoming Intel server CPUs.

      As of today the cascadelake target was added to LLVM and hooked up as well for Clang with the “-march=cascadelake” targeting for optimized code around this successor to Skylake-SP.


  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Decisive leadership is needed even more acutely in the digital open source era

      I was speaking recently at a seminar in Switzerland about leadership in the age of digital disruption, and an interesting question came up. Someone asked me why I was propagating the need for strong, decisive leadership and at the same time talking about open source era. “Isn’t open source about getting results without a clear (singular) leadership?” he asked while citing examples of open source operating systems (OS) like Linux, social movements like the Arab Spring and the recent rise of cryptocurrencies.

      This gentleman went on to say he was really confused. “Not only does your claim about the need for strong leadership in the open source era go against the very essence of open source systems, you go to the extent of advocating autocratic leadership?”

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Thales joins RISC-V Foundation to help secure open-source microprocessors

        Membership of the RISC-V Foundation is the latest illustration of Thales’s commitment to free open-source hardware architectures based on RISC-V processors, and an opportunity for the company to play a major role in a new era microprocessor design. Based on the same philosophy as the Linux success story in the world of software, open source hardware is becoming increasingly important in many key sectors.

      • RISC-V and Linux Foundation partner up

        The RISC-V Foundation and the Linux Foundation agreed to a collaboration to accelerate open source development for the open source RISC-V ISA, starting with RISC-V starter guides for Linux and Zephyr.

        The RISC-V Foundation and the Linux Foundation announced a partnership to “accelerate open source development and adoption of the RISC-V ISA” and “grow the RISC-V ecosystem with improved support for the development of new applications and architectures across all computing platforms.” The Linux Foundation will advise RISC-V on “neutral governance and best practices for open source development” and provide resources for training programs, infrastructure tools, community outreach, and marketing and legal expertise.

      • Linux lobby org joins with RISC-V bods to promote open chip spec

        The Linux Foundation, the non-profit funded by for-profit tech firms to promote the open source operating system, has begun working with the RISC-V Foundation, another non-profit backed by well-heeled companies, to encourage adoption of the open source RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA).

        The two organizations on Tuesday plan to announce a collaboration to enhance the appeal of the RISC-V ISA, tech that proprietary chip designer Arm recently tried to stifle. The results of the tie-up should come in the form of training programs, tool development, community building and governance, marketing support, and legal advice.

  • Programming/Development

    • the first pygame 2 community game. Starting now! Are you in?
    • pygame 2 update – the examples all work
    • Asynchronous vs Synchronous Python Performance Analysis

      This article is the second part of a series on using Python for developing asynchronous web applications. The first part provides a more in-depth coverage of concurrency in Python and asyncio, as well as aiohttp.

      If you’d like to read more about Asynchronous Python for Web Development, we’ve got it covered.

      Due to the non-blocking nature of asynchronous libraries like aiohttp we would hope to be able to make and handle more requests in a given amount of time compared to analogous synchronous code. This is due to the fact that asynchronous code can rapidly switch between contexts in order to minimize time spent waiting for I/O.


  • Dear Silicon Valley Tech Companies: Stop Treating Your Structural Challenges As Political Challenges

    A couple weeks back Karl wrote up an excellent analysis of the NY Times’ big piece looking at how Facebook tried to deal with ongoing criticism of the company concerning the influence operations that it appears Russians used their site for. Karl’s post focused on just how many companies make use of similar political smear campaigns, and everyone (including the press) should be much more tuned into this kind of thing. Indeed, a followup story from the NY Times last week showed that a bunch of other tech companies — namely Lyft, Lime, Juul and Qualcomm — all had hired the very same “Definers” firm that Facebook had hired to smear its opponents.

    I wanted to write a follow up post, though, to make a slightly different point. This one is more directed at the people who work at all of the big tech companies: Stop thinking about running your companies as political campaigns, and focus most on what is best for end-users. It should be noted, of course, that all of these companies are a bit different, and they all do take different approaches to the market, but over the last few years, especially, one thing that has shined through with many of these companies is that they’ve dealt with the challenges suddenly being directed at them as political issues, rather than structural issues.

  • Sanitation Salvage, Troubled Garbage Hauler, Surrenders Operating License

    Sanitation Salvage, the embattled private trash hauler recently suspended from operations by New York City regulators, has decided to surrender its operating license.

    In a letter sent to city regulators Tuesday, lawyers for Sanitation Salvage said the company would cease operations “forthwith.”

    Officials at the Business Integrity Commission, or BIC, the city agency charged with overseeing the private trash industry, did not have an immediate public response. The BIC this year declared the company, one of the largest in the city, a threat to the public after two fatal crashes and a rash of safety violations documented by the agency’s investigators. The company returned to operations in October, but it remained under investigation and was required to agree to the installation of a monitor to oversee its daily operations.

  • Science

    • We Interrupt All The Hating On Technology To Remind Everyone We Just Landed On Mars

      It was hardly more than 100 years ago that human beings figured out powered flight. Barely 80 since flight became jet-powered, 70 since it broke the sound barrier, and 60 since we mastered jet flight sufficiently for ordinary commercial use. It was also not even 60 years ago that we figured out how to send human beings into space, and not even 50 since we put them on the moon. These time periods hardly span geological epochs; they can be measured by a lifetime.

      For those whose consciousness developed after these tectonic shifts in the development of human civilization, it can be easy to forget that mankind spent vastly more of its existence not being remotely able to succeed at any of these things than being able to do them all. It can be easy to lose sight of what a triumph each leap is when today they all seem so ordinary. We take it for granted that we can board a metal tube and just a few hours later end up a continent away. We become glib about putting people in space when we have them sitting up there 24/7. And the moon, that celestial body that from the dawn of man has been the object of every dream, has long faded into the rearview mirror. Been there, done that, we think, as the knowledge that it is within our grasp slowly extinguishes the wonder that used to fuel our drive to seek the impossible.

      Fortunately space is full of other frontiers to tantalize us. And Mars is one of them. Orbiting our solar system between 35 and 250 million miles away from Earth (depending on our respective orbital positions), barely visible to the naked eye, and full of even more mystery than our much more proximate moon (which is less than 240,000 miles away), it passes through the heavens flashing its enticing red glow like a bullfighter to his charges. And so, like moth to flame, we go.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • U.S. Panel Says China Is Not Doing Enough to Stem Tide of Fentanyl

      Fentanyl exporters have skirted Chinese laws by shifting to analogues, or molecules that have similar effects on the body, but do not fall under bans the country has imposed on fentanyl itself. China has been too slow to add new categories of analogues to the list of prohibited substances, according to the U.S. report.

    • Pharma companies are changing tack following major patent cases

      Recent high profile pharmaceutical patent disputes in the UK are forcing companies to go back and look at their business plans, according to HGF partner Rachel Fetches.
      Speaking at the Life Science IP conference in London this week, Fetches sad that both big pharma companies and manufacturers of generic drugs are going back and looking at their business plans as a result of high profile pharma patent cases in the UK Supreme Court.

      The most recent of which, the Pregabalin second medical use, saw the court dismiss an appeal from Warner-Lambert after Mylan and Actavis successfully revoked its patent.

    • UCB has reduced its patent portfolio to focus on a patient-centric approach

      Scientific research company UCB has reduced its patent portfolio by 25 percent to “focus on core innovation” and its “patient-centric approach”.
      According to UCB associate patent counsel, Manisha Desai and director of intellectual property policy, Aaron Smethurst, UCB opted to reduce its portfolio by one quarter in order to refocus on these goals.

      Speaking at the Life Science IP event in London this week, both Desai and Smethurst said this was conducted across the board, even on patents that relate to a product that is currently on the market.

    • Why are Certain NGOs Trying to Condemn Rural Residents to an Even Longer Pesticide Fate?

      When I first started the UK Pesticides Campaign 17 years ago in 2001 I did so largely because I had discovered that there was no specific representation in the UK for rural residents and communities exposed tothe vast cocktails of poisons sprayed on crops.

      As a resident myself directly affected from pesticide spraying in my locality I had started to attend various conferences and meetings on pesticides and whilst NGOs and environmental groups would make the odd comment here and there about operators health, environmental impacts, or pesticide residues in food, there was no mention of the risks and adverse health impacts for rural residents and communities across the UK.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Our Man in Riyadh

      What does President Trump’s recent nomination of retired Army General John Abizaid to become the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia signify? Next to nothing — and arguably quite a lot.

      Abizaid’s proposed appointment is both a non-event and an opportunity not to be wasted. It means next to nothing in this sense: while once upon a time, American diplomats abroad wielded real clout — Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams offer prominent examples — that time is long past. Should he receive Senate confirmation, Ambassador Abizaid will not actually shape U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia. At most, he will convey policy, while keeping officials back in Washington apprised regarding conditions in the Kingdom. “Conditions” in this context will mean the opinions, attitudes, whims, and mood of one particular individual: Mohammed bin Salman. MBS, as he is known, is the Saudi crown prince and the Kingdom’s de facto absolute ruler. By no means incidentally, he is also that country’s assassin-in-chief as well as the perpetrator of atrocities in a vicious war that he launched in neighboring Yemen in 2015.

    • Border Patrol Officer Who Shot Unarmed Teenager on Mexican Soil Is Acquitted of Manslaughter Charges

      As Democrats hoping to sit at the helm of their party in the House in the next congressional term vie for support ahead of a January vote on the House floor, dozens of progressive groups released a letter Tuesday telling candidates that their leadership must include a firm stance against the fossil fuel industry, including a rejection of all donations from oil and gas companies.

      Forty-seven national organizations including 350.org, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace USA wrote that with the scientific community making it abundantly clear that carbon emissions must be immediately curbed in order to keep the planet from warming more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Democrats must fully extricate themselves from fossil fuel interests.

    • International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases

      The elimination of poverty could be at hand for the first time in the history of humanity. World hunger could easily be abolished with only a small diversion from military budgets. Yet, military spending is expanding, and with it global poverty.

      On November 16-18, some 300 peace activists representing over 35 countries gathered in Dublin, Ireland for the first International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases to address this tragic paradox of the technical ability to serve humanity and the political proclivity to do the opposite. Roger Cole of the Irish peace organization PANA identified the twin threats to humankind of global warming and global war, both driven by accelerating militarization.

      Ajamu Baraka of the US-based Black Alliance for Peace highlighted the reactionary role of the US and its allies, which have by far the largest military expenditures in the world. The material basis for the absence of peace and the accelerating proliferation of military bases, in his words, is US imperialism.

    • The Dark Side of the New Deal: FDR and the Japanese-Americans

      Not long ago, I had lunch with Arn Kawano, a friend and Marxmail subscriber whose parents had been interred during WWII for no other reason than being Japanese-Americans living in California. I was anxious to discuss a film with him that I had reviewed recently titled “Resistance at Tule Lake”, which described how Japanese-Americans stood up for their rights as citizens against FDR’s fascist-like Executive Order 9066 that gave the green light to the camps.

      Arn, who has a law degree, told me that despite liberal obsessions with constitutional rights, there is very little to protect such citizens when a government acts in the name of a national emergency. If anything, FDR’s willingness to shred the constitution should alert those invoking the New Deal as some kind of golden era for democracy and human rights to look more closely and objectively at American history. To give you an idea of the inability of American liberals to comprehend the depravity of FDR’s internment camps, Herbert Wechsler, an attorney who was part of the Nuremberg prosecution team, was also the government’s lawyer in a case defending the legality of Executive Order 9066. Later on, when Wechsler was teaching at the Columbia University law school, a student named Arn Kawano asked him if he had to do it all over again, would he have defended 9066? When he answered yes, Arn gathered up his books and walked out of the classroom.

      A superficial understanding of the crime against Japanese-Americans might lead to the conclusion that Pearl Harbor was of such a profound blow to national security that internment was necessary. Keep in mind that even the Communist Party accepted the need to support Executive Order 9066 mandating the concentration camps. Through a front group called the Japanese American Committee for Democracy, it opposed Norman Thomas’s call for hearings on 9066 and endorsed army claims that an “evacuation” was necessary in the face of a potential Japanese invasion. As it happens, Japanese-Americans could avoid the camps if they agreed to evacuate California but the logistics of selling their homes and finding a new place to live elsewhere made this impossible.

      In the course of our conversation, Arn recommended a book by Greg Robinson titled “By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans” that makes clear that 9066 was not only decades in the making but an Executive Order that FDR would have rejoiced in signing since his racist views on the Japanese dated back to his earlier years serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy between 1913 and 1919.

    • ‘Yemen Can’t Wait’: Ahead of War Powers Vote, Urgent Push for Senate to End US Complicity in Saudi Atrocities

      With a vote on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) resolution to end U.S. complicity in the Saudi-led assault on Yemen expected as early as Wednesday, grassroots anti-war organizations are ramping up pressure on Democratic senators who sided with the Republican majority in voting down the same measure earlier this year and demanding that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) act on his words by co-sponsoring the resolution.

      “The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, with U.S. support, has killed thousands of civilians. Over 85,000 children have died of starvation. Enough is enough,” Sanders, who introduced the bill alongside Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), declared on Tuesday. “The Senate must vote to end U.S. support for this war.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • If You Hate Traffic, Curb Your Love for Online Shopping

      But if you hate traffic as much as you love online shopping, freeze that finger. Research completed in the past decade suggests the boom in ecommerce plays an outsize role in worsening urban congestion and pollution. McKinsey estimates trucks alone will be responsible for $34 billion a year in American urban congestion costs by 2020, up 20 percent since 2014.

    • Emmanuel Macron’s Fuel Problem

      Governments and ruling regimes tend to face revolution in the face of harsh hikes in prices. Margaret Thatcher’s rule in Britain was rocked by the poll tax. In France, the once enthusiastically embraced Emmanuel Macron has decided to leave the ground rich with challenges against his administration. The Yellow Vests, the gilet jaunes, have decided to take up the chance protesting with such intensity it has led to death and serious injury.

      The pretext was an old one. An increase in carbon taxes was imposed in 2017 as part of a push to support renewables. “Support for renewable energy,” announced the environment ministry, “will be increasingly financed by a tax on fossil fuel consumption.” In 2018, the amount rose from 30.5 euros to 44.6 euros per ton, rising to 55 next year. Diesel and petrol have been affected, a matter than proves less of a problem for those in city environs, serviced by public transport, than rural areas, where the car remains essential. “Macron has to understand,” camethe familiar sentiment from demonstrator Patrick Perez, “that Paris is not France.”

      Macron is now being accused of being icily out of touch, a self-conscious creature of arrogance who insists on the dignity of his office even as he attempts to dismantle the pride of others. But his current approval rating – with 25 percent, according to Ifop, is strikingly accurate, given the share of the vote he garnered in the first round of the 2017 presidential elections. A mere 24.01 percent favoured him, with Marine Le Pen of the National Front breathing down his neck with 21.3 percent, followed by the Republicans choice of François Fillon with 20.01 percent and the left wing Jean-Luc Melenchon with 19.58 percent.

    • David Schnare Forced to Disgorge Dark Money From ‘Free Market’ Piggy Bank

      Lawyer David Schnare has made a career of suing and harassing climate scientists, abusing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to demand masses of scientists’ emails and wasting people’s time.

      Much of this work has been executed via a dark money-funded 501(c)(3) “public charity” called the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (EELI), where he was General Counsel among other roles.

      Schnare’s work at EELI was often in conjunction with another shadowy group he founded, the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC), which he co-founded in 2011 with long-time associate Chris Horner. These two groups dispute the scientific reality of climate change, and have made a business of targeting climate scientists with invasive and harassing lawsuits.

      FMELC recently imploded in spectacular fashion. Embroiled in multiple lawsuits and mired in infighting, the operation and legality of the “public charity” FMELC have been in heated dispute.

      Recently, Schnare was ordered to disgorge $630,000 from FMELC, whose bank account he is alleged to have used as his own personal bank.

    • Polish Coal Company Announced as First Sponsor of UN Climate Talks in Katowice

      One of Poland’s leading coal companies has become the first official sponsor of the UN climate talks, which start in the southern city of Katowice next week.

      Jastrzębska Spółka Węglowa (JSW), a majority state-owned corporation and one of the largest tar producers in the European Union, has announced the partnership with COP24 in a statement on its website.

      JSW said the partnership would guarantee “the company’s active participation in the event and the possibility of promoting pro-ecological changes in the mining sector”.

      It added that through the partnership, the company will organise panel discussions to showcase the company’s environmental activities and will offer “solutions” that will allow the coal sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and use resources such as land and by-products more effectively.

      Although some coal-friendly countries such as the US and Poland have been pushing the idea of “clean coal”, scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have warned that the world needs to take “rapid and unprecedented measures” to move away from fossil fuels and halve its greenhouse gas emission in the next 12 years to avoid catastrophic climate change.

    • How a Climate Change-Fueled Drought & U.S.-Fed Violence Are Driving Thousands from Central America

      President Trump is urging Mexico to deport the thousands of Central American migrants who are at or approaching the U.S. border in an attempt to seek asylum, days after U.S. border authorities fired tear gas into a crowd of asylum seekers as some tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border near San Diego. Trump tweeted, “Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!” This comes just days before Andrés Manuel López Obrador is sworn in as Mexico’s new president. López Obrador’s incoming government has denied it made any deal with the Trump administration to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are processed. We speak with John Carlos Frey, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and PBS NewsHour special correspondent. He recently returned from reporting trips in Guatemala, Mexico City and Tijuana, where he was documenting the migrant caravan.

    • To Fight Climate Emergency, Democrats Told: ‘We Need Leaders With the Backbone to Stand Up to Big Polluters. Full Stop.’

      As Democrats hoping to sit at the helm of their party in the House in the next congressional term vie for support ahead of a January vote on the House floor, dozens of progressive groups released a letter Tuesday telling candidates that their leadership must include a firm stance against the fossil fuel industry, including a rejection of all donations from oil and gas companies.

      Forty-seven national organizations including 350.org, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace USA wrote that with the scientific community making it abundantly clear that carbon emissions must be immediately curbed in order to keep the planet from warming more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Democrats must fully extricate themselves from fossil fuel interests.

    • Australian Kids Plan “Big School Walkout for Climate Action”

      The climate rebellion is growing. Over the weekend in London, over 2000 protesters, part of the new Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement, took part in demonstrations, including holding a memorial in the famous Parliament Square to “mark the loss of life our planet is experiencing”. As part of the ceremony, activists carried a coffin with “our future” written on it.

      In a statement, Extinction Rebellion, who have repeatedly criticised the UK Government for its inaction on climate change, said: “We Rebel because we love this world. It breaks our hearts to see it ravaged, to watch so many people and animals all over this world already dying, to know that this will soon happen to our children without urgent changes.”

      The group added: “There is no way forward without giving credence to our grief. We are serious, this is an emergency, this is our home we are watching collapse.”

      But the UK Government is not the only one under fire. Any regular reader of this blog will know we repeatedly criticise the Trump administration for its lack of urgency on climate change, including most recently here, in a blog entitled Black Friday; Black Planet.

      Just hours after this blog was written, the US Government released its US National Climate change assessment, a 1,656 page work by 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies, which is the most comprehensive study to date outlining the consequences of climate change to the US.

    • Rebuffing Prime Minister’s Order to Stay in Class, Australian Students Forge Ahead With #ClimateStrike Walkouts

      As the United Nations issued its latest report detailing the climate emergency facing humanity—finding that world governments must triple their efforts to reduce carbon emissions in order to stop the dangerous warming of the globe—schoolchildren in Australia demonstrated that young people are largely taking the lead in fighting the climate crisis while many of their elected officials debate scientific conclusions and argue in favor of protecting corporate polluters’ profits.

      Thousands of students in Australia applauded the Senate on Tuesday as it voted in favor of supporting a national “School Strike 4 Climate Action,” comprised of several walkouts across the country planned for this week.

  • Finance

    • Trump Suggests 10% Tariffs May Be Placed on iPhones, Laptops

      Apple Inc., which has lost a fifth of its value in a tech market rout since October, is poised for another setback after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that 10 percent tariffs could be placed on mobile phones, like the iPhone, and laptops made in China.

    • Google Drops $1 Billion on Real Estate Near Its Headquarters

      Alphabet Inc.’s Google has closed a $1 billion deal for a 51.8-acre business park next to its Mountain View, California, headquarters. The purchase adds to a mammoth real estate expansion the company is in undertaking in both California and New York City.

    • Fixing Campaign Finance Needs to Be at the Center of Democracy Reform

      In the years following the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, fixing the way campaigns are funded was at the center of the discussion about reforming our democracy. But in recent years, as concerns about voter suppression and gerrymandering have rightly grown, accompanied by a cavalcade of ethical sleaze from the Trump administration, the issue has at times taken a backseat.

      In the wake of an election that highlighted the many shortcomings of our democracy across the board, from poor ballot design to the lack of up-to-date voting equipment, we may finally be getting serious about strengthening our system. And campaign finance reform needs to be prominent in the conversation.

      Voting problems in Georgia and Florida, the product of both intentional suppression and incompetence, again took most of the headlines for the 2018 midterms. But according to Open Secrets, this was also the most expensive midterm election in history. Senate and House candidates spent $2.1 billion. On top of that was $1.3 billion in outside spending, much of it on negative ads trashing candidates. When big money buys misleading political ads to sway voters, it doesn’t inspire faith in democracy.

    • One day a historian will assert that the outcome of Brexit was inevitable all along

      A day or so ago this blog set out that in the current fog of Brexit there were three visible paths: Deal, No Deal, or (even) No Brexit.

      That is still the case, and others – no doubt more sensible – can also see other paths, such as ones which head toward a further referendum or an extension of the Article 50 period.

      Today’s post is about what an odd situation this is, given we are now only a few months away from when the UK is set to leave the EU by automatic operation of law, unless (as I aways say) something exceptional happens.

      We have had the Article 50 notification, we have had negotiations, we have had “sufficient progress” and a joint report, and we now have a draft withdrawal agreement agreed in principle between the UK and EU, and which has been approved at a senior level at the EU. All which is now required is formal acceptance and ratification on both sides.

      This should be the most certain point in the Brexit story so far. All the formalities are in place for an orderly departure.

      And yet: Brexit has never been as uncertain as it seems today.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Jack Ma Confirmed as Chinese Communist Party Member

      Ma, co-founder and chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is one of 100 people the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee will honor as part of a celebration marking 40 years since the country’s economic reform and opening up. The honorees also include Tencent Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Pony Ma, Baidu Inc. CEO Robin Li, basketball star Yao Ming and volleyball coach Lang Ping.

      The lines between business and politics have become increasingly hazy in China as President Xi Jinping has led a campaign to ensure the Communist Party plays a leading role across all aspects of society. That has at time created tensions when the interests of private business people and the state have conflicted.

    • The Trump penis Wikipedia war has kicked off again

      None of these attacks would work if the other precautions Wikipedia has pushed out had proved effective. Right now, Trump’s Wikipedia page is under “extended confirmed protection” which severely limits the number of people that can make edits. Only accounts that have been around for more than a month and that have chalked up over 500 edits can rewrite the President’s history, which sounds like a sensible precaution. You have to be really dedicated to Wikipedia winkles to jump through those hoops.

      But apparently the vandals have got around this, hacking dormant accounts of older editors, and even getting trusted editors to smuggle in ham candles unnoticed, Wikipedia admin TheSandDoctor told The Verge. Four accounts have apparently been blocked as a result of the latest dong edits.

    • Is it Time to Throw US History Textbooks Away?

      Wineburg, who studies the way history is taught in the United States, says that instead of protecting students from the [I]nternet, it’s time to teach them how to differentiate the good information from the bad.


      Beyond teaching students how to evaluate and verify what they find online, Wineburg believes history classes should also give students a broad chronological knowledge of history and a fundamental understanding of the nation’s founding principles.

    • Democratic Party “Leadership” Is Upside Down

      When Democrats take control of the House in early January, they’ll have two kinds of leadership—one from the top of the party’s power pyramid, the other from its base. With formal control, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer can brandish huge carrots and sticks to keep Democratic lawmakers in line. With grassroots support, a growing number of those lawmakers can—and should—strategically step out of line to fight for progressive agendas.

      Pelosi and Hoyer have been running the Democratic machinery in the House of Representatives since 2003, and they’re experts at combining liberal rhetoric with corporate flackery. Pelosi is frequently an obstacle to advancing progressive proposals. Hoyer is significantly worse as he avidly serves such “constituents” as giant banks, Pentagon contractors and other Wall Street titans. The duo has often functioned as top-drawer power tools in the hands of powerful corporate-military interests.

      Pelosi is a longtime wizard at generating and funneling hundreds of millions of election-cycle dollars, and as speaker she’ll wield enormous power over committee assignments. But she must keep Democratic House members minimally satisfied—and along the way that should mean yielding more power to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Buoyed by wins in the midterm elections, the caucus includes two-fifths of all Democrats in the House.

    • Noam Chomsky: How the US “Politically Vulgarizes” Genocide and War Crimes

      Noam Chomsky has revolutionized multiple fields of study, from psychology to linguistics to political science. With books such as Manufacturing Consent (with Edward S. Herman), The Fateful Triangle, Hegemony or Survival, and others, he has enlightened people all over the world. For these reasons and more, Chomsky is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of our time.

      Shortly after the 2016 US elections, Truthout had the privilege of being able to sit down with Professor Chomsky in his office for a chat on an array of different topics, from ethnic conflicts to anarchism.

    • What Bernie needs to win the presidency

      It’s time to talk about the very real possibility of President Bernie Sanders.

      I know, I know: The midterm elections are just barely over. And the 2020 presidential election is more than 700 days away. But the sad reality of the U.S. electoral system is that positioning over the 2020 election has already begun. And it seems likely that Sanders will run again, despite his advanced age, and that he will be by far the favored candidate for the American left — by simple process of elimination if nothing else.

      Donald Trump is a weak, unpopular president whose party got wiped out in the midterms despite unemployment being at a 50-year low. Sanders consistently tops Trump’s approval numbers by 20 to 30 points. He could legitimately beat Trump in a general election, as could plenty of other would-be Democratic nominees.

    • The One Mistake Democrats Cannot Afford to Repeat

      When Democrats take control of the House in early January, they’ll have two kinds of leadership—one from the top of the party’s power pyramid, the other from its base. With formal control, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer can brandish huge carrots and sticks to keep Democratic lawmakers in line. With grassroots support, a growing number of those lawmakers can—and should—strategically step out of line to fight for progressive agendas.

      Pelosi and Hoyer have been running the Democratic machinery in the House of Representatives since 2003, and they’re experts at combining liberal rhetoric with corporate flackery. Pelosi is frequently an obstacle to advancing progressive proposals. Hoyer is significantly worse as he avidly serves such “constituents” as giant banks, Pentagon contractors and other Wall Street titans. The duo has often functioned as top-drawer power tools in the hands of powerful corporate-military interests.

      Pelosi is a longtime wizard at generating and funneling hundreds of millions of election-cycle dollars, and as speaker she’ll wield enormous power over committee assignments. But she must keep Democratic House members minimally satisfied—and along the way that should mean yielding more power to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Buoyed by wins in the midterm elections, the caucus includes two-fifths of all Democrats in the House.

      That’s where the other kind of leadership comes in—if a hefty number of self-identified progressives in Congress go to the mat to vigorously represent progressive constituencies. For that to happen, a dubious aspect of the Progressive Caucus past must not repeat itself.

    • Trump’s fascist efforts to demolish democracy

      Fascist politics is once again on the rise in the United States, Europe and Latin America.

      As an echo from the past, its principles and attitudes are re-emerging in a populist rhetoric that embraces extreme forms of nationalism, the cult of the leader, systemic racism, a culture of fear, a hatred of dissent and an utter disdain for the truth.

      Driven by a hatred of “the other” and infused with narratives of decline and victimization, fascist politics trade in an incendiary rhetoric of fear, demonization and violence.

      It creates divisions by targeting groups it defines as criminal, less than human, and then expands its hate-mongering to other groups as part of an attempt to deepen and expand a culture of terror, insecurity and disposablilty.

      It attempts to build power through aggressive attacks on the media, critics and the judiciary.

    • Anti-Semitism Rises in Europe, as Memories of the Holocaust Decline: CNN Report

      The killing of eleven Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Oct. 27 was a chilling reminder for American Jews that anti-Semitism is not a relic of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations, but a real, even fatal aspect of American life that was merely hidden from view. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 57 percent increase in American anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, compared to 2016. And Pittsburgh wasn’t the only anti-Semitic incident the week of the Pittsburgh attack, as a bomb was hand-delivered to billionaire philanthropist George Soros (a frequent target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories) that Monday. What’s more, as a new report from CNN reveals, anti-Semitism is also on the rise in Europe.

      CNN’s poll of 7,092 people from seven countries showed that almost a quarter of respondents believe that “Jews have too much influence in business and finance.” And “Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.”

      “One in five,” CNN continued, believe “[Jews] have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics.”

      At the same time that anti-Semitic beliefs have risen, awareness of the Holocaust has decreased. According to CNN, “A third of Europeans in the poll said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust, the mass murder of some six million Jews in lands controlled by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.”

    • An American Horror Story

      Be besting herself, the incomparable Melania has for a second year aptly chosen a Dystopian Nightmare Theme for her Christmas decorations, engulfing the White House in gaudy blood-red fake trees which, an obliging public has variously speculated, represent The Handmaid’s Tale, The Shining, a car wash, a murder forest, a Tim Burton/ David Lynch movie gone terribly wrong, used tampons, Elmo pelts, hot Cheetos, furry KKK hats, the empty void where her soul should be, or the combined blood of her enemies, gun violence and sexual assault victims, disappeared asylum-seekers, starving murdered children in Yemen, trans victims of violence, and broken migrant kids in cages. Despite her “There Will Be Blood” hallway and the lurid excess surrounding it – 20,000 feet of lights, 14,000 ornaments, 12,000 bows, Be Best! balls and wreaths of sharpened Be Best! pencils – there is as yet no baby in a manger. Maybe, some ruminated, her husband’s regime has already tear-gassed them all?

      The display was revealed in a video and statement about the year’s theme of “American Treasures.” It includes a Gold Star Family Tree (they love the military unless it’s raining), celebrations of children (unless they’re brown), a model White House (“Look it’s my prison!”), trees that “sparkle in hues of blues and golds amongst the vermeil for all to see” and 29 trees boasting 14,000 red ornaments, “a symbol of valor and bravery.” Gushing it was all “beautiful,” her fans blessed “you and your wonderful husband (for) returning us to our Judeo-Christian roots” with their “Faith Bases decisions.” Many disagreed, focusing on the tacky gilded mall look, blood-red corridor, “War of the Worlds” mood and “Be Best tear gas grenades” as proof everything these people touch dies: “Flotus looks like an evil witch living alone in a castle because the good people realized that she is wicked & have abandoned her.” In the video, Melania floats from tawdry to garish mess in gloves and coat, like she just dropped in, celebrating “The People’s House.” Yes. Which means we can evict her. Till then, Merry Trashy Christmas!

    • ‘In Front of Your Nose’—A Sequel to Orwell in the Trump Era

      In 1946, George Orwell wrote a piece about the unfortunate human habit of failing or refusing to see what plainly lay before one’s face. Whether through conscious mendacity, or intellectual laziness, or the universal tendency to euphemism, or because facing the truth would be too personally unsettling, people espouse beliefs blatantly at odds with the evidence. Orwell titled his essay “In Front of Your Nose.”

      Several of the examples he cited there and in much of his postwar writing arose from the fact that what was obvious to any unbiased observer— that Britain’s global status had diminished and political decision-making must take that into account—was intolerable; therefore it had to be ignored, contradicted, or euphemized.

      Seven decades on, this attitude is still endemic to Britain: witness Monty Pythonesque upper-class twits like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg (the UK appears to have an inexhaustible supply of these walking caricatures) breezily opining that Brexit will teach all those bloody foreigners on the wrong side of the Channel.

    • The President Isn’t Orange. He’s Yellow.

      But as we cascade toward the latter half of his first and, God hope it, only term, Donald Trump’s craven fearfulness is worth a reminder simply because of its vast continuing implications for our country and the world.

      Of course, there’s the surface narcissistic indifference and insensitivity to others, in particular his disregard for members of the military and veterans, despite his many tweeted proclamations of support and gratitude.

      This disrespect was made manifest in early November during the 100th anniversary celebrations of the armistice that ended World War I. His well-known fear of wet head kept him indoors, a no show both on one of the days he was in France and later at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Panic at the prospect of a bad hair day apparently took precedence over Veterans’ Day.

    • ‘This Is Sketchy’: Critics Warn Against Blind Acceptance of Explosive Guardian Report About Secret Manafort-Assange Meetings

      After the Guardian sent the punditry into a frenzy on Tuesday by publishing a bombshell report alleging that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks founder and editor Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London during the 2016 presidential race, journalists and critics were quick to warn against blindly accepting the claims made in the piece due to the story’s scant material evidence, anonymous sources, and explosive political implications.

      As independent national security journalist Marcy Wheeler wrote on Twitter, “skepticism” about the Guardian’s reporting—which was quickly picked up by corporate outlets—”couldn’t be more broad-based” as it brought together journalists and legal experts from an array of political persuasions and opposing views.

    • Voter Suppression Has Gone Digital

      This month’s elections were fought online to an unprecedented degree, with an estimated $900 million in digital ad spending — more than two and a half times the 2014 midterms. Not all of this spending was intended to persuade voters to favor one side or the other, however. Some online activity tried to keep people from voting altogether. My research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found hundreds of messages on Facebook and Twitter aimed at voter suppression — designed to discourage or prevent people from voting.

      Online voter suppression in 2018 showed similarities to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. We found three categories of messages: deception about how or when to vote, calls to boycott the election, and attempts to threaten or intimidate potential voters.

      Voter suppression messages appeared online despite the platforms’ efforts to stop them. In October, Facebook broadened its election integrity policies to combat voter suppression and committed to taking down such content. Just a few days prior to Election Day, Reuters reported that Twitter also purged more than 10,000 automated accounts that discouraged voting. Clearly, the problem has not yet been solved.

    • Without New Leadership, the New House Majority Will Fail (Again)

      As the nascent House Democratic majority of the 116th United States Congress prepares for its role as Last Bulwark Against Trumpian Annihilation, the question of who should be the next speaker of the House has been looming large. Nancy Pelosi, who has served in Congress for 31 years and held the post from 2006 until the 63-seat wipeout in 2010, has been the clear front-runner since the election.

      Pelosi throws more weight than any other House Democrat. She is a fundraising powerhouse who has been in the building longer than the water fountain in the Rotunda. Her political skills are legendary; thanks to her leadership, not one single House Democrat voted in favor of the Trump tax cuts or the Affordable Care Act replacement bills. In a nation where large swaths of the electorate have been gulled into believing “tax cuts” are magic words and “Obamacare” is an epithet, wrangling all those “no” votes was the best trick anyone has seen since “Lazarus, come forth.”

      Pelosi’s run for the speakership is supported by new progressive superstars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose leadership on the matter has staved off a left-bent insurrection from new members seeking to shake things up. The only real resistance to Pelosi’s nomination from congressional Democrats has come from conservative members of the party, 16 of whom signed a seemingly doomed letter of opposition.

    • The Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners Group Spends $115.2 Million in 2017

      The billionaire Koch brothers’ primary fundraising vehicle called the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, raised $127.3 million and spent over $115 million in 2017 according to an IRS 990 disclosure obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy. The amount raised is down $20 million from 2016.

      Freedom Partners, officially organized as a 501 (c)(6) trade association for the purpose of “promoting economic freedom,” funnels money from the Koch Network of billionaire donors to a growing number of political advocacy organizations controlled by Koch operatives.

      These operatives make a good living. Freedom Partners reports $18.7 million in compensation, salaries and wages presumably for the groups in the network, a whopping 15 percent of the total raised.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • German Hate Speech Legislation Receives Mixed Review At German Internet Governance Forum

      Germany’s controversial hate speech legislation is working well, a representative of the German Ministry of Justice said during a panel on 27 November at the German national Internet Governance Forum in Berlin.

      Big social media providers have adapted the reporting mechanisms and hired considerable staff to deal with the complaints. Former Minister of Consumer Protection Food and Agriculture and Green Party Member Renate Kuenast, herself a victim of hate speech, promoted advancing the legislation to include games and said she favours a bigger package.

      “Games were part of the original draft and should not have been taken out,” she argued, pointing to illegal speech in the chats running alongside the games.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Israeli Exploit Developer Caught Negotiating Spyware Sales With Saudi Government

      More ugly news has surfaced about Israeli malware developer NSO Group. Over the past year, investigations have uncovered sales of phone-targeting spyware to countries known mostly for their human rights violations. Even less questionable governments have purchased NSO’s software ostensibly for law enforcement purposes only to use it to target activists, journalists, and government critics.

      There’s no telling how US agencies will deploy this malware, but there’s no question federal entities like the DEA think NSO spyware would be a useful addition to their investigative tool kits. The US government doesn’t appear to be worried about getting in bed with tech companies willing to sell software to blacklisted countries, so NSO Group is still a viable option.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘This Is a War’: Prisons Want Cell Phone Jammers to Stop Inmates from Communicating With the Outside World

      Prisons want jamming technology to stop criminal activity, but critics warn there would be dire consequences if jamming was allowed to propagate.

    • The shifting power at the heart of the UK’s ‘spy’ row
    • School Security Software Decides Innocent Parent Is Actually A Registered Sex Offender

      Raptor says its system is reliable, stating it only returned one false positive in that county last year. (And now the number has doubled!) That’s heartening, but that number will only increase as system deployment expands. Raptor’s self-assessment may be accurate, but statements about the certainty of its search results are hardly useful.

      The company’s sales pitch likely includes its low false positive rate, which, in turn, leads school personnel to believe the system rather than the person standing in front of them — one who bears no resemblance (physical or otherwise) to the registry search results. Mitchell still isn’t allowed into the building without a security escort and is hoping that presenting school admins with his spotless criminal background check will finally jostle their apparently unshakeable belief in Raptor’s search results.

      This failure is also an indictment of the security-over-sanity thinking. The Sentinel asked government officials if there were any incidents in which sex offenders had gained access to schools, thus necessitating this $100,000+ investment in Raptor’s security system. No results were returned.

    • Tear Gas at the Border: Trump and the Endgame of Capitalism

      Toddlers scrambled alongside their parents on Sunday to escape sprawling clouds of tear gas. A mother attempting to scale a border fence fell and was impaled by a piece of rebar in front of her children. Thousands of desperate people, fleeing nightmares of brutality the US helped to cultivate, are met with a wall of militarism.

      As many have stated, this is not new. The United States has committed unspeakable acts against women and children within its own borders, and far beyond, just as European countries have, in many instances, horribly abused migrants amid their own refugee crisis. And yet, here we are, living in our own unique moment of horror that must be reckoned with in its own right, regardless of what’s come and gone before.

      Because this is the way the world ends, under neoliberalism or fascism. The reigning politics that preceded Trump’s xenophobic white nationalism — free market worship, paired with window-dressing reforms — and the catastrophes unfolding before us today offer different stories with the same conclusion.

    • A Defendant Shows Up in Immigration Court by Himself. He’s 6.

      It was shortly before Thanksgiving in an immigration court in San Antonio, and the third defendant to come before Judge Anibal Martinez walked into the courtroom without an attorney, wearing a gray winter hat that was stitched with a pair of blue googly eyes and a floppy red yarn mohawk.

      When the bailiff asked his name, he piped up proudly: Wilder Hilario Maldonado Cabrera.

      “How old is Wilder?” the immigration judge asked.

      An attorney, who was there with other clients, came forward and volunteered to stand in for Wilder. She turned to the boy and in Spanish asked his age.

      “Seis años,” he said, 6, his legs dangling from a chair at the defendant’s table.

      Wilder, a smiley, pudgy Salvadoran boy, missing his two front teeth, was the youngest defendant on the juvenile docket that day. But that wasn’t all that made him special. He was one of the last children left in government custody who had been affected by the administration’s widely criticized zero-tolerance policy, and who were still awaiting reunification with parents detained in the United States.

      The policy, which was announced with great fanfare in April and was scuttled two months later in the face of bipartisan opposition, required immigration authorities to file criminal charges against anyone caught crossing the border illegally and separate them from the children they brought with them.

    • Risk Of Death From ‘Extremely Poor’ Illinois Prison Medical Care Has Worsened

      Medical care in Illinois prisons remains “extremely poor” and conditions leading to preventable deaths have worsened since a court-appointed team of experts first assessed the state’s prison health program.

      Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the Uptown People’s Law Center challenged the systemic problems with health care in state facilities in 2013.

      The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered an expert to evaluate the services, and that report was released in 2015.

      Following the report, the court certified the complaint as a class action lawsuit, allowing the attorneys to represent the interests of all prisoners failed or harmed by negligence in the Illinois Department of Corrections’ (IDOC) health program.

      The federal court requested a second report by a medical investigation team. That report was released on November 14, and it concluded examples of “preventable morbidity and mortality” seemed worse than what was initially uncovered by the first evaluation.

      “The vendor, Wexford, fails to hire properly credentialed and privileged physicians,” the report states. “This appears to be a major factor in preventable morbidity and mortality and significantly increases risk of harm to patients within the IDOC. This results from ineffective governance.”

    • Congress Urged to Freeze Border Patrol Funding Until Trump Ends “Illegal” Treatment of Asylum Seekers at US-Mexico Border

      The human rights group Amnesty International is calling on Congress to freeze funding of the U.S. Border Patrol until the Trump administration ends its illegal treatment of refugees attempting to apply for asylum status at the U.S.-Mexico border.

      The demand comes as U.S. President Donald Trump denied that his Border Patrol used tear gas against asylum-seeking children in Mexico despite an abundance of photo and video evidence showing they did precisely that. Late Monday, Mexico’s foreign ministry formally called on the U.S. conduct an “exhaustive investigation” into the federal agents’ behavior as they enforced the White House’s anti-immigrant border policy.

    • Families Are Still Being Separated at the Border, Months After “Zero Tolerance” Was Reversed

      The Trump administration has quietly resumed separating immigrant families at the border, in some cases using vague or unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing or minor violations against the parents, including charges of illegally re-entering the country, as justification.

      Over the last three months, lawyers at Catholic Charities, which provides legal services to immigrant children in government custody in New York, have discovered at least 16 new separation cases. They say they have come across such instances by chance and via their own sleuthing after children were put into temporary foster care and shelters with little or no indication that they arrived at the border with their parents.

      ProPublica stumbled upon one more case late last month after receiving a call from a distraught Salvadoran father who had been detained in South Texas, and whose 4-year-old son, Brayan, had literally been yanked from his grasp by a Customs and Border Protection agent after they crossed the border and asked for asylum. Julio, the father, asked to be identified only by his first name because he was fleeing gang violence and worried about the safety of relatives back home.

      “I failed him,” said Julio, 27, sobbing uncontrollably. “Everything I had done to be a good father was destroyed in an instant.”

    • Mississippi Memories: “You’re Not Black Are You?”

      In Gulfport, Mississippi, 1998, you could depend on the gracious hospitality from whites and blacks alike, a haircut for just $3 — and perodic proof of an uncanny racism.

      It’s hard to relate how bigotry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was any different from racial indifference you might experience in say, Philadelphia or New York City.

      But during my two and half years living on the coast, covering a burgeoning casino industry for the local daily newspaper, driving a cab and fronting the Rockin’ Daddy Blues Band, I experienced that unmistakable undercurrent of engrained bigotry.

      Listening to the supremacist rhetoric from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) who rallied in Biloxi/Gulfport Monday for today’s Mississippi Senate runoff with Democratic challenger Mike Espy, reminded me of such things.

      As an east coast white, yankee boy lover and player of the blues, I was pretty much naive about the south’s present day racial tensions. Hadn’t the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gone a long way towards repairing the divide?

      My first night at the newspaper in Biloxi, making calls to find a place to stay, my future landlady asked me over the phone, point blank: “You’re not black are you?”

      I remember being taken aback. Up north they wouldn’t put it so bluntly, and yet so smoothly.

    • Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Suspended for 30 Days Following Release of Beating Video

      For the last two weeks, the police chief in Elkhart, Indiana, has been a no-show at various forums where he might have been expected to appear, from civilian oversight board hearings to town hall meetings focusing on the city’s Police Department.

      On Tuesday, Mayor Tim Neese confirmed what others had been left to wonder: He had suspended the police chief, Ed Windbigler, placing him on a 30-day unpaid leave. The suspension started Nov. 14, but Neese had made no public announcement. A South Bend Tribune reporter had left repeated messages at City Hall on Monday, asking about the police chief’s status.


      At a Nov. 14 town hall meeting, Neese said he disciplined Windbigler for his handling of the officers who punched the handcuffed man. But he did not elaborate or specify what the discipline was.

      Jim Rieckhoff, chair of Elkhart’s Police Merit Commission, was unaware as recently as Monday that Windbigler had been suspended. Rieckhoff told a reporter that he did wonder about the absence of the chief at a meeting on Monday, at which the chief’s top assistant appeared in Windbigler’s stead.

      Neese has said in “hindsight” that Windbigler should have issued more severe discipline than reprimands to officers Cory Newland and Joshua Titus, who were videotaped punching the handcuffed man Jan. 12 in the police station’s detention area. The mayor’s son, Sgt. Drew Neese, was in the room while the officers punched the man. He walked over and spoke into his radio as the beating ended. Newland, Titus and Drew Neese have not responded to requests for comment.

    • Matthew Hedges: British academic pardoned by UAE – BBC News

      A British academic who was jailed for spying in the United Arab Emirates has been freed after a pardon.

    • Universities must learn from the Matthew Hedges case

      The case of Matthew Hedges should prompt all universities to reflect on the role of ethics committees, and PhD supervisors, in the process leading to approval of potentially dangerous overseas PhD research (UAE frees British academic but insists Hedges was a spy, 27 November). As a recent member of a University of York ethics committee which dealt with political research, I frequently encountered such applications from PhD candidates. These requests were often accompanied by reassurances to the effect that – like Matthew Hedges, who spent his childhood in UAE, where his father still lives – the researcher had roots, or close connections, in the country concerned, and that these would be sufficient to protect her/him from dangers which could otherwise affect less well-connected people.

    • Mississippi GOP Sen. Hyde-Smith Wins Racially Charged Runoff

      Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith won a divisive Mississippi runoff Tuesday, surviving a video-recorded remark decried as racist and defeating a former federal official who hoped to become the state’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

      The runoff was rocked by the video, in which Hyde-Smith said of a supporter, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” A separate video showed her talking about “liberal folks” and making it “just a little more difficult” for them to vote.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Consumer Groups Say FCC Weakening Oversight Of Cell Carriers Under Pretense Of Battling Text Message Spam

      Consumer groups say that the Ajit Pai FCC is once again being misleading as he continues his ongoing quest to eliminate most meaningful oversight of cell carriers and broadband providers.

      Last week, the FCC announced several major initiatives the agency claimed were intended to help fight text message spam. One of them involves the creation of a reassigned number database, which would help marketers market more efficiently by ensuring that a target of marketing calls and text messages are receiving the messages they either opted in to, or opted out of. But another effort, only vaguely hinted at in the announcement, would further weaken the FCC’s consumer protection authority over wireless cell providers, already greatly eroded after the assault on net neutrality.

      So some background: a little more than a decade ago, Verizon decided to ban a pro-choice group named NARAL Pro-Choice America from sending text messages to Verizon Wireless customers that had opted in to receiving them. Verizon justified the ban by declaring the text messages “controversial or unsavory”; a curious move for an industry that often cuddles up to marketing spammers and crammers when it’s profitable. Ever since then consumer groups, worried that cellular carriers would use their power as gatekeepers to stifle certain voices, have been urging the FCC to declare text messages a “telecommunications service,” making it illegal for carriers to ban such select SMS services.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Comparative study on the stay of patent proceedings in Europe

      Malte Köllner, Eric Sergheraert and Mihnea Hanganu compare the frequency of stays in patent infringement proceedings in Germany with the frequency of stays in other European countries, and conclude the German practice of staying proceedings gives serious cause for concern

    • Trademarks

      • Lawyers For Kobe Bryant Tout His Uselessness In Potential Trademark Opposition Fight

        Kobe Bryant made his name, and his Black Mamba nickname, playing basketball. Like many athletes, however, he expanded his business reach off the court and into branding. Utilizing the Black Mamba nickname, he entered into all sorts of licensing arrangements, including with Nike, which makes athletic apparel. As far as I can tell, he has no licensing arrangements for health supplements.

        And, yet, he has been embroiled in a years-long fight with Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, makers of the Black Mamba HYPERRUSH line of diet pills. Aside from the divergent marketplaces, the entire dispute is something of a mess. Hi-Tech applied for its trademark a year before Bryant applied for his own Black Mamba mark, after which Bryant opposed Hi-Tech’s application on grounds of customer confusion. Hi-Tech has been battling this out, claiming that Bryant has information that would be helpful to its side of the argument. To that end, they want to depose Bryant, who has thus far refused to hand over documents. Now a motion to compel has been filed, but Bryant’s lawyers’ strategy for refusing to have him be deposed is essentially to highlight just how useless he would be in a deposition.

    • Copyrights

      • Civil Society Offers Range Of Advice To WIPO Negotiators On Broadcast Treaty

        Civil society doesn’t see things from behind a window, but takes the lead in international policy negotiations to discuss issues that affect everyday life. At this week’s World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee meeting, some of the observers took the floor to let delegates know their opinion on the crucial matter of a treaty on broadcasting under negotiation.


        The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions highlighted the need for exceptions and limitations to the signal as they are needed on the use of the transmitted work and also pointed out that libraries have an important role of preserving and giving access (on the premises, for research purposes) to broadcast material: “Broadcasting organisations do not necessarily preserve and archive all their content, and researchers that go there might be referred to a library. Some university libraries also make copies of broadcast content for it to illustrate teaching at the university. Without E&Ls, all this will not be possible.”

        The Society of American Archivists stated: “Regardless of whatever measures are put into place to provide the signal protection that broadcasters need, it is essential that they do not add any further layers on the copyright protection that already exists in the content or extend that protection for terms beyond the current business needs of broadcasters.”

        Health and Environment Program in Cameroon made the case that “Our members are very interested in the work of the SCCR. To get a verified information is for them at the base of a good education; it can also influence their health, for example information about obsolete drugs. Verified information is especially important concerning radio-diffused information. Another important topic is free access.”

      • 12 Best Free Music Websites To Download Songs Legally In 2018

        he internet offers a lot of things and among them is free music. You can find plenty of websites that offer free downloadable music; however, not all of them are legal. So if you are looking for songs that can be availed safely and free of cost, we have handpicked the best music websites for you.

      • Court Rules MusicMonster Stream-Ripping Service Illegal

        A music service that scans Internet radio streams for specific music tracks, records them, and makes them available for download in MP3 format, has lost its case in a German court. The case, brought by Sony Music against MusicMonster.fm, ended with a declaration that the service cannot rely on the private copying exception so is both unlicensed and illegal.

Clouding Abstract Software Patents Using Acronyms and Buzzwords

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 12:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The practice of obscuring software patents using fashionable trends from the media carries on in Europe and the United States; the main question is, will judges and examiners see past this fog?

THE European Patent Office (EPO) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have got some overlap in the fashion in which they bypass the EPC and the SCOTUS Alice decision or 35 U.S.C. § 101, respectively. The common denominator is marketing, buzzwords, and hype.

Recently we have been writing a great deal about how the EPO grants software patents in Europe in spite of the rules. Not only do courts say “no” to such patents; they’re in violation of the EPC and management of the EPO should thus be reprimanded.

“The common denominator is marketing, buzzwords, and hype.”A new EPO tweet said: “Today is the last day you can register for our Patenting #Blockchain event in The Hague.”

Those are just algorithms. Over in the US, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) keeps demolishing such patents, sometimes when they’re still mere applications. Exceptions to the rule are rare and Janal Kalis keeps looking for them; he has just found this one: “The PTAB Reversed an Examiner’s 101 Rejection of Claims for Video Content Networks: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017007967-10-31-2018-1 …”

“Over in the US, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) keeps demolishing such patents, sometimes when they’re still mere applications.”Also this one: “The PTAB Partially Reversed a 101 Rejection of Claims in a GE Patent Application for Monitoring Turbine Clearance: https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2018002958-10-31-2018-1 …”

One can assume that in all other cases PTAB rejected a decision to grant or affirmed a rejection after an examiner had decided on the matter. Kalis, being a vocal patent maximalist, is looking for exceptions like the above.

How about the following tweet? “Not Surprisingly,” it said, “there are more and more #patents filed around #AI. The numbers are even larger than those in this Wired article: Companies Rush to Patent AI Tech https://www.wired.com/story/despite-pledging-openness-companies-rush-to-patent-ai-tech/ …”

That’s just because more people now label their stuff, especially in the context of patents — in order to bypass Section 101 — “AI”. It’s the same for “smart”, “cloud” and other fluff du jour

“…more people now label their stuff, especially in the context of patents — in order to bypass Section 101 — “AI”.”And speaking of “AI”, here is what the EPO has just advertised. It’s an event that promotes illicit software patents (just calling them “AI”) and it says: “Panellists at the EPO’s Patenting #ArtificialIntelligence conference identified three types of AI patenting. More on what they said here: http://bit.ly/AIpatents pic.twitter.com/1HbniC3Td1″

On the “AI” hype Benjamin Henrion (FFII) wrote: “That means they can pay for lobbyists and lawyers to push lawmakers or courts to support their favored approach – which seems to be making all kinds of AI techniques broadly patentable.”

It should be noted that patents on software are generally rejected almost worldwide; such patents are de facto dead everywhere but China, where even courts would likely accept these. Chinese patent law is different. As PCK Perry + Currier Inc Currier + Kao LLP put it earlier this week, in Canada a new “case serves as a reminder for patentees that abstract ideas are not patentable.” Just like in the US down south…

“It should be noted that patents on software are generally rejected almost worldwide; such patents are de facto dead everywhere but China, where even courts would likely accept these.”Michael Borella, also writing earlier this week, was promoting patents on software again. “For the majority of the existence of computers,” he wrote, “programmers wrote functions that were designed to take some input and produce a desired output. Machine learning inverts this paradigm.”

This is not true. They train classifiers, don’t write code. There’s code, written by humans, that uses data to make decisions. When people with no clue or experience in programming (let alone particular disciplines or areas of software development) write about software patents it’s bound to get embarrassing, misleading, i.e. pure propaganda. Such patents are abstract and are thus to be invalidated by courts, no matter what you call them (ML boils down to statistics/mathematics).

“Well, “ICT” is another one of those buzzwords that typically allude to software.”Of course we could go on and on with other new acronyms and buzzwords; the EPO recently made up or brought up “SDV”. Yes, then there are all those abstract patents or bogus software patents "on a car". The EPO wrote: “At the EPO, about half of the top 25 patent applicants for self-driving vehicle innovation operate in ICT, and the other half in transportation or related industries.”

Well, “ICT” is another one of those buzzwords that typically allude to software.


127th Session of ILO Tribunal Rulings Will Deal With European Patent Organisation Complaints (Appeals) Tomorrow Afternoon, Staff Grows Tired of Office President António Campinos

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Tribunal decisions regarding EPO staff, in light of perceived bias at the Tribunal, are less than a day away; there are signs that groups of examiners are starting a soft rebellion again

THE European Patent Office (EPO) will be abuzz tomorrow. What’s known informally as the “flier team” (FLIER rather, there’s a history to this name/acronym, going a long way back) has just published “EPO-FLIER 43″ and it takes off the gloves in dealing with António Campinos, as did SUEPO earlier this month. Patience is running out.

Earlier today SUEPO added links to two articles that we mentioned here before and cited this new letter to Campinos, written in French (he is French) [PDF]. It is from Union Syndicale Fédérale. Translation/s soon? Hopefully.

Here is what the “flier team” wrote:

27 November 2018

FLIER No. 43

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Is micromanagement a sign that a leader is out of his depth?

“Many managers are unable to let go of their old job or their old ways of doing their job.” This is the conclusion drawn in a “Harvard Business Review” article by Ron Ashkenas. He goes on to write that

“… at higher levels managers usually need to dial down their operational focus and learn how to be more strategic. To do so, managers have to trust their people to manage day-to-day operations and coach them as needed, rather than trying to do it for them. For many managers, this is a difficult transition and they unconsciously continue to spend time in the more comfortable operational realm of their subordinates.”1

In the same article, Ashkenas writes that anxious managers “seek information in as many ways as possible — through reports, meetings, and one-on-one conversations.” Does this sound familiar?

The new president’s recent decision2,3 to approve every mission, except some inter-site missions, personally, is micromanagement. The signal it sends is that highly paid vice-presidents and principal directors, all managing budgets of millions, are incapable of judging whether a trip for duty travel is justified. Objectively, without taking any particularities into account, it is very unlikely that the president will understand the background for a trip in more detail than the line manager. A principal director or vice-president will presumably also be close enough to draw a conclusion on whether the trip fits in with the overall office strategy. If the president is right and some of the middle managers did take poor decisions, then surely the bigger problem is the manager concerned, not the decision to send people on specific trips.

Yes, for sure, there is a case for the president being involved in defining the overall travel strategy, the aims and the goals and for setting a budget. But should he be involved in deciding each individual trip? Really?4

We are surprised and worried by the president taking this path. It is counterproductive to building trust. We hope it will remain an isolated incident and that the new president will demonstrate more willingness to leave operational management of the office at management levels below him.

This is not, however, all. If we accept that it is the president’s right to decide every mission personally, the next question is to look at his implementation of the new procedure. He could have said what he wanted and given instructions for everything to be in place by, say, January 2019. This would have left some time for staff and managers to get used to the idea, and for the office to put new procedures in place for the necessary administration. Instead of taking this line, he insisted that the new procedure should take immediate effect, putting hundreds of trips into question, leaving staff unaware of whether they would be travelling or not, and leaving many of the EPO’s outside partners in the dark as to whether the EPO delegation was going to turn up for meetings that had been in the calendar for months.

This stubbornness has put the office’s reputation in jeopardy and smacks of a prima donna side to our president which cannot be in the interests of the office or the organisation.

Again, we hope we are wrong. We hope our new president is neither a micromanager, nor a prima donna. And we fervently hope he is not out of his depth at a time when we need fantastic rather than mediocre leadership.

1 “Why people micromanage”, by Ron Ashkenas, https://hbr.org/2011/11/why-people-micromanage
2 Travels cancelled, R.I.P. Kat…, (https://rip-kat.blogspot.com/), 11.10.2018
3 “Responsible travel planning”, announcement of the president, 16.10.2018
4 In his communiqué the president himself claims that only 1 in 100 missions was finally cancelled

We wrote about the above citations before, but we have not seen the relevant/corresponding communiqué (perhaps someone can send that to us).

As the latest anonymous comments reveal, this president is now treated as part of the problem. One comment said (quoting an official statement): “constructive dialogue: „to remove causes of criticism“???? Wow! Am I the only one, noticing the euphemism?”

So this president just wants to silence his critics rather than address the underlying issues. These issues include union-busting actions (Bergot is still doing so), low patent quality, and staff morale.

Will there be a union-related decision tomorrow? In about half a day from now the Tribunal of ILO has a chance to show everyone (yet again) that it is a laughing stock in the face of EPO corruption and abuses.

There’s a comment to that effect (below) and some readers told us about this as well:

The EPO in the spotlight at ILO-AT next week again


127th Session – Exceptional public delivery

The Tribunal will exceptionally deliver in public three judgments adopted at its 127th Session separately and earlier than the remaining 74 judgments also adopted at the same session.

The three judgments concern an application for interpretation and review of Judgment 3928 filed by the Universal Postal Union and an application for execution of that judgment (AT4731 and 4743), one case against the European Patent Organisation (AT 3547) and one application for execution of Judgment 3871 against the World Health Organization (AT 4757) (the parties concerned have been informed).
The Tribunal has considered for various reasons that those judgments should be delivered rapidly.

They will be announced in public on Wednesday 28 November 2018 at 3 pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2) and will be published on the Tribunal’s website (ilo.org/trib) shortly after the public delivery.

The remaining judgments adopted at the 127th Session will be delivered in public on Wednesday 6 February 2019.

Geneva, 20 November 2018

Dražen Petrović, Registrar

“AT 3547 was a decision in 2017 concerning UNIDO,” one last comment noted. “Has the tribunal notification contained an error? Current decisions are numbered around 4700 (see the other decisions cited).”

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