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Links 29/10/2017: Purism Librem 13 Reviewed, Wine 3.0 and Next Ubuntu Plans

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Purism Librem 13 v2 privacy-focused Linux laptop -- great hardware, frustrating software [Review]
      As a computer user in 2017, privacy is always on my mind -- as it should be. I suppose I have always cared about securing my information and data, but in recent years, we have learned so many troubling things about government hackers -- including the USA -- that it seems more important than ever. Patriot Edward Snowden really shone a light on the unfortunate state of privacy, or lack thereof, in modern days.

      This is why I was very intrigued by the Purism line of laptops. These are computers that are designed with privacy in mind. The Librem 13 v2, which I have been testing, features two hardware kill-switches -- one will cut the webcam and microphone, while the other kills the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios. By cutting access on the hardware level, hackers cannot access these things when switched off. Instead of using a traditional bios system for booting, it even leverages Coreboot. It runs a Linux-based operating system called "Pure OS" which aims to be very secure and private. Unfortunately, the OS ends up being a little too secure, and the weak link of the overall package. But does that really matter?

  • Server

  • Kernel Space

    • Freedreno MSM DRM Driver Updates Submitted For Linux 4.15
      New features and improvements in this DRM driver for Qualcomm display hardware includes preemption support for Adreno A5xx hardware, display fixes for the Snapdragon 820, async cursor plane updates, refactoring of some code, improvements to the firmware loading, and a number of GPU debugging enhancements. For the preemption support it is already available in patch form for libdrm and the Freedreno Gallium3D driver for exposing context priority support.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Libdrm & xf86-video-amdgpu Repositories To Follow For FreeSync
        Many Linux gamers are excited by the prospects of soon having FreeSync support working on the purely open-source Radeon Linux graphics driver stack.

        Last week the AMD Linux developers began discussing with other upstream open-source graphics driver developers about plans for FreeSync / AdaptiveSync support in trying to come up with an approach and set of interfaces that could be adopted across drivers.

      • Vulkan Crosses 1,500 Projects On GitHub
        Back in April Vulkan crossed 1,000 project mentions on GitHub while overnight it crossed the threshold of 1,500 references.

      • Vulkan 1.0.65 Rolls Out With Documentation Clarifications & Fixes

      • Mesa 17.2.4 to Bring Several Fixes for Intel and AMD Radeon Drivers on Linux
        The developers of the Mesa 3D Graphics Library are preparing to launch a new maintenance update to the current Mesa 17.2 stable series, which will bring more improvements to supported drivers.

        Mesa 17.2.4 is currently being tested internally as a Release Candidate, which means it won't be long until the final release hits the streets, so we want to give you a heads up to what you can expect from this version. This is a stability update, so you should expect it to fix annoyances and other reported issues.

        For Intel GPUs, the Mesa 17.2.4 update brings several fixes, including for the compiler and the ANV Vulkan driver, but it looks like there's also a patch for the Intel i965 OpenGL driver to avoid breaking Beignet and VA-API, as well as other contexts in the system when they're used in combination with any version of the Mesa 17.2 series.

      • Slang Continues To Advance For Easing Shader Writing, Cross-Compiling Shaders
        NVIDIA and Carnegie Mellon University continue working on the Slang project for providing improved functionality around existing Direct3D HLSL and OpenGL GLSL shaders as well as developing its own shading language.

        Besides working on its own shading language that is inspired by Microsoft's HLSL, Slang allows cross-compiling shader code written in their language to HLSL, GLSL, DirectX bytecode, or SPIR-V. HLSL and GLSL code can also make easy use of Slang's libraries. When feeding HLSL or GLSL code into the Slang compiler, it can take care of some tedious steps of the shader writing process, full reflection information about parameters of the shader code, and various other helpers around graphics shader writing.
      • Intel ANV Vulkan Driver Patches For Cross-Stage Link Optimizations

    • Benchmarks

      • Ethereum & OpenCL: ROCm vs. AMDGPU-PRO 17.40
        Following this week's Ethereum and OpenCL benchmarks with Radeon vs. NVIDIA using the latest Linux drivers, some premium supporters requested a fresh AMDGPU-PRO vs. ROCm comparison. So here are a couple of those OpenCL benchmarks of AMDGPU-PRO vs. ROCm on different Polaris / Fiji and Vega GPUs.

  • Applications

    • GTK+ Twitter App Corebird Has Pushed Out a New Release
      A new version of Linux Twitter app Corebird has been released with improved user autocomplete, image-only tweets, links in profile bios, and more.

    • Introducing Narabu, part 4: Decoding

      So we're at the stage where the structure is in place. How do we decode? Once we have the structure, it's actually fairly straightforward:

      First of all, we need to figure out where each slice starts and ends. This is done on the CPU, but it's mostly just setting up pointers, so it's super-cheap. It doesn't see any pixels at all, just lengths and some probability distributions (those are decoded on the CPU, but they're only a few hundred values and no FP math is involved).

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 3.0 Still Expected Around EOY With D3D11; Wayland & D3D12 On Roadmap
        WineConf 2017 is taking place today and tomorrow in Wroclaw, Poland. The event began today with a keynote by Wine founder Alexandre Julliard where he talked about Wine 3.0 plans and what's further out on the roadmap.

        Since the Wine 2.0 release almost one year ago, the Wine project has shifted to annual, time-based releases. We've been expecting Wine 3.0 around the end of 2017 or early 2018 and that still looks like it will be the case. Julliared reaffirmed plans for shipping Wine 3.0 around the end of the year.

    • Games

      • SuperTuxKart 0.9.3 Released With New Tracks, Built-In Screen Recorder
        A new release of the open-source SuperTuxKart racing game is out just ahead of Halloween.

        SuperTuxKart 0.9.3 features new Halloween-themed assets, new tracks, and updates to some of the racing karts. SuperTuxKart 0.9.3 also now features a built-in screen recorder, HSV colorization for some scenery, graphics engine improvements, faster loading times, lower RAM/vRAM usage, improvements to their older OpenGL 2 rendering pipeline, and various other fixes and in-game improvements.

      • F1 2017 Racing Game Coming to Linux on November 2, Ported by Feral Interactive
        UK-based Linux and macOS video games publisher Feral Interactive recently announced that they're porting the F1 2017 racing game to Linux on November 2, 2017.

        Launched on August 25, 2017, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, and Microsoft Windows platforms, F1 2017 is currently one of the hottest racing games of the year. The game is developed and published by Codemasters, the makes of the Colin McRae and DiRT Rally titles.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC (Krypton) 8.2.0 RELEASE

        LibreELEC 8.2.0 provides a mid-year bump to improve hardware support on Intel and Raspberry Pi hardware. It also resolves minor support issues on a range of devices and fixes a number of important security issues affecting the core OS reported in recent months. Kodi is bumped to 17.5, and Samba bumps to 4.6 which brings support for SMB2/3 to LibreELEC for the first time. PLEASE READ THE RELEASE NOTES below before posting an issue in the forums as there are disruptive changes to Samba, Lirc and Tvheadend.

      • LibreELEC 8.2 Embedded Linux OS Released with Patches for WPA2 KRACK, Broadpwn
        The developers of the LibreELEC Linux-based operating system for Raspberry Pi and numerous other embedded devices announced today the release of LibreELEC 8.2 stable series.

        LibreELEC 8.2 has been in development for the past several months, during which it received several beta versions that implemented many of the new features and improvements. The OS is now powered by the latest Kodi 17.5.1 open-source media center to allow users to transform their SBCs into HTPCs (home theater PCs).

      • Kodi-Powered LibreELEC 8.2 Released
        There's a new release of LibreELEC, the Linux distribution focused on delivering a premiere HTPC/multimedia experience by being built around the Kodi HTPC software.

      • LibreELEC 8.2.0 Kodi-focused Linux distro is here, but Raspberry Pi versions are pulled
        While many folks prefer to leverage legal streaming services like Netflix on hardware such as Apple TV and Roku nowadays, other people still prefer accessing locally stored media files. Is that concept dying? Yeah, but it will be a while before it is dead completely. Not to mention, music and movie pirates will keep locally stored downloaded media content alive for quite some time.

        Don't get me wrong, not everyone that watches locally stored media files are pirates, but some certainly are. Whether you are accessing downloaded media or streaming content using an addon, the Kodi media center is a great way to experience it. Taking it a step further, a Linux-based operating system that exists just to serve Kodi is even better. Today, one of the best such distros, LibreELEC, gets a major update to version 8.2.0.

      • Ultimate Edition 5.7

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Reaches Beta: Using GNOME & Wayland, Linux 4.12
        The first public beta of SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 is now available for their Enterprise Server, Enterprise Desktop, Enterprise Workstation Extension, and Enterprise High Availability products.

        SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 will be the successor to SUSE Linux Enterprise 12. Development efforts for SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 have been around creating a common code-base for traditional and containerized approaches, allow a single install medium for all SLE 15 products, become more modular, support multiple architectures and deployment scenarios, and be a compliant and secure product.

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Beta 1 is available!

      • SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Desktop to Use Wayland by Default, Firewalld and GCC 7
        SUSE recently kicked off the development of the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) 15 operating system series and they just opened the closed beta program this week by releasing the first beta milestone.

        SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 will be developed with a few key objectives in mind, including support for installing and using modules and extensions easier than before, use packages across the entire SUSE universe, support multiple scenarios and architectures on 64-bit, IBM System z (s390x), ARM64 (AArch64), and Power LE systems, as well as on cloud, virtual, physical, host and guest environments.

      • openSUSE Tumbleweed to Soon Switch to OpenSSL 1.1 by Default, Samba 4.7 Lands
        Another week has passed, and OpenSuSE Tumbleweed users received no less than seven snapshots, which brought numerous of the latest GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source applications, including the Linux 4.13.9 kernel, KDE Plasma 5.11.1 desktop environment, and KDE Applications 17.08.2 software stack.

        The LibreOffice office suite has been updated to version 5.4.2, the Qt and Samba stacks were bumped to newer releases, namely 5.9.2 and 4.7.0 respectively. On top of that, LLVM4 has been reworked into a single libLLVM library, and Display Manager is no longer resolved through /etc/sysconfig/displaymanager.

      • openSUSE-Based GeckoLinux Distro Getting Smoother and More Reliable Startup
        The developer of GeckoLinux, a GNU/Linux distribution based on both openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed operating systems, announced the release of a beta preview of the next stable GeckoLinux Static series.

        It's been quiet lately for GeckoLinux, and it has to do with the merging of SUSE Studio with the Open Build Service (OBS) distribution development platform, which forced the developer to find an alternative build method of his distro. After a long search, it appears that Kiwi on VPS is the best method for GeckoLinux.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Building packages without (fake)root
        Turns out that it is surprisingly easy to build most packages without (fake)root.

      • Derivatives

        • Elive 3.0 Is One Step Closer to Reality as Latest Beta Introduces Many Goodies
          The developers of the Debian-based Elive GNU/Linux distribution leveraging the Enlightenment desktop environment are still trying to finish the major Elive 3.0 release, and they just published a new Beta.

          Elive 2.9.12 Beta is here almost two months after the previous beta (versioned 2.9.8), and it looks like it's a big one, adding an extra layer of performance improvements to the desktop and window effects with up to 194%, as well as to video playback, which is now smoother than on previous betas.

          Elive's graphical installer, yes the one you don't have to pay to use it anymore, has been refactored in this new beta release to include a validator of characters for usernames, passwords, and hostnames, make the entire installation process a lot easier than before, and also fix numerous bugs, especially for the built-in browser.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Latest Exton|OS Light Release Rebases the Linux OS on Ubuntu 17.10, Linux 4.13
            Exton|OS Light Live DVD Build 170918 is, in fact, one of the first GNU/Linux distributions to have been rebased on Ubuntu 17.10, which was officially released on October 19, 2017, as the first Ubuntu release in seven years to replace the Unity user interface with the GNOME 3 desktop environment.

            However, Exton|OS Light doesn't use GNOME, but, instead, it deploys the ultra lightweight and low on resources Openbox window manager, which the developer customized to look as modern as possible. Not to mention that Exton|OS Light ships with only a minimum of packages pre-installed.

          • And We’re Off: Development Begins on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS ‘Bionic Beaver’
            Canonical’s Matthias Klose shared the news on the Ubuntu development mailing list.

            The first few weeks of every Ubuntu development cycle is spent syncing key packages from upstream sources, plumbing in the base infrastructure on which future changes lay, and so on.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Release Schedule

            For those of you unaware Ubuntu’s April (xx.04) releases follow a 27-week schedule (as opposed to October releases’ 25 week schedule, owing to the little matter of Xmas and New Year).

            During the cycle time 2 alpha milestones, 2 beta milestones and 1 release candidate build are issued for public testing. Ubuntu flavors often take advantage of all of these.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint To Kill KDE Edition, LMDE 3 Codenamed "Cindy"
              ​A few months ago I reviewed Linux Mint KDE edition. At the time I reviewed it, I didn't thought it could be the second last review of mine of Linux Mint KDE edition. The team has decided to stop the Linux Mint KDE development after the next release Linux Mint 18.3. So the last release of Linux Mint KDE will be 18.3.

            • Kubuntu Devs Need Your Help to Test KDE Plasma 5.8.8 LTS on Kubuntu 16.04 LTS
              They recently put up a testing backports repository for Kubuntu 16.04 LTS and they now need your help to install those packages containing the KDE Plasma 5.8.8 LTS desktop environment and Krita 3.3.1 digital painting app, and report any issues you might encounter.

              At the moment, the Kubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) repositories contain the KDE Plasma 5.8.7 LTS and Krita 3.2.1 packages, so installing the versions prepared in the testing backports PPA will overwrite any previous ones.

            • Help test Plasma 5.8.8 LTS and Krita 3.3.1 for Kubuntu Backports!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Software Explained
    For those new to Linux, the concept of Open Source software may be foreign. In this short video, I attempt to explain the concept in non-geek speak for the Average Joe to understand.

  • Events

    • Open Source Summit - Day 3
      Open source summit Wednesday started with a keynote by members of the Banks family telling a packed room on how they approached raising a tech family. The first hurdle that Keila (the teenage daughter of the family) talked about was something I personally had never actually thought about: Communication tools like Slack that are in widespread use come with an age restriction excluding minors. So by trying to communicate with open source projects means entering illegality.

    • Embedded Linux Conference Europe & Open-Source Summit Wrap Up In Prague
      The 2017 Embedded Linux Conference Europe and Open-Source Summit Europe events hosted by the Linux Foundation this year in Prague wrapped up earlier this week.

      For those that missed the event in person, didn't tune into the available livestreams, and want to catch up on the material presented, most of the sessions do have their PDF slide decks available for download this weekend.

    • OpenStack Sydney: Turning one into two


    • uClibc Is Still Around As A Lightweight C Standard Library
      The uClibc project is still advancing as a lightweight, performant C standard library even while glibc has been making performance advancements and other improvements as well.

      Alexey Brodkin of Synopsys spoke at this week's Embedded Linux Conference Europe about how uClibc is still relevant today and "makes sense" for organizations like Synopsys.

    • GCC Prepares For C17 Language Support
      Not to be confused with C++17 that brings many notable additions and improvements, C17 is also coming soon as an update to the C programming language.

      The C17 programming language update is just a "bug fix version" to the C11 standard. C17 will soon go to ballot for voting and still might end up being known as C18, but for now the GNU Compiler Collection is getting prepped with patches as C17.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Dutch coalition agreement: where’s the trust in Free Software?
      The new Dutch government, consisting of liberal-conservatives (VVD), christian democrats (CDA), democrats (D66) and orthodox protestants (CU), published the new coalition agreement: Vertrouwen in de toekomst (“Trust in the future”). I scanned through all sections of this document, searching for the word software.

      According to the new government, software is a matter for the justice department. Software is not mentioned in any other section, including the economic, education, labor policy, innovation policy and living environment sections.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • It's Time for Congress to Pass an Open Access Law
        The public should be able to read and use the scientific research we paid for. That’s the simple premise of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, or FASTR (S. 1701, H.R. 3427). Despite broad bipartisan support on both sides of the aisle, FASTR has been stuck in Congressional gridlock for four years. As we celebrate Open Access week, please take a moment to urge your members of Congress to pass this common-sense law.

      • 200 universities just launched 560 free online courses. Here’s the full list.

        In the past six years or so, close to 800 universities have created more than 8,000 of these MOOCs. And I’ve been keeping track of these MOOCs the entire time over at Class Central, ever since they rose to prominence.

  • Programming/Development

    • News: The new released Fresh IDE .
      The reputable IDE for FASM named Fresh comes on 29.10.2017 06:47:22 with new news.

    • uClibc Is Still Around As A Lightweight C Standard Library
      The uClibc project is still advancing as a lightweight, performant C standard library even while glibc has been making performance advancements and other improvements as well.

      Alexey Brodkin of Synopsys spoke at this week's Embedded Linux Conference Europe about how uClibc is still relevant today and "makes sense" for organizations like Synopsys.

    • GCC Prepares For C17 Language Support
      Not to be confused with C++17 that brings many notable additions and improvements, C17 is also coming soon as an update to the C programming language.

      The C17 programming language update is just a "bug fix version" to the C11 standard. C17 will soon go to ballot for voting and still might end up being known as C18, but for now the GNU Compiler Collection is getting prepped with patches as C17.


  • Steve Jobs, the Xerox Alto, and computer typography

    While Steve Job's commencement speech is inspiring, it is also an example of the "reality distortion field" at work. While he claimed that a calligraphy course at Reed inspired him to provide typography support in the Macintosh, the Xerox Alto and Jobs' visit to Xerox PARC in 1979 are surely more important. The Macintosh owes everything from the WYSIWYG editor and spline-based fonts to the bitmapped display and laser printer to the Xerox Alto. Of course, Steve Jobs deserves great credit for making desktop publishing common and affordable with the Macintosh and the LaserWriter, something Xerox failed to do with the Xerox Star, an expensive ($75,000) system that commercialized the Alto's technology.

  • Burning Memories

    [...] also because the copies are unreliable, too. File and media formats are in constant flux;

  • Science

    • The Rise and Fall of the Viking “Allah” Textile

      There is something very troubling about what the Viking “Allah” story — both its rise and its equally rapid fall — reveals about the relationship between news media and experts, who, in the absence of a peer-reviewed paper by Larsson, should have initially been consulted for verification of Larsson’s findings.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Texas Reserve Staff Keep Rescued Wildlife Out of Harm’s Way
      After Hurricane Harvey had passed, Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve staff loaded up a pickup truck full of 30 safe-and-sound sea turtles and released them back to where they had come from, rehabilitated and unharmed. The remaining 30 were sent to the Texas Sealife Center in Corpus Christi for further rehabilitation and will be released over time.

      In the days leading up to Hurricane Harvey, staff at Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve in Corpus Christi, Texas, had countless critical preparations to make—solidifying structures, protecting valuable equipment, and ensuring people and property were safe. All this, of course, was in addition to planning for the safety and evacuation of their own families.

    • Virtual reality headsets could put children’s health at risk

      Researchers have warned that virtual reality headsets could pose risks to users, particularly children. The scientists, based at Leeds University, believe continued use of VR sets could trigger eyesight and balance problems in young people unless changes are made to devices.

    • In Organic Farming, Rules are Not Made to be Broken
      We also learned there was a lot to be said for growing your own feed as opposed to purchasing it, again there was that learning curve, but using pasture as part of a crop rotation of hay, grain and cover crops— at least once you figured it out, made you wonder why you ever needed pesticides at all.

    • Neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart: People Are Dying in Opioid Crisis Because of Politicians’ Ignorance
      President Trump announced Thursday that he is directing the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency—walking back his plans, announced in August, to declare it a more serious “national emergency.” The shift means the federal government will not, as of now, direct any new federal funds to address the opioid crisis, which killed 64,000 Americans last year. We speak with Columbia University psychology and psychiatry professor Carl Hart, who argues people are dying because of ignorance, not because of opioids.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Khizr Khan and the Wisdom of Gold Star Families
      On the morning of Tuesday, June 8, 2004, a taxi navigated the serpentine barriers toward the gate of Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Baquba, Iraq. A U.S. Army officer who was on watch saw it and ran forward toward the vehicle. That is when it exploded, killing the soldier, Capt. Humayun Saqib Muazzam Khan, and two Iraqis who stood nearby. Khan was a Muslim-American, killed by a suicide bomber who was likely of the same faith. He was laid to rest in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, along with thousands of others killed in the so-called Global War on Terror. His family privately mourned their loss daily, frequently visiting his gravesite. Then the openly racist presidential campaign of Donald Trump swept them into the center of a political storm.

      Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and pledges to ban all Muslims from entering the country incensed Humayun Khan’s parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan. Natives of Pakistan, they are extremely proud of their U.S. citizenship. Khizr Khan was invited to address the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late July 2016.

      “If it was up to Donald Trump, [my son] never would have been in America. Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country,” Khizr Khan said, with his wife at his side. “Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.” The thousands of delegates rose in thunderous applause at his remarks, as he held his pocket-sized copy of the U.S. Constitution aloft.

    • The One Paragraph You Need To Read From The JFK Assassination Files That May Change Everything
      Not exactly the narrative that was sold to the world - and certainly not the narrative that J. Edgar Hoover proclaimed must be defended to the world.

      Here is Douglas P. Horne, via, detailing the photographic evidence of a bullet hole in JFK's limousine's windshield "hiding in plain sight."

      In 2009, I believed I had discovered new evidence in the JFK assassination never reported by anyone else: convincing photography of the through-and-through bullet hole in the windshield of the JFK limousine that had been reported by six credible witnesses. I revisited that evidence today, and am more convinced than ever that the bullet hole in the limousine windshield is what I am looking at in those images. But the readers of this piece don’t have to take my word for it — you can examine the images yourself, and make up your own minds. The evidence is contained in one of the banned, suppressed episodes of Nigel Turner’s The Men Who Killed Kennedy — episode 7 in the series, called “The Smoking Guns,” which was aired in 2003, and then removed from circulation by The History Channel in response to intense political pressure by former LBJ aides Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers.

    • ‘Twas on the Good Ship Venus
      Submarines don’t have much rigging, which somewhat spoils the chorus, but I am delighted to hear that sailors on board Britain’s nuclear deterrent are heavily into sex and drugs. As the North Korean diplomatic standoff shows, nuclear weapons are utterly useless even within the context of the one situation in which they are supposed to be of use. Nobody has yet argued that the solution to nuclear proliferation is to start an atomic war, so what are the things for? The notion that Putin has a secret desire to send tanks rolling up the streets of Dumfries is obvious nonsense.

    • Nuclear Midnight in Korea
      Are the Air Force preparations a bluff? Donald Trump would not be the first president to engage in a nuclear bluff. In October 1969, President Richard Nixon approved Operation Giant Lance. US B-52 bombers loaded with nuclear bombs circled in the Arctic above the Soviet Union. Nixon thought this would persuade the Kremlin to pressure Hanoi to end the war in Vietnam. It was the birth of Nixon’s “Madman Theory,” the idea that the Soviets could be forced to come to terms by convincing them that Nixon was crazy enough to do anything.

      President Harry Truman played high-stakes nuclear poker on two occasions. The first was during the Soviet blockade of Berlin in 1948-49. President Truman sent two squadrons of B-29 bombers to Western Europe. This was a double bluff. The planes were similar to the B-29s which had dropped the atomic bombs on Japan, but had no atomic bombs on board.[1]

    • Britain’s foreign policy: it's time for reform

      With its prominent position in the arms trade, and the impunity it grants countries like Saudi Arabia, Britain is playing with fire.

    • 2 Navy SEALs Under Suspicion in Strangling of Green Beret in Mali

    • The US, Africa and a New Century of War
      Most Americans' broad ignorance regarding Africa is a long-standing phenomenon, one perpetuated from the top down. In 2008, the campaign staffers tasked to wrangle Sarah Palin were terrified people would discover she thought Africa was one big country. In 2001, President George W. Bush told a gathering in Sweden, "Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to none other than the US-Africa Leaders Summit in 2014, said, "There's no reason the nation of Africa should not join the ranks of the world's most prosperous nations." That's twice in one sentence, Joe.


      In fact, the US has some 6,000 troops spread throughout virtually every country in Africa, with heavy concentrations in the middle third of the continent where groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab are most active. US Special Forces are, at any given time, carrying out approximately 100 missions in Africa, ostensibly in the name of the nation they are operating from. "In 2006, just 1 percent of all US commandos deployed overseas were in Africa," writes journalist Nick Turse. "In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent. In fact, according to data supplied by US Special Operations Command, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East."

    • A Voiceless Left Faces History’s Monster
      Despite all its armed might and long history of conquests, America remains a perpetually frightened country without a strong movement to protest this imperialism and warmongering, notes poet Phil Rockstroh.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Here are humanity’s best ideas on how to store energy
      Historically, the vast majority of the world’s power has been consumed as quickly as it is made, or it's wasted. But climate change has made governments interested in renewable energy, and renewable energy is variable—it can't be dispatched on demand. Or can it? As research into utility-sized batteries receives more attention, the economics of adding storage to a grid or wind farm are starting to make more sense.

      But grid-tied energy storage is not new; it has just always been limited to whatever resources a local power producer had at the time. Much like electricity production itself, storage schemes differ regionally. Power companies will invest in batteries that make sense on a local level, whether it is pumped storage, compressed air, or lithium-ion cells.

      Looking at the kinds of storage that already exist is instructive in helping us see where storage is going to go, too. Lots of the latest battery projects merely build on engineering that has been in service for decades. To better see our way forward, we collected a number of images and diagrams of the world’s biggest energy storage schemes.

    • Capitalism Exacerbates the Vulnerability of "Extreme Cities" to Climate Change
      In Extreme Cities, I place Hurricane Sandy in a broader context, weaving together stories of cities around the world that are threatened by climate chaos. Extreme Cities draws on interviews with researchers at the cutting edge of climate science, landscape architects whose work uses natural processes to build our capacity to endure extreme weather, and activists fighting to diminish the inequalities that render cities vulnerable to climate chaos. Cities, I contend, are at the forefront of the coming climate chaos, their natural vulnerabilities heightened by social injustice. Cities are the defining social and ecological phenomena of the twenty-first century: they house the majority of humanity, they contribute the lion's share of carbon to the atmosphere, and they are peculiarly vulnerable to climate chaos.

    • FEMA Had a Plan for Responding to a Hurricane in Puerto Rico — But It Doesn’t Want You to See It
      The Federal Emergency Management Agency, citing unspecified “potentially sensitive information,” is declining to release a document it drafted several years ago that details how it would respond to a major hurricane in Puerto Rico.

      The plan, known as a hurricane annex, runs more than 100 pages and explains exactly what FEMA and other agencies would do in the event that a large storm struck the island. The document could help experts assess both how well the federal government had prepared for a storm the size of Hurricane Maria and whether FEMA’s response matches what was planned. The agency began drafting such advance plans after it was excoriated for poor performance and lack of preparation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

    • Puerto Rico’s utility cancels controversial contract with Montana firm to repair electric grid

  • Finance

    • Fear, Not Debt, Limits Our Spending on Education and Infrastructure
      Arithmetic fans would evaluate this assertion by looking for evidence that the debt is causing problems such as high interest rates and inflation, and creating a large debt-service burden.

      The opposite is the case, with long-term interest rates still under 2.5 percent, compared to more than 5.0 percent in the surplus years of the late 1990s. Inflation remains under the Fed’s 2.0 percent target, and has actually been trending downward this year. And debt service is less than 1.0 percent of GDP (net of interest rebated by the Fed), compared to over 3.0 percent in the 1990s.

      In short, there is no evidence that debt is limiting our ability to spend more in these and other areas. There is a strong case that fears over the debt, raised by folks like Zakaria, are limiting our ability to invest for the future.

    • Cook County Assessor: Office Cuts Make It Tough to Get Tax Bills Out On Time

      With cuts to his office looming after the demise of Cook County’s controversial soda tax, Assessor Joseph Berrios testified Friday about his efforts to shed positions in an office that is already down more than 30 percent.

      The budget pressure comes as the office was sharply criticized following a Chicago Tribune investigation earlier this year that found widespread inequities in residential property tax assessments.

    • Workers Wary of GOP Flimflam Tax Scam
      A single statistic explains it all: 1 percent of Americans – that is the tiny, exclusive club of billionaires and millionaires – get 80 percent of the gain from this tax con. Eighty percent!

      But that’s not all! To pay for that unneeded and unwarranted red-ribbon wrapped gift to the uber wealthy, Republicans are slashing and burning $5 trillion in programs cherished by workers, including Medicare and Medicaid.

    • Low-cost airlines surpassed the 1 billion passengers mark

    • The EU's definitive defeat: digital tax plans and a declaration of surrender to Silicon Valley
      The largest companies in the digital economy are U.S. and Chinese companies, plus South Korea's Samsung. As a Wikipedia page shows, no EU company has been among the world's largest 10 companies (from all industries, but with digital businesses now leading) by market capitalization since Royal Dutch Shell in the second quarter of 2014. That's a huge failEUre, and a strategic issue because it means that to the extent Europe has any innovative businesses at all (such as SAP), they're not at the top of the M&A food chain.

      While that tax plan Q&A still claims the EU wants its digital startups to succeed, the EU's digital industry commissioner has just given an interview to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in which she says Europe doesn't need a company like Google. How little weight the digital economy has in the EU is reflected by the commissioners assigned to that area of responsibility. Presently, the EU's digital commissioner is Mariya Gabriel, a young Bulgarian politician with an even less impressive track record than her technology-illiterate predecessor, Germany's Guenther Oettinger, who became the laughing stock of many people in the EU tech industry. Mrs. Gabriel said in the aforementioned interview that the EU should focus on fields such as nanorobotics, security chips, and "automotive digitization", where she says EU companies are leading the way. I checked on who the current leaders in nanorobotics are and found more U.S. than EU companies among the top 10, with all of those EU companies being small enough to be acquired sooner or later, and I've previously outlined my thinking on the automotive future.

    • Brexit, food and land ownership - it's time for a new direction

      So what will happen? It’s widely anticipated that British people won’t want to pick food – and the main growing areas of the country coincide with areas of low unemployment. So do - as Harris's article implies - inevitably face a future where Britain relinquishes even more of its food sovereignty, with domestic production decreasing and food miles and prices rocketing?

      While the above bleak scenario has a ring of truth, it misses some key factors that have led to Britain’s dependency on foreign agricultural labour. Any discussion about the future of British agriculture must take into account issues of access to land, price rigging and working conditions. If we ignore them, the future may indeed be bleak.

      The crisis of British agriculture is closely related to other crises in British society, and linked to the global crisis of the late 20th century capitalist model of industrialised agriculture. It’s as hooked on cheap labour and poor working conditions as it is on fertilisers and pesticides. They are all symptoms of a fundamentally flawed and bankrupt way of producing food. One way or another it will have to change. Without addressing the questions of access to land and food monopolies we have no chance of getting out of this mess. Brexit hasn’t created the crisis, it is only bringing it to a head.

    • GOP Tax Plan Declares War On Everyone Who Isn’t a Millionaire
      After repeated claims by Republicans suggesting their tax reform plan would offer the middle class a much needed break, we now know that is a trick. Independent analyses have shown that rather than helping the middle class, the GOP would bilk working families to pay for a multi-trillion dollar treat to the wealthiest few.

      The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that under the Ryan-McConnell plan, 30 percent of taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 would see a tax increase, along with a majority of households making between $150,000 and $300,000. The TPC also concluded that 80 percent of the tax relief would be enjoyed by the top-earners comprising just 1 percent of the country’s population.

    • Bill Gates & Betsy DeVos: Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage

      Because people make money when America’s public schools are in crisis.

      And who sits atop this mountain of bribery and malfeasance?

      Who gives the money that buys the politicians who make the laws that hurt the kids and profits the donors?

      It’s none other than Mr. and Mrs. Public School Sabotage!

      Systemic underfunding, laissez-faire segregation and privileging privatization – this is what our children face every day.

      It’s time we as a nation stop, take a moment – and offer our hearty congratulations to this years most pernicious saboteurs.

    • Pro-Remain media and Brexit: unwise response to populism?
      Clueless, arrogant, outgunned. The attitude displayed towards the UK's Brexit negotiators in much of the media is derisive. Witness the treatment of July's notorious negotiating table photo opportunity: on one side, the European Commission behind piles of neatly stacked papers and, facing them, David Davis's team, empty table gleaming. Without pausing to consider possible explanations, reporters gleefully proclaimed that this demonstrated UK unpreparedness and the naive expectation that it could fly by the seat of its pants.

    • An interesting Brexit experiment worthy of analysis

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • For Trump, Words Are Stupid Things
      Words. “I have the best words,” Trump famously proclaimed during the campaign, and just the other day he told Maria Bartiromo of Fox News how “well-crafted” his goofy tweets are. The same man announced from the White House lawn on Wednesday that “I’m a very intelligent person” — words that sounded more self-deceptive than presidential.

      Trump does have a way with words. Unfortunately, it’s a gruesome way. His way is to use them as a blunt instrument to bully and belittle opponents. The rest of the time — when he’s not reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter — his way with English is fumbling, incoherent, reckless and untruthful. Look no further than the contretemps that began with his false claim that unlike him, “most other presidents” didn’t make phone calls to the families of military killed in action, which then rapidly nosedived even further, using the dead as a political football, then insulting the widow of a dead Green Beret hero and a Florida congresswoman.

    • Hillary Clinton Keeps Pointing Fingers
      Hillary Clinton blames others for last year’s electoral defeat, never recognizing that many Americans — both Democrats and Republicans — found her public record appalling...

    • A year full of fake news: 22 new fake news sites emerged every month in the US
      According to a study conducted by Storyzy on 1,800 fake news sites representing 1,7 billion visits per month, 22 new fake news sites on average were created every month in the US since the beginning of 2017, a strong trend that began in 2016 during the US presidential campaign. Robots are the only way to detect these new sites and eventually stop the increase and spreading of fake news.

    • Cambridge Analytica used data from Facebook and Politico to help Trump

      Speech by company executive contradicts denial by Trump campaign that claimed the company used its own data and Facebook data to help the campaign

    • For NYT, Making the Democrats Safe for the Oligarchy Is Literally Job One
      Last week, the paper published an op-ed by Douglas Schoen, “Why Democrats Need Wall Street” (10/18/17). Who is Douglas Schoen, you might ask? He’s billed by the Times as having been “a pollster and senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 2000.” More relevantly to the current century, he’s a corporate PR consultant who works for the likes of Walmart, AT&T, Time Warner, Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline.

      He has a side career as a commentator for mostly right-wing outlets like Fox News, Forbes and Newsmax, where his nominal relationship to the Democrats mostly serves to bolster his credibility when he attacks them—as in a series of columns he co-wrote in 2010–11 urging Barack Obama to step aside in favor of Hillary Clinton, only to declare in 2016 (The Hill, 10/31/16) that “I am not able, under the circumstances we are now facing, to vote for Secretary Clinton” (the circumstances being that “emails potentially pertinent to the Clinton probe had been found on Anthony Weiner’s computer”).

    • Misdirection and Catalonia
      The Spanish Government’s refusal yesterday of the offer of a 20 December election in Catalonia vividly highlights that the thing they are most scared of is any kind of free and fair vote. They wish to take over all the Catalan institutions and media, and institute a judicial ban on pro-Independence campaigning, before they allow any election – that is why they prefer a six month delay. All of which yet again highlights the outrageous lie the western corporate and state media have been repeating and repeating for weeks, that only a minority in Catalonia support independence. At the last Catalan parliamentary election the explicitly pro-Independence parties gained 48% and explicitly anti-independence parties gained 39%, while the most recent recent poll, by GESOP, indicates that would not change in a new election.

    • Europe Fails a Fundamental Democratic Test
      A snap analysis of social media across Europe in the major languages, excluding Spaniards and Catalans, shows about 75% of posts are broadly sympathetic to Catalan Independence – or at least sympathetic to the Catalan right to self-determination – and about 25% support the Rajoy position. It is not possible directly to extrapolate from social media users to the entire population, but at the very least we can say that the unanimous attack on the Catalans from European governments and the unequivocal support for Rajoy plainly does not reflect the views of their people.

    • When Project Fear Shoots its Bolt
      Zero companies have left Catalonia. The BBC, Sky News, France24 and Deutsche Welt have all told me repeatedly today that 1500 companies have left Catalonia. Goodness knows what the Spanish media is like – El Pais, soon to be renamed The Ecstatic Francoist, has put me off looking any further. But despite the media bombardment of fake news, actually no companies have left Catalonia at all. What have left Catalonia are not 1500 companies, but 1500 emails and forms giving a change of Head Office address. The companies and the jobs are still exactly where they were. In Catalonia.

    • Trump’s Approval Rating Falls to Lowest Level Since Taking Office
      President Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen to its lowest level since he took office, with Americans disapproving of his performance as commander in chief and handling of some policy issues while largely favoring his work on the economy, a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll finds.

      Mr. Trump’s job approval rating stood at 38%, a five point drop from September, the poll showed. Over all, 58% said they disapproved of the job Mr. Trump has done.

    • Trump and Netanyahu share a kiss on West Bank wall mural
      Another Donald Trump mural believed to be the work of Australian graffiti artist Lushsux has popped up on Israel’s barrier in the occupied West Bank, this time depicting the U.S. president sharing a kiss with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    • FBI Probe Of Paul Manafort Focuses On 13 “Suspicious” Wire Transfers
      The FBI's investigation of Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, includes a keen focus on a series of suspicious wire transfers in which offshore companies linked to Manafort moved more than $3 million all over the globe between 2012 and 2013.

      Much of the money came into the United States.

      These transactions — which have not been previously reported — drew the attention of federal law enforcement officials as far back as 2012, when they began to examine wire transfers to determine if Manafort hid money from tax authorities or helped the Ukrainian regime close to Russian President Vladimir Putin launder some of the millions it plundered through corrupt dealings.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Poland to 'save from censorship' French monument of JPII
      Poland will try to “save from censorship” a sculpture of Pope John Paul II, which might be removed in northwestern France, by moving it to Poland, Polish Prime Minister Beata SzydÅ‚o has said.

    • Twitter Says It Overstated Monthly-User Figures for 3 Years

      Twitter said on Thursday that it had overstated its monthly-user figures since 2014 after mistakenly including data from third-party applications in its counting.


      Twitter reported a net loss of $21.1 million for the quarter, compared with a $102.9 million loss for the same period last year. The company’s revenue declined 4 percent, to $590 million.

    • Marion Smith on 100 years of communism: Red censorship, from telegram to Instagram
      One hundred years ago, Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik Party seized control of Russia in the October Revolution and founded the Soviet Union. As with all good revolutionaries, one of the first things that Lenin’s gun-toting Red Guards did was seize the post offices and telegraph stations throughout the capital of Petrograd.

    • Twitter’s Ban on Russia Today Ads is Dangerous to Free Expression
      On October 26, Twitter decided to ban “advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik,” two Russian state-owned media outlets. Twitter was reacting to an assessment by the United States intelligence community that RT and Sputnik interfered with the U.S. election on behalf of the Russian government, as well as Twitter’s (non-public) internal research. Many may be tempted to celebrate Twitter’s decision as a move to protect democracy from an authoritarian state. We fear it’s just the opposite.

      There seems to be little question that the Russian government uses Russia Today and Sputnik to stir up division and influence foreign politics, including the last U.S. presidential election. But it would be ironic if our response to that effort was to step back from defending freedom of expression.

    • Pre-censorship of films be done away with, Centre uses it to enforce its ideology: Palekar to SC
      NEW DELHI: Amidst controversy over Tamil superhit film Mersal, veteran film actor Amol Palekar has told the Supreme Court that pre-censorship of films by Central Board of Film Certification must be done away with as it is used by the Centre to "enforce and propagate its ideology" through the medium and suppress independent views of filmmakers.

    • Trouble for Weibo as China Tightens Censorship Rules
      hares of Weibo (NASDAQ:WB) rallied nearly 140% this year, but the company now faces major headwinds as Chinese regulators tighten their control over the country's top social networking platforms. The latest crackdowns started in June, with regulators ordering Weibo and two other platforms to halt their live video and audio broadcasts until they obtained new government-backed licenses.

      It accelerated in September as regulators fined Weibo's parent company SINA (NASDAQ:SINA), Baidu, and Tencent (NASDAQOTH:TCEHY) for allegedly allowing its users to "spread information of violence and terror, false rumors, pornography, and other information that jeopardizes national security, public safety, and social order."

    • Prager Sues Google, YouTube Over Censorship

    • YouTube Sued For Censoring Free Speech

    • Facebook censored me. Criticize your government and it might censor you too.

    • Twitter Versus RT: Which One is State Media Again?
      America’s New Red Scare escalated in mid-October as the US Department of Justice demanded that the US division of television network RT (formerly known as Russia Today) register as a “foreign agent” under the aptly named Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    • Did The EPA Censor Its Scientists?
      Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly pulled a group of its scientists from speaking at a scientific meeting set to take place Monday.

      The conference was focused on exploring ways to protect the Narragansett Bay Estuary in Rhode Island. Climate change happens to be one of the threats to the estuary and the EPA's researchers were set to talk on this issue.

      Given the administration's hostility to climate science, the new leaders of the EPA were quickly accused of censoring their own scientists.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • History Shows Activists Should Fear the Surveillance State
      An invasive spying law is set to expire at the end of this year, and Congress is gearing up for a fight over what will replace it. As lawmakers weigh various proposals to reform that law, they would do well to consider the sordid history of warrantless surveillance in this country, and the people who have most suffered from it.

    • Unlike the USA Liberty Act, the USA RIGHTS Act could actually end warrantless surveillance on Americans by the NSA

      Unlike the ironically named USA Liberty Act, the USA RIGHTS Act actually ends the legal backdoor that allows the NSA to collect domestic communications and it also forcess the government to give notice when FISA Section 702 surveillance data is used against Americans and to give the more powers to address that in court. Specifically, unlike the so called USA Liberty Act, the USA RIGHTS Act would end “about” data collection. Additionally, the bill sets a 4-year sunset on Section 702 so complete elimination can again be on the table after a potential changeup in political roster.

    • India overtakes the US to become the world’s second largest smartphone market

      That’s according to a new report from Canalys which claims smartphone shipments in India crossed the 40 million mark for the first time in Q3 2017 courtesy of 23 percent annual growth. That means that India has overtaken the U.S. on sales with only China ahead of it.

    • Online Privacy Doesn’t Exist

      We live in a weird dystopian Orwellian world, where most don’t care what’s going on and the few that do – don’t have the courage to rattle the cage.

      “Oh Look, a like button.”

    • Great, now there's 'responsible encryption'

      Still, the problem with backdooring encrypted platforms is that they are no longer secure or private. And as we see every week in the news about everything cyber, if there's a backdoor, the "bad guys" will find it and use it long before the so-called good guys know what's happened. It also really, really doesn't help that, right now, Trump's "cyber czar" can't even be bothered to show up to work.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • 200 Trump inauguration protesters face 70 years in prison each over 6 broken windows
      Donald Trump is the least popular president to serve in US history, so it's no surprise that the call for mass, "J20 demonstrations" at his inauguration would be answered by massive crowds.

      As with many protests, there was a small number of black bloc participants who engaged in minor acts of vandalism, smashing six windows. The DC police kettled hundreds of protesters in response, and after more than 100 escaped, they slapped the remaining 200 protesters with felony conspiracy charges, so that each protester now faces up to 70 years in prison for being in the same place as a black bloc action.

      ON THE FIRST DAY of the trial, Josh Walker wore a long navy jacket, a white shirt, beige pants, and black shoes. He stood outside the courthouse clutching a cigarette and shivering slightly in the cold morning air. “I’m beginning to feel nervous now,” he said, glancing toward the entrance of the court building.

    • Met police refuse to reveal extremism statistics

      The Met reiterated their previous information that: "Since 2010, 270,000 pieces of illegal terrorist material have been removed by social media providers, following referrals from the Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit."

      However, they declined to list any other statistics, stating that "disclosure of the requested information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime”.

    • University of Chicago Graduate Students Vote to Unionize

      Davis explains that university administrations are rarely in favor of collective bargaining. “Those students at University of Chicago fought against long odds,” he says. The university “threw everything possible at them to stop this from happening, and the students did an amazing thing. It should be a message to graduate students everywhere that it is possible.”

    • Mom who beat girl for incorrect Bible verses gets prison
      A Pennsylvania woman who beat and tried to strangle her daughter for incorrectly reciting Bible verses has been sentenced to prison.

      Forty-one-year-old Rhonda Shoffner was sentenced Wednesday to 2€½ to five years in prison after pleading guilty to charges including aggravated assault of her daughter, who was younger than 13.

    • Alex Vitale on The End of Policing
      This week on CounterSpin: Thanks mainly to independent and social media, and of course activism like Black Lives Matter, Americans have been forced to confront, and to know more about, police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system than just a few years ago. But corporate media conversation about what to do with that knowledge is constrained. We may hear editorial calls for better training, or more data, or sometimes even convictions of individual officers. But somehow we never see the problem of policing whole, so the deeper reckoning necessary for real change is forestalled.

    • We Cannot Remain Silent as the Trump Administration Shuts the Door on Refugees
      These words from a stranger comforted my grandmother, Chawa Guterman, when her boat first reached the United States in 1950. A 17-year-old Jew in Poland when World War II began, she had lost everything but her life at the hands of the Nazis. They sent her to a work camp away from the rest of her family, where she was worked to the bone, barely fed.

      After liberation, she was alone — her parents and her six siblings had all perished in the Holocaust. She lived in a displaced persons camp in Landsberg, Germany, where she met and married my grandfather. Together they immigrated to the United States with the support of a U.S. based resettlement organization. When their boat first reached the U.S. shore, my grandmother took in the scene around her. People filed off the boat, charging into the extended arms of loved ones, waving hellos, and exchanging hugs and kisses.

    • Want to Throw a Wrench in Trump’s Mass Deportation Machine? Act Locally.
      In September, the board of supervisors in Dane County, Wisconsin, passed a resolution to protect immigrants from the Trump administration’s mass deportation agenda.

      The board, which represents the half a million people who live in Dane County, endorsed the ACLU’s Freedom Cities campaign and its nine model policies, which shield immigrants from discrimination, unjust government targeting, and attacks on their privacy.
    • Lawsuit accuses Facebook of scheming to weasel out of paying overtime

      The suit notes a "systematic, companywide wrongful classification" system for Client Solutions Managers, Customer Solutions Managers, Customer Account Managers, "or other similarly titled positions."

      According to the lawsuit, the primary duties of these various classifications is nearly identical. Their duties "involve communicating with existing Facebook advertising customers, implementing their marketing plans, and selling Facebook marketing products and services to existing customers." The suit says a "large percentage" of their compensation comes from "commissions from the sale of Facebook's marketing products."

    • Time Spent in Solitary Confinement Drops Dramatically in Illinois Youth Facilities
      After years of sending youths to solitary confinement for days, weeks and even months at a time, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has taken drastic steps to reduce the time young offenders spend in isolation.

      The decision to move away from solitary confinement, or segregation, came as part of a consent decree in federal court between the department and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Wants to Ease Rules to Benefit Broadcast Giant Sinclair

      Thursday night, the FCC unveiled a proposal to relax its media-ownership rules. The plan would lift a ban preventing companies from owning both a broadcast station and a newspaper in the same market, and ease restrictions on the number of television and radio stations a single owner can control in a market. The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal during its open meeting next month, and with Republicans in the majority at the agency, it will likely pass.

    • RIPE 75 took place in the Conrad hotel in Dubai, UAE, 22-26 October, 2017

    • Three is adding 'free' Apple Music data to Go Binge plans

      Zero-rated services are controversial. Critics argue that the concept fundamentally undermines the principles of net neutrality; that all data should be treated equally. If a service is "free" to access, customers are more likely to use it, regardless of whether the competition is better. That poses a problem for startups who could have great features or ideas, but don't have the cash to "buy-in" to zero-rated services like their established competition. In short, the fear is that juggernaut media companies will stifle any rival before it has a chance to innovate or attract customers.

    • The Shadow Internet

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • A Win for Music Listeners in Florida: No Performance Right in Pre-1972 Recordings
        Another court has ruled that the public still has the ability to play old music that almost everyone believed they lawfully had the ability to play. The Florida Supreme Court, following in the footsteps of New York State’s high court, ruled yesterday that its state law, which governs sound recordings made before 1972, doesn’t include a right to control public performances of sound recordings, including radio play. Both this decision and the reasoning behind it are good news for digital music companies and radio listeners.

        This case stems from a broader debate about copyright in sound recordings. Although federal copyrights in sound recordings cover reproduction and distribution, they don’t include a general right to control public performances, except for “digital audio transmissions” like Internet and satellite radio. That’s why AM and FM radio stations, and businesses like restaurants that play music, have never had to pay record labels or recording artists, nor ask their permission. (Songwriters and music publishers do get paid for public performances, typically through collecting societies ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC). But recordings made before February 15, 1972 aren’t covered by federal law at all. Instead, they fall under a patchwork of state laws and court decisions, most of them pre-Internet. The labels have tried for many decades to win a performance right, but so far neither Congress nor state legislatures have created one.

      • Status: EU copyright reform/expansion

        The Committee will vote on the result in January, which then needs to be confirmed by the entire Parliament in a plenary vote. Meanwhile, the EU member state governments are working on their own common position in the Council.

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