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Links 25/11/2018: Pisi Linux 2.1, Linux 4.20 RC4

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  • RHEL

    • AMDGPU-PRO 18.50 Linux Preview Driver Available For RHEL7, Begins Work On Navi
      It turns out AMD quietly pushed out a public preview release of their upcoming Radeon Software 18.50 Linux driver (also referred to as AMDGPU-PRO 18.50). The public change-log is light, but there are references to the initial bring-up for next-generation Navi graphics.

      Available from is a Radeon Software for Linux 18.50 "Early Preview" driver release. The 18.50 driver packages at this point are just RPMs intended for use on CentOS/RHEL 7 systems.

    • What’s new in RHEL 8
      RHEL 8 Beta version got released recently (Nov 14, 2018) and its Beta version is available for developers! In this quick post, we will walk you through features RHEL 8 offering currently and how to download your own RHEL 8 ISO for testing. If you are looking for more details then follow RHEL 8 release notes by Red Hat.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Episode 44 | This Week in Linux
      On this episode of This Week in Linux. We take a look at the latest Raspberry Pi, Linus has some comments on some performance issues with recent Spectre mitigations, Canonical announced 10 Years Support for Ubuntu 18.04. We’ll also be checking out a bunch of distro releases from Void Linux, Slax, Deeping, Whonix and even a beta from Red Hat. Later in the show, we’ll cover some Security News as well as some awesome sales going on for Linux Games right now! All that and much more!

  • Kernel Space

    • Two Linux Kernels Revert Performance-Killing Spectre Patches

    • Facebook's BOLT Is An Effort To Speed-Up Linux Binaries
      BOLT is the Binary Optimization and Layout Tool that is a Facebook Incubator project for speeding up Linux x86-64/AArch64 ELF binaries.

      BOLT is a post-link optimizer designed to speed-up large applications based upon an execution profile generated by the Linux perf utility and optimizes the program's code layout. BOLT leverages LLVM but can also work with binaries built by GCC.

    • Linux 4.20-rc4
      The patch stats this week look a little bit more normal than last tim, probably simply because it's also a normal-sized rc4 rather than the unusually small rc3.

      So this time around, about 60% of the patch is drivers (networking, HID, gpu, usb, mtd..) which is the usual distribution. The rest being a random mix of networking, filesystem fixes, arch updates, Documentation etc. And some fixes to the new xarray code.

      Nothing looks particularly odd or scary, although we do have some known stuff still pending. For example, the STIBP fixes are still being discussed and fine-tuned and haven't been merged yet. And there's a few mm fixes being talked about. Nothing that should keep people from testing the 4.20 rc's, though, so go out and test.

      One thing I did forget to mention last rc, but did come up in some of the pull request threads, and that people might have noticed that way: I've stopped doing the manual pull request acknowledgement emails, because Konstantin's automation to do it has gone live and is working well. It's worth pointing out, though, that the automation only works for pull requests that have been cc'd to mailing lists that are being tracked by the archives, and have an email address that matches "linux-*". So that's obviously mainly LKML, but it does trigger for linux-block too, for example.

      The reason I'm mentioning it is that if you're not seeing the pull request automation emails, it might be because you didn't cc a list that is getting tracked..


    • Linux 4.20-RC4 Released As The "Shy Crocodile"
      Linus Torvalds has announced the fourth weekly test release of the in-development Linux 4.20 kernel.

      Being well past the Linux 4.20 merge window, there isn't too much to get excited about with RC4 in particular but Linux 4.20 does have a lot of new and improved functionality.

    • STIBP Patches Updated One Last Time Before Heading To Linux 4.20
      With Linux 4.20 STIBP got applied for all processes and that caused a major performance hit while now it's only on by default for SECCOMP processes or processes opting for it via the prctl interface. More details and my tests of these revised patches from just a few days ago can be found in Benchmarking The Work-In-Progress Spectre/STIBP Code On The Way For Linux 4.20.

      Long story short, the patches clear up that very dramatic performance drop saw earlier in the Linux 4.20 cycle. STIBP had been back-ported to existing supported stable series, but has already been reverted due to the performance tax while these new patches may eventually work their way into those LTS trees.

    • Benchmarks

      • Radeon Vulkan Driver Benchmarks: AMDVLK 2018.4.2 vs. AMDGPU-PRO 18.40 vs. Mesa 18.2/19.0
        Released this week was AMDVLK 2018.4.2 having been released this past week as the newest open-source AMD Vulkan driver code derived from their official Vulkan driver code-base but with using the AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end over their proprietary shader compiler. For your latest Vulkan benchmark viewing pleasure is a look at this newest AMDVLK release compared to AMDGPU-PRO 18.40 (the same fundamental Vulkan driver but with the closed-source shader compiler) and then the RADV Vulkan drivers in the form of Mesa 18.2 stable and the now in-development Mesa 19.0. These four AMD Radeon Vulkan driver combinations were tested on Fiji, Polaris, and Vega graphics processors.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce Screensaver 0.1.3 Released
      After 3 weeks of dedicated development time, the first Xfce Screensaver beta release is now available! With better event handling, a significantly upgraded preferences dialog, and a tidier codebase, the new version is nearly ready for prime time.

    • [Older] Adventures in primary display land
      As some may have noticed I have lately patched “Primary Display” support into a few of our components. It all started with the display settings dialog… But let me start right at the beginning.

      “Primary” is a setting of X11’s RandR extension that “is expected to be used by desktop environments to mark the screen that should hold the primary menu bar or panel” (quoted from the specification). So in short: the “Primary Display” should hold your panels, your desktop icons, your notifications, potentially your presenter’s screen (if you use LibreOffice) etc. in a multi-display setup.

      In 2016 I started by introducing a hidden setting in xfce4-notifyd. This meant your notifications wouldn’t pop up during presentations on external displays anymore (because the default setting before was to follow the mouse pointer’s location). I personally needed/wanted this and it felt like an easy fix.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 46
        This week in Usability & Productivity was full of bug squashing and user interface polishing! We landed a lot of nice fixes and improvements rather than focusing on big new features, and hopefully you’ll like them all!

      • KDE Frameworks 5.53 Will Have An Important KIO Performance Fix
        With KDE Frameworks 5.53 due out in December there is a significant performance fix in the KIO slaves code.

        In this week's round-up of KDE usability and productivity work, there is a lot of bug fixing and other UI refinements going on... No standout features over the past week, but one of the fixes did catch my attention: improving the performance of KIO that is used by Dolphin and other KDE programs for dealing with I/O across various protocols/formats.
      • Updating openSuSE – math fun
        Now that KMyMoney 5.0.2 is released, I prepared to upgrade my development system from openSuSE 42.3 to Leap 15.0. This involves creating a drive image comparing the image with the original disk and then running the upgrade procedure. Triggered by a post on planet KDE by fellow KDE developer dfaure I expected some trouble ahead and took extra care to have a good backup.

        In the past, I had run the update directly from the iso image which I also did this time just to learn that it fails whatever I tried to do. Apparently, the updater became confused with the disk partition layout I am using. This fortunately all happened just before the disk was touched and I got around to restore my backup image every time.

      • Qactus 1.0 is out!
        Here is the next generation of Qactus – it is now an OBS client and not just an OBS notifier. The main feature of this release is an OBS browser for exploring and maintaining projects/packages; you can branch or create a project or a package, upload, download or delete files, or check the build log of your favourite package!

      • Automatic QML import by Qt deployment tools
        It was, of course, possible to workaround the issue by copying the missing files to their expected locations with a script or manually. For non-systemwide Qt installations, there was also an option of installing the libraries by side with Qt’s own modules. However, these are still platform-dependent workarounds we shouldn’t rely on long-term.

        I faced this issue when trying to package Kaidan, a Qt Quick XMPP client, as an AppImage. After a discussion with linuxdeployqt’s contributors and some research, I found that internally the tool uses qmlimportscanner to locate the imported modules, but only passes QT_INSTALL_QML (Qt’s own modules location) to the scanner. It was clearly missing an option to list custom import paths, like -qmlimport. That was easy to fix, and so I did.

      • Syntax Highlighter for Wayland Traces
        When debugging window compositing problems with the Wayland client-server protocol, often it is a good idea to set the environment variable “WAYLAND_DEBUG=1” and to take a deep look on the messages that are sent via this protocol. But as always, a lot of output is generated and highlighting can help very much. So far, you could use Johan’s excellent QML based highlighter with many cool features (e.g. rainbow colors for different objects).

        However, in my workflow usually I already have Kate open and simply want to paste a trace therein and to use Kate’s cool syntax highlighting features. So, yesterday I sat down and created an initial set version of highlighting rules for Wayland trace logs. These rules are already merged and will be available with the next KF5 release.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Gentoo Family

      • Portability of tar features
        The tar format is one of the oldest archive formats in use. It comes as no surprise that it is ugly — built as layers of hacks on the older format versions to overcome their limitations. However, given the POSIX standarization in late 80s and the popularity of GNU tar, you would expect the interoperability problems to be mostly resolved nowadays.

        This article is directly inspired by my proof-of-concept work on new binary package format for Gentoo. My original proposal used volume label to provide user- and file(1)-friendly way of distinguish our binary packages. While it is a GNU tar extension, it falls within POSIX ustar implementation-defined file format and you would expect that non-compliant implementations would extract it as regular files. What I did not anticipate is that some implementation reject the whole archive instead.

    • Fedora

      • Touchscreen and stylus now working on HP Envy x360
        The Fedora version on kernel 4.19.3 includes a patch allowing both stylus and touchscreen to properly run on AMD processor based HP touchscreen thanks to the combined effort from Hans, Lukas and Marc for finding the root cause and testing the fix.

        A few scary moment on HP Envy x360 15-cp0xxx Ryzen 2500U was a conflicting IRQ handling due to possibly booting on Windows 10 used to get all feature parity to Linx counterpart i.e. Fedora 29 in this case. Fortunately, power off somewhat did the trick. Since then, both stylus and touchscreen run without a hitch.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • ASUS Pushes Out TinkerOS 2.0.8 With Many Updates To Its Debian Linux Image
          For those with an ASUS Tinker Board, the Debian-based TinkerOS has an updated operating system release.

          The Tinker Board that comes in at about twice the price of a Raspberry Pi but with significantly better performance has out an official operating system update. TinkerOS 2.0.8 pulls in the latest Mali graphics driver, is updated to the Linux 4.4.132 LTS kernel, now supports Wake-On-LAN from suspend-to-RAM, supports WiFi Direct, improves HDMI hot-plug detection, and has a number of other improvements.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Google Open-Sources Speaker Diarization AI Technology, Claims 92% Accuracy
    Google has developed a research paper called Fully Supervised Speaker Diarization where they introduced a new model that uses supervised speaker labels in a more effective manner over traditional approaches. Within this model, an estimation takes place which identifies the number of speakers that participate in a conversation, which increases the amount of labeled data.

    As part of NIST SRE 2000 CALLHOME benchmarking, Google’s techniques achieved a diarization error rate (DER) as low as 7.6% where DER is defined as a “percentage of the input signal that is wrongly labeled by the diarization output.” The recent results are improvements over the 8.8% DER achieved using a clustering-based method or the 9.9% DER achieved using deep neural network embedding methods.

  • Review: Haiku R1 Beta1
    As you can probably tell by this point, I ran into a number of frustrating problems while using Haiku. The main ones were the network connection constantly dropping every few minutes, and the operating system failing to boot on my workstation. There were some other aspects that I wasn't thrilled about - the title bar being a tab at the top of windows looks weird and inefficient to me, but that is a matter of taste.

    Having an operating system which only has one user account and doesn't require passwords is a non-starter for me. Some people may like the convenience and simplicity of having a completely open, one-user system (it does streamline things) but it wouldn't be suitable for any of my environments or devices, apart from my mobile phone.

    In short, in my situation and in my environments, Haiku is not a practical option. However, there are several aspects of the operating system and its surrounding project that I think are great. Haiku has unusually clear and well organized documentation. Most open source projects could use Haiku as an example of how to make user guides. There are little details I like, for example the notes on how to set up wireless networks are available locally, on the install media. This is a minor detail, but it's unfortunate how many projects explain how to get on-line in resources which are only available on-line.

    Haiku's desktop is clean, the look is consistent across applications and visual elements don't use up much space. It took me some time to get used to having the application menu and task switcher on the right side of the screen instead of the left, but I like the way the desktop is presented.

    One of Haiku's best features is that it is fast and responsive. Whether the system is booting, launching programs, browsing the web or displaying a video, the desktop is highly responsive. Everything feels light and reacts almost instantly to input. This is behaviour I usually only see in super light (and minimal) Linux window managers and I really appreciated the how everything happens quickly on Haiku.

    So while Haiku is not practical for me, and I'm guessing for many people, I do think there are aspects of the project which should be held up as a good way to do things in the open source community. I must also applaud Haiku's team for porting several applications, including LibreOffice, to their operating system. Haiku has a lot of its own applications, but I think many users will appreciate having ports of popular programs in the HaikuDepot.

  • Ohio University to switch to open source fonts
    The fonts EB Garamond and Barlow will officially replace Galliard and Frutiger beginning Jan. 1, 2019, according to an OU news release.

    The new fonts are open source, which means they are accessible to anyone. After Nov. 1, users will be able to download the font packages from the University Communications and Marketing website.

    OU’s usage of Zilla Slab will continue since it is already an open source font, Dan Pittman, an OU Spokesman, said in an email.

    Converting to these new fonts is anticipated to save OU approximately $60,000 over the next three years and will also allow access to the different colleges and other departments to further the OU brand, according to the release.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12.0-RC2 Now Available
      The second RC build of the 12.0-RELEASE release cycle is now available.

    • FreeBSD 12.0-RC2: Debugging Bits Turned Off, Knob To Build Userland With Retpolines
      FreeBSD 12.0 Release Candidate 2 is now available for testing ahead of the official release in December.

      FreeBSD 12.0-RC2 now ships with its kernel debugging support in its different configurations disabled, which was accidentally left enabled after the recent code branching. This now puts the kernel in the release state, which should also help with the performance, and be interesting for benchmarking now upon the official release for seeing how FreeBSD 12.0 is competing with the BSD and Linux competition.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Time to break academic publishing’s stranglehold on research

        Here is a trivia question for you: what is the most profitable business in the world? You might think oil, or maybe banking. You would be wrong. The answer is academic publishing. Its profit margins are vast, reportedly in the region of 40 per cent.

        The reason it is so lucrative is because most of the costs of its content is picked up by taxpayers. Publicly funded researchers do the work, write it up and judge its merits. And yet the resulting intellectual property ends up in the hands of the publishers. To rub salt into the wound they then sell it via exorbitant subscriptions and paywalls, often paid for by taxpayers too. (Some readers may scent a whiff of hypocrisy, given New Scientist also charges for its content. But good journalism does not come free.)

  • Programming/Development

    • Concurrency on the Internet of Things (Arduino, MicroPython, Espruino)
      In this presentation I talk about what concurrency actually is, why it matters for Internet of Things applications, and which platforms are best at handling it.

    • Sentiment analysis on Trump's tweets using Python
      I'm almost sure that all the code will run in Python 2.7, but I'll use Python 3.6. I highly recommend to install Anaconda, which is a very useful Python distribution to manage packages that includes a lot of useful tools, such as Jupyter Notebooks. I'll explain the code supposing that we will be using a Jupyter Notebook, but the code will run if you are programming a simple script from your text editor. You'll just need to adapt it (it's not hard).

    • John Cook: Ellipsoid distance on Earth
      To first approximation, Earth is a sphere. But it bulges at the equator, and to second approximation, Earth is an oblate spheroid. Earth is not exactly an oblate spheroid either, but the error in the oblate spheroid model is about 100x smaller than the error in the spherical model.

      Finding the distance between two points on a sphere is fairly simple. Here’s a calculator to compute the distance, and here’s a derivation of the formula used in the calculator.

      Finding the distance between two points on an ellipsoid is much more complicated. (A spheroid is a kind of ellipsoid.) Wikipedia gives a description of Vincenty’s algorithm for finding the distance between two points on Earth using an oblate spheroid model (specifically WGS-84). I’ll include a Python implementation below.


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Samsung apologises for cancer deaths caused by toxic factories

      Kim Ki-nam, head of Samsung's semiconductor business, said: "We sincerely apologise to the workers who suffered from illness and their families. We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories."

    • Hospital Letter Urging Patient to Start 'Fundraising Effort' to Pay for Heart Treatment Seen as Yet Another Reason America Needs Medicare for All
      As progressive lawmakers and healthcare experts have frequently pointed out in recent months, few growing trends have laid bare the fundamental immorality and brokenness of America's healthcare system quite like the rise of GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms as methods of raising money for life-saving medical treatments that—due to insurance industry greed and dysfunction—are far too expensive for anyone but the very wealthiest to afford.

    • The Gates Foundation’s Ceres2030 Plan Pushes Agenda of Agribusiness
      “Whether the challenge is low-yield crops in Africa or low graduation rates in Los Angeles, we listen and learn,” states the website of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (the Gates Foundation). Even though it is the richest and most powerful organization in all of international aid, the Gates Foundation prides itself on listening to small farmers.

      Its critics, however, have often accused the Gates Foundation of not living up to this goal. The importance of listening to farmers might seem straightforward — to avoid the risk of giving people what they don’t need. But underneath, much more is going on.

      Historically, international development was funded not so much for the welfare of the poor, the hungry or the landless, but rather to fight the Cold War. Boosting allied governments, winning hearts and minds, and opening spaces for commercial exploitation by Western corporations were the priorities.

      Those bad old days are behind us, according to the Gates Foundation. Their new wave of development interventions has left behind the tainted philanthropic foundations and their Cold War attitudes. Aid is now altruistic.


      Its press release describes Ceres2030 as a “groundbreaking data project to support smallholder farmers and end hunger.” It will “map the fullest possible range of knowledge in agricultural research, establish protocols for systematic review, create a risk-of-bias tool, and then drill down to find the most powerful interventions that can help end hunger.”

      Its end product will supposedly “help donors prioritize investments by evaluating agricultural interventions and investment costs to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goal of zero hunger by 2030.”

      In this way, according to Ceres2030 Co-Director Jaron Porciello of Cornell, who spoke about Ceres2030 at a seminar held at the university on November 8, the nonprofit “provides the tools, the framework and the opportunity” to build consensus on development.

      More specifically, Ceres2030 will use “natural language processing” to computationally parse the scientific literature on agricultural interventions to find those of greatest benefit to small farmers. A “Global Advisory Board” will select authors and topics. The chosen authors will then write flagship review articles for a paid-for special issue of the prestigious Nature magazine (slated for early 2020). These reviews will then underpin a media outreach strategy whose intent is to sway G7 donor spending to better help those farmers.

      Even before the exact nature of the “risk-of-bias tool” is revealed, this approach to consensus-building will raise alarm bells for those already doubtful of the disinterestedness of the Gates Foundation€­.

      For one, the definition of an intervention in agriculture, according to Ceres2030, is one that raises crop productivity. According to Porciello’s presentation, that means doubling smallholder output.

      For productivity to be the key goal is highly significant. A focus on productivity sidelines at the outset numerous other approaches to reducing hunger and helping farmers. Many types of potential interventions that could transform smallholder agriculture — such as targeted subsidies, commodity price floors, land distribution or food sovereignty, all of which don’t require yield increases — are automatically excluded by the narrow focus on production.

      Productivism, as it is called, represents an agenda. It is a premise whose well-recognized effect is to remove the politics from hunger and poverty. More than that, it provides a ready-made entry point for certain other classes of solutions: the chemicals and GMOs of agribusiness, the promotion of which the Gates Foundation is rapidly becoming known for.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Not Everyone Is Ready to Forgive Rebranded Iraq War Cheerleader Max Boot
      In the prologue to his most recent book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right,” Max Boot writes that leftists have unfairly accused him of “war crimes” because he, like the majority of U.S. lawmakers, supported the invasion of Iraq. But many leftists and progressives remember that he didn’t simply support the disastrous Iraq War—he helped lead the charge—and tepid remorse does not change that.

      A columnist at the Washington Post, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and analyst for CNN, Boot has recently had a public epiphany in which he denounced President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, becoming, he writes, “politically homeless,” and leading to his acceptance by mainstream Democrats. Jacobin Magazine’s Branko Marcetic described Boot as “a war-hungry neocon now being approvingly retweeted by liberals.”

      But Boot’s criticisms of Trump weren’t enough to win over Peter Maas, a senior editor at the Intercept, who called his apology about Iraq “disingenuous.” Maas wrote that Boot “has helped create so much havoc, he has been wrong so completely, that it would be the definition of insanity to treat his ideas as fodder for anything other than a shredder.”

    • Denouncing the Republican Party

    • U.S. Relations with Pakistan Hit Rock Bottom With Trump’s Tweets
      After I wrote the following story about my trip to Pakistan ten days ago, President Trump began tweeting about Pakistan’s lack of effort in the war on terror which triggered a tweet storm with new Pakistani Prime Minister Iran Khan. Trump told Fox News on Sunday, November 18 that Pakistan should have revealed that Osama bin Ladin was “living in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, right next to the military academy. Everybody in Pakistan knew he was there. And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year… I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”

      Khan responded on Monday morning on Twitter with three tweets: First tweet: “Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump's tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US "aid" was a miniscule $20 bn.

      Second tweet: "3. Our tribal areas were devastated & millions of ppl uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted lives of ordinary Pakistanis. 4. Pak continues to provide free lines of ground & air communications(GLOCs/ALOCs).Can Mr Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?"

      Third tweet: "Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before."

    • America’s Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost $5.9 Trillion
      Not to mention 240,000 civilian deaths and 21 million displaced. And yet a congressional commission is urging yet more money for a bloated Pentagon.

    • The Counterinsurgency Paradigm: How US Politics Have Become Paramilitarized
      DONALD TRUMP RAN a campaign promising to refill the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, to “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” to “take out” the families of suspected terrorists, to ban Muslims from entering this country, and to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet these policies didn’t start with Trump: Torture, indefinite detention, extraordinary renditions, record numbers of deportations, anti-Muslim sentiment, mass foreign and domestic surveillance, and even the killing of innocent family members of suspected terrorists all have a recent historical precedent.

      Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, continued some of the worst policies of the George W. Bush administration. He expanded the global battlefield post-9/11 into at least seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and Syria. At the end of Obama’s second term, a report by Council of Foreign Relations found that in 2016, Obama dropped an average of 72 bombs a day. He used drone strikes as a liberal panacea for fighting those “terrorists” while keeping boots off the ground. But he also expanded the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan. Immigrants were deported in such record numbers under Obama that immigration activists called him the “deporter-in-chief.” And then there were the “Terror Tuesday” meetings, where Obama national security officials would order pizza and drink Coke and review the list of potential targets on their secret assassination list.

      For his liberal base, Obama sanitized a morally bankrupt expansion of war, and used Predator and Reaper drones strapped with Hellfire missiles to kill suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens stripped of their due process. The Obama administration harshly prosecuted whistleblowers in a shocking attack on press freedoms. By the end of his presidency, official numbers on civilian deaths by drone were underreported; we may never know the true cost of these wars, which continue today.

    • Ukraine Says Russia Fired on Ships in Black Sea
      The Ukrainian navy said Sunday that Russia’s coast guard opened fire on Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea following a tense standoff off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, wounding two crew members.

      Russia didn’t immediately comment on the claims. Ukraine’s navy said that two of its vessels were struck and that Russian coast guard crews boarded them and a tugboat and seized them.

      There have been growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has steadily worked to increase its zone of control around the peninsula.

      Earlier Sunday, Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over another incident involving the same three vessels, prompting Moscow to block passage through the Kerch Strait.

    • Children 'Screaming and Coughing in the Mayhem' as Trump Border Patrol Fires Tear Gas Into Mexico
      After Central American migrants approached the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday to call attention to awful shelter conditions and request asylum, U.S. Border Patrol agents reportedly fired tear gas into Mexico, forcing parents with toddlers to flee.

      "Children were screaming and coughing in the mayhem," the Associated Press reported. "On the U.S. side of the fence, shoppers streamed in and out of an outlet mall."


      The demonstrations by Central American asylum seekers came amid reports that the Trump administration is looking to cut a deal with the newly-elected Mexican government to keep migrants out of the U.S. until their asylum claims are fully processed.

    • Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia's Dismemberment of Yemen
      “Saudi Arabia must face the damage from the past three-plus years of war in Yemen.” These words opened the last column by Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi published while he was still alive. Three weeks later, on Oct. 2, Khashoggi walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and was never seen again. Khashoggi was instructed to go there by the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., the brother of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to pick up documents allowing him to remarry. It was a ruse. Immediately after entering, Khashoggi was grabbed by a 15-member Saudi “kill team,” tortured, killed and dismembered.

      An audio recording of the gruesome murder, reportedly captured by the Turkish government, left little doubt about his fate. Turkey gave the recording to Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Germany, France and the U.K. When asked by Fox News if he had listened to it, President Donald Trump said, “It’s a suffering tape … There’s no reason for me to hear it.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Crucifying Julian Assange
      Chris Hedges and Joe Lauria, journalist and editor-in-chief at Consortium News, discuss efforts to force #WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange out of the Ecuador Embassy in London and extradite him to the US to stand trial.

    • Robert Mueller and His Ilk Are About to Commit a Massive Crime! Will You Let Them Get Away with It?
      The news this morning is all about the pending indictment of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Wittingly or unwittingly, the Justice Department revealed the existence of a sealed indictment of Assange in a pleading it filed in a related case in the Eastern District of Virginia. According to the DOJ, the pleading in which Assange’s indictment was revealed, is a mistake.

      While others will talk about the horrendous Constitutional implications of an indictment for publishing truthful information—to wit, the 2016 emails of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and John Podesta—this threatened prosecution of Assange is truly catastrophic to the very survival of the First Amendment. Let us look at the larger context.

      By indicting Assange, the United States seeks to shut him up about the biggest intelligence fraud yet conducted in human history: the fraudulent claim that the Russians hacked the DNC and Podesta, and handed Donald Trump the Presidency. As the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have repeatedly demonstrated, “the evidence” that such a hack occurred, as recounted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his indictments of several Russian GRU officers, is extremely dubious at best, and more than likely entirely fabricated. The likelihood is that the Clinton and Podesta emails were leaked to WikiLeaks, and that Julian Assange and former British Ambassador Craig Murray know the name or names of the leakers, as they have said, publicly. The leakers were not Russian state actors.

    • ‘Very Trumpian’: Pamela Anderson continues war of words with prime minister
      Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson has taken a swipe at Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a sexist remark, calling it “a very Trumpian” thing to do. Appearing on The Project tonight, Ms Anderson continued her war of words with the leader of the country after she called on him to offer Wikileaks founder Julian Assange safe passage to Australia. The Prime Minister landed himself in hot water after he made an insensitive joke about Ms Anderson when asked about her demand on a commercial radio station. “I’ve had plenty of mates have asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out... um, with Pamela Anderson” he said.

    • America’s Mood Swing Diplomacy
      Much has been written, both within and outside the US, on the extremely polarizing and divisive nature of Mr. Donald Trump’s presidency. Controversial, sensational and often the center of headlines himself, President Trump has left in his wake a plethora of shattered norms and conventions that have otherwise long been associated with the US presidency. Of all these shattered conventions however, none are more apparent than his purportedly unique take on US Foreign Policy characterized by his mantra, ‘America First.’

      Be it the United States’ long-standing allies as part of NATO, neighboring trading partners such as Canada and Mexico, or even its more complex web of relations with countries in key regions such as the Middle East and South Asia; President Trump’s ‘America First’ policy has led to a radical revaluation of the way the US is pursuing its overseas interests with widespread repercussions.

      This radical shift is perhaps most apparent in President Trump’s own statements and comments on countries as diverse as France, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan where leaders have been often left flabbergasted by the unpredictability, obtuseness, and grave implications of a sitting US president’s sudden barbs against their countries. These include rancorous statements on for instance, France’s contributions to NATO, illegal immigrants from Mexico, Saudi Arabia’s importance as an arms importer (despite their deteriorating human rights records), and the most recent insinuations on how Pakistan ‘hasn’t done a damned thing for the US.’

    • WikiLeaks finds "portion of fabricated" docs in hackers' papers against Russian propaganda
      WikiLeaks experts have carried out an analysis of the documents published by the an anonymous group, which, according to hackers, belong to the British Integrity Initiative project (engaged in “fighting propaganda and disinformation”) and made a concludsion that some of them “show signs of falsification.” This is stated in the message on the official page of WikiLeaks on Twitter.

      The documents have been published by the Anonomus hackers group earlier. Among the papers were guidelines, which state the British project involves the creation of clusters of specialists in political, military, academic and other fields who will monitor and analyze cases of disinformation in the country. In addition, among the documents posted by the hackers, there was an a "Guide to Countering Russian Disinformation". The Integrity Initiative, according to data on its website, is not directly connected with the state, but cooperates with various departments of the British government.

      “Purported internal documents, from a UK government "counter-Russia" influence network targeting mostly Europe and US, appear on site often alleged to be used by Russian state hackers,” the WikiLeaks message says. Experts, according to representatives of the organization, analyzed these documents and found these docs “show hallmarks of being fabrications”. The organization did not specify which papers they considered fake and gave no comments regarding their analysis.

    • Prosecuting Assange is Essential for Restoring our National Security
      Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Julian Assange or Wikileaks. My disdain for started long before both apparently acted as digital mouthpiece for Russian intelligence by releasing hacked emails. It began with the actions of Chelsea Manning, and hit a crescendo with Edward Snowden. Assange and Wikileaks are responsible for creating a class of leakers motivated by ego, who justify their betrayal of our national security by claiming that their moral code trumps the actual code governing the release of classified information.

    • Julian Assange's lawyers say they have been stopped from seeing him at Ecuadorian Embassy and they fear the Wikileaks founder may soon be kicked out
      The Australian denied their claims but refused to travel to Sweden to face them, because he claimed it was part of a ruse to extradite him to the US.


      'The hearing is on Tuesday in the national security court complex at Alexandria, Virginia,' WikiLeaks tweeted, adding it is to 'remove the secrecy order on the US charges against him.'

      A US court document leaked in November finally revealed the US has already placed secret charges on Assange.

      Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno is now said to have terminated the credentials of his British ambassador, Carlos Abad Ortiz, according to a decree published by WikiLeaks on Wednesday.

    • FEATURE PHOTO: Protesting for Assange
      Clayton Redden, a Charleston resident, protests the Julian Assange case Saturday afternoon on Lincoln Ave. outside of Old Main. “I’m trying to bring Republicans and Democrats together, to spread awareness about the persecution and death of independent journalism.” Redden said. “Spread awareness about the slow crucifixion of Julian Assange who has been exposing war crimes.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Rain Tamps Down California Fire but Turns Grim Search Soggy
      The catastrophic wildfire in Northern California is nearly out after several days of rain, but searchers are still completing the meticulous task of combing through now-muddy ash and debris for signs of human remains.

      Crews resumed the grim work Saturday as rain cleared out of the devastated town of Paradise. Some were looking through destroyed neighborhoods for a second time as hundreds of people remain unaccounted for. They were searching for telltale fragments or bone or anything that looks like a pile of cremated ashes.

      The nation’s deadliest wildfire in a century has killed at least 84 people, and 475 are on a list of those reported missing. The flames ignited Nov. 8 in the parched Sierra Nevada foothills and quickly spread across 240 square miles (620 square kilometers), destroying most of Paradise in a day.

    • In Southwest Texas, the Fracking Industry Encroaches on Small Towns, Remote Wilderness, and Clear Skies
      Sue and James Franklin run a rock and mineral shop in Balmorhea, Texas, a small picturesque town known for hosting the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. Their shop is about 15 miles from their home in Verhalen, a place they describe as too tiny to be called a town — only about 10 people live there. The couple never imaged the area, on the southwest edge of the Permian Basin, would become an industrial wasteland, but they say that transformation has begun the last two years.

      Texas’ latest oil boom, driven by the fracking industry and crude oil exports, has brought skyrocketing air, noise, and light pollution to small southwest Texas towns and the surrounding lands which are known for majestic mountain views and brilliant starry night skies. With the oil industry come bright lights illuminating an otherwise almost perfectly dark sky. The Franklins’ home on a narrow rural road is now surrounded by fracking sites. On a clear day they can see 20 of these sites from their 10-acre plot of land.

    • US Donors Gave $177k to UK Climate Science Denying Global Warming Policy Foundation
      The UK’s premier climate science denial campaign group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), received hundreds of thousands of dollars of US donations in 2017, recently published tax returns show.

      The money was received at a time when the GWPF was allegedly coordinating with eight other right-wing thinktanks based in and around offices at 55 Tufton Street to push for a hard Brexit.

      Another of the groups, the Taxpayers’ Alliance, received at least $286,000 (€£223,300) from US-based donors in the last five years, the Guardian recently revealed — raising concerns about the influence of foreign money at a time when lobby groups are pushing to cut regulation to secure trade deals with major polluters such as India, China and the US.

      Public tax returns filed by the GWPF’s US-fundraising arm, American Friends of the GWPF, show the organisation received $177,001 in grants and gifts in 2017 (worth approximately €£137,900 at the time of writing). That includes a single $124,884 donation (worth approximately €£97,265), according to the documents.

      The 2017 donations were a significant increase on the amount the GWPF received in 2016 — $128,016 (approximately €£99,735).

      US tax regulations only require the organisation to declare how much it has received in grants, without disclosing the source of the donations.

    • More oil moving by rail now than at time of Mégantic disaster
      With Donald Trump attacking the mainstream media, I find myself warming to it as never before — and thereby losing sight of its many failings.

      It gives abundant coverage to celebrities and powerful people, while giving short shrift to issues that threaten the planet, and dropping important stories after a short burst of attention.

    • 3 Charts: What Trump Doesn't Want You to Know About the Climate Emergency
      The Trump administration dropped the 1,000-page second volume of a congressionally-mandated study of the impact of the climate crisis on the United States late on Friday of Thanksgiving weekend in order to bury it. This sort of move is designed to make sure the report is not headline news on the networks, newspapers and social media on Monday morning, when big news items are seen by most Americans.

      Trump and his cronies—I mean, cabinet—are deeply invested in or beholden to ExxonMobil and other Big Carbon firms who stand to lose billions if the public realizes the harm they are inflicting on us.

      The problem? If we let them go on pushing out 41 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year throughout the world, it is going to cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars a year by the end of the century. The economic contribution of entire states could be wiped out.

    • 'This Is a Climate Emergency': Extinction Rebellion Takes to Streets to Stand for the Planet Over Polluter Profits
      As scientists warn that the "window of opportunity for action" to prevent catastrophic and irreversible planetary harm from the climate crisis "is almost closed," members of the Extinction Rebellion movement took to the streets of London on Saturday to demand an urgent response to the world's ecological emergency and mourn the lives that human-caused climate change has already taken—and will take in the near future in the absence of radical change.

      "Last Saturday we celebrated all the life we wanted to save. This Saturday we mourn all the life we've lost, are losing, and are still to lose," Extinction Rebellion said in a statement. "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 if nothing changes. There is no way forward without giving credence to our grief."

    • This Thanksgiving, a Look at the Indigenous Communities Making the Climate Connection
      As Thanksgiving celebrations kick off around the U.S., activists are calling attention to Indigenous organizations, including many that work on problems and issues related to climate change.

      “A lot of people have been asking me lately how to support Indigenous people during this holiday season which often harps on celebration of the genocide of our ancestors,” wrote community advocate Amy Breesman in a social media posting on Wednesday.

    • Ocean Warming Study Criticism Shows How the Scientific Method Works
      Errors in a recent ocean warming study illustrate global warming’s complexity. They also show the depths to which climate science deniers will stoop to dismiss or downplay evidence for human-caused climate change.

    • Flights to Cornwall will accelerate climate disaster
      Caroline Lucas said MP: "The world's top scientists say we've got 12 years to avoid climate catastrophe.

      "Yet this Government appears to be doing all it can to accelerate disaster. These extra flights will add to noise, air pollution and climate-wrecking emissions - all for the benefit of a tiny minority.

      "Chris Grayling should be investing in improving creaking rail links to Cornwall - not wasting public money on damaging domestic flights."

    • 'Time is Running Out,' American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change
      The warning is clear and dire — and the source unexpected. “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told an oil industry conference, as he described research into climate change caused by fossil fuels.

      “The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.”

      The speaker wasn’t Mike Sommers, who was named to helm API this past May. Nor was it Jack Gerard, who served as API’s president for roughly a decade starting in 2008.
    • Will Democrats Back a 'Green New Deal'?
      News related to climate change is rarely good. More often than not, it engenders a sense of doom and helplessness among the public. But lately there has been a glimmer of hope on the horizon for climate justice, and it bears the name Sunrise Movement.

      Even before the midterm elections took place, activists in the youth-based climate justice organization had planned a sit-in at the Washington, D.C., offices of California representative and longtime Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. A week after the election, the approximately 200 people that crowded into Pelosi’s office were visited by newly elected New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Addressing the climate activists, Ocasio-Cortez said, “My journey here started at Standing Rock,” referring to the powerful indigenous-led rebellion to stop the Dakota Access pipeline project in 2017. Immediately afterward, Ocasio-Cortez pledged to introduce legislation to create a “Select Committee on a Green New Deal,” as one of her first actions in Congress.

      William Lawrence, a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, explained to me in an interview that the movement is motivated by the existential threat of the climate crisis. “We have hundreds of millions of lives worldwide that are at stake because of the threat of runaway climate change,” he said. The solutions out of this crisis are known and achievable: “We need to overhaul our energy system, our food system and our transit system,” Lawrence explained. In his opinion, “The only way to do that in time is for the government to take an active role in the economy to shape and guide the transition. That’s exactly how we got ourselves out of the Great Depression.”
    • In Massachusetts, 'Independent' Studies of Gas Infrastructure Use Industry Data and Consultants
      Massachusetts has contracted two major studies of its natural gas infrastructure, billing both assessments as “independent” efforts. Yet the fact that they use industry consultants and data has raised doubts among critics about their level of objectivity.

      While one study is evaluating the state’s overall gas distribution system, the other assessment explores the potential health risks associated with Enbridge’s proposed compressor station in Weymouth, just south of Boston.

      Last week the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) announced the hiring of Canadian consulting firm Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. to evaluate the state’s gas distribution system following the deadly explosions that rocked Columbia Gas of Massachusetts’ pipelines in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.

      The September blasts killed 18-year old Leonel Rondon, injured dozens of other residents, set fire to scores of homes, and left thousands without gas service, which has yet to be restored in full.
    • 3 Charts: What Trump doesn’t Want you to Know about the Climate Emergency
      The Trump administration dropped the 1,000-page second volume of a congressionally-mandated study of the impact of the climate crisis on the United States late on Friday of Thanksgiving weekend in order to bury it. This sort of move is designed to make sure the report is not headline news on the networks, newspapers and social media on Monday morning, when big news items are seen by most Americans.

      Trump and his cronies– I mean, cabinet– are deeply invested in or beholden to Exxon-Mobil and other Big Carbon firms who stand to lose billions if the public realizes the harm they are inflicting on us.
    • New National Climate Assessment Shows Climate Change is a Threat to our Economy, Infrastructure and Health
      The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II, was released today. The much-anticipated report, prepared by a consortium of 13 US federal government agencies, makes clear that climate change is already here—as evident from the worsening flooding, wildfire seasons, droughts, and heatwaves the nation has been experiencing. What’s more, the report highlights that as climate change worsens, risks to our economy, infrastructure, health and well-being, and ecosystems will grow significantly. Urgent action is needed to lower heat-trapping emissions and invest in making our economy and our communities more prepared to withstand climate impacts.
    • Rain Tamps Down California Fire but Turns Grim Search Soggy
      The fire burned down nearly 19,000 buildings, most of them homes, and displaced thousands of people, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
    • To Tackle Climate Crisis, Says Bernie Sanders, US Must 'Be Bold and Aggressive in Standing Up to Greed of Fossil Fuel Industry'
      In an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation" shortly after the Trump administration attempted to bury a devastating report on the climate crisis, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said it is more important than ever to unite the public around ambitious solutions to human-caused climate change as the White House actively works with the fossil fuel industry to make it worse.

    • Pro-environment groups spent millions on “green” midterm candidates
      In October, the United Nations released a landmark report describing a grim future for the planet if climate change isn’t aggressively and rapidly addressed.

      The report describes near-apocalyptic conditions — mass food shortages, stronger wildfires and dying coral reefs — as early as 2040.

      Many environmental advocacy groups, like Environment America and the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), spent millions on the 2018 midterms to ensure Congress is filled with more pro-environment members. So far in 2018, organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and Partnership for Conservation have funded lobbying efforts for policies supporting the environment.

      “This is not some distant threat,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCV’s senior vice president for government affairs. “The need to combat the climate crisis has never been more important.”

      While the consequences of climate change aren’t new information, the U.N. report makes the situation far more dire than previously thought.

    • Fighting for the Climate: A Note from Post-Apocalyptic California
      People have been warning for years about a grim future if we don't act to dramatically reduce green-house gas emissions. They warned that the unstable climate would lead to droughts, more frequent and intense wildfires, and too much and too intense rain in other places. They also argued that while the Global North was the source of the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, the Global South would bear the brunt of the damage, and that this would lead to increased global migration, as climate refugees needed to flee as places became unlivable. In October, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report which says that we have 12 years to get greenhouse gas emissions down by a significant amount or we face irreversible consequences.

      The grim future we have been warned about is now with us. For years it was incredibly frustrating to know what was coming, to try to engage others, and have most people living their private lives, based on the pursuit of private happiness, while leaving the public to rot from a lack of civic engagement. For many years it was difficult to get people to see that dealing with climate change was not going to mean they would have to give away their creature comforts for something that would happen to polar bears in fifty years. Now, as a result of the fires, and the hurricanes, and sea level rise, many more people feel a sense of urgency around the fact that the collective social fabric upon which we all depend is in serious trouble.
    • Koch Industries Lobbies Against Electric Vehicle Tax Credit
      Koch Industries is calling for the elimination of tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs), all while claiming that it does not oppose plug-in cars and inviting the elimination of oil and gas subsidies that the petroleum conglomerate and its industry peers receive. Outgoing Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller introduced a bill in September that would lift the sales cap on electric vehicles eligible for a federal tax credit, and replace the cap with a deadline that would dictate when the credit would start being phased out.

      Under the current tax credit for EVs, once a manufacturer sells 200,000 EVs in the U.S. the amount of the credit gets slashed in half, then halved again. The full credit amount is $7,500. Tesla has already hit the 200,000 cap and GM will soon reach it, so both companies would benefit from a tax credit extension via eliminating the sales cap. Heller’s bill lifts the 200,000 vehicle limit and substitutes a phase-out period starting in 2022.

      But the conservative senator’s bill is facing opposition from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers.

      In a letter to senators dated October 24, Koch Industries lobbyist Philip Ellender urges opposition to the expansion of EV tax credits through 2022. Ellender claims that the tax credits primarily benefit wealthy consumers and that subsidization interferes with “innovation and consumer choice.”

      The letter cites two studies, each by a right-wing think tank. One study comes from the Pacific Research Institute, which has received fossil fuel funding – including over $1.7 million from Koch-related foundations and $615,000 from ExxonMobil. The PRI study, titled “Costly Subsidies for the Rich: Quantifying the Subsidies Offered to Battery Electric Powered Cars,” emphasizes that “the majority of the dollar benefits from energy and electric car subsidies are paid to tax filers in the higher income tax brackets.”
    • Protesters demand a Green New Deal
      Donning particle masks in the smoke-fogged air this morning, dozens of protesters urged Bay Area congressional representatives Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee to endorse a Green New Deal select committee that could create millions of jobs combating the climate crisis.

      “We need to respond with the urgency the situation requires,” said 24-year-old Sunrise Movement volunteer organizer, Daniela Lapidous. “We can create millions of green jobs, and move our economy to safe renewable energy, and keep our communities healthy.”


  • Finance

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Already Making Democrats and Republicans Nervous
      The 116th United States Congress is not yet in session and already there’s been no shortage of headlines about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the incoming House Democrat who sent a shock through her party’s establishment with her primary win in New York’s 14th Congressional District. Even before she won the November midterm election and became the youngest representative ever to head to Congress, both Republicans and Democrats tried desperately to make sense of her popularity—and began throwing punches.

      From criticizing her clothing and savings account to trying to cut down her activism, it seems media and politicians alike can’t stop talking about her. Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman both scrutinized Ocasio-Cortez’s actions, with Lieberman warning in the run-up to the midterms that the would-be House member “hurts the party, congress and even America.”
    • Why we must regulate the blockchain
      Ken Thompson, the co-creator of the Unix computer operating system, received the Association for Computing Machinery’s prestigious Turing Award in 1984. In his acceptance speech, he did something odd. He chose not to talk about Unix at all; instead, he spoke about trust. Computer security can never be proven indisputably, Thompson pointed out, because those who write the software can embed malicious code that is invisible to outside observers. “You can’t trust code that you did not totally create yourself,” he concluded. Instead, you must trust the people who wrote the code. Humans are always in the loop.


      Furthermore, the Internet experience should give pause to those making confident predictions about the blockchain’s social impacts. The Internet is an extraordinary tool for free speech around the world but also is the mechanism that repressive governments now use to control their populations. Social media brought people together but also nurtured communities of hate and state-sponsored disinformation campaigns. Uber provides people around the world with efficient access to transportation but also gives one company tremendous power that it has repeatedly abused. The blockchain has similar potential to be used for good and ill. The same corrosive forces that gave rise to the modern trust crisis could undermine or corrupt its solutions.


      One interpretation of this result, from fellow NYU professor David Yermack, is “that there really is a desperate need for technology to come, reduce the cost of financial intermediation, probably by orders of magnitude. He posits this as the opportunity for financial technology (fintech) innovations including distributed ledger technology. The question, though, is why these innovations would be any more likely to change these dynamics. Recording financial transactions on a distributed ledger could be much cheaper than doing so through a collection of reconciled databases and could give rise to many new services. But the same was true of moving from paper to computerized records, and from room-sized mainframes to Internet cloud storage. Today’s financial services colossus JPMorgan Chase is light years more sophisticated than the firm that John Pierpont Morgan created in 1895. Yet it occupies a similar role in the interstices of finance.

    • Theresa May accused of "major cover-up" over Brexit donor Arron Banks
      Theresa May is under increasing pressure to clarify reports that she blocked an investigation into Brexit bankroller Arron Banks in the run-up to the 2016 referendum after the Home Office refused to reveal information about the controversial Leave.EU and UKIP donor.

      In an “extraordinary” response to a freedom of information request from openDemocracy, the Home Office refused to confirm or deny whether it holds any material from 2016 about Leave.EU and Banks. The department said that doing so “would impede the future formulation of government policy”.

      Opposition MPs have accused the Home Office of a “major cover-up” and called on the government to “ditch the obfuscation” and “come clean”, amid media reports that May, as home secretary, blocked a proposed probe into Banks ahead of the Brexit vote.

      In a letter seen by openDemocracy, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake has called on the prime minister to “clarify whether you were aware of any concerns regarding Arron Banks’s finances and alleged relationships with foreign states”. The Leave donor is currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency.

    • Brexiteers, backstops, and the bloody Irish border
      The bomb went off in the early morning, about 4 or 5 am. In Coshquin, just outside Derry – about six miles away from where I grew up in Donegal in the Irish Republic.

      I remember it as a booming thud. I didn’t think much of it - I’d heard bombs before. I tried to get back to sleep. Back in October 1990, it was no big deal. There was no shortage of bombs in Derry and around the border throughout the 70s and 80s. Probably a controlled explosion by the British army, I thought, or even a dummy run up in the hills on the Donegal side of the border by the Provos.

      There were lots of dark mutterings about who was responsible in the days afterwards. The IRA, of course. But in a small rural area on the border adjoining a small city like Derry, people have a good idea of who was actually responsible. Best not to speak though. Dangerous times produce dangerous people with dangerous ideologies. You never know. Whatever you say, say nothin’. It was, and still is to some extent, a “land of password, handgrip, wink and nod.” , as Seamus Heaney so perceptively pointed out.

      Whoever it was, they’d chained Patsy Gillespie tightly into a van loaded with over a thousand pounds worth of explosives at gun point. His wife and kids were held at gunpoint during the ordeal. They then told him to drive the van out the Buncrana road to the heavily fortified British army checkpoint at Coshquin. Patsy had worked in an army base in the city. He’d been told to stop by the local brigade many times. But he was a stubborn wee man by all accounts. Pushed his luck not fully realising the danger, perhaps.
    • Tied visas and quick fixes: the UK’s post-Brexit labour market
      In 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union. At the time many British businesses raised serious concerns about the likely impact of a leave vote upon the labour market. At the heart of their concerns was a fear of labour shortages resulting from the end of free movement within the EU. Some experts from government, civil society and industry have called for a renewed focus on improving wages and conditions in order to entice British workers into jobs that were previously only palatable to EU nationals.

      This would be in line with the UK’s stated ambition of leading the world in the fight against ‘modern slavery’. If employers must treat workers better as a result of Brexit, then surely this helps to advance the cause? Yet rather than welcoming this new world of work, the government has instead introduced a temporary migrant worker scheme that will greatly increase the risk of ‘modern slavery’ in Britain.
    • End the Subsidy Wars: Amazon Took Advantage of a System That's Baked into America's Economy. We Must Finally Fix It.
      Leave it to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. In his zeal to be disruptor-in-chief, he has pulled back the green curtain on America's corrupted economic development system. More publicly than ever, taxpayers have been shown how our nation's tax break-industrial complex works — and quite rightly, they want to end it.

      This state-eat-state and city-versus-city madness has many names: "race to the bottom," "zero-sum game," even "second war among the states." That last phrase was coined by Business Week magazine — 42 years ago. It costs at least $70 billion per year, but can only be estimated due to poor disclosure.
    • 2020 Presidential Contenders More Likely to Take on Wall Street
      From Katie Porter to Colin Allred, candidates who ran hard on taking on Wall Street found many victories in the 2018 midterms — and vulnerable red-state Democrats who tried to prove their bipartisanship through deregulation lost big. But even before running on the left flank of financial policy proved itself electorally, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party had already, without much fanfare, won a longtime intra-party fight. When it comes to financial policy, the members of the Democratic Party vying for the 2020 presidential nomination are closer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than they are to Senator Chuck Schumer.

      In February 2018, long before anyone in the national media had Ocasio-Cortez on their radar, she was forcefully speaking out against a bill formally named the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2155) but dubbed the “Bank Lobbyist Act” by consumer advocates. This legislation, signed into law in May, rolls back the automatic monitoring by the regulators for financial institutions with more than $50 billion in assets — raising the bar for this automatic scrutiny to a staggering quarter of a trillion ($250 billion). It also functionally exempted 85 percent of US banks and credit unions from fair lending laws in the mortgage market. Minority Leader Schumer voted against the bill but he did not whip the caucus against it — an implicit endorsement of the deregulatory policy. In the end, 16 Democratic Senators voted with the GOP to carve a giant chunk out of the Dodd-Frank Act.

    • Trump’s Trade Wars Hurt Everyone in Farm Country
      Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Iowa. When agriculture suffers, all Iowans do — even those who’ve never set foot on a farm. That’s exactly what’s happening because of President Trump’s tariffs and trade wars. When farm prices rise because of tariffs, farmers can’t buy a new pickup, purchase equipment, or make repairs. The salesperson the farmer works with doesn’t get a commission, so they spend less at home. Businesses get fewer customers, so they cut back on their workforce. Eventually the whole economy is hurting — and so is our state. Iowa’s lost tax revenue from personal income and sales taxes alone may range from $111 million to $146 million, Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development estimates. Federal offsets could reduce those losses, but not completely. Those revenue losses can translate into additional lost labor income — anywhere from $245 million to $484 million, enough income to support 9,300 to 12,300 jobs.

    • America's wealthiest family owns Walmart. They can afford to pay workers $15 an hour.
      The major economic crisis facing this country is that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, tens of millions of Americans are working for wages that are so low that they are barely surviving. All over this country, people are forced to work two or three jobs to support their families as the cost of healthcare, housing, childcare, and prescription drugs continues to rise. In today's economy, the very rich are becoming much richer while too many workers see little or no income growth.

      Thankfully, over the past year, real progress has been made to address this crisis. As a result of major grassroots campaigns, workers at the Walt Disney Company and Amazon fought and won a living wage of at least $15 an hour. Further, from coast to coast, many states and cities are raising the minimum wage — often to $15 an hour.

      The American people understand that something is fundamentally unfair when workers earn totally inadequate wages, while the corporations that employ them make billions in profits and their CEOs receive outrageously high compensation packages. On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, we must remind Walmart, the largest corporation in America, that the low wages they pay their employees is unacceptable. Walmart must pay their employees a living wage — at least $15 an hour. The American worker needs a pay raise, and Walmart can play an important role in leading that effort.

    • Skip Cyber Monday—Support a Real Local Business
      “Cyber Monday” is coming up—get out there and buy stuff!

      You don’t actually have to “get out there” anywhere, for this gimmicky shop-shop-shop day lures us to consume without leaving home, or even getting out of bed. Concocted by Amazon, the online marketing monopolist, Cyber Monday is a knock-off of Black Friday—just another ploy by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to siphon sales from real stores.

      Seems innocent enough, but behind Amazon’s online convenience and discounted prices is a predatory business model based on exploitation of workers, bullying of suppliers, dodging of taxes, and use of crude anti-competitive force against America’s Main Street businesses.

      A clue into Amazon’s ethics came when Bezos instructed his staff to get ever-cheaper prices from small-business suppliers by stalking them “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.”

      John Crandall, who owns Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs, is one who’s under attack. He offers fair prices, provides good jobs, pays rent and taxes, and lives in and supports the community.

    • As EU Approves Theresa May's Brexit Plan, Corbyn Denounces Deal as 'Miserable Failure' That Puts Ordinary People at Risk
      After leaders of the European Union on Sunday unanimously approved British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan—which is the product of over a year of chaotic negotiations that saw key Tory cabinet ministers resign in protest—Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately vowed to oppose the deal in Parliament, arguing it "gives us less say over our future, and puts jobs and living standards at risk."

      "This is a bad deal for the country," Corbyn wrote on Facebook. "It is the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds... That is why Labour will oppose this deal in parliament. We will work with others to block a no deal outcome, and ensure that Labour's alternative plan for a sensible deal to bring the country together is on the table."

      Labour's alternative, Corbyn continued, "includes a permanent customs union with a U.K. say, a strong single market deal and guarantees on workers' rights, consumer, and environmental protections."

    • Jeremy Corbyn: Brexit Deal 'Leaves Us With the Worst of All Worlds'
      A former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party says he cannot support the Brexit deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May.

      Michael Howard said Sunday that May’s deal has many shortcomings, adding “It’s not a deal that is a good deal for the U.K.”

      Howard says the biggest problem is the way Britain would have to seek European Union permission to sever all ties to the EU if a “backstop” agreement comes into force.

    • Amazon’s move will gentrify neighborhoods – at what social cost?
      When large companies move into an area, politicians often proclaim how the new business will create jobs, increase tax revenues, and thus lead to economic growth. This is one reason local governments offer tax incentives to businesses willing to move in.

      Amazon’s decision to locate offices in Long Island City across the East River from Manhattan, and in Crystal City on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., follows this pattern. The New York location borders the largest low-income housing area in the United States, with mostly African-American and Hispanic residents whose median household income is well below the federal poverty level. These people, local politicians claim, will benefit from Amazon’s move to the neighborhood.

      However, when large companies with an upscale and specialized workforce move into an area, the result is more often gentrification. As economic development takes place and prices of real estate go up, the poorer residents of the neighborhood are forced out and replaced by wealthier ones.

      Is such a market-driven approach that accepts displacement ethically justifiable? And how do we even measure its costs?


      Gentrification, as an economic and social phenomenon, is not limited to cities in the United States. Gentrification has become a global issue. In cities as geographically dispersed as Amsterdam, Sydney, Berlin and Vancouver, gentrification has been linked to free-market economic policies. Put another way, when governments decide to let housing and property markets exist with little or no regulation, gentrification typically flourishes.

      When neighborhoods gentrify, politicians and policymakers often point to physical and economic improvements and the better quality of life for residents in an area after gentrification. For example in 1985, during a period of intense urban renewal in New York City, the Real Estate Board of New York took out advertisements in The New York Times to claim that “neighborhoods and lives blossom” under gentrification.

      Through the lens of utilitarianism, one could say that the population living in neighborhoods after gentrification experience greater happiness than before.

      The fallacy of this argument is, of course, that these “happier” populations are overwhelmingly not the same people as were there before gentrification. As a scholar who works on questions of ethics in the built environment, I have studied how we, as the concerned public, can better equip ourselves to see through such arguments.

      Economic development in an area leads to less poverty in that area, not because the personal economic situation of poor people who live there has improved, but because the poor people have quite simply been erased out of the picture.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • On Thanksgiving Eve, Facebook quietly admitted to hiring dirty tricksters to publish an anti-Semitic Soros hoax smearing its critics

      But on Thanksgiving eve, after the majority of newsrooms had shut down for the night and while everyone's attention was elsewhere, Facebook quietly admitted that the Times had been right, with Facebook communications and policy chief Elliot Schrage, admitting that he had personally hired Definers and that the company had directed them to investigate and publish about Soros. Schrage is now leaving Facebook, and claims that the decision to do so pre-dated the scandal.

    • In Thanksgiving Eve News Dump, Facebook Admits Hiring GOP Operatives to Dig Up Dirt on Critics—Including George Soros

    • As Zuckerberg Refuses to Testify, UK Seizes Thousands of 'Potentially Explosive' Documents Facebook Has Tried to Keep Secret
      Conservative MP Damian Collins, the Guardian reports, then "invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism" that compelled Six4Three's founder—who was on a business trip in London—to hand over the documents, which reportedly "contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg."

      "This week Facebook is going to learn the hard way that it is not above the law. In ignoring the inquiries of seven national parliaments, Mark Zuckerberg brought this escalation upon himself, as there was no other way to get this critical information," wrote Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who was previously the director of research at Cambridge Analytica.

      "The irony is... Mark Zuckerberg must be pretty pissed that his data was seized without him knowing," Wylie added.
    • Feed the Swamp
      It is a fact of political life that in the United States, what Michelle Goldberg in a recent New York Times article referred to as the “bottomless depravity” of Donald Trump, can also be applied to at least three members of Congress who emerged triumphant from the recent election. One of them, to his credit, was not an indicted criminal.

      The re-elected, but unindicted congressman, was Steve King of Iowa. He was re-elected for the 9th time on November 6, 2018. Mr. King almost certainly takes great pride in the fact that he has not been charged with any criminal activity-only racism and fascism. He is credited over the years with countless racist rants. In one of his many tweets he said: “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” Commenting on the activities of illegal immigrants, he said that for every illegal immigrant who becomes a valedictorian of his or her class, there are 100s of others who “weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

    • Rejecting Claim of Presidential Immunity, Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Trump Foundation to Proceed
      Rejecting the immunity defense put forth by President Donald Trump's lawyers, a New York state judge on Friday ruled that a lawsuit accusing Trump and members of his family of using their "charitable" foundation as nothing more than a personal "piggy bank" can proceed.

      Filed in June by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, the suit alleges that Trump engaged in "persistently illegal conduct" by using the Trump Foundation as a vehicle to advance his political and business aims. The lawsuit seeks to dissolve the Trump Foundation entirely.

      "The Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's business and political interests. There are rules that govern private foundations, and we intend to enforce them—no matter who runs the foundation," Underwood wrote in a tweet on Friday.

    • A dangerous moment for democracy: Why we need a New Reconstruction
      Despite record turnout and a historic shift in power in Congress, the 2018 midterm elections represent a dangerous moment for the future of American democracy. From Georgia to Kansas to North Carolina, this election has been marred by a concerted effort to rig our democracy and suppress the voices of communities of color. From voter purges to gerrymandering to openly racialized intimidation attacks, conservatives have continued to escalate their attempts to entrench political power by dismantling democratic institutions.

      This is not the first time the country has faced this kind of assault on both democracy and multi-racial political power. We have done so twice before: first in the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War, and second in the civil rights movement battle to dismantle Jim Crow. These previous experiences underscore the scope of the challenge for us today. To rebuild democracy and ensure it works for all us, we will have to do more than win elections; we need to radically transform our underlying democratic institutions.

      In the aftermath of the Civil War, Republicans and abolitionists in Congress launched an ambitious project of Reconstruction aiming to dismantle the legacy of slavery and racial hierarchy. These efforts led to the adoption of the radical Reconstruction Amendments to the Constitution: the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery; the 14th Amendment securing the privileges and immunities of citizenship including rights of equal protection and due process for all persons; and the 15th Amendment prohibiting states from disenfranchising voters on basis of race. It would take another several decades for these constitutional provisions to include women.
    • Corporate PACs Cling to Relevance Amid Rise of Progressives Refusing Big Business Donations
      The rise of progressive lawmakers who have refused to accept corporate political action committe (PAC) money has not gone unnoticed by big business, and corporate interests are mobilizing to save the outsized influence they've had on Washington, especially since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010.

      According to the Huffington Post, which obtained a PowerPoint presentation from a biennial conference held earlier this month by the National Association of Business Political Action Committees (NABPAC), the group presented a blueprint for "challenging the narrative" about corporations' toxic hold on American lawmakers—by combating anti-PAC rhetoric and gaining buy-in from politicians and political journalists who can help disseminate PAC-friendly views.

    • Birds of a Feather
      It’s just another one of those amazing coincidences and a harbinger of things to come in the United States. It was the news that Democracy’s greatest champion in Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a Trump wannabe, was presiding over a parliament last June that was drafting anti-immigrant legislation.

      The parliament’s efforts were preceded by the Hungarian parliamentary election, that took place on April 8, 2018. During that election, Mr. Orban ignored the problems in Hungary, such as corruption scandals, low wages, or the depressing state of health care. His campaign was focused exclusively on keeping immigrants out of Hungary. The choice, he said when campaigning, was (a) a national government over which he would preside, or (b) a government formed by George Soros.

      The legislation that was drafted, following the election, was aimed at immigrants seeking asylum, and criminalized the activities of anyone giving them assistance. It was called the “Stop Soros Bill.”

      Mr. Soros is the American-Hungarian billionaire who has had a large presence in Hungary. The government was, however, accusing him of encouraging refugees to go to Hungary. According to Mr. Orban’s acolytes, NGOs financed by Mr. Soros operate as “a network to facilitate illegal migration.” In mid-June the Hungarian parliament passed the Stop Soros legislation.


      CEU was founded more than 30 years ago by George Soros. As its website explains, it is a graduate level “crossroads” university where “faculty and students come to engage in interdisciplinary education. . . . With approximately 1,400 students. . . from more than 130 countries, CEU is one of the most densely international universities in the world. . . .” CEU has been in Budapest since its creation in 1991. Beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year, incoming students for the masters and doctoral programs will study at a new campus in Vienna. As the trustees of CEU explained, CEU is moving because of the Hungarian “government’s crackdown on academic freedom including a government ban on gender studies programs, the forced suspension of research related to migration, and punitive tax measures.” It is a great victory for Viktor Orban. And it is a wonderful model for the Trump who not only shares Mr. Orban’s hatred of immigrants, but his dislike for George Soros.

      Trump’s fear of immigrants is well known and is attested to by the deployment of troops to the border which, the Trump says, is designed to keep out the caravan that is filled with terrorists and other unsavory sorts intent on causing havoc in the United States as soon as they get in.

      According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on November 20, the Trump has been almost as successful in keeping out immigrants as Mr. Orban. According to the report, at the border crossing in Yuma, Arizona, until very recently, 30 or more families were permitted entry every day. In the last two weeks, at most one family a day has been permitted to enter. As one immigration counsellor said: “It really seems like they are trying to discourage people from crossing to seek asylum legally . . . . It’s been bad for a couple weeks.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Camera traps designed for animals are now invading human privacy

      We conducted a survey of researchers who had deployed camera traps in ecological or conservation projects. More than 90 percent of the 235 respondents said that their cameras had taken images of people as well as wildlife.

      Fewer than nine percent of researchers who had captured images of people had initially set out to do so. But most said that once they had the pictures they made use of them. For example, almost half of respondents who had pictures of apparently illegal activities (such as poaching) subsequently used them to inform conservation management or law enforcement, sometimes by sharing them with third parties (most notably the police and park management staff).

    • Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers

      Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London. In another exceptional move, parliament sent a serjeant at arms to his hotel with a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with its order. When the software firm founder failed to do so, it’s understood he was escorted to parliament. He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn’t hand over the documents.

    • U.K. Parliament Seizes Thousands of ‘Potentially Explosive’ Facebook Documents
      After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to testify at a joint hearing with lawmakers from seven nations over his company’s invasive privacy practices, the U.K. Parliament on Saturday legally seized thousands of secret and “potentially explosive” Facebook documents in what was described as an extraordinary move to uncover information about the company’s role in the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal.

      According to The Guardian, the documents were initially obtained during a legal discovery process by the now-defunct U.S. software company Six4Three, which is currently suing Facebook.

      Conservative MP Damian Collins, The Guardian reports, then “invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism” that compelled Six4Three’s founder—who was on a business trip in London—to hand over the documents, which reportedly “contain significant revelations about Facebook decisions on data and privacy controls that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It is claimed they include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg.”

    • Facebook’s Internal Documents Seized By The UK Parliament
      On arriving in London, a Parliamentary Sergeant at Arms was sent to his hotel for seizing the documents. When he refused to handover the documents, he was “escorted to parliament” and informed that he was risking fines for the same.

      The company alleged that the social media giant used a “range of methods” to collect user information such as text messages and location data along with misleading privacy and data controls. Although Facebook says that the claim had “no merit,” it used California laws to protect those court documents.

      This action was taken after Mark Zuckerberg refused to answer a committee formed in UK for investigating data harvesting incident.


      The social media company has now asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing those documents and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ICE Is Trump's Gestapo
      Thanksgiving weekend, but the barbarism of the Trump regime goes on apace. On Friday, plainclothes ICE officers in North Carolina ambushed and arrested Samuel Oliver-Bruno, a 47-year-old undocumented construction worker from Mexico in the U.S. for over 20 years who's been living in the basement of a sanctuary church for 11 months while he petitions to stay here with his sick wife and teenage son. Oliver-Bruno left Durham's CityWell United Methodist Church, part of the state's growing faith-based sanctuary movement, for an alleged meeting with immigration officials, who told him he had to come in person to provide fingerprints for his petition.

      Oliver-Bruno had come to the U.S. in 1994; he met his wife Julia here, and his son Daniel was born here. After long working construction jobs and helping raise Daniel - and with no criminal record - he and his family briefly visited Mexico a few years ago to see his ill father. When Julia's lupus condition worsened, she had to abruptly return to the U.S. for open heart surgery; when, shortly after, Oliver-Bruno tried to return as well, he was arrested at the border, and the threat of deportation has followed him.

      Arriving at the USCIS office Friday, Oliver-Brunohe was accompanied by faith leaders, family and members of Alerta Migratoria, an immigrants rights advocacy group. Once inside, the scene quickly plunged into chaos: Burly ICE thugs wrestled him to the ground as other clients shouted "No! No! No!" When his son tried to intervene, ICE guys handcuffed and arrested him, too. After they hastily strong-armed father and son into a waiting van, supporters surged around it, shouting "Shame!" and blocking it from leaving. Police eventually arrived, and 27 people were arrested.

    • 'No Agreement of Any Kind': Incoming Mexican Government Denies Cutting Deal With Trump to Keep Asylum Seekers Out of US
      Hours after the Washington Post reported that the Trump White House and the incoming administration of Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López (AMLO) cut a deal to keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed by the U.S., Mexican government officials on Saturday straightforwardly denied that any such agreement has been reached.

      "There is no agreement of any kind between the future federal government of Mexico and the United States of America," future Interior Minister Olga Sanchez told NBC News. "The new government will begin its mandate on December 1."

      Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, a spokesperson for AMLO, also denied that the incoming government has reached a deal with the Trump administration.

    • Reflecting Democratic Party's Past, Clinton's 'Deluded and Dangerous' Remarks on Migration in Europe Spark Outrage
      The rise of xenophobic, right-wing extremists intent on stoking bigotry and prejudice against foreigners in Europe and elsewhere has startled observers around the world—but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton angered critics Thursday when she revealed her belief that the onus lies with European leaders to curb migration in order to appease those same extremists, rather than to protect the rights of asylum seekers.

      In an interview with the Guardian, the 2016 presidential candidate perfectly illustrated the rift between so-called centrist Democrats and progressives as she suggested Europe should end its attempts to resettle the world's 25.4 million refugees whose home countries have become unlivable due to war, unrest, and poverty—frequently thanks to actions by the U.S. and its European allies.


      Clinton's remarks echoed Trump's frequent lies about the burden Central American immigrants have placed on the United States. The Intercept's Mehdi Hasan pointed out that while Europe—a continent of about 740 million people and some of the world's wealthiest countries—allowed about a million refugees to cross its borders in 2015, before numbers started to steadily decline, the vast majority of refugees are hosted by far less well-off countries.

    • Government could hold migrant families indefinitely in unlicensed detention centers under new plan
      Migrant families could be held indefinitely in unlicensed detention centers under a new federal plan that also would end critical court protections for immigrant children, according to new court records.

      Under the so-called Flores agreement, created in 1997, the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement “shall release a minor from its custody without unnecessary delay” to a parent, relative, legal guardian or adult designated by a parent.

      But new Trump administration regulations would dismantle the landmark Flores agreement and allow authorities to release children only to a parent or legal guardian – even if those adult guardians are detained.

    • Why Is Johns Hopkins Enabling ICE?
      REFUSING TO be defeated by the intransigence of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) administration, students and Baltimore community members held a teach-in and rally on November 15 to protest the university’s million-dollar contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

      The action was spurred after the administration received a petition with over 2,000 signatures calling for JHU to terminate the ICE contracts — and then rebuffed the demand.

      At least 30 participated in the teach-in outside in freezing weather before entering the Brody Learning Commons (BLC) building to disrupt business as usual, where the action swelled to at least 80 participants.

      Speakers at the teach-in rejected the administration’s cynical invocation of “academic freedom” as a defense of the ICE contracts, and denounced the university’s complicity in Trump’s war on immigrants. Inside the BLC, protesters chanted, “Money for education, not deportation!” and “End the contracts!” after several participants unfurled a banner over a balcony, which read “End the Contracts! #ICEoutJHU.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Enplas Display v. Seoul Semiconductor: How to Police Damages Expert Testimony
      In this appeal, the Federal Circuit has largely sided with the patentee Seoul Semiconductor — affirming the jury verdict on induced-infringement and validity. However, the panel split on the issue of damages — with the majority finding that the damages verdict was not supported by the evidence. In particular, the court ruled that the SSC’s expert had included non-infringing sales in her calculations. Judge Stoll authored the majority opinion that was joined by Judge Hughes. Judge Newman wrote in dissent and would have let the jury verdict stand.

      The patent at issue here claims a method of backlighting LED displays — used in lots of TVs. Back in 2012, Enplas filed for declaratory relief, but the jury sided with the patentee on all counts — finding the patents valid and infringed and awarding $4 million as a reasonable royalty for the life of the patent.


      The damages case here was similar to a convoyed damages situation. The patentee’s expert testified that the reasonable royalty for the accused lenses would have been $500,000. However, the expert testified more “pragmatic license” negotiations would be for a broader freedom-to-operate license that would include additional similar (i.e. non-infringing) products as well as future developed infringing products. That broader license would go for $4,000,000.

    • Copyrights

      • Hollywood Wants Hosting Providers to Block Referral Traffic From Pirate Sites

        The US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator is working hard to update his copyright enforcement plans. In a written submission, Hollywood's MPAA shared a few notable ideas. The group calls for more cooperation from Internet services, including hosting providers, who should filter infringing content and block referral traffic from pirate sites, among other things.

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