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Links 4/12/2018: LibrePCB 0.1.0, SQLite 3.26.0, PhysX Code

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Free Software/Open Source

  • OpenBLAS 0.3.4 Released With Intel AVX-512 Optimizations, Other Performance Tuning
    For those utilizing OpenBLAS as the linear algebra library for your application(s), OpenBLAS 0.3.4 was released on Sunday with the latest features and CPU optimizations for multiple architectures.

  • Meet an opinionated quickstart for Sphinx docs authors
    Are you someone who writes documentation with the Sphinx tool chain? Do you want to encourage more people to write documentation in a distributed organization, but worry about maintaining compatible workflows? Introducing sphinx-docs-opinionated-quickstart, a template repository with an opinionated configuration of ReStructuredText documentation with Travis CI testing and publishing.

    I created this for the RIT Linux User’s Group (a.k.a. RITlug). RITlug welcomes student-led projects for members to work on together. RITlug executive board members want to better encourage students to share and join projects for collaboration with the community (in the spirit of FOSS). To do this, the executive board members will create and offer both a template website and template documentation tools to introduce students to project development process. Then, students are better able to sustain a more diverse community around their projects.

  • Open Science Means Open Source--Or, at Least, It Should
    Why open source was actually invented in 1665.

    When did open source begin? In February 1998, when the term was coined by Christine Peterson? Or in 1989, when Richard Stallman drew up the "subroutinized" GNU GPL? Or perhaps a little earlier, in 1985, when he created the GNU Emacs license? How about on March 6, 1665? On that day, the following paragraph appeared...

    Those words are to be found in the very first issue of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions, the oldest scientific journal in continuous publication in the world, which published key results by Newton and others. Just as important is the fact that it established key principles of science that we take for granted today, including the routine public sharing of techniques and results so that others can build on them—open source, in other words.

  • Hadoop Pioneer Says Developers Should Build Open Source Into Their Career Plans
    Doug Cutting stands head-and-shoulders above most developers I've met—figuratively, as well as literally.

  • Hortonworks’ Shaun Bierweiler: Open-Source Tools Could Help Agencies Gain Actionable Intelligence From Data
    Shaun Bierweiler, president of Hortonworks’ federal business, told Emergency Management in an interview published Wednesday that developers have come up with enterprise open source tools such as Hadoop and Apache NiFi designed to process and generate actionable intelligence from data.

    “The beauty of using an enterprise open source platform in a disaster response setting is that government agencies are supported throughout the entirety of the emergency management life cycle,” he noted.

  • Bypassing Procurement Can Introduce Some Unwanted Visitors
    The federal IT procurement safety net may be developing some holes. Many federal developers are forgoing traditional software purchasing in favor of going directly to the source and downloading code from tens of millions of open source repositories and libraries. While this can certainly expedite innovation, it also has the potential to expose agencies to security risks if they’re not careful.

    This backdoor approach to code procurement can let in some unwanted visitors through that door: unknown and dangerous vulnerabilities that may have gone undetected in the code. Without the checks and balances of procurement, how can they be sure that the code they are downloading does not contain some form of malware or another bad actor? How can they stay agile while keeping their applications and networks safe?

  • Red Hat’s David Egts: Agencies Should Screen Open Source Code for Cyber Risks
    David Egts, chief technologist for Red Hat’s North American public sector, has said federal agencies should assess open source code for cyber vulnerabilities prior to adoption.

    Egts wrote in a Nextgov piece published Monday that agencies should monitor open-source libraries and repositories that developers use to download the code and deploy a code analyzer to detect memory corruptions, resources leaks and other issues that could be leveraged by adversaries.

    “Agencies can also participate in crowdsourced security initiatives designed to test the efficacy of their defenses and reinforce the notion that security must be taken seriously by everyone, including developers,” he noted.

  • 2019 Telecoms Forecast: The Year Of 5G And Open Source
    2019 looks set to be a pivotal year for the telecoms industry. 5G edges ever closer to a full launch, while new use cases in cloud computing and IoT are coming to light and driving greater-than-ever demand for high capacity, low latency connectivity.

    As we reach 2019, it’s important look at how these new demands are shaping the telecoms industry. There has been a distinct move away from just providing faster network speeds to consumers, and towards enabling a whole host of new technologies on mobile networks, meaning it’s vital for companies to assess which are simply hype, and which will lead to fruition in 2019.

  • Al Lowe reveals his Sierra source code collection—then puts all of it on eBay

    As of press time, Lowe has listed auctions for the first two Leisure Suit Larry games' source code, with bids already climbing (both well above the $400 mark after they went live). Lowe indicated to Lindsey that more games' code will follow on eBay, and this will likely include a stunning treasure trove: Lowe's other Leisure Suit Larry games, King's Quest III, Police Quest I, and Lowe's games based on Disney franchises Winnie The Pooh and Black Cauldron.

  • Events

    • 19 tips to survive the 2019 conference season
      Having attended and spoken at numerous conferences over the years, I thought it would be helpful to share some advice on how to make the most of the 2019 conference season. Open source contributors have limited time to spare, so let’s make the most of our time together to learn, grow, and expand our open source communities.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome EEE

      • Microsoft is building a Chromium-powered web browser that will replace Edge on Windows 10
        Microsoft's Edge web browser has seen little success since its debut on Windows 10 back in 2015. Built from the ground up with a new rendering engine known as EdgeHTML, Microsoft Edge was designed to be fast, lightweight, and secure, but launched with a plethora of issues which resulted in users rejecting it early on. Edge has since struggled to gain any traction, thanks to its continued instability and lack of mindshare, from users and web developers.

      • Is Microsoft Planning To Replace Edge With A Chromium-based Browser?
        Microsoft Edge, despite its features and improvements in recent years, has failed to perform well in the market — Google Chrome is one of the biggest reasons behind it. According to rumors, Microsoft is planning to tackle the issue by developing a Chromium-based web browser that would replace Edge.

        Windows Central has reported that Microsoft is working on a project codenamed as ‘Anaheim‘ for building a browser based on Chromium, which is an open source web browser project initiated by Google.

      • Edge gets Chrome-plated, and we're all worse off
        I used to think that WebKit would eat the world, but later on I realized it was Blink. In retrospect this should have been obvious when the mobile version of Microsoft Edge was announced to use Chromium (and not Microsoft's own rendering engine EdgeHTML), but now rumour has it that Edge on its own home turf -- Windows 10 -- will be Chromium too. Microsoft engineers have already been spotted committing to the Chromium codebase, apparently for the ARM version. No word on whether this next browser, codenamed Anaheim, will still be called Edge.

      • Microsoft is reportedly ditching Edge on Windows 10 for a Chrome-based browser
        Whether you’re using Google Chrome, Opera, or Brave to browse the web, under the hood, it’s all based on Chromium. Chrome’s Blink engine has become more-or-less the de facto way to render the web. Microsoft has long tried to avoid that fact by constantly working on Internet Explorer then Edge, but it seems no more. Microsoft is reportedly embracing Chrome’s dominance with a new replacement browser for Windows 10.

        Windows Central is reporting that Microsoft is in the early stages of a project, codenamed “Anaheim”, that is currently slated to replace Microsoft Edge for Windows 10. Instead of continuing to use the company’s EdgeHTML engine, Anaheim will reportedly be built upon Chrome’s open source Blink engine.

    • Mozilla

      • A new browser for Magic Leap [Ed: Mozilla VR Blog's Andre Vrignaud published "A new browser for Magic Leap". Then it was removed. Prematurely and accidentally announced?]
        Today, we’re making available an early developer preview of a browser for the Magic Leap One device. This browser is built on top of our Servo engine technology and shows off high quality 2D graphics and font rendering through our WebRender web rendering library. And will soon add more features.

        While we only support basic 2D pages today and have not yet built the full Firefox Reality browser experience and published this into the Magic Leap store, we look forward to working alongside our partners and community to do that early in 2019! Please try out the builds, provide feedback, and get involved if you’re interested in the future of mixed reality on the web in a cutting-edge standalone headset. And for those looking at Magic Leap for the first time, we also have an article on how the work was done.

      • encoding_rs: a Web-Compatible Character Encoding Library in Rust
        encoding_rs is a high-decode-performance, low-legacy-encode-footprint and high-correctness implementation of the WHATWG Encoding Standard written in Rust. In Firefox 56, encoding_rs replaced uconv as the character encoding library used in Firefox. This wasn’t an addition of a component but an actual replacement: uconv was removed when encoding_rs landed. This writeup covers the motivation and design of encoding_rs, as well as some benchmark results.

        Additionally, encoding_rs contains a submodule called encoding_rs::mem that’s meant for efficient encoding-related operations on UTF-16, UTF-8, and Latin1 in-memory strings—i.e., the kind of strings that are used in Gecko C++ code. This module is discussed separately after describing encoding_rs proper.

        The C++ integration of encoding_rs is not covered here and is covered in another write-up instead.

      • wasm-bindgen — how does it work?!
        A month or so ago I gave a presentation on the inner workings of wasm-bindgen to the WebAssembly Community Group. A particular focus was the way that wasm-bindgen is forward-compatible with, and acts as a sort of polyfill for, the host bindings proposal. A lot of this material was originally supposed to appear in my SFHTML5 presentation, but time constraints forced me to cut it out.

        Unfortunately, the presentation was not recorded, but you can view the slide deck below, or open it in a new window. Navigate between slides with arrow keys or space bar.

      • More on RLS version numbering
        In a few days the 2018 edition is going to roll out, and that will include some new framing around Rust's tooling. We've got a core set of developer tools which are stable and ready for widespread use. We're going to have a blog post all about that, but for now I wanted to address the status of the RLS, since when I last blogged about a 1.0 pre-release there was a significant sentiment that it was not ready (and given the expectations that a lot of people have, we agree).

      • Using cargo-fuzz to Transfer Code Review of Simple Safe Code to Complex Code that Uses unsafe
        encoding_rs::mem is a Rust module for performing conversions between different in-RAM text representations that are relevant to Gecko. Specifically, it converts between potentially invalid UTF-16, Latin1 (in the sense that unsigned byte value equals the Unicode scalar value), potentially invalid UTF-8, and guaranteed-valid UTF-8, and provides some operations on buffers in these encodings, such as checking if a UTF-16 or UTF-8 buffer only has code points in the ASCII range or only has code points in the Latin1 range. (You can read more about encoding_rs::mem in a write-up about encoding_rs as a whole.)

      • How I Wrote a Modern C++ Library in Rust
        Since version 56, Firefox has had a new character encoding conversion library called encoding_rs. It is written in Rust and replaced the old C++ character encoding conversion library called uconv that dated from early 1999. Initially, all the callers of the character encoding conversion library were C++ code, so the new library, despite being written in Rust, needed to feel usable when used from C++ code. In fact, the library appears to C++ callers as a modern C++ library. Here are the patterns that I used to accomplish that.

      • Firefox & cookies corruption problem
        A strange problem befell one of my computers running Windows, with Firefox being the default browser, utilizing a profile that goes back a good decade or more. One blue Monday, I opened the browser, went to one of the sites I frequently visit and use, and noticed that I'd been logged out. Another site, same thing. It would appear all my login sessions were gone.

        Since I keep multiple backups of everything, I restored the Firefox cookies database - cookies.sqlite file into the Firefox profile, and I was back to normal. Several days later, the issue happened again. Intrigued, I started exploring this somewhat obscure and not-well-documented problem. I believe I know why, and I have a solution.

  • Databases

    • SQLite Release 3.26.0

    • SQLite 3.26 Adds Defensive Option & Optimizations
      The SQLite 3.26 release features an optimization around updates on tables with indexes on expressions, a new SQLITE_DBCONFIG_DEFENSIVE option to disable the ability to create corrupt database files with basic SQL, support for read-only shadow tables in the new defensive mode, a table_xinfo PRAGMA that can show hidden columns on virtual tables, enhanced triggers, improvements to the SQLite Geopoly extension, additions to the SQLite Session extension, and various other changes.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • GNU Guix receives donation from the Handshake project
      Just a few days after it turned six, Guix received a great birthday present: the Handshake project, which works on the design and implementation of a decentralized naming protocol compatible with the Domain Name System (DNS), made a large donation to the GNU Project via the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Of this donation, 100,000 USD go to GNU Guix.

    • Free Software Foundation receives $1 million from Handshake
      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced it has received several earmarked charitable donations from Handshake, an organization developing an experimental peer-to-peer root domain naming system, totaling $1 million. These gifts will support the FSF's organizational capacity, including its advocacy, education, and licensing initiatives, as well as specific projects fiscally sponsored by the FSF.

      John Sullivan, FSF's executive director, said, "Building on the $1 million Bitcoin gift from the Pineapple Fund earlier this year, and our record high number of individual associate members, it is clear that software freedom is more important than ever to the world. We are now at a pivotal moment in our history, on the cusp of making free software the 'kitchen table issue' it must be. Thanks to Handshake and our members, the Free Software Foundation looks forward to scaling to the next level of free software activism, development, and community."

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD 5.4 Released With NUMA Improvements, GCC 8 Compiler & HAMMER2 Updates
      Days ahead of the FreeBSD 12.0 release, the long-ago-forked DragonFlyBSD is out with its very exciting 5.4 six-month feature update.

      DragonFlyBSD 5.4 is easily this BSD operating system's most exciting feature release in a while. DragonFlyBSD 5.4 now ships with GCC 8 as its default compiler as a big upgrade over the previous GCC5 default, there is much better support for asymmetric NUMA configurations particularly Zen / Threadripper 2 hardware in particular, various performance improvements (including in the area of SMP), updates to DPorts, and a lot of other kernel tuning and performance work.

    • Review: GhostBSD 18.10 - Changing the base
      I was tentatively optimistic going into my experiment with GhostBSD. The shift from a stable FreeBSD base to a rolling TrueOS base was one which I had hoped would bring new features and hardware support, but I was also concerned the result might be rough around the edges. For the most part I was pleased with what GhostBSD 18.10 provided. In my opinion the MATE desktop performs well and looks good. One minor glitch aside, I had no complaints with the desktop experience.

      I was very happy to find that GhostBSD would work with my desktop computer, a rare event for me when using FreeBSD or TrueOS. I'm hopeful this means future versions of FreeBSD will also work with this hardware. The only issue I ran into concerning hardware was GhostBSD was unable to work with a wireless network card I plugged into the machine during my trial.

      I liked the default applications GhostBSD shipped with. The software included is mostly similar to what we would find in a mainstream Linux distribution and most of the extra applications I wanted could be found through the package manager. Speaking of package management, I think OctoPkg is capable, but not particularly user friendly. Even as a low level package manager, it takes some getting used to, compared to Muon or Synaptic. OctoPkg works, but I'm hoping future versions of GhostBSD are able to adopt a more beginner friendly software manager.

      Unlike past versions of GhostBSD (and FreeBSD), this release unites managing the core operating system and third-party packages under one package manager. This is likely to be convenient for users as they no longer need to switch between pkg and freebsd-update to get all their security fixes. However, I think it is too soon to tell if this change brings any problems with it. I am curious to see how well upgrading end user applications mixes with core system security fixes. I am also curious to see how GhostBSD will handle future versions based on TrueOS's rolling release platform.

      On the whole, I think GhostBSD is about as easy as it gets when setting up a BSD-based desktop system. Its installer is easy to use, the desktop is pre-configured, there are a small amount of useful applications available out of the box. It's a very positive experience, in my opinion. One of the few problems I think Linux users may face when trying GhostBSD is the lack of certain closed-source applications such as Steam and the Chrome web browser. These are not available on GhostBSD. For people who stick with open source applications, GhostBSD will probably provide everything they need, but people who want to watch Netflix or play big name games, this system may not be able to deliver those experiences. These restrictions aside, I'm very pleased with GhostBSD's latest offering and think it is a pleasant way to get the FreeBSD experience with a quick and easy set up process.

    • FreeBSD 12.0-RC3 Released With NFS Vulnerabilities Addressed, Memory Leak Fixes
      FreeBSD 12.0-RC3 is out as likely the last test release before the official FreeBSD 12.0 debut in the next week.

      Approaching the finish line, FreeBSD 12.0-RC3 is understandably light on changes besides some fixes. FreeBSD 12.0-RC3 has fixes for vulnerabilities within the NFS server code, various bug fixes, and also various memory leak fixes have also been addressed. That's about it for RC3.

    • pfSense 2.4.4-RELEASE-p1 now available
      We are excited to announce the release of pfSense€® software version 2.4.4-p1, now available for upgrades!

      pfSense software version 2.4.4-p1 is a maintenance release, bringing security patches and stability fixes for issues present in the 2.4.4 release.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • nginx and lua to evaluate CDN behaviour
      I guess in the past everyone used CGIs to achieve something similar, it just seemed like a nice detour to use the nginx Lua module instead. Don't expect to read something magic. I'm currently looking into different CDN providers and how they behave regarding cache-control header, and what additional header they sent by default and when you activate certain feature. So I setup two locations inside the nginx configuration using a content_by_lua_block {} for testing purpose.

    • Keeping Up With The Python Community For Fun And Profit with Dan Bader
      Keeping up with the work being done in the Python community can be a full time job, which is why Dan Bader has made it his! In this episode he discusses how he went from working as a software engineer, to offering training, to now managing both the Real Python and PyCoders properties. He also explains his strategies for tracking and curating the content that he produces and discovers, how he thinks about building products, and what he has learned in the process of running his businesses.

    • New Android SDK/NDK Rebuilds
      As described in a previous post, Google is still click-wrapping all Android developer binaries with a non-free EULA.

    • CSS Grid Layout Tutorial—Styling a Django Template
    • 3 aging IT specialties that just won't retire
      That system runs what? IT leaders face a quandary as Boomers vanish, but the need for COBOL, mainframe, and legacy storage skills does not

    • PyDev of the Week: Erika Fille Legara
      This week we welcome Erika Fille Legara (@eflegara) as our PyDev of the Week. Erika is a professor and program director at the Asian Institute of Management. She has spoken at PyCon Philippines. You can check out her website to see what else she has been up to or watch her talk below:

    • Tryton News: Newsletter December 2018
    • Processing.js 2008-2018
      It was nothing short of epic. I had followed the development of Processing since I was an undergrad. I remember stumbling into the aesthetics + computation group website at MIT in my first year, and becoming aware of the work of Ben Fry, John Maeda, Casey Reas and others. I was smitten. As a student studying both humanities and CS, I didn't know anyone else who loved computers and art, and here was an entire lab devoted to it. For many years thereafter, I followed along from afar, always amazed at the work people there were doing.

      Then, in the fall of 2009, as part of my work with Mozilla, Chris Blizzard approached me about helping Al MacDonald (f1lt3r) to work on getting Processing.js to 1.0, and adding the missing 3D API via WebGL. In the lead-up to Firefox 3.7, Mozilla was interested in getting more canvas based tech on the web, and in finding performance and other bugs in canvas and WebGL. Processing.js, they thought, would help to bring a community of artists, designers, educators, and other visual coders to the web.

    • No Prior Knowledge Of Programming? Try Google’s Hour Of Code And Learn
      Like every year, here is the opportunity once again to learn coding in Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code conducted by Google.

      Students from all over the world can take part in a variety of programming challenges through super cool activities and learn how to code without having any experience in computer science subjects.


      All the activities are self-guided, empowering students to learn at their own pace. Students across the world have already spent over 100 million hours of code during Computer Science Education Week, and you can join this movement from 3rd to 7th December.

      All the activities are self-guided, empowering students to learn at their own pace. Students across the world have already spent over 100 million hours of code during Computer Science Education Week, and you can join this movement from 3rd to 7th December.

    • The Road to Mu 1.1
      The first thing you should know is that 1.1 will have new features including new modes, new capabilities and new ways to configure Mu. Some of the new modes have been kindly written by new contributors. The new capabilities and ways to configure Mu are based upon valuable feedback from folks in the community. Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far.

      The second thing you should know is that 1.1 will have many bug fixes. Since Mu 1.0 was released a huge number of people have started to use it and, inevitably, found and reported bugs. Thank you for all the valuable feedback, please keep it coming! We hope to address as many of the problems as possible.

      The final thing you should know about is the release schedule for Mu 1.1. Very soon, a version 1.1.0.alpha.1 will be released: this will contain some of the new features and updates and will definitely contain bugs. It will be followed with a number of further alpha releases as new features are created and/or contributed to this version of Mu. When we’re happy we have all the features we want, we’ll release a version 1.1.0.beta.1. The focus of the various beta releases will be to test and fix any bugs we may encounter. However, the beta releases will be “feature complete” and represent a good preview of what version 1.1 will look like. Once there are no more known bugs, or those bugs that remain are “edge cases” that can be documented, we’ll release the final 1.1.0 version which will be available for official download. The old 1.0.* version of Mu will still be on the website, but no longer officially supported.

    • Qt 5.11.3 Released with Important Security Updates
      Qt 5.11.3 is released today. As a patch release it does not add any new functionality, but provides important bug fixes, security updates and other improvements.

      Compared to Qt 5.11.2, the Qt 5.11.3 release provides fixes for over 100 bugs and it contains around 300 changes in total. For details of the most important changes, please check the Change files of Qt 5.11.3.

    • Python Software Foundation: November 2018 board meeting summary
      On November 12th and 13th, ten of the thirteen PSF board members convened in Chicago, IL. Those who could not make it to the in-person meeting, joined via phone conferencing when possible.

      In attendance were Naomi Ceder, Jacqueline Kazil, Thomas Wouters, Van Lindberg, Ewa Jodlowska, Lorena Mesa, Eric Holscher, Anna Ossowski, Christopher Neugebauer, and Jeff Triplett. Kushal Das and Marlene Mhangami connected remotely.

    • How Kotlin’s coroutines improve code readability
    • LLVM / Clang 8.0 Likely To Be Released Around Early March
      Ongoing LLVM release manager Hans Wennborg has laid out plans for releasing LLVM 8.0 and related sub-projects like Clang 8.0 in early March.

      Under a proposal drafted on Monday and so far okay by other upstream developers, the LLVM 8.0.0 release would ship in the early days of March.

    • Deploying Swift
      Well, no, that’s not true. I basically never actually want to deploy Swift as such. What I generally want to do is to debug some bit of production service deployment machinery that relies on Swift for getting build artifacts into the right place, or maybe the parts of the Launchpad librarian (our blob storage service) that use Swift. I could find an existing private or public cloud that offers the right API and test with that, but sometimes I need to test with particular versions, and in any case I have a terribly slow internet connection and shuffling large build artifacts back and forward over the relevant bit of wet string makes it painfully slow to test things.

    • Django bugfix releases: 2.1.4 and 1.11.17
      Today we've issued the 2.1.4 and 1.11.17 bugfix releases.

      The release package and checksums are available from our downloads page, as well as from the Python Package Index. The PGP key ID used for this release is Carlton Gibson: E17DF5C82B4F9D00.

    • Python Data Visualization 2018: Moving Toward Convergence
      In my previous post, I provided an overview of the myriad Python data visualization tools currently available, how they relate to each other, and their many differences. In this post we’ll take a look at an important theme that emerged from SciPy 2018: convergence, i.e., Python libraries becoming more similar in capability as they mature over time and share ideas and approaches. These trends of convergence have started to erase some of what were previous clear distinctions between each library. This is great for users, though it does make it more difficult to make blanket recommendations. As in the first post, we’ll generally separate the SciVis projects (typically 3D plotting situated in real-world space) from InfoVis projects (typically 2D plotting situated on the page or screen surface with arbitrary coordinate axes).

    • Fundamental C - Dependent v Independent & Undefined Behavior
      Lots has been written about undefined behavior in C, but not much about the reasons why it exists.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • NVIDIA 415.18.04 Vulkan Linux Beta Brings New Extensions, Unity Game Engine Fix
      Adding to NVIDIA's busy Monday morning of announcing the TITAN RTX and open-sourcing PhysX, they also shipped their latest Vulkan beta driver support for Windows and Linux.

      It was just last week that the NVIDIA 415.18.02 driver debuted with the latest beta-quality Vulkan support. Today's NVIDIA 415.18.04 driver for Linux systems has just a few more changes on top.

    • Vulkan 1.1.95 Released With New Floating Point Extensions
      The Khronos Group's Vulkan working group is kicking off the start of a new week with a new specification update. The Vulkan 1.1.95 release brings with it two new floating point extensions.


  • Google may shut down Hangouts for consumers in 2020

    The days of Google Hangouts for consumers may be coming to an end in 2020, according to a report from 9to5Google today. Hangouts has been suffering from an identity crisis since Google launched it as a replacement for Gchat in 2013, and it’s actually been losing features in recent years as the company stopped updating the app and took away SMS messaging. That change was part of Google’s new focus for Hangouts, which will stay safe for now as a workplace communication tool in the form of G Suite’s Hangouts Chat, as well as video conferencing platform Hangouts Meet.

  • [Update: Google statement] 2019 is your last year to use Google Hangouts if you haven’t moved on already

    Update 12/1: Google’s Scott Johnston has chimed in and denies that any decisions have been made about the timeline of legacy Hangouts’ shutdown. Confusingly, however, he says that users of consumer Hangouts users will be somehow “upgraded” to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet, both being enterprise-focused products that fill different needs.

    Scott also explicitly confirms for the first time that Hangouts Classic, the subject of this report, will be shutting down “eventually.”

  • Google Won’t Shut Hangouts, Will Upgrade Users To Chat And Meet
    Google has denied rumors associated with the shutdown of Hangouts, according to a tweet by Google’s Scot Johnson. Additionally, it is suggested. that users will be upgraded to Hangout Chats and Meet.

  • Google Hangouts Isn’t Going Anywhere, Google Confirms
    Hangout is an app debuted in 2013 used for business purpose meetings. The conference calls made in hangouts were secured and simplified for which it was widely used by different organizations.

    Recently an update posted on 9to5Google stated that Google Hangouts was shutting down. According to the article, some sources confirmed the shutdown of Google Hangouts by 2020. This news created a wave of articles in just a few hours. But it was never going to happen. In a tweet responding to this article, product lead for Google Hangouts, Scot Johnston denied it calling “Shoddy Reporting“.

  • Science

    • Sliding Right into Information Theory
      It's hardly news any more, but it seems I have not blogged about my involvement last year with an interesting cryptanalysis project, which resulted in the publication Sliding right into disaster: Left-to-right sliding windows leak by Daniel J. Bernstein, me, Daniel Genkin, Leon Groot Bruinderink, Nadia Heninger, Tanja Lange, Christine van Vredendaal and Yuval Yarom, which was published at CHES 2017 and on ePrint (ePrint is the cryptographer’s version of arXiv).

      This project nicely touched upon many fields of computer science: First we need systems expertise to mount a side-channel attack that uses cache timing difference to observe which line of a square-and-multiply algorithm the target process is executing. Then we need algorithm analysis required to learn from these observations partial information about the bits of the private key. This part includes nice PLy concepts like rewrite rules (see Section 3.2). Oncee we know enough about the secret keys, we can use fancy cryptography to recover the whole secret key (Section 3.4). And finally, some theoretical questions arise, such as: “How much information do we need for the attack to succeed?” and “Do we obtain this much information”, and we need some nice math and information theory to answer these.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • VA Shadow Rulers Had Sway Over Contracting and Budgeting
      Newly released emails about the three Trump associates who secretly steered the Department of Veterans Affairs show how deeply the trio was involved in some of the agency’s most consequential matters, most notably a multibillion-dollar effort to overhaul electronic health records for millions of veterans.

      Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach physician Bruce Moskowitz and lawyer Marc Sherman — part of the president’s circle at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — reviewed a confidential draft of a $10 billion government contract for the electronic-records project, even though they lack any relevant expertise.

      In preparing the contract, the agency consulted more than 40 outside experts, such as hospital executives, according to the records, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act. The Mar-a-Lago trio were listed among those experts. Perlmutter, a comic book tycoon, appears on the list between representatives from the University of Washington Medical Center, Intermountain Healthcare and Johns Hopkins University.

      But none of the three men has served in the U.S. military or elsewhere in government, and none of them has expertise in health information technology or federal contracting.

      The list is one of hundreds of newly released documents about the so-called Mar-a-Lago Crowd’s sway over VA policy and personnel decisions. The records show them editing the budget for a government program, weighing in on job candidates and being treated as having decision-making authority on policy initiatives.

      In a June 2017 email, a VA official identified Perlmutter alongside then-VA Secretary David Shulkin as “top principles [sic].” In another message, Moskowitz named himself, Perlmutter and Sherman to an “executive committee.”

    • Sander-Khanna Bill Would Stop Monopoly Drug Pricing in the US
      Debates on economic policy are often far removed from reality. Nowhere is this truer than in the case of prescription drug prices.

      In the United States, we pay high drug prices because the government gives pharmaceutical companies patent monopolies, where it threatens to arrest anyone that sells a drug in competition with the patent holder. As a result, drugs often sell for prices that are several thousand percent above their free market price.

      Incredibly, in debates on drug prices, these monopoly prices are routinely described as being the result of the free market, turning reality completely on its head. The people who want to lower drug prices are then said to be trying to interfere with the free market, which we are all supposed to think is a bad thing to do.

      This is one of the reasons why a new bill to lower drug prices by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna is so brilliant. The bill is actually lowering drug prices by using the power of the market, making it clear that the proponents of high drug prices are the ones who want the government to interfere with the market to keep drug company profits high.

    • Remembering George H.W. Bush’s Inaction on AIDS at Home While Detaining HIV+ Haitians at Guantánamo
      George H.W. Bush died on the eve of World AIDS Day, an irony not lost on many HIV/AIDS activists who remember the 41st president of the United States for his lack of action in the 1990s as the HIV/AIDS crisis raged on. Bush said little about the crisis during his years as vice president under Ronald Reagan, who didn’t even mention AIDS until the penultimate year of his presidency. Despite promises to do more after he was elected president, George H.W. Bush refused to address and fund programs around HIV/AIDS education and prevention, as well as drug treatment. We speak with Steven Thrasher, journalist and doctoral candidate in American studies at New York University. He was recently appointed Daniel H. Renberg chair of media coverage in sexual and gender minorities at Northwestern University. His recent article for The Nation is titled “It’s a Disgrace to Celebrate George H.W. Bush on World AIDS Day.”

    • Ohio’s Anti-Choice Republicans Are Gambling on the Supreme Court to Restrict Abortion Access
      Ohio’s extremely conservative legislature is on a tear: Within days of the election, the House pushed though an anti-abortion bill so onerous that it would effectively ban abortion.

      And the state didn’t stop there. Legislators scheduled hearings on another bill that would criminalize abortion, potentially threatening patients and providers with the death penalty.

      Here’s where things get extra bizarre: Ohio’s new legislature sits in January, but these aren’t your average lame duck bills being rammed through in the hopes of pushing a policy agenda before new lawmakers take office. The 2019 legislature will be working under a governor more conservative than outgoing leader John Kasich, who’s already vetoed an abortion bill similar to the one the house just passed.

    • Emptying the Cages
      U.S. factory farms, where an estimated 99 percent of farmed animals are kept, are almost as inaccessible to the public as they are inescapable for the animals locked inside. When I started getting more involved in discussions about animal farming, I knew I had to see the inside of one of these facilities for myself. I finally got my opportunity with a rescue team from a California farmed animal sanctuary.

    • Sterilized Without Consent: Indigenous Women in Canada File Class Action Lawsuit
      In 2001, a 29-year-old Cree woman, nicknamed S.A.T. in legal documents, went to the Royal University Hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada, to give birth to her sixth child. After she gave birth, she says, she was wheeled into an operating room to be sterilized. She says she desperately protested, but no one listened. To this day, she remembers “the smell of burning flesh” as her fallopian tubes were cauterized against her will in an irreversible birth control procedure.

      This claim is laid out in a new class action lawsuit alleging widespread abuse of power by Saskatchewan health professionals and the violation of many indigenous women when they were at their most vulnerable.

      If successful, the women in the lawsuit will each be entitled to millions of dollars of reparations from the Saskatchewan and Canadian governments and their health systems. While these women may only represent a fraction of the people negatively affected by forced sterilization in Canada, their lawsuit is recognition of the ubiquity of the practice—and its consequences.

      Attorney Alisa Lombard is directing the lawsuit. She’s an associate at Maurice Law, Canada’s only indigenous-owned national law firm. Since news broke of the legal action last month, over 60 more women have contacted Lombard’s office, saying they were sterilized without their consent. In the seven days after CBC’s November 13 article about the lawsuit, 29 women called or emailed her.

  • Security

    • Open Source Security Podcast: Episode 125 - Open Source, supply chains, npm, and you
      Josh and Kurt talk about how open source deals with malicious events. It's probably impossible to stop these from happening, but the open source universe deals with it in its own unique way. We start to discuss what you can do, since everyone is using open source everywhere now. There will be a second part to this episode where we discuss what the future holds for these sort of problems.
    • Survey: Should Open-Source Repo Maintainers Be Paid? [Ed: Wrongly assuming or insinuating that money assures or motivates or implies integrity]
      GitHub user dominictarr launched the repo in question, Event-Stream, as a “fun” side project: “I created it for fun. I was learning, and learning is fun. I gave it away because it was easy to do so, and because sharing helps learning too. I think most of the small modules on npm were created for reasons like this.”

      But as dominictarr points out, maintaining an open-source repository yields you nothing tangible: “You get literally nothing from maintaining a popular package.” Later in their screed, they strongly suggest paying open-source repo maintainers for their work.

    • Printers pulled into 9100 port attack spew PewDiePie propaganda
      A battle for who owns the YouTube crown for top channel has been waged over the past few months between fans of Swedish video game commentary celebrity Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg and of the Bollywood label T-Series.

      This is getting serious: It’s one thing when a fan launches a PewDiePie “Bro Army,” structured to recruit members’ friends and family in order to keep PewDiePie at the top, replete with “Privates” and “Corporals.”

    • Security updates for Monday

    • Open Source Endpoint Management

    • How to mitigate and manage open source risks [Ed: FUD article of the "FOSS is dangerous" type speaks of "Linux creator Linus Turvold"]

    • What the Marriott Breach Says About Security

      On this point, as with many others related to Internet security and privacy, I found it hard to argue with the opinion of my home state Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.), who observed:

      “It seems like every other day we learn about a new mega-breach affecting the personal data of millions of Americans. Rather than accepting this trend as the new normal, this latest incident should strengthen Congress’ resolve. We must pass laws that require data minimization, ensuring companies do not keep sensitive data that they no longer need. And it is past time we enact data security laws that ensure companies account for security costs rather than making their consumers shoulder the burden and harms resulting from these lapses.”

    • The week in security: Marriott mega-breach a reminder about ever-present threat
      Lines of succession vary from company to company, but new research showed a spread of opinions about who is best qualified to become the next CEO (hint: CIOs are pretty ambitious). But do CISOs have what it takes? The UK’s GCHQ shared information about how it decides whether to report a security bug or keep it secret.

      One security expert was advising that there isn’t much difference between internal and external threats – and that we should stop trying to defend against them as though they are completely separate things.

    • Digital Oscilloscope Comes with Backdoor Accounts, Old Software Components
      Some digital oscilloscopes that can communicate over the network fail to provide a minimum of security protections and allow unfettered access to unauthorized users.

      Oscilloscopes are laboratory instruments that can measure how an electrical signal changes over time by showing a waveform representation. They are widely considered the center of an electronic lab bench since they are useful to any professional doing repairs on electronic gear. So tampering with the values it measures can do a lot of damage, especially in production environments.

    • Hackers Are Using Leaked NSA Tools To Target Networks

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Through the Prescient Eyes of Lucien Jonas: World War I Revisited
      Only recently and on November 11, 2018, French President Emmanuelle Macron hosted sixty poppy-clad world leaders attending the one-hundred year commemoration of World War I, an ignoble war that set the stage for a century beset by the bloodiest wars in recorded history. These dastardly wars continue to plague humanity even into the nascent 21st century.

      At “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 the combatants embroiled in World War I, The War to End All Wars, convened to sign the Armistice of Compiègne; Compiègne is a French commune some 82 kilometers north of Paris, France. And on June 28, 1919, the treaty of Versailles was signed, and ever since, the new appellation for this commemoration goes by the moniker Armistice Day Commemoration. Appallingly, The “I am a genius” Donald Trump does not know the difference between a commemoration and a celebration.

      Nationalism, militarism, ethnocentrism, nativism, an arms race, demagoguery, self-interest, exploitation and colonial competition for natural resources across Asia and Africa were the major causes that helped launch World War I. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was but the metaphorical straw that broke the camel’s back of a European continent ready to explode at the seams.

      While authors, poets, and playwrights have written works that recount the horrors of World War I, visual artists have perhaps best captured the depravities of war and their dehumanizing impact on humanity.

    • Iran: Rumors of War
      Consider a conversation between long-time Middle East reporter Reese Erlich and former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles Freeman, Jr. on the people currently directing the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran. Commenting on National Security Advisor John Bolton’s defense of the invasion of Iraq, Freeman says “The neoconservative group think their good ideas were poorly implemented in Iraq,” and that the lesson of the 2003 invasion that killed upwards of 500,000 people and destabilized an entire region is, “If at first you don’t succeed, do the same thing again somewhere else.”

      That “somewhere else” is Iran, and Bolton is one of the leading voices calling for confronting the Teheran regime and squeezing Iran through draconian sanctions “until the pips squeak.” Since sanctions are unlikely to have much effect—they didn’t work on North Korea, have had little effect on Russia and failed to produce regime change in Cuba—the next logical step, Erlich suggests in his new book The Iran Agenda Today: The Real Story Inside Iran And What’s Wrong with U.S. Policy, is a military attack on Iran.

      Such an attack would be a leap into darkness, since most Americans—and their government in particular—are virtually clueless about the country we seem bound to go to war with. Throwing a little light on that darkness is a major reason Erlich wrote the book. For over 18 years he has reported on Iran, talking with important government figures and everyday people and writing articles on the country that increasingly looks to be our next little war. Except it will be anything but “little.”

    • George H.W. Bush and the Vietnam Syndrome
      Nowhere in the so-called print/online major media was there any hint that the late George H.W. Bush was a bit of a public predator. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Guardian lauded the late president as a man who guided the U.S. through a difficult transition of becoming the world’s sole superpower with the demise of the former Soviet Union. What was missing was any critique of how Bush set the stage for unbridled U.S. militarism and jettisoning the Vietnam Syndrome, something that his predecessor, The Great Communicator Reagan, had chipped away at with his low-intensity wars in Central America and his massive nuclear arms buildup that culminated in the insane pursuit of Star Wars space weapons and nuclear shields.

      Bush began the endless wars with his attack against Iraq in 1990-1991, for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm… the Gulf War… (Aren’t the names of ruthless wars comforting?) was yet another in the long line of wars to support repressive regimes in nations like Kuwait that the U.S. has little strategic interest in, save its spot in the oil rich Middle East. Bush oversaw what would be called a “turkey shoot” by a U.S. flyer: the mass targeting of Iraqi troops from the air as they fled Kuwait. In any case, Bush gave his former ally Saddam Hussein a diplomatic wink and a nod, later reversed, to begin Iraq’s aggression against Kuwait, where Iraq claimed ownership of oil fields. The story of Iraqi soldiers throwing infants from incubators onto the floor of a hospital in Kuwait proved to be completely unfounded. Indeed, while there is absolute proof that Bush grabbed women’s asses publicly on several occasions over the years, there is no proof that Iraqi soldiers ever threw babies on the ground.

      The Watson Institute at Brown University recently published a report that U.S. wars in the so-called War on Terror have cost U.S. taxpayers $5.9 trillion dollars. That’s a hell of a lot of programs of social uplift left in the dust by the penchant for wars and war profiteering that began under Reagan, but was made acceptable in Iraq by Bush. And then there was the attack on Panama that left an untold number of civilians dead in another bogus U.S. war, the failed war on drugs.

    • Meet the Mafia gangster the CIA wanted to assassinate Fidel Castro
      In the summer of 1960, a former FBI and sometime CIA man named Robert Maheu was handed an important mission by the latter agency — engaging the Mafia to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

      Maheu knew exactly whom to call. The new book “Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli — Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin,” by Lee Server (St. Martin’s Press), provides the most detailed description of the plot against Castro to date, and introduces Rosselli as the link between the mob, Hollywood and the CIA.

      Rosselli had been friends and associates with the likes of Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin and Columbia Pictures co-founder and President Harry Cohn.

      He was one of the most powerful gangsters in Los Angeles, and the right person for Maheu to enlist.

    • Has the CIA turned on Mohammad bin Salman?
      Glenn Greenwald has described Washington Post columnist David Ignatius as an “all-but-official CIA media spokesman”; Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) criticizes Ignatius for “breathlessly updating US readers on the token, meaningless public relations gestures that the Saudi regime – and, by extension, Ignatius – refer to as ‘reforms.’”

      So Ignatius’ fascinating tale of intrigue, “The Khashoggi killing had roots in a cutthroat Saudi feud,” published on Tuesday in the Post, is especially revelatory. Far from whitewashing the Saudi regime, Ignatius depicts the royal court as a cockpit of rage, corruption, and respectable gangsterism. If Ignatius’ reporting reflects the thinking of the US Central Intelligence Agency, his latest piece suggests the CIA has turned on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) in a significant way.

    • A Killer Dies, a Teacher Lives: George H.W. Bush v. Noam Chomsky
      The obsequious praise of the life and legacy of the now deceased mad-dog killer George H. W. Bush (1924-2018) on the supposedly liberal and left cable networks CNN and MSNBC this last weekend was really something.

      Some of this historical ass-kissing was practically comedic. I heard the power-worshipping “presidential historian” and occasional plagiarist Doris Kearns-Goodwin fondly recall getting stuck in the Bush’s Kennebunkport toilet. Daddy Bush graciously broke the bathroom lock with a hammer and then told Kearns-Goodwin, “well, at least you write well.” A special memory!

      Kearns-Goodwin also lovingly remembered that both Bush and her husband enjoyed “wearing socks.” On their feet? Who knew?

      We saw a clip from the junior mad-dog killer George W. Bush43 remembering that the senior Bush41 reached out and touched his hand after Dubya gave a speech at a memorial service in the wake of the 9/11 jetliner attacks. It was an act of “fatherly love” that Bush Junior could never forget.


      As if Bush senior wasn’t a blood-soaked, died-in-the-wool imperialist descended from the ruling-class heights of the military-industrial complex who offered this Mafia Don-like commentary on the meaning of the United States’ slaughter of tens of thousands of defenseless Iraqi troops- a veritable “turkey shoot” by the accounts of direct participants – in the opening months of 1991: “The U.S. has a new credibility. What we say goes” (NBC News, February 2, 1991).

      “What we say goes.” How was that for faith in multilateral global democracy?

    • Netanyahu's Indictment Could Further Endanger Palestinians
      Israeli police over the weekend urged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, be indicted for corruption. The decision lies with attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.

      The Israeli police and justice system have shown a willingness to punish corruption in high places. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was sentenced to 27 months in 2014, but was released early.

      According to BBC Monitoring, the police issued a statement saying,

      “Between the years 2012 and 2017 the prime minister and his aides intervened blatantly and continuously, and sometimes even daily, in the content published by the Walla news website. The intervention of the prime minister and his aides in the content and appointments [of editors and reporters] at the Walla website was meant to advance his personal interests, through publication of flattering articles and photos, removal of content critical of the prime minister and his family members, and so on.” The case concerns the giant media company, Bezeq and the favors and tax breaks thrown to it by Netanyahu, who kept the Communications portfolio in his cabinet for himself.


      Avigdor Lieberman of the (mostly Russian) “Israeli is our Home” party, recently resigned from the cabinet over Netanyahu’s unwillingness to go to war immediately against the Palestinians in Gaza.

      Hence, a change in government could accelerate the Israeli dispossession of the Palestinians and result in further warfare and bloodshed.

    • Poppy Lit the Fire: Bush and Iraq
      The media has been filled today with tributes to the late President George H.W. Bush. He is portrayed as a smart, pragmatic leader, who chose wise counsellors like James Baker—very different from his wilful son, George W. Bush, who led the U.S. into a disastrous attack on Iraq in 2013, the most fateful foreign policy blunder ever made by an American leader.

      The fact, however, is that it was the blundering of George H. W. Bush and Baker in 1990 that set the stage for George W. Bush’s calamitous move thirteen years later.

      It was Papa Bush, after all, who sent American troops half way around the world to launch the First Gulf War—an error of tragic proportions; responsible in its own way for much of the horror that afflicts the Greater Middle East (and America) to this day.

      Ironically, it happened just as the U.S. seemed about to become king of the global roost—the greatest military power the planet had ever known. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was no power around to challenge U.S. hegemony. It was left to America to blight its own future.

    • Mehdi Hasan on George H.W. Bush’s Ignored Legacy: War Crimes, Racism and Obstruction of Justice
      George H.W. Bush died in Houston on Friday night at the age of 94. Bush was elected the 41st president of the United States in 1988, becoming the first and only former CIA director to lead the country. He served as Ronald Reagan’s vice president from 1981 to 1989. Since Bush’s death, the media has honored the former president by focusing on his years of service and his call as president for a kinder, gentler America. But the headlines have largely glossed over and ignored other parts of Bush’s legacy. We look at the 1991 Gulf War, Bush’s pardoning of six Reagan officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal and how a racist election ad helped him become president. We speak with Intercept columnist Mehdi Hasan. His latest piece is titled “The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice.”

    • A Message to Today’s Young People: Put an End to the Nuclear Weapons Era
      1. Nuclear weapons were created to kill indiscriminately. That means women, men, children – everyone. Even during war, under the rules of international law, that kind of mass killing is illegal. It is also immoral.

      2. The nuclear weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II were small by comparison with today’s far more powerful nuclear weapons.

      3. There are currently about 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The use of just a tiny fraction of these is more than enough to kill most, if not all, humans on the planet. Nuclear weapons make human beings an endangered species.

      4. The U.S. and Russia have more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. The other seven countries that have them are: the UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Manafort-Assange story was false. Mainstream media blames – you guessed it – Trump.
      The “blockbuster” smoking gun story posted by The Guardian earlier this week was widely cited as proof the President’s campaign was directly involved with Wikileaks and therefore indirectly coordinating with Russia to release damaging emails hacked from the DNC and John Podesta during the 2016 election.

      Just about every major news outlet jumped on the story. MSNBC called it a “collusion bombshell.” The Week called it “a disaster for Trump.” Rolling Stone said Manafort’s story is “unraveling before our eyes.”

      It was a classic knee-jerk reaction by mainstream media to anything negative about President Trump. There were enough inconsistencies and concerns in the original story to make the lucid in media instantly question it, but the unhinged elements jumped on it like a pack of lions stumbling across an injured gazelle.

      As the Washington Times reported, certain things simply didn’t match up.

    • Julian Assange’s lawyer tells: “His health is deteriorating”
      It’s now six and a half years since Julian Assange walked into the Ecuador embassy in London to claim asylum. Yet his life continues to surprise.

      In recent months the WikiLeaks founder has been offered Ecuadorian citizenship and found himself in a “romantic struggle” with former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson.

    • Former Guardian EIC talks journalism
      He then discussed what he called the highlight of his time as an editor — his conversations with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and Edward Snowden and the difficulties he encountered when deciding where the public interest lay in the story. WikiLeaks is a website that publishes obtained secret or classified information and news leaks. “It’s hard,” he said. “People become whistleblowers for all kinds of reasons, so it is really helpful to start from concrete information, focus on what the documents tell you.”

      He mentioned his suspicions behind Assange’s motives for getting the information out in the open, so he made sure to carefully work through all of the documents before publishing the story.

    • Former diplomat challenges ‘fake’ Guardian claims about Julian Assange meeting Paul Manafort
      A former consul and first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has spoken out against a “fake story” from the Guardian. Speaking to The Canary, Fidel Narváez insisted that the claim that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is entirely false.

      The Canary has also seen a copy of correspondence to the Guardian from the same diplomat. In these, he makes a formal complaint, accusing the newspaper of fabricating an earlier story about a Russian plot to smuggle Assange to Russia.


      Prior to the Guardian publishing the article, however, WikiLeaks did deny that the visits took place. It did that via a tweet in response to an email to Assange’s lawyers from one of the journalists who authored the article, saying how the Guardian was planning to run the story. The first published version of the article did not contain this WikiLeaks denial.


      On 21 September 2018, the Guardian claimed there was a plan to smuggle Assange from the Ecuadorian Embassy via a diplomatic vehicle, and from there to Russia. But according to the article, the plan was called off after UK authorities refused to recognise that Assange was due diplomatic protection. The Guardian also referred to an alternative plan that would have seen Assange transported to Ecuador.

      But in a letter seen by The Canary and dated 9 October, Narváez told the Guardian he denies claims made about him in that article. And that includes the claim he was a ‘point of contact’ with Russia, which he regards as defamatory.

      Moreover, Narváez is demanding the Guardian issue a public apology, considering in particular:

    • Misreporting Manafort: A Case Study in Journalistic Malpractice
      In what has been described as potentially the biggest story of the year, the Guardian’s Luke Harding (11/27/18) reported last week that Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, held a series of secret talks with WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. These meetings were said to have occurred inside the Ecuadorian embassy between 2013 and 2016. The report also mentions that unspecified “Russians” were also among Assange’s visitors. The scoop, according to the newspaper, could “shed new light” on the role of WikiLeaks’ release of Democratic Party emails in the 2016 presidential election.

      The story was picked up across the US, including by USA Today (11/27/18), the Washington Post (11/27/18), Bloomberg (11/27/18), Yahoo! News (27/11/18), The Hill (11/27/18) and Rolling Stone (11/27/18). One CNN analyst (11/27/18) analyst excitedly commented that the news was “hugely significant” and “could be one of the two missing links to show real interference and knowledge of Russian involvement” in the election.

      However, there were serious problems with the report. Firstly, the entire story was based upon anonymous intelligence sources, sources that could not tell the newspaper exactly when the meetings took place.

      Furthermore, the Ecuadorian embassy is one of the most surveilled buildings in the most surveilled city in the world, and was under 24-hour police guard and monitoring, costing the UK government over €£11 million between 2012 and 2015. The embassy also had very tight internal security, with all visitors thoroughly vetted, required to sign in and leave all their electronic devices with security. Is it really possible any figure, let alone Donald Trump’s campaign manager, could walk in for a series of secret meetings without leaving record with Ecuador, or being seen by the media or police?

    • The Guardian’s Reputation In Tatters After Forger Revealed To Have Co-Authored Assange Smear
      Regular followers of WikiLeaks-related news are at this point familiar with the multiple serious infractions of journalistic ethics by Luke Harding and the Guardian, especially (though not exclusively) when it comes to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. However, another individual at the heart of this matter is far less familiar to the public. That man is Fernando Villavicencio, a prominent Ecuadorian political activist and journalist, director of the USAID-funded NGO Fundamedios and editor of online publication FocusEcuador.

      Most readers are also aware of the Guardian’s recent publication of claims that Julian Assange met with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on three occasions. This has now been definitively debunked by Felix Narvaez, the former Consul at Ecuador’s London embassy between 2010 and 2018, who says Paul Manafort has never visited the embassy during the time he was in charge there. But this was hardly the first time the outlet published a dishonest smear authored by Luke Harding against Assange. The paper is also no stranger to publishing stories based on fabricated documents.

      In May, Disobedient Media reported on the Guardian’s hatchet-job relating to ‘Operation Hotel,’ or rather, the normal security operations of the embassy under former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. That hit-piece, co-authored by Harding and Dan Collyns, asserted among other things that (according to an anonymous source) Assange hacked the embassy’s security system. The allegation was promptly refuted by Correa as “absurd” in an interview with The Intercept, and also by WikiLeaks as an “anonymous libel” with which the Guardian had “gone too far this time. We’re suing.”

      A shared element of The Guardian’s ‘Operation Hotel’ fabrications and the latest libel attempting to link Julian Assange to Paul Manafort is none other than Fernando Villavicencio of FocusEcuador. In 2014 Villavicencio was caught passing a forged document to the Guardian, which published it without verifying it. When the forgery was revealed, the Guardian hurriedly took the document down but then tried to cover up that it had been tampered with by Villavicencio when it re-posted it a few days later.

    • Manafort Tried to Broker Deal With Ecuador to Hand Assange Over to U.S.
      In mid-May 2017, Paul Manafort, facing intensifying pressure to settle debts and pay mounting legal bills, flew to Ecuador to offer his services to a potentially lucrative new client — the country’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno.

      Mr. Manafort made the trip mainly to see if he could broker a deal under which China would invest in Ecuador’s power system, possibly yielding a fat commission for Mr. Manafort.

      But the talks turned to a diplomatic sticking point between the United States and Ecuador: the fate of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

      In at least two meetings with Mr. Manafort, Mr. Moreno and his aides discussed their desire to rid themselves of Mr. Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, in exchange for concessions like debt relief from the United States, according to three people familiar with the talks, the details of which have not been previously reported.
    • Paul Manafort discussed deal with Ecuador to give WikiLeaks' Julian Assange to US: Report
    • Paul Manafort reportedly tried to make a deal with Ecuador to hand over Julian Assange
    • Manafort tried to broker deal to get Julian Assange to U.S.
    • Paul Manafort reportedly tried to negotiate with Ecuador to secure WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's return to U.S.
    • Manafort last year discussed brokering a deal with Ecuador to hand over Assange to US: report
    • Manafort Tried to Broker Deal to Hand Assange to U.S.

    • How Does The First Amendment Relate To Prosecuting Assange?
      We’ve already been covering the strange way in which it may or may not have been revealed that there’s a secret warrant out for Julian Assange. Personally, I find it implausible, based on the government’s responses thus far, that there isn’t a warrant. If this was just some sort of typo and there is no warrant, the requests being made of the prosecutors involved could be dismissed with a simple answer of, “we have no documents matching what you are requesting.”

      But with the fact that the story is out there and the probability that a warrant exists, a debate has already begun over whether or not our government could actually go after Assange without running into First Amendment, Freedom of the Press issues. Attorney Doug Mataconis takes up this aspect of the tale at Outside the Beltway this week. In the minds of some of the more libertarian observers, there appear to be three main questions to settle.

    • Ecuadorian President talked with Manafort about removing Assange from embassy
      Manafort flew to Ecuador primarily to see if he could potentially land a large commission by brokering a deal where China would invest in Ecuador's power system, the Times reports. Manafort was facing mounting debt and needed to pay off legal bills, according to the Times. CNN's Carl Bernstein reported that last week special counsel Robert Mueller's team has been investigating a meeting between Manafort and Moreno in Quito in 2017 and has asked if WikiLeaks or Assange was discussed in the meeting, according to a source with personal knowledge of the matter.

    • Report: Manafort, Ecuador discussed deal to deliver Julian Assange to U.S.
      Details: Manafort, who served as President Trump's campaign chairman during the summer of 2016, reportedly met two times with Moreno to try and make the deal, which could have resulted in a large commission for Manafort who was under mounting pressure to pay off debts and legal bills at the time.

    • Former Trump Aide Discussed Assange's Handover to US With Ecuador – Reports
      Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and his aides discussed the ways they could get rid of Julian Assange with Donald Trump’s campaign chief Paul Manafort in 2017, The New York Times reports, citing three people familiar with the talks. According to the outlet, Trump’s former manager, who is reported to have presented himself as a liaison for the new US administration, travelled to Quito to facilitate a deal between Chinese investors and the Latin American country’s power sector. However, during the meeting, the topic of the WikiLeaks’ founder’s extradition came up.

      Moreno and his officials reportedly voiced their readiness to assist Assange’s removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, whose asylum has been a point of contention for the new administration in Quito, in exchange for concessions from the US. According to the NYT, Manafort suggested he could broker the deal.

      The outlet cites Manafort’s spokesman, Jason Maloni as saying that Moreno brought up the Assange issue and expressed 'his desire to remove Julian Assange from Ecuador’s embassy', while Manafort 'listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the purpose of the meeting'.

    • ‘Fake story’: Ecuadorean diplomat blasts Guardian’s Assange-Manafort meeting report
      A former senior diplomat at Ecuador’s London embassy has said that the source-based ‘bombshell’ by The Guardian, about alleged meetings between the former Trump campaign manager and the WikiLeaks founder, is a work of fiction. Fidel Narváez, who had worked at his country’s embassy in London from 2010 to July 2018, said that he was completely unaware of the alleged meetings between Julian Assange and Trump's disgraced former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, that had supposedly taken place on his watch.


      “It is impossible for any visitor to enter the embassy without going through very strict protocols and leaving a clear record: obtaining written approval from the ambassador, registering with security personnel, and leaving a copy of ID,” Narváez stressed.

      It’s inconceivable that someone could have sneaked into the embassy unnoticed considering it is “the most surveilled on Earth,” he pointed out, noting that “not only are there cameras positioned on neighboring buildings recording every visitor, but inside the building every movement is recorded with CCTV cameras, 24/7.”

      Narváez also took aim at other ‘explosive reports’ on WikiLeaks run by the renowned British paper, including its September story detailing an alleged “plan” by Ecuador to smuggle Assange out of the embassy and into Russia.

    • Report: Paul Manafort Tried to Score Deal With Ecuador to Hand Julian Assange Over to the U.S.
      Julian Assange, the embattled Wikileaks founder who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 for fear he could be extradited to the U.S. for publishing classified material, is in deep trouble. Court documents mistakenly released appear to suggest that he is facing unspecified, sealed charges in the U.S. that could either be espionage—a move that could be very ominous for other journalists who have published government secrets—or other theoretical charges regarding alleged relationships with hackers that went beyond protected journalistic activity.

      As it turns out, his Ecuadorean hosts seem to have been even more eager to get rid of their troublesome guest than has previously been reported. A report in the New York Times on Monday alleges that Paul Manafort, the prison-bound former chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, tried to strike a deal with inbound Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno in May 2017 to turn Assange over to U.S. authorities.

    • Former Ecuadorian diplomat blasts ‘fake’ Manafort-Assange meeting story
      Former Ecuadorian diplomat Fidel Narváez spoke out on Monday to slam reports published last week that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the embassy in London ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

      Narváez, who worked at the embassy in which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange resides in, described the claims as a “fake story.” Navarez was at the embassy from 2010-18, first as consul then as first secretary,

      The article, published in the Guardian, claimed that Manafort met with Assange on three occasions—2013, 2015, and in March 2016. These meetings, the article claimed, took place at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder has resided since 2012 to avoid extradition.

      Months later, in the run-up to Election Day, the transparency organization published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign.

    • Public Records Law Reforms Still Haven't Made Massachusetts Any Less Of A Hellhole For Records Requesters
      If there's an exemption that can be used, it will be used. Up until recently, the state had the worst public records laws in the nation. And it looks like they're still the worst. This has allowed a state agency to claim a 63-year-old murder case investigation was still ongoing, despite the lead suspect having died years ago. In another case, the State Police took $180 from a requester and then refused to hand over the records requested.

      The recently instituted public records law reforms don't seem to be having much of an effect on state agency responsiveness. MuckRock is reporting law enforcement agencies continue to be the main offenders, upholding the proud police tradition of ignoring laws officers and officials don't like.

      This leads to insane, if not illegal, responses to records requests. Todd Wallack of the Boston Globe requested a photo of an officer and detective employed by the Boston Police Department. It rejected his request citing public records exemption f, which claimed the staff photos were "investigatory materials." When Wallack challenged this determination, the BPD responded with €¯\_(ツ)_/€¯.


      I'm sure O'Malley means well and is probably accurately portraying the near-farcical situation. But the government shouldn't be pushing citizens into lawsuits over public records. The presumption is supposed to be openness, not schoolyard taunts of "make me." But that's where the state remains, even after public records reform: a drain on taxpayers both ways, whether screwing them out of records or paying legal fees with taxpayer funds at the end of the apparently inevitable lawsuits.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Climate Jobs for All
      It was an iconic moment: Young people occupy Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding a Green New Deal to put millions of people to work making a climate-safe economy — when suddenly newly-elected Congressional representative and overnight media star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins them with a resolutionin hand to establish a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. But those who actually read her resolution closely may have been puzzled – or stunned – by its call for “a jobs guarantee program to assure a living wage job to every person who wants one.” What is a “jobs guarantee program” and what does it have to do with protecting the climate?

    • Act Urgently Now, David Attenborough Declares, Because 'Collapse of Our Civilizations and Extinction of Much of the Natural World on the Horizon'
      The message from 'The People's Seat' at the United Nation's COP24 climate summit in Katowice, Poland on Monday—presented by the octogenarian British naturalist Sir David Attenborough—was as succinct and simple as it was profound and terrifying: "If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."

      Attenborough, most recently known for his work on the BBC's 'Planet Earth' documentary series, was chosen to deliver a speech on behalf of the 'People's Seat,' and the effort was backed from people from across the world who shared in a video compilation about just how urgent and perilous the current moment in human history has become.

      "The world's people have spoken," Attenborough told the crowd, which included leaders and diplomats from around the world. "Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They're behind you, along with civil society represented here today."

    • In the Face of Extinction, We Have a Moral Obligation
      Researching and writing about the impacts of runaway climate change, as I’ve been doing now for too many years, I’ve watched several patterns recur.

      One of these is evident in a recent warning from the UN. Biodiversity chief of the UN Cristiana PaÈ™ca Palmer warned that if governments around the globe don’t work to bring a halt to the loss of biodiversity and succeed in implementing a plan to do so within two years, humans could face our own extinction.

      Palmer said, according to The Guardian, “People in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.”

      People in all countries are already working to pressure their governments to do just that. Yet, with few possible exceptions, we know all too well how wedded most governments are to the current power structure and the economics that drive it to believe radical policy change like this will actually occur (without overthrowing said governments).

      Then the pattern will repeat: After some time passes, and things are even worse, another dire warning or results of a study that serves as one is released, and again, nothing will change.

    • Making It Look Easy, Ocasio-Cortez Shuts Down Huckabee Family of Liars and Promotes Green New Deal in 54-Word Tweet
      Once again demonstrating her ability to use social media to simultaneously expose the lies of right-wing critics and clearly articulate a bold progressive agenda, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) quickly disposed of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's false claim that she compared her election victory to the moon landing, noting that she was actually referring to the "level of ambition" and "innovation" that will be necessary to implement a Green New Deal and confront the global climate crisis.

      "Leave the false statements to Sarah Huckabee," Ocasio-Cortez wrote, referring to President Donald Trump's press secretary and the former governor's daughter. "She's much better at it."

    • Challenge to Trump's Environmentally Disastrous Plan to 'Wreak Havoc Along the Border' Blocked by Supreme Court
      Expressing disappointment that the high court won't take up the case, Brian Segee, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Reuters, "Trump has abused his power to wreak havoc along the border to score political points."

      The president, he added, is "illegally sweeping aside bedrock environmental and public-health laws. We'll continue to fight Trump's dangerous wall in the courts and in Congress."

    • Energy Transfer, Banks Lost Billions by Ignoring Early Dakota Access Pipeline Concerns
      Roughly four years ago, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) filed a federal application to build a 1,172 mile oil pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken shale across the U.S. to Illinois at a projected cost of $3.8 billion.

      Before that application was filed, on September 30, 2014, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met with ETP to express concerns about the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) and fears of water contamination. Though the company, now known as Energy Transfer, had re-routed a river crossing to protect the state capital of Bismarck against oil spills, it apparently turned a deaf ear to the Tribe’s objections.

      Following that approach proved to be a very costly decision, a new analysis concludes, with ETP, banks, and investors taking billions in losses as a result.

    • As Corporate Media Ignores Climate Crisis, Sanders Town Hall to Deliver Discussion of Bold Green Solutions Straight to the People
      As momentum for a Green New Deal continues to grow at the grassroots and in Congress amid dire scientific warnings that immediate and ambitious action is necessary to avert climate catastrophe, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are hosting a town hall alongside prominent environmentalists on Monday evening to discuss the global threat of the climate crisis and highlight bold solutions that the corporate media systematically ignores.

    • Who Are the Extremists? Who Are the Rational Ones?
      The logic of neoliberal reason gives us liberal leaders who lie to our faces telling us we can extract and pump out tarsand bitumen and still make a safe energy transition.

      What do you do when the political/economic consensus in no way reflects the scientific consensus and all its policy implications? Well, people have a choice: to resist the political consensus and try to create a new one, or to ignore the policy implications of the IPCC reports findings and to distract themselves with other things.

      Such is the state of global capitalism today that despite many liberal political and business leaders claiming to believe in global warming, they seem to believe in free market fundamentalism and the public subsidy of the fossil fuel industry even more. (An odd ideological contradiction in and of itself.) The truth is, in dealing with any major social crisis where uncertainty or losing is not an option, state planning, public investment, and tight control of markets is needed on a major scale.

  • Finance

    • 'Arguable case' contempt committed over Brexit legal advice says Commons Speaker
      A cross-party alliance of MPs wrote to Speaker John Bercow calling on him to launch contempt proceedings against the government for failing to publish Brexit legal advice in full

    • We asked, you told us: Most of you didn’t buy anything for Black Friday/Cyber Monday

      So now that most of the sales are over, we decided to ask you if you ended up buying anything for Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Here are the results.

    • Scabs, Semantics, and Working People
      Over the years, the incendiary term “scab,” when used in the context of Labor-Management relations, has come to be carelessly and egregiously misapplied. Even people who should, by rights, be familiar with its definition, seem to be confused by it. Bless their hearts, while their sentiments and ideology are in the right place, their terminology is in error.

      Consider: Saying that the vehemently anti-union Walmart Corporation hires only “scab labor,” or that outside contractors being used for piece-work in the manufacturing sector—the bane of unionized mechanics and electricians everywhere—are “scabs” is both inaccurate and misleading. The proper nomenclature for the aforementioned employees is simply “non-union workers.”

      A scab is an entirely different creature. A scab is a person who crosses a union picket line and takes over the job of a striking union worker. Scabs come in two varieties, both of them insidious and foul. You have your unaffiliated scab—which is a non-union person who hires on as a “replacement” for striking workers—and you have your affiliated scab, which is a union member who willingly and traitorously crosses his own union’s picket line.

      As for the term “replacement worker,” one cannot imagine a more misleading or potentially destructive job title. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “Labor cannot, on any terms, surrender the right to strike,” and he couldn’t have been more accurate. For the working class, the right to strike is everything. It’s the sole “weapon” they have in their arsenal in the on-going, eternal conflict between Labor and Management.

    • Trump’s Trade Czar, The Latest Architect of Imperial Disaster
      As Washington’s leadership fades more quickly than anyone could have imagined and a new global order struggles to take shape, a generation of leaders has crowded onto the world stage with their own bold geopolitical visions for winning international influence. Xi Xinping has launched his trillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative” to dominate Eurasia and thereby the world beyond. To recover the Soviet Union’s lost influence, Vladimir Putin seeks to shatter the Western alliance with cyberwar, while threatening to dominate a nationalizing, fragmenting Eastern Europe through raw military power. The Trump White House, in turn, is wielding tariffs as weapons to try to beat recalcitrant allies back into line and cripple the planet’s rising power, China. However bizarrely different these approaches may seem, they all share one strikingly similar feature: a reliance on the concept of “geopolitics” to guide their bids for global power.

      Over the past century, countless scholars, columnists, and commentators have employed the term “geopolitics” (or the study of global control) to lend gravitas to their arguments. Few, though, have grasped the true significance of this elusive concept. However else the term might be used, geopolitics is essentially a methodology for the management (or mismanagement) of empire. Unlike conventional nations whose peoples are, in normal times, readily and efficiently mobilized for self-defense, empires, thanks to their global reach, are a surprisingly fragile form of government. They seem to yearn for strategic visionaries who can merge land, peoples, and resources into a sustainable global system.

      The practice of geopolitics, even if once conducted from horseback, is as old as empire itself, dating back some 4,000 years. Until the dawn of the twentieth century, it was the conquerors themselves -- from Alexander the Great to Julius Caesar to Napoleon Bonaparte -- whose geopolitical visions guided the relentless expansion of their imperial domains. The ancient Greek historian Plutarch tried to capture (or perhaps exaggerate) the enormity of Caesar’s conquest of Gaul -- a territory that comprises all of modern France and Belgium -- by enumerating the nine years of war that “took by storm more than eight hundred cities, subdued three hundred tribes, and fought pitched battles... with three million men, of whom he slew one million... and took as many more prisoners.”
    • What Happened Today in Crypto?
      It will go down in cryptocurrency history that November 15 is the date of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork. This upcoming division will lead to a price increase of the coin. Reports have already indicated that within the past 24 hours Bitcoin Cash has increased by 4.21% thereby costing $564. Consequently, the two biggest exchanges in the cryptocurrency ecosystem – Coinbase and Binance have released statements as regard this latest incident.

    • How opportunistic regulation can stifle innovation in blockchain
      At the blockchain conferences and blockchain industry discussions over the last two years I had many chances to listen to talks about crypto regulation...

    • See How Well the GOP Tax Scam Is Creating Jobs? Walmart Announces Plans for 360 Robot Janitors
      Walmart announced Monday it will have 360 floor-cleaning robots in its stores by the end of January.

      In a joint statement with developer Brain Corp, the retail giant said a Walmart worker would first ride the Zamboni-like machine to teach it the route; after that a push of the button would allow machine to take off on the route by itself.

      "You see what happens when you all keep complaining about a living wage!?" commented one social media user. Another tweeted sarcastically, "Looks like Trump's corporate tax cuts are helping create jobs and increase wages!"

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Trump’s new NAFTA faces uphill battle in Congress

      “As it's currently written, Trump's deal won't stop the serious and ongoing harm NAFTA causes for American workers,” she said. “It won't stop outsourcing, it won't raise wages, and it won't create jobs. It's NAFTA 2.0.”

    • House passes bill to elevate post of federal chief information officer

      The measure would establish a new line for reporting about information technology within the federal government, now instructing the federal chief information officer (CIO) — who oversees information technology throughout the administration — to report to the director of the Office of Management and Budget instead of the office’s deputy director.

    • Israeli Police Call for Indicting Netanyahu on Bribery Charges
      Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges, adding to a growing collection of legal troubles that have clouded the longtime leader’s prospects for pursuing re-election next year.

      Netanyahu denied the latest allegations. But his fate now lies in the hands of his attorney general, who will decide in the coming months whether the prime minister should stand trial on a host of corruption allegations that could play a central role in next year’s election campaign.

      In a scathing attack on police investigators in a speech on Sunday, Netanyahu called the investigation a “witch hunt” that was “tainted from the start.”
    • The Film the Israel Lobby Does Not Want You to See
      “The Lobby,” the four-part Al-Jazeera documentary that was blocked under heavy Israeli pressure shortly before its release, has been leaked online by the Chicago-based website Electronic Intifada, the French website Orient XXI and the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

      The series is an inside look over five months by an undercover reporter, armed with a hidden camera, at how the government and intelligence agencies of Israel work with U.S. domestic Jewish groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and StandWithUs to spy on, smear and attack critics, especially American university students who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. It shows how the Israel lobby uses huge cash donations, often far above the U.S. legal limit, and flies hundreds of members of Congress to Israel for lavish and unpaid vacations at Israeli seaside resorts, bribing the American lawmakers to do Israel’s bidding, including providing military aid such as the $38 billion (over 10 years) that was approved by Congress in 2016. It uncovers Israel’s sleazy character assassination of academics, activists and journalists, its well-funded fake grassroots activism, its manipulation of press coverage, and its ham-fisted attempts to destroy marriages, personal relationships and careers. The film highlights the efforts to discredit liberal Jews and Jewish organizations as tools of radical jihadists, referring, for example, to Jewish Voice for Peace as “Jewish Voice for Hamas” and claiming that many members of the organization are not actually Jewish. Israel recruits black South Africans into an Israeli front group called Stop Stealing My Apartheid, in a desperate effort to counter the reality of the apartheid state that Israel has constructed. The series documents Israel’s repeated and multifaceted interference in the internal affairs of the United States, including elections; efforts to discredit progressive groups such as Black Lives Matter that express sympathy for the Palestinians; and routine employment of Americans to spy on other Americans. Israel’s behavior is unethical and perhaps illegal. But don’t expect anyone in the establishment or either of the two ruling political parties to do anything about it. It is abundantly clear by the end of the series that they have been intimidated, discredited or bought off.
    • Five Reasons Trump Won’t Fire Mueller
      For those who fear that Donald Trump is about to lower the boom on special counsel Robert Mueller, take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Despite all you’ve heard from Trump himself, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and law professor Alan Dershowitz about the commander-in-chief’s unfettered authority to discharge any member of the executive branch with impunity, Mueller isn’t going anywhere any time soon.


      Although Trump can’t fire Mueller directly, he can order the attorney general to do his bidding. According to conventional wisdom, Whitaker will be only too eager to oblige. Indeed, in the view of many of the president’s foes, that’s the reason Trump elevated Whitaker to the position of acting attorney general after he forced the resignation of Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from overseeing the Mueller inquiry. With Sessions out of the way, Whitaker has replaced Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as Mueller’s boss.

      Since Mueller’s appointment, Whitaker has been among the foremost critics of the special counsel’s work, often echoing Trump’s own unhinged rants. Before he became Sessions’ chief of staff, Whitaker was a right-wing blogger and a regular talking head on cable news. In that capacity, he not only argued that the attorney general could defund the Mueller probe, but also that the probe would devolve into a “witch hunt” if it crossed a “red line” into an examination of Trump’s finances.

      Last week, the line was breached when former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the extent of his erstwhile client’s efforts during the 2016 election campaign to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

    • Robert Reich: Should Trump Fear Being Subpoenaed? (Video)
      You’re probably hearing a lot about subpoenas. Or you will very soon, once Democrats take control of the House.

      A subpoena is a legal command from a court or from one or both houses of Congress to do something – like testify or present information. The term “subpoena” literally means “under penalty.” Someone who receives a subpoena but doesn’t comply with it may be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

      Here’s how it works.
    • Creeping Neo-Fascism in Ireland and the “Open Borders” Question
      Apparently, so I have read, pop/rock band Coldplay are due to release fresh new music under a fresh new name. The venture will be undertaken in collaboration with the singer Pharrell, who recently revealed himself as a shameless supporter of the Israeli ‘Defense’ Forces; but that is neither here nor there, for now. The terrifying reappearance of Coldplay reminded me of some wise words once uttered by fictional character Superhans, a comical drug-taking party fiend from Channel 4’s Peep Show, which aired between 2003 and 2015.

      In a back-and-forth with one of the other chief protagonists of the show, Jeremy, on the subject of setting up a pub somewhere in London and what food and beverages ought to be stocked in it, it is put to Superhans that the old dependables of lager and nuts should be considered, as ‘people like larger and nuts’. Superhans’s response is almost apoplectic; ‘people like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis! You can’t trust people Jeremy!’

    • Emergency Protests Planned to Stop Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP's "Shocking and Naked Power Grab"
      As Wisconsin's GOP-controlled legislature and outgoing Republican Gov. Scott Walker seek to thwart the will of voters by ramming through a sweeping slate of legislation that would drastically curtail Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers' authority and ability to implement his agenda, progressive advocacy groups announced emergency rallies on Monday to fight back against the GOP's latest "shocking and naked power grab."
    • John Pilger discusses his “The Power of Documentary” film festival
      Pilger, who has made 62 documentaries since 1970, is one of a handful of journalists internationally who vigorously defends WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. On June 17, he addressed a rally in Sydney organised by the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) to demand Assange’s immediate release. Some of the early Pilger films to be screened include: The Quiet Mutiny, his first documentary for British television; The Outsiders, which features interviews with war correspondents, such as Wilfred Burchett and Martha Gellhorn, and other individuals in 1983; and The Last Dream: Other People’s Wars (1988), about the history of Australian military involvement in British and American imperialist interventions.

    • Putin greets Saudi crown prince with high-five at G-20 summit

      Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greeted each other with a high five when they met in Argentina for the Group of 20 summit on Friday.

    • Democratic Socialism: The Impossible Dream?
      The founders of “scientific socialism,” Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, assumed it was quite possible, even historically inevitable, for working people to democratically govern an industrial society. However, they never went into detail about how this would work. Even today, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many orthodox Marxists persist in believing that vast, complex, globalized, industrial economies can be run by and for the workers who operate the machinery of production. In fact, doctrinaire Marxists still cling to the fantasy that worker-run industrial socialism is not only possible, it is the historically destined, superior replacement for industrial capitalism.

      This Marxist conviction is dubious for two reasons. First, history has demonstrated that after many attempts, and despite their best intentions, the leaders of “socialist” revolutions have never succeeded in building an industrial society run by and for working people. Second, the primary underlying reason for this failure flows from the structural requirements of industrial society. Fossil-fueled industrial economies exert a powerful influence over their social structure. The extensive, intricate, hierarchical configuration of carbon-powered industrialism appears structurally unsuited and deeply resistant to bottom-up, democratic management.

      When socialist-led revolutions seized political power in Russia, China, and elsewhere, Marxists were quick to label these countries “socialist.” They were convinced that their ruling communist parties would industrialize these countries and bring them under democratic, working class control. Meanwhile, in Western Europe, reform-minded Marxists believed working people could gain power over their industrial economies through the ballot instead of the bullet. But whether socialist parties were elected or seized power through revolution, they were never able to bring an industrial economy under the democratic management of working people.

    • For Middle- and Working-Class Americans, Running for Congress Is Nearly Unaffordable
      The candidate pool in the 2018 midterm elections was more diverse, female and full of first-time candidates than ever. Democrats nominated 180 women, 60 more than the previous record of 120, according to data from Rutgers University Center for American Women in Politics, Politico reports. They also nominated 133 people of color and 158 first-time candidates. But while Congress may look a little more like America in January, amid the celebrations of all these firsts is a harsher truth: Many of the midterm candidates, whether they won or lost, could barely afford to run.

      The odds are stacked against less wealthy candidates before they decide to run. As Amanda Terkel explains in HuffPost, “Many of the lawmakers walking the gilded halls of Congress are, financially, far better off than the constituents they represent. Millionaires comprise nearly 40 percent of Congress, compared to being just 4 percent of the U.S. population.”

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, representative-elect from New York’s 14th District, has been the subject of constant media attention. She was a bartender before running and has $7,000 in her bank account, and some conservative writers accuse her of dressing too well, considering how little money she claims to have.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Apple Sucked Tumblr Into Its Walled Garden, Where Sex Is Bad

      The value of Tumblr for NSFW creators and fans was in the autonomy to curate something original, and the freedom to express and share what they’re into—something that can’t be replaced by algorithmically-suggested porn on the rest of the internet.

    • Tumblr is already flagging innocent posts as porn

      Tumblr is giving users until the start date of the ban later this month to appeal, but the inaccuracies are causing concern that blanket bans on such content could sweep up inoffensive posts and continue to drive a wedge between creators and the Tumblr platform. The algorithms were originally a part of Safe Mode, which is now being replaced with a full-site ban on adult content.

    • The Death of Tumblr

      Tumblr will ban 'female-presenting nipples' and other content beginning December 17, 2018. Photographer and writer Nate 'Igor' Smith is a longtime Tumblr user whose work straddles the boundaries of art, editorial, and adult. Here, Nate explains why Tumblr's decision to censor is devastating for the Tumblr's longtime users, and the rest of us. — XJ

    • Verizon takes aim at Tumblr’s kneecaps, bans all adult content

      Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that owns the Yahoo and AOL digital media brands, has announced that as of December 17, all adult content will be banned from the Tumblr blogging site. Any still or moving images displaying real-life human genitals or female nipples and any content—even drawn or computer-generated artwork—depicting any sexual acts will be prohibited.

    • Tumblr to ban all pornographic content from 17 December

      New community guidelines state users cannot upload "real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples" - including anything "so photorealistic" it could be thought to be genuine.

    • Facebook's Policy Team Steamrolled On FOSTA By Sheryl Sandberg's Personal Priorities
      We've discussed a few times the big NY Times article on Facebook employing smear merchants against its critics, discussing how disappointing, if common this tactic is, and also talking about how it's a sign of a company losing its way. This has become even more pronounced as, following Facebook COO's Sheryl Sandberg's original denial of knowledge specifically around the question of smears directed at George Soros, it's now been revealed that she both was cc'd on some of the emails from the PR company, and that she had directly asked for research on Soros' views on Facebook.

      But I wanted to dig in a bit more on a specific point mentioned briefly in that NY Times report, concerning FOSTA. As we've detailed for many, many months FOSTA was a disastrous bill that has made sex trafficking worse while simultaneously creating huge problems for free speech and for internet companies -- including Facebook, which has already been sued under FOSTA.

      What was notable, was that FOSTA was not going to move forward... until Facebook suddenly changed its position on the bill. Specifically, Sandberg suddenly became a vocal supporter of the bill, even as multiple policy experts at her own company had worked hard to stop the bill. At the time, it wasn't entirely clear to me if this was purely a Sandberg thing, or if it was a decision by the wider Facebook executive team that they had to support FOSTA as a fruitless attempt to appear willing to compromise on something after getting beat up from all sides over its role in Russian disinformation campaigns.
    • 44 organisations ask Emmanuel Macron to give up its antiterrorism censorship project
      44 NGOs, professionals, hosting services and non profit Internet access providers ask Emmanuel Macron to renounce to its European Regulation project to censor the whole Web for dubious security reasons.

      European governments will meet on the 6th of December to find a common position on this text. This Regulation will use the fear of terrorism to silence all of the Internet. It will do nothing but reinforce Google and Facebook (read our article) and threaten the confidentiality of our exchanges online (read our article).
    • Chairing €«Topics on Internet Censorship and Surveillance€»
      I have been honored to be invited as a co-chair (together with Vasilis Ververis and Mario Isaakidis) for a Special Track called €«Topics on Internet Censorship and Surveillance€» (TICS), at the The Eighteenth International Conference on Networks, which will be held in Valencia, Spain, 2018.03.24–2018.03.28, and organized under IARIA's name and umbrella.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Liberty heads for judicial review over Investigatory Powers Act
      Human rights group Liberty has won the right for a judicial review into the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 in the latest legal challenge to the UK’s surveillance laws.

      The high court held in a ruling released on 29 November that Liberty has the right to a judicial review of the government’s bulk surveillance powers.

      The judicial review will rule on part 4 of the Investigatory Powers Act,which gives a wide range of government agencies powers to collect electronic communications and records of internet use, in bulk, without reason for suspicion.

      Government agencies also have legal powers for bulk hacking of mobile phones and computer equipment, and to collate large databases, known as bulk personal datasets, that include data on people who are not suspected of any crime.

    • Sacramento County Welfare Division Terminates Automated License Plate Reader Program
      The Sacramento County’s Department of Human Assistance (DHA) is terminating its invasive automated license plate reader (ALPR) program, following an EFF investigation that found the agency was accessing driver data to investigate welfare recipients without enacting the basic civil liberties safeguards required by California law.

      Over the last two years, DHA spent $10,000 to access a massive database of information about people’s driving patterns. Vigilant Solution’s LEARN system includes billions of license plate scans, with time stamps and geolocation, collected by law enforcement agencies and private contractors using high-speed ALPR cameras. In addition to serving as a cloud storage service, LEARN also functions as an analytical tool that can be used to track vehicle owners in near real-time, reveal their travel history (such as where they park their cars), and identify cars that visit targeted locations. DHA does not own its own ALPR cameras, but instead has relied upon data shared by other entities to conduct benefits fraud investigations.

      EFF exposed this location surveillance of low-income people in July, and the Sacramento Bee followed up with a report about it. Meanwhile, the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations (CCWRO) demanded accountability from the county through a direct meeting and a formal letter.

      As of Nov. 1 the agency cut off investigators from accessing the LEARN system. A single DHA staff member will have access to the system for auditing purposes until the contract with Vigilant Solutions expires in May 2019. The DHA director disclosed this good news in a letter to the CCWRO executive director, Kevin Aslanian.


      In the letter to Aslanian, DHA says that although it is ending the program, it still believes the “use of this data is legal and legitimate,” and they “reserve the right to resume use of this data.” However, they pledged not to re-initiate the program without giving CCWRO prior notice.

      EFF will continue to monitor how DHA and other government agencies use ALPRs. To learn about 200 agencies across the United States that are collecting and accessing ALPR data, check out EFF and Muckrock’s new project Data Driven: Explore How Cops Are Collecting and Sharing Our Travel Patterns Using Automated License Plate Readers.
    • The Government Is Trying to Keep Key NSA Spying Rules Secret
      We’re telling a federal appeals court that democracy has no room for secret law on surveillance of Americans. A federal appeals court in New York will hear oral argument on Tuesday in our lawsuit fighting for the public’s right to know the legal justifications for government spying.

      The Freedom of Information Act suit seeks the release of secret memos written by government lawyers that provided the foundation for the warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international communications. In essence, these memos serve as the law that governs the executive branch. By withholding them, the government is flouting a core principle of democratic society: The law must be public.

      The memos cover the government’s legal interpretations of Executive Order 12333, which was issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. It’s the primary authority under which the NSA conducts surveillance, and it encompasses an array of warrantless, high-tech spying programs. While much of this spying occurs outside the United States and is ostensibly directed at foreigners, it nonetheless vacuums up vast quantities of Americans’ communications. That’s because in today’s interconnected world, communications are frequently sent, routed, or stored abroad — where they may be collected, often in bulk, in the course of the NSA’s spying activities.

      For example, the NSA has relied on EO 12333 to collect nearly 5 billion records per day on the locations of cell phones, as well as hundreds of millions of contact lists and address books from email and messaging accounts. It also intercepted private data from Google and Yahoo user accounts as that information traveled between those companies’ data centers located abroad.

    • GCHQ Propose A 'Going Dark' Workaround That Creates The Same User Trust Problem Encryption Backdoors Do
      Are we "going dark?" The FBI certainly seems to believe so, although its estimation of the size of the problem was based on extremely inflated numbers. Other government agencies haven't expressed nearly as much concern, even as default encryption has spread to cover devices and communications platforms.

      There are solutions out there, if it is as much of a problem as certain people believe. (It really isn't… at least not yet.) But most of these solutions ignore workarounds like accessing cloud storage or consensual searches in favor of demanding across-the-board weakening/breaking of encryption.

      A few more suggestions have surfaced over at Lawfare. The caveat is that both authors, Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson, work for GCHQ. So that should give you some idea of which shareholders are being represented in this addition to the encryption debate.

      The idea (there's really only one presented here) isn't as horrible as others suggested by law enforcement and intelligence officials. But that doesn't mean it's a good one. And there's simply no way to plunge into this without addressing an assertion made without supporting evidence towards the beginning of this Lawfare piece.

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

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • George H.W. Bush’s "Willie Horton" ad will always be the reference point for dog whistle racism

      How "Willie Horton" went from shorthand for black depravity to shorthand for a certain brand of political racism.

    • Britain’s Naive Exceptionalism
      The anniversary of the sinking of two great capital ships off Singapore, one of the great British defeats of the Second World War, falls unnoticed between the proposed May-Corbyn debate on 9 December and the House of Commons vote on the Brexit agreement with the EU on 11 December. This is a pity because the miscalculations that go into producing first rate disasters, both political and military, have a lot in common.

      Seventy-seven years ago, on 10 December 1941, Japanese planes found and sank the battleship Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser Repulsewhen they unwisely sailed north of Singapore without air cover in a bid to attack the Japanese forces invading Malaya. Describing his reaction to the sinking, in which 840 sailors died, Churchill said: “In all the war, I never received a more direct shock.”

      The ingredients that led to this naval calamity were similar in general terms to those producing most disasters: inadequate resources for the task in hand, over-optimistic assessment of the risks, and self-destructive ignorance of the obstacles to be faced. The two ships went to their doom because the British had no more forces to send and underestimated the threat of Japanese air attack.

      Supporters of Britain leaving the EU will bristle and say that it is far too apocalyptic to draw any parallel between a military reverse in the last century and Brexit today. They will say that this is one more exaggerated example of “Project Fear” and “Project Hysteria”, and all that is needed is to keep our nerve and exercise greater willpower until those EU leaders and negotiators come running, because they know that their countries would lose out, though not as much as the UK, from a failure to reach an agreement.

    • Protecting the Most Vulnerable from Genocide
      There are only about 100 Sentinelese-Jarawa people left. They are fiercely independent, rejecting contact with outsiders and culturally remaining intact. Jarawa are small-statured and ebony-complexioned and thought to be remnants of people who originally migrated thousands of years ago from Africa and settled in the Andaman Islands east of India and west of Myanmar. For the most part, the Indian government has been successful in preventing interlopers from accessing their island. Chau paid some local fishermen to reach these remote Jarawa people.

      As these tribal people have managed to remain isolated, they are also highly susceptible to viral contagion, even from the common cold and flu.

      As an anthropologist who writes about indigenous issues, I am aware how much European colonialism is an ever-present issue in the minds and memories of many indigenous peoples because of the horrifying genocide wreaked upon them.

      Indeed, there are very few “uncontacted” indigenous peoples remaining in our globalized planet. The majority of uncontacted natives may be found in the Amazon region in the borderland areas of Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru. Anthropologists are continually worried about the safety of such vulnerable people because of their lacking immunity to Western-borne illnesses and threats from outsiders as tourists, illegal loggers, and gold miners encroaching upon their territories.

      In assessing the situation of isolated people like the Sentinelese-Jarawa of the Andaman Islands as well as the isolated Amerindians in the Amazon, we need to return to the history of Western thought and Western civilization for explaining the problems associated with contact in relation to indigenous peoples and Europeans.

    • Seattle Activists: Target ICE, Not Human Rights Defenders
      On December 3, we, the members of the “Anti-ICE Nine,” are headed to a pre-trial hearing. We are each facing two misdemeanor charges — which could result in up to one year of jail time and a $5,000 fine apiece — for blocking traffic outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) downtown offices in Seattle, Washington, this past June. We were arrested for exposing the existence of ICE’s regional headquarters in downtown Seattle, and for opposing the Trump regime’s horrific treatment of immigrants.

      When the Trump regime’s practice of separating migrant families and children was revealed in the weeks following our arrest, millions of people across the country joined the movement calling for the abolition of ICE. Now, following City Attorney Pete Holmes’s public threat to prosecute human rights defenders like us, we face criminal prosecution for our political stance.

      Given ICE’s well-documented deportation terror, it is Holmes who is prosecuting recklessly by using his discretion to attempt to convict those who oppose ICE. In doing so, he is aligning himself with the Trump administration.

      While Holmes may claim he is “neutrally” applying the law in prosecuting us, we believe that his purportedly “impartial” version of justice is a racist version of justice. As people who will not sit idly by while President Trump stokes the resentments of white supremacists and organizes an ever-expanding army of ICE agents, we demand that Holmes reverse course and direct his office’s energies toward protecting immigrant communities and ridding our city and state of ICE.

    • No One Knows What’s Happening in This Tent City for Migrant Kids
      Some of them have brought gifts for the roughly 2,300 children inside, only to be turned away by guards.

      Months after the government erected a tent city in the desert, most of what happens inside the encampment remains hidden, even from curious neighbors in the nearby town of 1,600 residents. The only images of the minors in the camp, standing outside in an orderly line or playing soccer, have been released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

    • Canadians Call on Pension Fund to Stop Investing in US Private Prison Firms Profiting From 'Brutal Human Rights Abuses' of Trump
      Canadian campaigners have gathered tens of thousands of signatures from critics of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), whose increased investments in a for-profit prison corporation became clear in new reporting by the Guardian Monday.

      The CPPIB, one of the largest funds in the world, drew outrage last month after it was first revealed that it held stock in the U.S.-based Geo Group—making the 20 million Canadian retirees it represents unwittingly complicit in the company's private prisons and involvement in the long-term imprisonment of immigrant families under the Trump administration.
    • The Opposite of Evil Is No Longer Goodness
      My headline is provocative, so let me quickly explain, starting with a huge claim about what’s unique about our world in this moment. Then I ask, What, right now, is most required of our species?

      Our era has been dubbed the Anthropocene because for the first time we humans are making our mark on the entire planet. Isn’t it high time we nail down the most basic traits of this master species—traits that will determine how it might handle responsibility of such magnitude…a whole planet?

      Let’s start with a common observation that humans are self-absorbed, too self-absorbed…and challenge it: Maybe we got that one wrong, very wrong. Humans are pack animals. Just like wolves and elephants, we’re social. Anthropologists make the case that we are the most social of primates. We are, above all, obsessed with staying inside the pack. We know our preservation depends on its preservation.
    • Tech Policy In Times Of Trouble
      A colleague was lamenting recently that working on tech policy these days feels a lot like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. What does something as arcane as copyright law have to do with anything when governments are giving way to fascists, people are being killed because of their race or ethnicity, and children are being wrested from their parents and kept in cages?

      Well, a lot. It has to do with why we got involved in these policy debates in the first place. If we want these bad things to stop we can't afford for there to be obstacles preventing us from exchanging the ideas and innovating the solutions needed to make them stop. The more trouble we find ourselves mired in the more we need to be able to think our way out.

      Tech policy directly bears on that ability, which is why we work on it, even on aspects as seemingly irrelevant to the state of humanity as copyright. Because they aren't irrelevant. Copyright, for instance, has become a barrier to innovation as well as a vehicle for outright censorship. These are exactly the sorts of chilling effects we need to guard against if we are going to be able to overcome these challenges to our democracy. The worse things are, the more important it is to have the unfettered freedom to do something about it.
    • Woman Sues Georgia Deputies After Their Field Drug Test Said Her Cotton Candy Was Meth
      Cops love cheap field drug tests because they're cheap and as likely to generate "probable cause" for an arrest/search as their much more expensive drug dogs. No law enforcement agency has ever expressed concerns about these fields tests returning false positives at an alarming rate. They just book people and send them before a judge based on a $2 test that can find anything from drywall powder to doughnut crumbs to be controlled substances. This void in accountability has occasionally been filled by prosecutors, a few of which will not offer or accept plea deals based on nothing more than a field test.

      A faulty drug test is at the center of a recently-filed lawsuit. Georgia resident Dasha Fincher is suing Monroe County and two sheriff's deputies over a field drug test that turned cotton candy into methamphetamines and upended her life. (via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

    • There’s No Real Difference Between Border Walls and Border Fences
      Democrats, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, are playing word games when it comes to funding Trump’s border wall. Sometime between now and Dec. 7, when the current appropriation for the Department of Homeland Security will expire, Congress needs to provide the agency with another’s year’s funds. A single word has become a sticking point for the politicians who will vote on that funding: “wall,” as in President Trump’s border wall.

      Trump and his Republican allies are demanding billions of dollars for walls along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats, wanting to be seen as opposing Trump, say that they won’t vote for border walls. But they, led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are willing to vote for “fences.”

      The current Senate iteration of the DHS appropriations bill contains $1.6 billion for 65 miles of either border walls or border fences — depending on one’s party affiliation — in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. This is an area that received 54 miles of either border wall or border fence in between 2009 and 2010. I live in the Rio Grande Valley, a few miles north of the 2009 border wall and in the vicinity of the new ones: No one here has ever called it a fence.

      Sen. Schumer recently took to the floor to split the fence/wall hair, saying that, “It’s just what we’ve done in previous years — funding for fencing on the border where experts say it makes the most sense. It would protect our border far more effectively and far more quickly than any wall.”

    • Florida Sheriff Worked with ICE to Illegally Jail and Nearly Deport US Citizen
      Peter Brown’s illegal arrest shows why sheriffs have no business enforcing immigration law. Peter Sean Brown is a U.S. citizen who lives in the Florida Keys. He was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Florida for 10 years. Before this year, he had never heard of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

      That changed abruptly in April, when the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office held him in jail so that ICE could try to deport him — even though he’s a U.S. citizen. The ACLU, the ACLU of Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP filed a lawsuit today against the sheriff’s office for violating Peter’s Fourth Amendment rights. His experience — being locked in jail away from his family, friends, and job to facilitate an illegal deportation — is a stark example of what can go wrong when local law enforcement does ICE’s bidding.

      The saga began when Peter reported to the Monroe County Sheriff’s office for violating probation with a low-level, marijuana-related offense. Instead of quickly releasing him, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office told Peter that they were keeping him locked up to facilitate his deportation. ICE had faxed a request, known as a “detainer,” asking the sheriff to lock Peter up, so it could deport him to Jamaica.

    • How the FIRST STEP ACT Moves Criminal Justice Reform Forward
      The FIRST STEP Act is a modest piece of legislation that tackles harsh sentencing while failing, for the most part, to apply its reforms retroactively It’s not often that you’ll find the ACLU on the same side of an issue as President Donald Trump.

      But in the waning days of the 115th Congress, lawmakers have the rare opportunity to show bipartisanship isn’t completely dead. For months, advocates and lawmakers have worked together to craft a criminal justice reform bill, known as the FIRST STEP Act, that enjoys broad support from the White House and members of Congress in both parties.

      Only one thing stands in the way of this piece of genuine bipartisan reform: Mitch McConnell. The Senate majority leader has complete and absolute power to bring the FIRST STEP Act to the floor for a vote. Thus far, he has chosen to stand in the way of essential reforms that will help ensure incarcerated people who have served their time have a second chance at life.

      So how did we get here?

    • Canada Rejects A Free Press: Supreme Court Says Journalist Must Hand Over Sources
      To some extent, we've dealt with this issue in the US as well, where some believe the 1st Amendment should already protect reporters and media orgs from giving up information on sources, but where the government still has gone to court -- such as in the case of James Risen -- to try to force journalists to reveal sources.

      And while there have been some attempts at creating so-called "shield laws" against these sorts of things, unfortunately, nearly every attempt to do so would require the government to define who counts as a journalist, which would also be a huge 1st Amendment problem. (And, of course, over in Europe there's an issue where Romania has been trying to use the GDPR to force a reporter to cough up sources).

      I know that some people don't think this is that big of a deal, but it is a huge deal if you want journalists to be free to investigate and report on things like government corruption and abuse. To do that, journalists rely on sources providing them information -- and to get sources to provide you information, journalists frequently need to guarantee them anonymity for fairly obvious reasons. But when governments can force away that anonymity, it creates a huge mess. Sources will be much less willing to come forward, as they know that even if a journalist promises protection, they can't guarantee it against a demand from the government. This will lead to significantly less whistleblowing, especially in important cases.

    • To Protect Asylum-Seeking Family From Deportation, Dutch Church Holds Round-the-Clock Services for 900 Hours and Counting
      A church in The Hague is going to extreme measures to show its intolerance for the anti-immigrant sentiment that has spread across Europe in recent years, as it enters its 38th day holding continuous services in order to protect an asylum-seeking Armenian family from deportation.

      The Tamrazyan family was given sanctuary by Bethel Church on October 26 after they learned the Dutch government planned to deport them. They have lived in the country since 2010, after reportedly fleeing death threats in Armenia due to their political activism.

    • Trump's Enablers—An Appalling Parallel
      Why should we not compare Nazi officials with the leaders of the Republican Party, most of whom denounced and derided Donald Trump when he was running for office, but now seem eager to join his wrecking-ball attacks on America’s most hallowed democratic principles?


      Born in Cracow in 1939, Niklas Frank was too young to fully comprehend his father’s role in the Holocaust. As he matured however, and became a reporter, his initial embarrassment at being the son of a war criminal turned into what he called a “burning hatred-- ” an obsessive need to research the dark corners of his parents’ life. The result was a searing book denouncing his father for his horrific acts—"The Father: A Settling of Accounts.”

      What was so remarkable, was that, according to Niklas, Hans Frank did not particularly dislike Jews. Indeed, Niklas claimed to have no memory of ever hearing his father spout anti-Semitic venom at home, even as his day job involved sending millions to the gas chambers.

      Nor, according to Niklas, was his father a fervid Nazi ideologue. Ideals had nothing to do with Hans Frank’s eagerness to enable Hitler. It was purely a question of building a career, reigning as the “Governor General” of Occupied Poland--of an obsession with position, prestige, and wealth, of having great (stolen) renaissance masterpieces hanging in his palatial home.

      So, tell me: why should we not compare Niklas Frank’s blindly ambitious father with top Trump officials and the leaders of the Republican Party, most of whom denounced and derided Donald Trump when he was running for office, but now not only remain silent in the face of his increasingly outrageous acts, but actually seem eager to join his wrecking-ball attacks on America’s most hallowed democratic principles.

      This is not to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. But Trump’s depredations don’t have to meet Hitlerian extremes for them to be heinous and a threat to all Americans.

    • Why We Need to Go Back to Fascism 101
      Clearly, Donald Trump is getting things done with these lies that no amount of ‘exposure’ can frustrate. He pays no price for having them exposed, and he rather seems to enjoy watching responsible journalists scramble to expose them.

      What journalists routinely get wrong about the President’s lies is to assume that he tells them in order to deceive. But these lies are of a radically different kind. No ‘pants on fire’ rating on a PolitiFact ‘Truth-O-Meter’ can discredit them because they are drawn from an anti-democratic playbook, where deception is a side-effect of lying rather than the principal aim. Donald Trump does not object to having his most ludicrous assertions exposed as lies. He objects to their not being accepted as lies. This sounds odd, I realize, but anyone who has studied the inner workings of fascism knows that the most outrageous lies of any given imperator, ‘father of the fatherland’or il duce are not about deception; they are about demonstrating the leader’s power to impose deceptions.

      I come at this not as a journalist, but as a scholar of ancient Rome. Consider, for example, the ‘founding lie’ that was told by emperor Tiberius at a meeting of the Roman Senate on September 17, 14 AD. Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, had recently passed away. Tiberius, the deceased emperor’s adopted ‘son,’ stood before the Senate and read out Augustus’s will. In it he was named Augustus’s heir. This was new territory for the Roman Senate. Technically speaking, emperors should not exist: they were anathema to Rome’s ‘republican’ constitution. For those gathered in the Senate that day, Augustus was not only their first emperor, he was their first dead one. So what were they to do? Could a dead emperor just name someone in his will to make that someone the next emperor? Were they, as senators, to have no say in the matter? Or perhaps they did not really need an emperor, especially one as unlikeable as Tiberius.

    • Elkhart City Council Members Support Investigation of Police Department
      At least three members of Elkhart, Indiana’s city council say they would support paying for an independent review of the city’s police force if the U.S. Department of Justice declines to investigate.

      Last month, Mayor Tim Neese asked the Indiana State Police to conduct a “thorough and far-reaching” investigation hours before the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica detailed misconduct by many top officers in the department.

      The state police declined to investigate, saying it would be beyond their purview. They referred the mayor to the U.S. Department of Justice. But the Justice Department has retreated from oversight over local police departments.

      Without help from the state or federal government, some city council members say they would support Elkhart hiring a private firm to do the investigation. The city took a similar approach in 1994, when it commissioned a study of the police department after five officers were held liable for civil rights violations.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Fentanyl’ By Black Thought
      Black Thought, the MC of The Roots, recently released the EP “Stream of Thought Vol. 2,” his follow-up to the second volume released earlier in the year.

      Because many now associate Black Thought by his birth name Tariq Trotter, as part of the house band on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” it is easy to lose sight of his influence as a socially conscious rapper. With The Roots, his lyrics often provided poignant social commentary.

      Both volumes of “Stream of Thought” fully display his abilities to skillfully offer deep insights into real world issues.

      “Fentanyl,” off “Vol. 2,” tackles the opioid crisis. It addresses the dangers of addiction, mentioning how both Tom Petty and Prince died from fentanyl overdoses. It also sheds light on unscrupulous individuals and institutions that profit from addiction.

      “Over-dosage is a marketing scheme, that’s just as dark as it seem when it’s a part of your team” speaks to how Big Pharma spends millions to promote drugs with potentially deadly side effects.

      This idea is further explored with the lyric, “While the wolves pull the wool on and prey on vices.” The wolves represent the marketers that target addicts. They don’t care that “another destroyed life was meant to be more righteous in the face of this full-on opioid crisis.”
    • Yahoo Meet Karma: Trashy Kid Rock Replaced By Heroic James Shaw
      A sweet, small, symbolic bit of schadenfreude this weekend when Nashville officials booted foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, has-been redneck and Trump supporter Kid Rock from his position as Grand Marshall of the city's annual Christmas parade, replacing him with James Shaw Jr., who saved lives last year when he confronted a shooter at a local Waffle House, instantly became a real-life hero to many, and obviously should have had the gig in the first place. Rock, who's actually rich-kid-who-never-grew-up Robert Richie from Detroit, was disinvited after he mouthed off during an interview at his Nashville bar with Fox's Steve Doocy, urging people to lighten up and forget all the political correctness nonsense: "God forbid you say something a little bit wrong, you're racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, this that and another," he said. "I would say, 'love everybody,' except screw that Joy Behar bitch.” Behar is a comedian, co-host of ABC's "The View," and fierce critic of Trump.

      Doocy rushed to apologize for the profanity, which was striking given that most of what they air is profane - "unholy, heathen...characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles." Still, city officials were unhappy: the mayor said he would be "inclined not to participate" if Rock was there and a councilman said he “evokes neither the spirit of Christmas nor the inclusivity (of) the best of Nashville.” When organizers yanked him, Rock's response was as classy as ever: He doubled down on his right to be no-talent douchebag who once gleefully besmirched the White House with low-life pals Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin, and his bar co-owner, who donated a chunk of cash to the parade, threatened to sue to get it back. In the end, a smiling James Shaw led the parade, riding in a horse-drawn carriage with relatives of Akilah Dasilva, one of the shooting victims, and declaring, "It warms the heart to be here." He was widely celebrated on social media as a role model, an inspiration and "the best of America," which might even be starting to raise the bar a bit.

    • So Close, but So Far From the Land of the Free
      But the breakaway protesters appeared to not know where they were going. They ran past the road that leads to the United States, into a dead end on Calle José María Larroque, a street just a block away from the border wall. There, a group of Mexican police officers cornered them. For a moment, I found myself in the middle of a standoff between a group desperate to make it to the land of the free, and police dressed in full riot gear, determined to stand in their way. I thought the police were going to arrest the men, but they were vastly outnumbered and the men escaped by running down an alley that led back to the main road.

      To block their way, the police rolled in a 15-foot-high rusted door and formed a blockade in the middle of the street, sealing the road from the United States into Mexico. The migrants ran back to the canal adjacent to the border fence, rejoining the protesters they had broken away from. One of the protesters yelled, “Estan haciendo el trabajo de Trump! Odia a los Mexicanos también!”—“You’re doing Trump’s work! He hates Mexicans, too!”

      The protesters started a scattered march along the outer edges of the canal, some waving Honduran flags, some American. One woman had a sign that said, “El respeto a los derechos ajenos es la paz”—“The rights of foreigners means peace.”

      Despite their anger, despite their frustrations, I never once saw anyone being violent or destructive, or behaving as people did in the video the Trump administration shared during the midterm elections campaign. I felt completely safe.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Netherlands: Darunavir, Provisions Judge of the District Court of The Hague, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2018:13017, 01 November 2018
      As it was already offered in the G-standard, price erosion was an imminent danger for which a provisional injunction was warranted, and the SPC appeared to be valid having been held so in the parallell procedure before the UK court.

    • Trademarks

      • Schlafly Family Loses Appeal To Block Schlafly Family Member's Brewery's Trademark Application
        As you will by now know, trademark bullying ticks me off. In particular, trademark bullying built on ideological grounds rather than any real concern over customer confusion gets my fur up. But when all of the above occurs against a brewery, makers of sweet, sweet beer? Well, that is a bridge too far.

        Which is why it is with great pleasure that I can inform you that the greater Schlafly family, famous for its matriarch and puritanical icon Phyllis Schlafly, has lost a trademark opposition against another family member's brewery. This all started when the now late Phyllis Schlafly and her son Bruce Schlafly opposed her nephew Tom Schlafly from trademarking the name of his beer, Schlafly Beer. The opposition itself made zero sense, since Phyllis and Bruce chiefly objected to having their surname associated with the beer, given that Phyllis' reputation was particularly well cultivated with the Mormon and Baptist populations that don't look kindly on alcohol, generally. Successfully opposing the mark, however, wouldn't keep Tom from keeping that name for his beer. Instead, it simply meant that essentially everyone could call their beer Schlafly Beer, compounding the problem. Regardless, the Trademark Office took one look at the opposition and tossed it on obvious grounds, namely that Schlafly is Tom's surname too, and nobody is necessarily going to see Schlafly beer and suddenly think Phyllis took to boozing late in life.

        Well, the Schlafly's appealed that decision, even after Phyllis passed away, and now the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled in favor of the brewery's right to produce Schlafly Beer.

    • Copyrights

      • Tell the Senate Not to Put the Register of Copyrights in the Hands of the President
        With just a week left for this Congress, one of the weirdest bad copyright bills is back on the calendar. The “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act” would make the Register of Copyrights a presidential appointee, politicizing a role that should not be made a presidential pawn.

        On Tuesday, December 4, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration is scheduled to vote on S. 1010, the Senate version of the “Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act” already passed by the House of Representatives as H.R. 1695. If it passes out of the committee, the whole Senate will be able to vote on it with only days left in the 2018 session.

        Currently, the Register of Copyrights is appointed by the Librarian of Congress, as the Copyright Office is part of the Library. This bill would take the appointment out of the hands of the Librarian and put it in the hands of the President.

        The Register of Copyrights does a number of important, nonpartisan, non-political jobs. As the name implies, they register copyrightable material. But they are also charged with providing advice to Congress and “information and assistance” to others in the federal government on copyright. It’s important to note that, except in rare, narrow circumstances, the Register of Copyrights does not make copyright policy. Congress does.
        The EU Copyright Directive currently working its way through the legislative process is surely one of the worst draft laws ever considered in the EU. Not just in the sense that it will cause serious damage to the Internet in the EU, but also because it is of an almost unprecedentedly poor quality in terms of its detailed framing.

        Lawmakers generally recognise that the texts they produce must be clear about what they are trying to achieve, and how that will be implemented. Bad laws inevitably lead to conflicting decisions in the courts, and legal challenges that may even result in laws being struck down. Uncertainty about what new legislation means is not only a waste of time, effort and money, but has a corrosive effect on people’s respect for the law itself. If the fundamental rule of medicine is “first, do no harm”, the corresponding responsibility for lawmakers is “first, don’t be vague”.

        Take Article 11, for example, which introduces an ancillary copyright for snippets of news articles. We don’t know how much of a quotation will require a licence – some copyright maximalists have even called for single words to be protected. Even more seriously, we don’t know whether simply using hyperlinks would require a licence. That would clearly cause immense problems for businesses, and for people’s creativity and rights. But the texts currently being considered still do not make it absolutely certain that hyperlinks are excluded from the licensing requirement.
      • Congress Using Lame Duck Session To Push Through Awful Plan To Politicize The Copyright Office
        You can't take your eyes off Congress for a second or they might do something awful. As you may recall, over the past few years, there's been a huge fight going on concerning who controls the US Copyright Office. Historically, the Copyright Office has been a part of the Library of Congress. In early 2017, I wrote a very long, detailed article for the Verge detailing why the Copyright Office is in the Library of Congress, and why it should stay there. If you're confused about this, I suggest reading that article. However, for years, many both within the Copyright Office itself, and (more importantly) in the legacy movie and recording industries, have been pushing to get the Copyright Office out of the Library and set up as its own agency (or possibly merged into the Patent and Trademark Office). This would give those special interests a lot more power over the organization, especially as it would make the head of the Copryight Office, the Register of Copyrights, now a Presidentially appointed position, rather than what it is today, where the Register is appointed by the Librarian of Congress.

        The previous Register, Maria Pallante, advocated strongly for independence from the Library, and all sorts of rumors started to swirl after Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden (herself only recently appointed) fired Pallante. There was a ridiculous set of conspiracy theories pushed out about this falsely accusing "Google" of engineering the firing of Pallante. This entire narrative was debunked when it later came out that Pallante was almost certainly fired over an astoundingly botched computer system upgrade in which a new computer system that the Office had promised would cost $1.1 million had ballooned (through questionable means) to $11.6 million, and never actually worked and had to be scrapped. On top of that, an Inspector's General Report suggested that Pallante lied to both Congress and the Library of Congress about the status of that computer system upgrade, claiming that it was going great. Those are fireable offenses. Meanwhile, under Hayden's leadership, the Copyright Office has actually done a good job upgrading its computer systems.
      • General rules on direct and indirect liability for copyright infringement instead of Art. 13
        As the debate around the draft Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market continues to unfold [Katposts here], The IPKat is happy to publish the following contribution by Ansgar Ohly and Matthias Leistner (both LMU München) concerning their proposal – which will be hosted in full on the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice (JIPLP) – concerning Article 13, that is the value gap (or transfer of value) proposal.
      • Top 14 Free Movie Download Websites | Completely Legal In 2018
        We love movies and we love them even more if they are for free. Right? If you open your web browser and type free movie download websites, you’ll be presented with a long list of illegal websites promising to grab your favorite blockbuster in a matter of seconds. Even Google keeps recommending such collections of websites at the top.

        Another popular way of grabbing free movies online is torrent sites. However, downloading movies and TV shows from an illegal source like torrent can often get you in trouble. Google also keeps deleting the pirate links from its search results to make the internet a better and safer place. Instead of becoming a victim of illegal movie streaming websites or torrent sites that host all kinds pirated content, there are many legal sources that provide free movies and TV shows (you can check out our list of sites for free and legal music as well).

      • ‘Movie Piracy Brings in Millions of Extra Revenue Through Promotion’

        Online piracy is generally seen as a major source of losses by the entertainment industries, with many studies backing the claim. However, the effects of piracy are quite diverse. New research reveals that DVD-sales are more impacted than box office sales, for example. At the same time, it shows that piracy has a promotional effect which brings in additional revenue.

      • Director Shares Movie on Torrent Site Before ‘Official’ Release

        The major Hollywood studios hate to see their movies ending up on torrent sites. A small production company from Utah has a different view though. Lee Gardner, director and co-writer of "Adopting Trouble," sees torrents as a promotional tool. He reached out to RARBG to coordinate an official torrent release, which came out before the film made its debut on Amazon this week.

      • Irdeto Targets Non-Pirate Kodi-Addon Developer’s PayPal Account

        The developer of a Kodi add-on that provided access to a streaming service as long as users had a fully-legitimate account has had his PayPal account limited following a copyright complaint. Anti-piracy outfit Irdeto previously filed DMCA notices against developer Matt Huisman, taking his software down from Github, but Huisman never charged a penny for his add-on so is bewildered by this action.

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