"The episode has cast a harsh spotlight on the cable news practice of paying partisan political operatives to appear as on-air commentators. Like Ms. Brazile, these guests can offer a plugged-in viewpoint on the day’s events, but they often also parrot campaign talking points and, as in this case, create potential ethical conflicts. CNN has already faced criticism over its hiring of Corey Lewandowski, Donald J. Trump’s former campaign manager, as a paid contributor, even as he remains an informal adviser to the candidate. Ms. Brazile’s infraction, however, may be more damaging. Her sharing of questions with a candidate would seem to undercut the impartiality of the event and, as a CNN contributor, potentially reflect poorly on the network, which received big ratings, and thus profits, from primary debates and town halls."
Monday, October 31, 2016
Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times; CNN Parts Ways With Donna Brazile, a Hillary Clinton Supporter:
University of Pittsburgh Nondiscrimination Policy Statement:
[Kip Currier: Noteworthy to see "genetic information" included in Pitt's 10/31/16 Nondiscrimination Policy Statement, copied below. With advances in genome sequencing and the proliferation of DNA testing services for consumers, it makes sense that this would be included in organizational policies like Pitt's.] "The University of Pittsburgh, as an educational institution and as an employer, values equality of opportunity, human dignity, and racial/ethnic and cultural diversity and inclusion. Accordingly,as explained in Policy 07-0l-03, the University prohibits and will not engage in discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, genetic information, disability, or status as a veteran. The University also prohibits and will not engage in retaliation against any person who makes a claim of discrimination or harassment or who provides information in such an investigation. Further, the University will continue to take affirmative steps to support and advance these values consistent with the University’s mission. This policy applies to admissions, employment, access to and treatment in University programs and activities. This is a commitment made by the University and is in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations."
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Ashley Gorski and Scarlet Kim, Guardian; Why do we still accept that governments collect and snoop on our data? :
"Although the debate in the US has led to some piecemeal reforms – including the USA Freedom Act and modest policy changes – many of the most intrusive government surveillance programs remain largely intact. These include programs conducted not just by the NSA, but also by its close partner in the United Kingdom, called the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), with whom the NSA swaps vast sets of private data. This bulk surveillance violates rights to privacy and freedom of expression – rights that are guaranteed not only under US domestic law, but also under international human rights law. That latter legal framework speaks a universal language, enumerating fundamental rights that every person enjoys by virtue of our common humanity... Just as human rights law requires that surveillance be prescribed by law, targeted, and proportionate, government information-sharing should adhere to the same standard. Outsourcing surveillance hardly lessens the intrusion. Therefore, whether the UK or US intercepts the information itself or obtains the same flow of data from another intelligence agency, the same protections should apply.As the debate over mass surveillance continues, it is vital that we consider the ways in which this spying violates the fundamental rights of millions of individuals throughout the world. Should the European court of human rights rule against mass surveillance, its decision will have far-reaching implications for the rights of Americans and non-Americans alike."
Former Bush Ethics Lawyer Files Complaint Against FBI Director for Email Disclosures; Slate, 10/30/16
Daniel Politi, Slate; Former Bush Ethics Lawyer Files Complaint Against FBI Director for Email Disclosures:
"The former chief ethics lawyer at the White House during George W. Bush’s presidency has filed an ethics complaint against FBI Director James Comey. In an op-ed published in the New York Times on Sunday, Richard W. Painter writes that he filed a complaint against the FBI for violating the Hatch Act, "which bars the use of an official position to influence an election." He filed the complaint with both the Office of Special Counsel and the Office of Government Ethics. Painter, who was the head White House ethics lawyer between 2005 and 2007 and now supports Hillary Clinton, says Comey violated the Hatch Act when he sent the letter to lawmakers on Friday informing them of the newly discovered emails."
Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times; The Ethics of Hunting Down ‘Patient Zero’ :
"The alleged “Patient Zero” of the American AIDS epidemic — a French Canadian flight attendant named Gaétan Dugas, who died of AIDS in 1984 — was exonerated last week. Genetic sequencing of blood samples stored since the 1970s showed that the strain infecting him had circulated among gay men in New York for several years before he arrived here in 1974... Decisions about whether to find index patients, to release details like age or race or sexual or hygiene habits, and ultimately whether to name them, “are all about the need to know,” Dr. Darrow said. “You weigh the potential harm against the potential benefit.”"
Freedom of expression under worldwide attack, UN rights expert warns in new report; UN Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, 10/20/16
UN Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner; Freedom of expression under worldwide attack, UN rights expert warns in new report:
"“There is no question that governments worldwide are wielding the tools of censorship,” warns the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, in a report on the widespread global assault on the freedom of expression to be presented to the UN General Assembly tomorrow. “Governments are treating words as weapons, adopting vague laws that give officials massive discretion to undermine speech and opinion,” Mr. Kaye says. “They are punishing journalists for their reporting, silencing individuals for posting opinions on social media, shutting down debate and the flow of information on grounds of counter-terrorism, protecting public order, sheltering people from offense.” “Censorship in all its forms reflects official fear of ideas and information,” the expert noted. “And it not only harms the speaker or reporter or broadcaster, it undermines everyone’s right to information, to public participation, to open and democratic governance.” The report involved a survey of hundreds of official communications the rapporteur has issued to governments, which resulted from allegations of violations of well-established international human rights law received from individuals and non-governmental organizations worldwide. The trend lines are stark, Mr. Kaye said. “I am especially concerned that many governments assert legitimate grounds for restriction, such as protection of national security or public order or the rights of others, as fig leaves to attack unpopular opinion or criticism of government and government officials,” he stated. “Many times governments provide not even the barest demonstration that such restrictions meet the legal tests of necessity and proportionality.” The Special Rapporteur drew attention to increasing instances where governments assert rationales having no basis in human rights law. “For example,” he said, “it has become routine for governments to explicitly target political criticism, journalism, and the expression of singled-out groups such as LGBTI communities and artists.” “Those who carry out physical threats, particularly to journalists and writers and bloggers, are rarely held accountable,” Mr. Kaye added. “Online, threats to expression are getting worse. Advances in technology have triggered new forms of repression and censorship that undermine everyone’s ability to hold opinions or seek, receive and impart information and ideas.” One of the biggest threats to online expression is the use of Internet ‘kill switches.’ More than a dozen network shutdowns have been recorded in the last year. Internet shutdowns are just one form of digital censorship among many adopted by governments today. The report notes areas of positive developments as well. The Special Rapporteur welcomes, for instance, examples where governments, legislatures, and domestic and international courts have taken strong steps to promote freedom of expression or carefully evaluate restrictions. In his study, the human rights expert urges all governments to review their national laws to ensure strong protection and promotion of the freedom of expression, in particular to limit the discretion officials may enjoy to restrict the flow of information. “The approach that many governments adopt towards freedom of expression today is abusive and unsustainable,” Mr. Kaye stressed. “Governments must not only reverse course, but also take the lead in ensuring its protection.”"
Freedom Of Expression Under Attack, Says UN Special Rapporteur; Intellectual Property Watch, 10/21/16
Intellectual Property Watch; Freedom Of Expression Under Attack, Says UN Special Rapporteur:
"Governments worldwide are engaging in censorship and punishing those who report or post opinions, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, says in a report on the widespread global assault on the freedom of expression to be presented to the UN General Assembly today. The full press, available here, is reprinted below."
Elliot Harmon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Patent Trolls Undermine Open Access:
"...[E]ven as university research becomes accessible to a wider public, some of that same research is falling into the hands of patent trolls, companies that serve no purpose but to amass patents and sue innovators who independently created similar inventions. When universities file patents on inventions that arise from scientific research and then sell those patents to trolls, it puts a strain on innovation. That’s why EFF recently launched Reclaim Invention, a campaign to encourage universities to adopt policies not to sell or license patents to trolls... As the open access movement continues to grow and mature, we hope to see open access allies on campus begin to take on their institutions’ patenting policies. University patenting and licensing policies directly affect how researchers’ outputs will be used in the field. The same arguments that have given way to the explosion of open access publishing also apply to patents—just as researchers shouldn’t trust their work with publishers that don’t have the public’s interest at heart, their institutions shouldn’t sell patents to trolls out for nothing but a quick buck. Instead, they should partner with companies that will bring their inventions to the public. After all, the public paid for it."
Daniel Demay, SeattlePI.com; Amazon nets patent for mini police drones:
"Amazon Technologies, Inc. was granted a patent Oct. 18 for a device it called an “unmanned aerial vehicle assistant,” aimed at use by police for everything from monitoring situations to finding lost children at the fair... The devices, if put into wide use, would no doubt raise new questions about police use of technology, said Shankar Narayan, technology and liberty project director for the America Civil Liberties Union in Seattle. Because the drones would be so small, they might be able to operate in discreet ways, collecting information without the subjects ever being aware, he noted. In a traffic stop, for example, such a drone could fly around the vehicle conducting a search of the inside of the car without an officer ever establishing the required probable cause for such a search, Narayan said. "That's just one of the ways you could try to make an end-run around the constitutional protections," he said. Civil rights advocates would look to regulate such devices before they ever went into use. "We want to make sure the use of this technology doesn't turn into an open fishing expedition" just because newer technology allows it, Narayan said."
RUCKA ON WHAT MAKES WONDER WOMAN SPECIAL: ‘ONE OF HER POWERS IS LOVE’; Comic Book Resources, 10/26/16
Albert Ching, Comic Book Resources; RUCKA ON WHAT MAKES WONDER WOMAN SPECIAL: ‘ONE OF HER POWERS IS LOVE’ :
"CBR: Greg, late last month, an interview you did with Comicosity that discussed Wonder Woman’s sexuality generated a lot of subsequent coverage. I don’t want to make this interview about another interview you did, but what was your take on how that story took a life on its own, and the reaction to your comments? Greg Rucka: I think we saw the reaction of a lot of people who don’t know anything about the character, and are deciding this is yet another hill that they’re going to stand their ground on. I rate this in the same place as saying, “You did a Ghostbusters movie, and they’re all women! You ruined it!” Really? I mean, really? I was asked a specific question at point blank. DC would not want me to lie, or prevaricate, and I am not serving the character well or doing my job if I lie or prevaricate. Representation matters enormously. I honestly think, if we really want to drill down on this, at the heart of the negative response — and the negative response has been loud and vocal, but from a minority, and a very small minority — you’re seeing the response of people going, “I didn’t want to have to talk about that!” OK, but the people out there who need to hear it, I care far more about them. I guarantee you, if we lost readers over this, we gained more. For people to go, “It’s a publicity stunt” — no, it’s not. You’ll see it’s just another element of the character. It’s like when we were talking about Kate way back in the day, and I was writing Batwoman. Yeah, she’s queer. She’s also got red hair and is Jewish. These are elements of character. These are not the definition of character."
DC superhero punching for gender equality to be honoured at her 75th birthday party, attended by Ban Ki-moon and ‘surprise guests’; Guardian, 10/12/16
Alison Flood, Guardian; DC superhero punching for gender equality to be honoured at her 75th birthday party, attended by Ban Ki-moon and ‘surprise guests’ :
"The United Nations is due to welcome a new honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls: Wonder Woman. According to website Comic Book Resources, the superhero will officially be given her new title at an event in New York on 21 October – the character’s 75th anniversary – at the United Nations headquarters. The announcement is due to be attended by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson and, said Comic Book Resources, some “surprise guests”, who the comics site speculated would include the actors who have appeared as Wonder Woman over the years, including actor Lynda Carter. The event will also mark the launch of the UN’s landmark global campaign supporting Sustainable Development Goal #5, which is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” says the UN. “Providing women and girls with equal access to education, healthcare, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large.”"
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Brian Fung, Washington Post; The FCC just passed sweeping new rules to protect your online privacy:
"Federal regulators have approved unprecedented new rules to ensure broadband providers do not abuse their customers' app usage and browsing history, mobile location data and other sensitive personal information generated while using the Internet. The rules, passed Thursday in a 3-to-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers' explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms. Also covered by that requirement are health data, financial information, Social Security numbers and the content of emails and other digital messages. The measure allows the FCC to impose the opt-in rule on other types of information in the future, but certain types of data, such as a customer's IP address and device identifier, are not subject to the opt-in requirement. The rules also force service providers to tell consumers clearly what data they collect and why, as well as to take steps to notify customers of data breaches."
Maria Pallante's Departure From the Copyright Office: What It Means, And Why It Matters; Billboard, 10/25/16
Robert Levine, Billboard; Maria Pallante's Departure From the Copyright Office: What It Means, And Why It Matters:
"Although Hayden spoke about the importance of copyright during her confirmation hearings, she is perceived to favor looser copyright laws, since she previously served as president of the American Library Association, an organization that lobbies for greater public access to creative works, sometimes as the expense of creators. The Obama Administration also has close ties to technology companies, which would like to see a Copyright Office that values fair use and other exceptions to copyright over the rights of creators and copyright owners. Hillary Clinton is thought to be view copyright more favorably, but she hasn’t said much about the topic, and she initially addressed it in her “Initiative on Technology & Innovation” -- not an encouraging sign for creators. Donald Trump doesn’t appear to have said much about the topic."
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Chris Potter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Poll finds civility is declining in American politics:
"There’s been a worrisome decline in the civility of American politics, and it may be infecting even those of us who aren’t running for office. Don’t agree? Then you obviously have no friends and hate our freedoms. That kind of rhetoric may be where our political discourse is headed, judging from a Zogby Survey on Civility in U.S. Politics, commissioned by Allegheny College in Meadville, Crawford County. Of 1,286 adults surveyed, 69 percent said that it was not acceptable for a politician to comment on someone’s race or ethnicity — a much smaller majority than the 89 percent who felt that way in a similar survey six years ago. Meanwhile, 65 percent said commenting on someone's sexual orientation was unacceptable, down from 81 percent in 2010." The survey also found increasing acceptance for acts that have traditionally been defined as rude, like interrupting or shouting over somebody in a public forum, insulting them or questioning their patriotism. In a telephone call with reporters, Allegheny College president James H. Mullen Jr. called the findings “disturbing and in many ways chilling.” Voters, he said, are “expecting less in the political process in terms of civility.” “There seems to be less emphasis on, and a decrease in, acts of civility among adults nationwide,” said Zogby Analytics CEO Jonathan Zogby in a release accompanying the poll. “That might explain the state of politics at the moment.” Or it may be the other way around: The state of politics at the moment could be normalizing once-taboo behaviors. Nearly two-thirds of voters characterized the 2016 election as “extremely or very uncivil.” (An iron-stomached 11 percent found it “extremely or very civil.”) It’s not clear who is to blame.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Tom Dart, Guardian; Eye in the sky: the billionaires funding a surveillance project above Baltimore:
"From January to August this year, Baltimore police said at a news conference last week, the plane flew over the city for 314 hours, taking more than a million images. The police added that the plane would operate as an anti-terrorism measure during Fleet Week, which started on Monday, and the marathon. This spurt of transparency was more than a little tardy. Until Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story in August, virtually no one knew about the surveillance programme, not even the mayor. Yet the technology raises obvious civil liberties questions, as does the way the plan was funded: by unaccountable private citizens in Houston whose wealth silently enabled a blanket tracking tool in a large city with notoriously strained relations between police and residents."
Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury, GoComics; "Walden Safe Space"
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Malaka Gharib, NPR; New U.N. Leader Sets Goals: Humility, Empathy, Empowering Women:
"On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly welcomed Antonio Guterres of Portugal as the new secretary-general of the U.N., replacing Ban Ki-moon. In a short speech expressing his "gratitude and humility" to the assembly for the five-year term, he highlighted his priorities: humility, empathy for the underprivileged and the "empowerment of women and girls."... What has made us immune to the plight of those most socially and economically underprivileged? All this makes me feel the acute responsibility to make human dignity the core of my work."
Friday, October 14, 2016
Editorial Board, New York Times; Donald Trump vs. a Free Press:
"The Times is, of course, very familiar with threats of litigation by government officials and other public figures who oppose the paper’s reporting on them. It was New York Times v. Sullivan, the unanimous 1964 Supreme Court decision, that set forth the principle that promoting speech of public interest is foundational to a democracy, and therefore a newspaper would be protected from libel claims brought by public figures, even if it printed erroneous statements, as long as the newspaper did not know the statement was false, or recklessly disregard its truth or falsity. In his opinion for the court, Justice William Brennan Jr. wrote that “public discussion is a political duty, and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government.” Such discussion “may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” In Donald Trump’s view, these principles shouldn’t exist."
Michelle Obama’s epic New Hampshire speech was a master class in speaking from the gut; Washington Post, 10/14/16
Jena McGregor, Washington Post; Michelle Obama’s epic New Hampshire speech was a master class in speaking from the gut:
"Michelle Obama's epic speech Tuesday in New Hampshire should be required viewing for every leader. Not because of its political content. Not for her strongly worded endorsement of Hillary Clinton or her scathing takedown of the Democratic nominee's "opponent" -- the First Lady refused to even say GOP nominee Donald Trump's name -- that has already been called a "defining moment in the presidential campaign." Rather, it was for the absolute master class she offered in that elusive quality of leadership: "authenticity." It is among the most jargon-laden, vague concepts touted by leadership consultants and coaches, the subject of countless books and training seminars promising yet another elixir to effective speech-making or good leadership. But on Thursday, Obama provided a stark reminder that this nebulous quality comes not from a book. It comes from the gut. With inclusive and personal stories, emotionally strong yet vulnerable tone and body language, and a passionate appeal rooted in her own experiences, Obama embodied the widely praised but rarely replicated feat of seeming "real" that escapes so many leaders."
Full Transcript: President Obama’s Rally Speech for Hillary Clinton in Cleveland; Newsweek, 10/14/16
[Full Transcript] Michele Gorman, Newsweek; Full Transcript: President Obama’s Rally Speech for Hillary Clinton in Cleveland:
[Pres. Barack Obama] "Donald Trump’s closing argument is “What do you have to lose?” The answer is: Everything. All the progress we’ve made right now is on the ballot. Civility is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Courtesy is on the ballot. Honesty is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Kindness is on the ballot. (Applause.) All the progress we made that last eight years is on the ballot. Democracy itself is on the ballot right now. So if you want to send a message, make it loud. Turn back the voices of cynicism. Turn back the voices of ignorance. Send a message of progress. Send a message of hope. Send a message by voting for Hillary Clinton, and show our kids and the rest of the world we remain the greatest country in the world."
Frank Bruni, New York Times; Daughters and Trumps:
"There’s something off-key when lawmakers — Republicans or Democrats, in connection with Trump or in other instances — describe the importance of an issue in accordance with its relevance to the people closest to them and its proximity to their doorstep. Or when they present their descendants as the best proof of their investment in the future. The message of that is antithetical to public service and political leadership, which are ideally about representing kin and strangers alike, casting the widest possible net of compassion and letting common values, not personal interests, be the compass. My loins are fruitless but my principles are clear: No human being — woman or man — should be regarded as a conquest or an amusement with a will subservient to someone else’s. That’s how Trump seems to treat most of the people in his life, and I object to that not as the brother of three admirable siblings (including a sister), not as the son of two extraordinary parents (including a mother), not as the uncle of many talented nieces and nephews, not as the partner of a wonderful man, and not as a friend to brilliant men and women whose welfare matters greatly to me. I object to it as the citizen of a civilized society. I object to it because it threatens the people I don’t know as well as the people I do. I object to it because it’s wrong."
Lynn Sherr, BillMoyers.com; Michelle Obama’s Speech: As Personal As Political Gets:
"Rush Limbaugh noted Trump’s comment that “when you’re a celebrity, they let you do anything,” and said, “How can there be assault if somebody’s granting permission? How can it be assault if they let you do anything?” Newt Gingrich called the claims “30-year-old gossip,” saying “I don’t think it’s relevant.” I do. And so does Michelle Obama. In her speech she destroyed the false equivalency of “he said/she said,” using her powerful platform to make it clear that what she said that afternoon was far more relevant than anything he or his cronies either said or could say in defense of such behavior. She didn’t just go high when he went low; she soared. And connected. “I listen to all of this, and I feel it so personally,” she said, meaning it. “The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body.”"
Dan Balz, Washington Post; Two speeches in two hours crystallize the state of Campaign 2016:
"In back-to-back appearances, in what might be the two most compelling hours of the entire election, Michelle Obama in New Hampshire and Donald Trump in Florida delivered the fiercest, most provocative and hardest-hitting speeches of an election cycle that has been without precedent in hot rhetoric... In two hours Thursday, the lines were drawn as never before. Michelle Obama delivered a case against Trump’s personal and moral fitness with a forcefulness that Hillary Clinton cannot match, given the past charges against her husband. Meanwhile, Trump has embraced fully the blow-it-up argument that will rattle Republican leaders but which animates those Americans who are most alienated from the country’s establishment. Those are the parameters of the political debate as it stands today — and the choice that will be settled on Election Day."
Chris Cillizza, Washington Post; Michelle Obama’s speech on Donald Trump was remarkable:
"This speech, along with her address at the Democratic National Convention, are two of the best speeches — maybe the two best — given by any public figure this year. Both, yes, were made by a partisan in support of a partisan candidate for president. But neither felt like the typical party pap. In that speech in July and again Thursday, Obama was able to tap into something far deeper than “Democrat” or “Republican.” She was, in both instances, speaking to a shared humanity that we could all use more of no matter our political inclinations."
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Glenn Beck Says Opposing Trump Is ‘Moral, Ethical’ Even if It Means Clinton Wins; New York Times, 10/11/16
Liam Stack, New York Times; Glenn Beck Says Opposing Trump Is ‘Moral, Ethical’ Even if It Means Clinton Wins:
"Glenn Beck, the fiery conservative media personality and former Fox News host, says that he briefly considered voting for Hillary Clinton and called opposing Donald J. Trump the “moral, ethical choice” — even if doing so leads to Mrs. Clinton winning the presidential election. His comments were made after the release on Friday of a 2005 recording of Mr. Trump boasting about sexual assault that set off a war between the presidential nominee and a broad swath of the Republican establishment, including Paul D. Ryan, the House speaker. Reacting to the recording, Mr. Beck wrote over the weekend that each person “must decide what is a bridge too far” and said he supported calls for Mr. Trump to withdraw from the presidential race. “It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity,” Mr. Beck wrote on Facebook. “If the consequence of standing against Trump and for principles is indeed the election of Hillary Clinton, so be it. At least it is a moral, ethical choice.”"
Claire Armitstead, Guardian; Madeleine Thien: ‘In China, you learn a lot from what people don’t tell you’ :
"Do Not Say We Have Nothing makes the surprising suggestion that part of the solution might lie in the act of copying. The different generations of Marie and Ai-Ming’s families are connected by the manuscript of a novel, “The Book of Records”, chapters of which have been carefully copied out, hidden in walls and beneath floorboards, and passed from hand to hand. “The Book of Records” is precious because it represents a narrative that doesn’t conform to the approved version of Chinese history, Thien explains. “It’s a book with no beginning, no middle and no end, in which the characters are seeing an alternative China where they recognise mirrors of themselves and which they write themselves into.”... This latest crackdown is yet another variation on the long-running theme of suppression of the individual, making it highly unlikely that either of her mature novels will be published in mainland China, though she hopes they may yet be in Hong Kong. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to describe them as her own Books of Records, embodying the difficult business of remaining imaginatively free while honouring “contested history”."
Nathaniel B. Davis, New York Times; If War Can Have Ethics, Wall Street Can, Too:
"To demand moral perfection or to succumb in the face of seeming futility is to turn our backs on what can be achieved by acknowledging both the ideal and the limits of reality. Applied ethics guide our interactions in the world as it exists while nudging us incrementally closer to the normative ideal and the world we seek to create. War is inherently unjust, but the Just War Ethic has made it more just. The economy is not moral, but a foundational ethics of the economy could make it more moral. The product of such ethics would be decidedly imperfect, but it would be better than no ethics at all."
Alexios Mantzarlis, Washington Post; Fact check: This is not really a post-fact election:
"Unique visitors to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker were up 477 percent year-over-year in July, and up again in August. NPR recorded the highest traffic in the history of its website thanks to its live fact-checking of the first presidential debate. At least 6 million people had checked out the annotated transcript by the next morning. PolitiFact racked up 3.5 million page views in the 24 hours after that debate, drawing more traffic in one day than it did in entire months during the 2012 presidential campaign. So voters want more fact-checking. But is it making any difference? Do people change their minds when faced with a fact check that surprises them, or do they internalize only fact checks that suit their own biases? Our understanding of basic psychology suggests that fact checks are often read with a partisan eye. Often, but not always. A new working paper by Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College and Jason Reifler of Exeter University, who have studied fact-checking extensively, indicates that readers can learn from fact checks."
Sunday, October 9, 2016
A generation of GOP stars stands diminished: ‘Everything Trump touches dies’; Washington Post, 10/9/16
Philip Rucker, Washington Post; A generation of GOP stars stands diminished: ‘Everything Trump touches dies’ :
"“There is nobody who holds any position of responsibility who in private conversations views Donald Trump as equipped mentally, morally and intellectually to be the president of the United States,” said Steve Schmidt, a veteran GOP strategist. “But scores of Republican leaders have failed a fundamental test of moral courage and political leadership in not speaking truth to the American people about what is so obvious.”"
Alexandra Topping, Guardian; Facebook revenge pornography trial 'could open floodgates' :
"The fact that Facebook waits until pictures have been reported, unless they are known child abuse images, before taking action was no longer sufficient, according to John Carr, a leading authority on children and the internet. “Facebook is like a public utility for young people, it plays a massive role in their lives,” he said... It will take more than one high profile case to remove other barriers to victims of revenge pornography, whatever their age, receiving justice. Although a recent poll revealed that 75% of respondents were in favour of victims receiving anonymity, the government shows no indications of classifying the crime as a sexual offence. This means the vast majority of victims will never seek justice, said Julie Pinborough, director of the legal advice centre at Queen Mary University, which provides pro bono legal advice for victims."
Editorial Board, New York Times; Surveillance in the Post-Obama Era:
"One big issue is what to do when a key provision of the law that gives the N.S.A. the authority to collect the electronic communications of foreigners — which inevitably sucks in their correspondence with Americans — expires at the end of 2017. Before reauthorizing that part of the law, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the next president and Congress should craft a more narrow authority that ensures that the data of Americans cannot be searched without a warrant. How best to respond to encryption technology, which is evolving rapidly, will be another major challenge... The next president needs to take the initiative early on to outline a responsible philosophy and approach toward surveillance and privacy issues. Even if that happens, Congress still needs to be more assertive than in the past in setting clear parameters to ensure that intelligence gathering programs are legally sound and effective. It would be a shame if it took a new whistle-blower to force what should be a continuing, vigorous debate."
Danielle Allen, Washington Post; Donald Trump is a walking, talking example of the tyrannical soul:
"While the institutions of constitutional democracy were invented to make it easier to rein people in, those who did the work of drafting the Constitution never thought that institutions alone could solve the job. On the cusp of the Constitution’s ratification, founder James Wilson paused to ponder what it would take for the reorganized representative democracy to succeed. All would be well, he said, so long as the people made sure always to elect political leaders who were “wise and good.” The president and other elected officials, he pointed out, would populate the bureaucracies of the new nation. If they themselves were wise and good, they would also populate all the offices of the country with the wise and good. If they were not, then corruption would spread through the entire system... This election has moved past questions of ideology and partisan position to fundamental elements of the human condition, elements so fundamental that we can find them recorded in the earliest human texts. From the beginning of human history, when tyrannical souls have acquired power, the people have found themselves groaning and crying out with laments under the burden of it. They have found themselves stuck on bridges in stalled traffic that prevents ambulances from getting to the hospital. Character matters because it is how we restrain the inner would-be tyrant in each one of us. It matters because it is how we limit the placement of great power in the hands of those with tyrannical instincts and appetites. If we’ve given up a commitment to character, we’ve already given up the game or, to speak more precisely, the work of protecting freedom, equality and human flourishing."
[Graphic Language] Frank Pallotta, CNN; The 'p-word' problem: Trump's comments pose issue for news outlets:
"The 2005 videotape in which Donald Trump can be heard making vulgar comments about women posed a dilemma for news outlets: do they run in full the most vital and graphic line of a news story that could help determine a presidential election -- or do they censor it for the sake of decency?"
Many men talk like Donald Trump in private. And only other men can stop them.; Washington Post, 10/8/16
Shaun R. Harper, Washington Post; Many men talk like Donald Trump in private. And only other men can stop them. :
"I am fairly certain that hearing the vulgar words Trump spoke over a decade ago will compel many more women to vote against him next month. Electing the first female president will not end sexism, though, any more than electing Barack Obama ended racism. To make progress, men need to do more than vote against Trump. We must stand up to him and call out others who say things similar to what we heard him say on the video. We have to stop excusing the disgusting degradation of girls and women as “locker room banter.” Feminists and courageous others have done much to contest exchanges like the one between Trump and Bush. But it takes men like me to hold our friends accountable for things they say and do to objectify women. We must challenge their values, language and actions. I have known Trumps far too long — they are my friends, my fraternity brothers and so many other men with whom I routinely interact. I understand now, more than ever before, that letting them talk this way about women makes me just as sexist. By excusing their words and actions, I share some responsibility for rape, marital infidelity and other awful things that men do. I want other men to recognize this, too — not only because they have mothers, wives, sisters, aunts or daughters – but because sexism hurts all women and men in our society."
After failing to seduce Nancy O’Dell, Trump reportedly tried to have her fired; Washington Post, 10/8/16
Ellen McCarthy, Washington Post; After failing to seduce Nancy O’Dell, Trump reportedly tried to have her fired:
"O’Dell released this statement on Saturday: “Politics aside, I’m saddened that these comments still exist in our society at all. When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women. The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling. Everyone deserves respect no matter the setting or gender. As a woman who has worked very hard to establish her career, and as a mom, I feel I must speak out with the hope that as a society we will always strive to be better.”"
Lindy West, New York Times; Donald and Billy on the Bus:
"If you have spent your career brutalizing and dehumanizing women legislatively rather than personally, you are no better. If you were happy to overlook months of violent racism, xenophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia from the Trump campaign, but now you’re mad that he used a bad word and tried to sleep with another man’s wife, you are no better. If you have derided and stigmatized identity politics in an effort to keep the marginalized from organizing, you are no better. If you snicker or say nothing while your fellow men behave like Donald Trump, you are no better. The truth is that all of you have failed women for generations, and you deserve to lose our votes. Next month we will grab you where it hurts. By your ballots."
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Guest Blog from Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Boney Denison, Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership; Improving the Trademark Register:
"When selecting a mark for a new product or service, a business will search the USPTO database of registered marks to determine whether a particular mark is available. Registered trademarks that are not actually in use in commerce unnecessarily block someone else from registering the mark. To ensure the accuracy of our trademark registry, in 2012, the USPTO launched a pilot program to gather data on whether registered marks were actually being used on the products and services listed on their registrations. During the pilot, in 500 randomly-selected maintenance filings we required the registrant to submit proof of use for two additional items for each class listed on the registration. Although the registrant must submit one example of use per class in a maintenance filing, typically the registration will list multiple products or services for each class. At the conclusion of the pilot, the USPTO determined that in more than half of the trademark registrations selected, the owner was unable to verify the actual use of the mark for the goods or services queried. This was in spite of the owner having recently sworn under penalty of perjury to such ongoing use as part of the maintenance filing. We issued a report on the results and held a roundtable to discuss the results and next steps. The consensus among roundtable participants was that the results of the pilot program indicated a need for some action to improve the accuracy and integrity of the register. As a result of these findings and input from the trademark community, we are now taking a three-pronged approach to tackling the so-called “deadwood” in our searchable database of registered marks."
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Facebook is talking to the White House about giving you ‘free’ Internet. Here’s why that may be controversial.; Washington Post, 10/6/16
Brian Fung, Washington Post; Facebook is talking to the White House about giving you ‘free’ Internet. Here’s why that may be controversial. :
"The social media giant is trying to determine how to roll out its program, known as Free Basics, in the United States without triggering the regulatory scrutiny that effectively killed a version of the app in India earlier this year. If Facebook succeeds with its U.S. agenda for Free Basics — which has not been previously reported — it would mark a major victory for the company as it seeks to connect millions more to the Web, and to its own platform. The U.S. version of Free Basics would target low-income and rural Americans who cannot afford reliable, high-speed Internet at home or on smartphones. The app does not directly pay for users' mobile data. Rather, it allows users to stretch their data plans by offering, in partnership with wireless carriers, free Internet access to resources such as online news, health information and job leads."
In defense of Heather Bresch: She did everything right as Mylan CEO, but still …; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10/6/16
Chris Allison, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; In defense of Heather Bresch: She did everything right as Mylan CEO, but still … :
"Were the actions of Ms. Bresch and her management team legal? Yes. Were they reasonable, given her mandate from Mylan’s board of directors and the company’s shareholders? Yes. But, just because actions comply with the law and fall within the norms of sound business practices, that doesn’t mean a company should take them... In my lectures on corporate ethics, I tell students that, when they face an ethical crossroads in business, they should ask themselves two questions. Would they feel proud to have their decision and its outcome featured on the front page of the newspapers? Would they be happy telling their children what they had done as they tucked them into bed at night? Heather Bresch and other folks at Mylan didn’t do anything wrong. But they should have asked themselves those questions."
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Shaun Walker, Guardian; The murder that killed free media in Russia:
"In the decade since Politkovskaya’s death, the space for independent journalism in Russia has narrowed further. Since 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists has recorded 20 journalists’ killings, while Freedom House has counted 63 violent attacks on reporters. But for the most part, the threat of closure keeps publications in line and encourages self-censorship."
Christopher Moraff, Daily Beast; Suboxone Creator’s Shocking Scheme to Profit Off of Heroin Addicts:
"The case against Reckitt Benckiser accuses it of “product hopping,” in which a company tweaks its product slightly, often without any actual improvements, and then applies for a new patent with the intent of keeping its market share intact. In Reckitt Benckiser’s case, the product switch was from the orange Suboxone tablets it had been successfully marketing to a new dissolvable film strip that was developed by co-defendant MonoSol RX. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say Reckitt Benckiser took product hopping to a nefarious new level by using “feared-based messaging” and “sham science” to illegally subvert the market for Suboxone tablets while aggressively promoting its new film variation, which was introduced in 2010 and is under patent until 2023... Patent expiration is a conundrum faced by all drug makers and ordinarily it wouldn’t be a terribly big deal for a global monolith like Reckitt Benckiser—which generated more than $2.5 billion in revenue during the first half of 2016 through its ownership of popular brands like Lysol disinfectant, Mucinex cold medicine, and Durex condoms."
U.S. Justice Department Defends Copyright Anti-Hacking Law as "Unquestionably Constitutional"; Hollywood Reporter, 9/30/16
Eriq Gardner, Hollywood Reporter; U.S. Justice Department Defends Copyright Anti-Hacking Law as "Unquestionably Constitutional" :
"The U.S. Department of Justice is demanding an end to a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of a law that prevents people from getting around the access restrictions on copyrighted works such as films, television shows and songs. In July, the Electronic Frontier Foundation led the lawsuit that argues that the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Sec. 1201) inhibits free expression in violation of the First Amendment. The law allows for a triennial review where every three years the Librarian of Congress grants exemptions. For example, in the most recent review, the government made it legal to hack a smart TV to achieve interoperability and also allowed grade school teachers to circumvent access controls on DVDs for educational purposes."
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Jeff John Roberts, Fortune; Here's Why Software Patents Are in Peril After the Intellectual Ventures Ruling:
"Software Patents as a Threat to Free Speech Friday’s ruling is also significant because Judge Mayer eschews the insider baseball language that typically dominates patent law, and addresses patents in the broader context of technology and government monopolies. Pointing out that intellectual property monopolies can limit free speech, Mayer notes that copyright law has built-in First Amendment protections such as “fair use” and that patent law must include similar safeguards. He suggests that the safeguard comes in the form of a part of the Patent Act, known as “Section 101,” which says some things—including abstract ideas—simply can’t be patented in the first place."
Robert Audette, Brattleboro Reformer; Tito's Tacos to change name following trademark tangle:
"Victoroff requested that the Reformer "immediately remove the aforementioned infringing material from its website, immediately notify the source of the infringing content of this notice, inform them of their duty to remove the infringing material immediately, and notify them to cease any further posting of infringing material to The Brattleboro Reformer News website in the future." The Reformer has declined to take down the picture on First Amendment grounds. In a response, Fredric D. Rutberg, the president of New England Newspapers Inc., which owns the Reformer, refused to remove the picture from the Reformer's website. "The photo in question depicts a local food vendor whose sign identifies his business as Tito's Tacos," wrote Rutberg. "While this use of the name Tito's Tacos may indeed infringe on your client's registered trademark, it is our opinion that the photo in question does not constitute an infringement of your client's trademark. At best it is a 'fair use' of trademarked material." "Tito's greatly respects your newspaper's First Amendment rights of free speech," Victoroff responded in an email to Rutberg, "but the use of its trademarked name in the [photo and news story] seriously dilutes and erodes its trademark. ... Every day the Tito's Tacos family must defend and protect its trademark rights from death by 1,000 cuts or risk losing its name and trademark.""
Big Week For WIPO Marrakesh Treaty On Access For Visually Impaired; Human Rights Side Under Focus; Intellectual Property Watch, 10/3/16
William New, Intellectual Property Watch; Big Week For WIPO Marrakesh Treaty On Access For Visually Impaired; Human Rights Side Under Focus:
"Prof. Laurence Helfer of Duke University Law School, one of the authors asked by the WBU to draft the implementation guide, said in an interview that the hope is the treaty “will not be seen as only an IP treaty, but also as an agreement that uses copyright to achieve human rights objectives. Marrakesh is thus one of the first treaties that is focused on the public interest side of IP law.” Fellow guide author Prof. Molly Land, a human rights law professor at the University of Connecticut, said there is a connection between the Marrakesh Treaty and human rights treaties, such as the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). They are looking at how “ratifying and implementing the treaty is one way that states can fulfil their obligations under these other human rights instruments.” “At the crossroads of human rights and IP, it’s really important to be able to see the treaty in light of both regimes,” she said. “Both in interpreting it, and also in implementation. States have commitments under both IP treaties and human rights treaties, and the guide is about how states can bring those together in implementation.”"
Monday, October 3, 2016
Online behind bars: if internet access is a human right, should prisoners have it?; Guardian, 10/3/16
Dan Tynan, Guardian; Online behind bars: if internet access is a human right, should prisoners have it? :
"For most of the developed world, internet access is a given. Google, Amazon, Facebook offer a privileged world of communication, entertainment, shopping and education that many of us take for granted. Unless, that is, you happen to be incarcerated. Aside from limited connections at a handful of juvenile detention facilities, there’s no way for America’s 2.3 million inmates to access the internet. Worse, institutions may punish inmates when their families post online on their behalf. Prison authorities cite concerns that inmates will use the internet to harass victims or threaten witnesses, arrange for deliveries of contraband or commit new crimes online. But in a world increasingly defined by technology, denying internet access makes it harder for inmates to prepare for life on the outside, notes Dave Maass, investigative researcher for campaign group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It makes it harder for inmates to report on conditions inside prisons or communicate with their families – and also contravenes the May 2011 declaration by the UN that internet access is now a fundamental human right."
Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post; Jeff Zucker’s singular role in promoting Donald Trump’s rise:
"Can you blame a TV executive such as Zucker for doing his job — striving for the highest possible ratings and profits? Maybe not at NBC, where as the head of the entertainment division, Zucker bore no responsibility to the public interest when he made Trump a reality-show star. But when it comes to CNN’s news coverage — its journalism — that’s a different matter. Decisions about covering a presidential campaign should consider what’s best for citizens as well as what’s best for Time Warner’s shareholders... But it is, after all, the responsibility of the press to hold candidates accountable, not to provide publicity."
Goldie Taylor, Daily Beast; How Donald Trump Wins Even When He Loses:
"Without question, Trump would have been the most disastrous American president of the modern era. Some very real damage, however, has already been done—to what is deemed acceptable in our discourse, to the way in which we determine the long-term viability of candidates, and to the fundamental spirit of fair play—and there is no turning back. There is more than enough culpability to go around—including a broad swath of GOP primary voters, journalists who partook in false equivalences in the name of clicks and ratings, and even the RNC honchos who refused to deploy legal mechanisms stop him. Of course, there is also the broader society which bought into the fable of his business acumen, tuning in for his weekly reality show on NBC, and handed him a trough laden with celebrity. Together, one and all, we made him."
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found; New York Times, 10/1/16
David Barstow, Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner, Megan Twohey, New York Times; Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found:
"Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show. The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period."
E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post; Trump’s last tweet? :
"That a political party, a political system and a media blessed with broad constitutional freedoms have allowed a man like this to get so close to the presidency should be a matter for serious introspection... If an onslaught against a Gold Star family didn’t stop him, why should his wee-hours-of-the-morning storm of vicious invective be any different? The answer is that this episode should finally force everyone to say: enough. Trump is neither normal nor stable. He is manifestly dangerous to our country and erratic in everything except his unrestrained meanness. He should not be given fifth, sixth and seventh chances. He has shown us who he is. We should believe what we see."
J. Michael Diehl, Washington Post; I sold Trump $100,000 worth of pianos. Then he stiffed me. :
"Today, when I hear Trump brag about paying small business owners less than he agreed, I get angry. He’s always suggesting that the people who worked for him didn’t do the right job, didn’t complete their work on time, that something was wrong. But I delivered quality pianos, tuned and ready to go. I did everything right. And then Trump cheated me. It’s a callous way to do business."
[Video] Associated Press via New York Times; Trump Criticizes Clinton’s Ethics:
"Donald J. Trump urged President Obama not to pardon Hillary Clinton for her “many crimes against our country.”"
Thanks to copyright law, Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial Skittles photo is now gone; Boston Globe, 9/28/16
Nicole Hernandez, Boston Globe; Thanks to copyright law, Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial Skittles photo is now gone:
"Copyrights: Even in the digital age, you must respect them. Donald Trump Jr.’s controversial Skittles image that was tweeted last week has been taken down after a report from the copyright holder, according to a message that now replaces the photo."
The Economist; A tale of two ethics:
"THE phrases “ethic of conviction” and “ethic of responsibility” mean little to most English-speakers. In Germany the equivalent terms—Gesinnungsethik and Verantwortungsethik—are household words. Pundits drop them casually during television talk shows. Hosts use them as conversation-starters at dinner parties. The concepts draw on the opposition between idealism and pragmatism that runs through politics everywhere. But they also capture a specific moral tension that is “very German”, says Manfred Güllner, a sociologist and pollster. Anyone interested in understanding German politics, on anything from the euro to refugees, would do well to get a handle on them. The terms come from the sociologist Max Weber, who used them in a speech he gave in January 1919 to a group of leftist students at a Munich bookstore."
Warning: This article on trademarks may include language deemed ‘scandalous, immoral or disparaging’; Washington Post, 9/30/16
Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Warning: This article on trademarks may include language deemed ‘scandalous, immoral or disparaging’ :
"It is a law called the Lanham Act that gives the federal government the power to refuse to register or to cancel trademarks deemed scandalous, immoral or disparaging — let’s call it SIOD for short. On the basis of that law, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, for example, determined that Redskins, as in Washington Redskins, was SIOD and canceled its trademark... The primary purpose of the 1905 Trade Mark Act, later reenacted as the Lanham Act in 1946, is twofold, as Carpenter and Murphy wrote in their law review article, “including lessening of consumer search costs and encouraging producers of goods and services ‘to invest in quality by ensuring that they, and not their competitors, reap the reputation-related rewards of that investment,’ thereby protecting consumers from deceptive practices.”... What is SIOD? “It is always going to be just a matter of the personal opinion of the individual parties as to whether they think it is disparaging,” said the PTO’s assistant commissioner in 1939, as he explained his own discomfort."