2020-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-08-09 09:04:26 UTC
2020-08-10 13:10:21 UTC
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Dozens of discussion groups on Reddit—including those dedicated to the National Football League, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Gorillaz—were hit in a Friday morning mass takeover spree that used the subreddits to spread messages promoting President Trump.
The hijacked accounts had tens of millions of combined members. The 148,000-member subreddit Supernatural, dedicated to the TV show by the same name, was emblazoned with pro-Trump images and slogans. Reddit personnel have since restored the moderator account to its rightful owner. The image above is how the subreddit appeared when the takeover was still active. The takeovers came five weeks after Reddit banned /r/The_Donald, a leading forum for fans of the president, and hundreds of other unrelated subreddits for violating recently rewritten content rules.
Reddit personnel published this post captioned, "Ongoing incident with compromised mod accounts." Reddit personnel then warned that moderator accounts were being compromised and used to vandalize subreddits. It asked moderators of affected subreddits to report them in responses.
A larger list of subreddits reported as compromised is available at the incident report linked above.
[...] Reddit officials issued the following statement: "An investigation is underway related to a series of vandalized communities. It appears the source of the attacks were compromised moderator accounts. We are working to lock down those accounts and restore impacted communities."
[...] At the time this post went live, most or all of the affected accounts appeared to have been either restored and reverted back to their previous condition or banned for terms of service violations.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says apps and websites aren't legally liable for third-party content, has inspired a lot of overheated rhetoric in Congress. Republicans like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) have successfully framed the rule as a "gift to Big Tech" that enables social media censorship. While Democrats have very different critiques, some have embraced a similar fire-and-brimstone tone with the bipartisan EARN IT Act. But a Senate subcommittee tried to reset that narrative today with a hearing for the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, a similarly bipartisan attempt at a more nuanced Section 230 amendment. While the hearing didn't address all of the PACT Act's very real flaws, it presented the bill as an option for Section 230 defenders who still want a say in potential reforms.
[...] Still, Section 230 has been at the forefront of US politics for years, and some kind of change looks increasingly likely. If that's true, then particularly after today's hearing, a revised version of the PACT Act looks like the clearest existing option to preserve important parts of the law without dismissing calls for reform. And hashing out those specifics may prove more important than focusing on the policy's most hyperbolic critics.
brexit means brexit
The UK has formally ditched the Unified Patent Court (UPC), a project to create a single pan-European patent system that would fix the confusing mess of contradictory laws currently in place.
In a written statement in the House of Commons on Monday, the British undersecretary for science, research and innovation Amanda Solloway noted that: "Today, by means of a Note Verbale, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has withdrawn its ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court."
The reason is, of course Brexit. "In view of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, the United Kingdom no longer wishes to be a party to the Unified Patent Court system. Participating in a court that applies EU law and is bound by the CJEU would be inconsistent with the Government's aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation," she said.
[...] The whole idea of the UPC has been fought for over a decade now, making many its adherents borderline fanatical in making it a reality, even more so given frequent setbacks. In their unerring support, however, many seem willing to overlook or turn a blind eye to serious problems, not least of which is the mess that is the European Patent Office (EPO).
[...] The EPO is, of course, a big fan of the UPC and insists the UK leaving is a mere trifle to the larger European dream of a single patent system; a system that would give it significantly more power:
"These economic benefits for European companies and especially SMEs will not be affected by the announcement of the United Kingdom," it insisted in its submission to the German government.
"Even without the UK, the UP package will lead to significant simplification and cost reduction for the companies of the participating EU member states, which is also largely recognized by European companies."
President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday that calls for an unprecedented change to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country — the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the states.
The memo instructs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Commerce Department, to include in the legally required report of census results to the president "information permitting the President, to the extent practicable" to leave out the number of immigrants living in the U.S. without authorization from the apportionment count.
But the move by the president, who does not have final authority over the census, is more likely to spur legal challenges and political spectacle in the last months before this year's presidential election than a transformation of the once-a-decade head count, which has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
[...] Since the first U.S. census in 1790, both U.S. citizens and noncitizens — regardless of immigration status — have been included in the country's official population counts.
The fifth sentence of the Constitution specifies that "persons" residing in the states should be counted every 10 years to determine each state's share of seats in the House of Representatives. The 14th Amendment, which ended the counting of an enslaved person as "three fifths" of a free person, goes further to require the counting of the "whole number of persons in each state."
It is Congress — not the president — that Article 1, Section 2 of the country's founding document empowers to carry out the "actual enumeration" of the country's population in "such manner as they shall by law direct."
In Title 2 of the U.S. Code, Congress detailed its instructions for the president to report to lawmakers the tally of the "whole number of persons" living in each state for the reapportionment of House seats. In Title 13, Congress established additional key dates for the "tabulation of total population."
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Ut.) on Thursday pressed the Trump administration on whether and how mass surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act have been halted since the act's expiration.
The letter to Attorney General William Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe raises concerns that the administration may be be continuing to conduct surveillance operations by relying on Executive Order 12333.
The order, issued on 1981, has been used before to conduct operations without statutory authorization or congressional oversight.
"Congress and the American people have a right to know if this or any other administration is spying on people in the United States outside of express congressional approval, with no or diminished guardrails," Sens. Leahy and Lee wrote.
"The rights of all Americans depend on their government exercising its power responsibly, adhering to the rule of law, and upholding its duty to act transparently. Any surveillance conducted in the absence of statutory authorities and congressional oversight would be extraordinarily concerning and illegal."
Reauthorization of the key FISA provisions under the USA Freedom Act has stalled.
The United States ordered China to close its diplomatic consulate in Houston, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday, dealing another blow to the rapidly deteriorating relations between the two countries.
In the hours after the Trump administration notified the Chinese of its decision, smoke was seen billowing from a courtyard inside the consulate as employees dumped what appeared to be documents into flaming barrels, according to a video posted by KPRC-TV, a local television station.
The Houston police and fire departments responded to reports of a fire on Tuesday evening but did not enter the building, over which the Chinese have sovereignty.
Here's one nice thing we can now say about the Electoral College: it's slightly less harmful to our democracy than it was just days ago. In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states have the right to "bind" their electors, requiring them to support whichever presidential candidate wins the popular vote in their state. Justice Elena Kagan's opinion was a blow to so-called "faithless electors," but a win for self-government. "Here," she wrote, "the People rule."
Yet while we can all breathe a sigh of relief that rogue electors won't choose (or be coerced) into derailing the 2020 presidential contest, the Court's unanimous ruling is a helpful reminder that our two-step electoral process provides America with no tangible benefits and near-limitless possibilities for disaster. To put it more bluntly, the Electoral College is a terrible idea. And thanks to the Justices' decision, getting rid of it has never been easier.
[...] The Electoral College, in other words, serves no useful purpose, other than to intermittently and randomly override the people's will. It's the appendix of our body politic. Most of the time we don't notice it, and then every so often it flares up and nearly kills us.
[...] Justice Kagan's words – "Here, the People rule" – are stirring. But today, they are still more aspiration than declaration. By declining to make the Electoral College an even great threat to our democracy, the Court did its job. Now it's up to us. If you live in a state that hasn't joined the interstate compact, you can urge your state legislators and your governor to sign on. And no matter where you're from, you can dispel the myths about the Electoral College and who it really helps, myths that still lead some people to support it despite its total lack of redeeming qualities.
More than 215 years after the Electoral College was last reformed with the 12th Amendment, we once again have the opportunity to protect our presidential-election process and reassert the people's will. Regardless of who wins the White House in 2020, it's a chance we should take.
Would you get rid of the Electoral College? Why or why not?
Supremes Signal a Brave New World of Popular Presidential Elections
Supreme Court Rules State 'Faithless Elector' Laws Constitutional
U.S. Supreme Court curbs 'faithless electors' in presidential voting
Supreme Court rules states can remove 'faithless electors'
The Trump administration has officially begun to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip the globe and infections spike in many states across the U.S.
Congress received formal notification of the decision on Tuesday, more than a month after President Donald Trump announced his intention to end the U.S. relationship with the WHO and blasted the multilateral institution as a tool of China. The White House said the withdrawal would take effect on July 6, 2021.
[...] The formal withdrawal comes as the United States nears 3 million reported coronavirus cases and more than 130,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been 11.6 million cases and almost 540,000 deaths.
Trump administration moves to formally withdraw US from WHO
Trump administration begins formal withdrawal from World Health Organization
Trump Begins Process Of U.S. Withdrawal From World Health Organization
(2020-05-20) Trump Threatens to Take US Out of WHO Entirely and Stop All US Funding
(2020-04-15) Trump to Halt Funding to WHO
A top Trump administration health official says it is not clear whether it will be safe to hold the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Jacksonville next month as Florida sees record numbers of coronavirus cases.
The comments on Sunday came a month after Republican officials moved the event from North Carolina over a dispute over health precautions.
Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, also refused to confirm President Donald Trump's claim that 99 percent of coronavirus cases were harmless and called the situation a "serious problem".
With record numbers of people testing positive for the virus in Jacksonville and across Florida, Hahn was asked if it would be safe to hold the typically large RNC gathering in just seven weeks.
On Saturday, Florida reported a new record of nearly 11,500 new coronavirus cases, amid a surge in cases in western and southern states. To date, nearly 130,000 people have died in the US amid 2.83 million cases.
"I think it's too early to tell," Hahn said on CNN's State of the Union programme. "We will have to see how this unfolds in Florida and elsewhere around the country."
The Republican Party in June announced it was moving most of the convention activities to Jacksonville from Charlotte after a battle over coronavirus safety concerns with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
[...] Trump has been known to thrive on large crowds at his campaign rallies and has not embraced masks or social distancing measures at events since the country began reopening from the coronavirus shutdown.
The president has also repeatedly sought to minimise the jump in confirmed cases and claimed without evidence in a July Fourth speech that 99 percent of cases in the United States were "totally harmless".
Two major world powers, the United States and China, have both collected an enormous number of DNA samples from their citizens, the premise being that these samples will help solve crimes that might have otherwise gone unsolved. While DNA evidence can often be crucial when it comes to determining who committed a crime, researchers argue these DNA databases also pose a major threat to human rights.
In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a DNA database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) that currently contains over 14 million DNA profiles. This database has a disproportionately high number of profiles of black men, because black Americans are arrested five times as much as white Americans. You don't even have to be convicted of a crime for law enforcement to take and store your DNA; you simply have to have been arrested as a suspect.
[...] As for China, a report that was published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in mid-June claims that China is operating the "world's largest police-run DNA database" as part of its powerful surveillance state. Chinese authorities have collected DNA samples from possibly as many as 70 million men since 2017, and the total database is believed to contain as many as 140 million profiles. The country hopes to collect DNA from all of its male citizens, as it argues men are most likely to commit crimes.
DNA is reportedly often collected during what are represented as free physicals, and it's also being collected from children at schools. There are reports of Chinese citizens being threatened with punishment by government officials if they refuse to give a DNA sample. Much of the DNA that's been collected has been from Uighur Muslims that have been oppressed by the Chinese government and infamously forced into concentration camps in the Xinjiang province.
EFF to Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment Covers DNA Collection
EFF Sues Justice Dept. Over FBI's Rapid DNA Plans
Kuwait Creating Mandatory DNA Database of All Citizens, Residents--and Visitors
San Diego Police Department Accused of Unlawful DNA Collection From Minors
Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
Study Predicts Appearance From Genome Sequence Data
GEDmatch: "What If It Was Called Police Genealogy?"
Bavarian Law Broadens Police Surveillance and DNA Profiling Powers
DNA Collected from Golden State Killer Suspect's Car, Leading to Arrest
Another Alleged Murderer Shaken Out of the Family Tree
Indiana Murder Suspect Found by Using Genealogical Website
Public Ancestry Data Can be Used to Narrow Down the Identity Behind an Anonymous DNA Sample
Rapid DNA Analysis Machines Coming to Police Departments
FamilyTreeDNA Deputizes Itself, Starts Pitching DNA Matching Services To Law Enforcement
Genealogy Sites Have Helped Identify Suspects. Now They've Helped Convict One
U.S. to Collect DNA of All Undocumented Migrants
US Court Let Police Search GEDmatch's Entire DNA Database Despite Protections
China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West
Cousin Took a DNA Test? Courts Could Use it to Argue You are More Likely to Commit Crimes
Ancestry Says Police Requested Access To Its DNA Database