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The Berlinale Film Festival has renamed its top award, the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize, after a report surfaced that accused the festival’s first director and the prize’s namesake of Nazi ties, the festival announced Tuesday.

The festival will now award a special prize named The Silver Bear 70th Berlinale, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the film festival. It will similarly be awarded by the International Jury.

Late last month, the Berlinale suspended the Silver Bear prize after an article in the German newspaper Die Zeit said Bauer played a previously unknown role in the Nazi film bureaucracy and engaging in National Socialist film politics.

Also Read: Jeremy Irons to Head International Jury of Berlin Film Festival

The Berlinale then hired external historians to conduct an investigation into Bauer’s role during the Nazi era and commissioned the “Institute for Contemporary History” (IfZ). The IfZ was founded in 1949 to academically research the National Socialist dictatorship.

“We are convinced that an external and independent group of historians should investigate Alfred Bauer’s position in the Nazi regime,” Berlinale executive director Mariette Rissenbeek said in a statement. “Moreover, we also agree on this with the Deutsche Kinemathek, which supports this approach. Accordingly, we are pleased that the IfZ can now initiate the necessary research work.”

Bauer was the festival’s first director between 1951 to 1976. He died in 1986 and the prize was named in his honor the following year.

The results of the IfZ assessment are expected in the coming summer.

The European Film Market and the Berlinale Film Festival kick off this week and run through March 1.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Gerard Butler to Star in International Action Thriller 'Remote Control'

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Kino Lorber Acquires Berlinale Golden Bear Winner 'Synonyms' | 2/18/20

Last month INHOPE, a global trade association of child abuse reporting hotlines, rejected a joint call from Prostasia Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, Article 19, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, that its members should stop treating cartoons as if they were images of child sexual abuse. As our joint letter pointed out, INHOPE's conflation of offensive artwork with actual abuse images has resulted in the misdirection of police resources against artists and fans — predominantly LGBTQ+ people and women — rather than towards the apprehension of those who abuse real children.

INHOPE is not a child protection organization, but an industry association for organizations and agencies that provide censorship services to government and private industry. Its Articles of Association are surprisingly explicit about this: its objective is to "facilitate and promote the work of INHOPE Member Hotlines, whose work is to eradicate illegal content, primarily child sexual abuse material, on the internet" [emphasis added].

It executes this mission by collecting personal information of those who share images that are reported to it (which can include a name, email address, phone number, and IP address), and sharing this information among its member hotlines and with police. Again, it is explicit about this, acknowledging that its "core business revolves around the exchange of sensitive data." INHOPE members have actively lobbied to weaken European privacy rules so that they can maintain these data collection practices, while refusing to accept a compromise allowing continued scanning for actual child abuse images.

Such data collection is clearly justifiable when it is limited to actual sexual abuse images. But INHOPE's data collection isn't limited to this. It siphons up reports of all manner of reports that its members declare to be illegal in their country, and (with one exception mentioned below) gives them another "once-over" to determine whether they are illegal worldwide, only in the reporting or hosting country, or not at all, before forwarding them to INTERPOL. Even if this assessment leads to a determination that the images are lawful, INHOPE doesn't delete them. Inexplicably, it instead classifies them as "Other Child-Related Content," retains them in a database, and sends them to law enforcement for what it describes as "documentation purposes."

Images reported by NCMEC, the American hotline, undergo even less vetting. Despite being an INHOPE member, NCMEC doesn't utilize the services of INHOPE analysts, but directly shares reported images and associated personal information with law enforcement agencies around the world. According to Swiss authorities, up to 90% of these images are later found to be lawful.

INHOPE chose to mischaracterize our call as being grounded in a misunderstanding of the fact that some countries do prohibit artistic sexual representations of minors by law. But our letter explicitly acknowledged that fact, by calling on INHOPE to establish a policy for its members that "artistic images should not be added to image hash lists that INHOPE members maintain, and should not be reported to authorities, unless required by the law where the hotline operates” [emphasis added].

There are indeed some countries in which lawmakers do ill-advisedly use the same laws to criminalize the dissemination of offensive art as they use to prohibit the image-based abuse of real children. But the risks of an international organization allowing national authorities to act as gatekeepers of the images that it it treats as child abuse and reports to INTERPOL should be obvious.

For example, Canada's overbroad child pornography laws have recently drawn public attention over the much-criticised prosecution of an author and publisher for a novel that includes a brief scene of child sexual abuse in its retelling of the story of Hansel and Gretel. The Canadian Center for Child Protection, one of only two INHOPE members that proactively searches for illegal material, was responsible for the arrest of a a 17 girl for posting artwork to her blog, when it reported her to authorities in Costa Rica where such artwork is also illegal.

In other countries where cartoon images are illegal, criminal laws are used to disproportionately target and criminalize LGBTQ+ people and women. An example given in our letter was the case of a Russian trans woman who was arrested over cartoon images and sentenced to imprisonment in a men's prison.

Russia's INHOPE member the Friendly Runet Foundation encourages people to report if they are "exasperated by the on-line materials transgressing morality," and boasts that it was "created at the direct participation and works in close partnership with the Department "K" of the Russian ministry of Interior." This terminology, and the hotline's association with the ministry that criminalized "gay propaganda," is understood by Russian citizens as an attack on LGBTQ+ people's speech. It is noted that no LGBTQ+ representatives are included on INHOPE's Advisory Board. 

INHOPE can't do anything, directly, about unjust national laws that conflate artistic images with child abuse. INHOPE and its members also can't do much to prevent conservative members of the public from reporting non-actionable content (although one member has taken steps to address this problem). That's why we are directly targeting the public with our "Don't report it, block it” information campaign, to stem such false reports at the source.

But what INHOPE can do is to decide what to do with reports that it receives about artistic content. Passing them to law enforcement authorities, using a censorship and surveillance infrastructure that was established to deal with real images of child sexual abuse, isn't its only option here. Neither is it necessary to place those who share such images in the crosshairs of police, especially in countries that have unjust laws or repressive governments.

In 2019, we held a seminar with Internet companies and experts to discuss more proportionate ways of dealing with content such as child nudity, child modeling, and artistic images, that doesn't rise to the legal of child abuse, but which can still be triggering or offensive, or harmful when shared in the wrong context. Through a multi-stakeholder process, this resulted in the development of a set of principles for sexual content moderation and child protection that were launched at last year's Internet Governance Forum.

INHOPE already has a Code of Practice that its members are required to comply with. To be clear, some INHOPE members already do have good practices, and Britain's Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is one of these: although cartoon images are unlawful in the United Kingdom and the IWF is mandated to accept reports about them, it doesn't include these reports in its hash lists of abuse images, nor share them with foreign police. Our joint letter invited INHOPE to take the opportunity to amend its Code of Practice to apply similar standards to its other members. Its decision not to consider this doesn't reflect well on the organization.

Internet reporting hotlines are selling a product to law enforcement authorities: a censorship service for which actual images of child abuse are only the selling point. This can be a lucrative gig; NCMEC alone received $33 million from the United States government in 2018. Therefore, as a business proposition, it makes sense for INHOPE and its members to ask few questions about the scope of the censorship services their governments call upon them to provide. Conversely, since almost no federal money is being allocated towards abuse prevention, there is little incentive for them to invest in prevention interventions that could reduce abuse in the long run.

But these perverse incentives are leading it down a dangerous path. It's time for us to call this censorship cartel to account, and to demand that it consider the human rights of the innocent people who are being hurt by its approach. The plain fact is that INHOPE doesn't represent the voices of experts who work on child sexual abuse prevention, it represents the law enforcement sector. By refusing to curtail its activities to place the censorship of artistic images outside its remit, INHOPE has lost the moral authority that provides the only justification for its sweeping and dangerous powers.

Written by Jeremy Malcolm, Executive Director, Prostasia Foundation | 2/14/20

After the disappointing “Birds of Prey” opening last week, movie theaters and studios are hoping for better returns during the Valentine’s/Presidents’ Day weekend, which will see the DC Comics movie attempt a rebound against a varied slate of new releases led by the Paramount family film “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

“Sonic” will be the No. 1 film on this 4-day weekend as both Paramount and independent trackers are projecting an extended opening total in the low $40 million range. While that would be a decent start for this $95 million-budgeted CGI/live-action hybrid, Paramount is aiming much higher than decent, and the studio likely hopes for a theatrical run strong enough to merit a sequel.

“It was a really rough 2019 for Paramount, and that’s in good part because they just don’t have enough reliable franchises,” said Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock. “If ‘Sonic’ can become popular with families and overseas audiences, it could really help them build a more consistent movie slate that won’t have as many long slumps like we saw last year.”

Also Read: Here's How 'Birds of Prey' Could Rebound From a Weak Box Office Opening

There was a time when it seemed like “Sonic” was headed for disaster. When the film’s first trailer was released last April ahead of a then-scheduled November release, Sonic fans, critics and even the uninitiated mocked the character’s eerily human-looking design so thoroughly that Paramount moved back the release to February to make time for a total redesign of the character. The new design turned out much closer to the character’s video game appearance, and when a second trailer was released, reception among kids and “Sonic” fans was far more positive.

That trailer was followed by one of the biggest marketing campaigns for a Paramount release in recent years, with billboards, commercials, and bus ads prominently featuring Sonic’s makeover. But the blue hedgehog wasn’t alone. The campaign has also heavily pushed Jim Carrey, who plays Sonic’s nemesis Dr. Robotnik. The past decade saw Carrey take a big step back from the slapstick roles that made him a big star in the 90s and 2000s, with the one exception being a return to one of his most famous roles with “Dumb and Dumber To” in 2014.

Also Read: Jim Carrey on 'Sonic' Redesign Forced by Fans: 'It's Either Going to Be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing'

The Robotnik footage shown in the trailers have teased a return to the Carrey of old, which might lure in moviegoers who aren’t fans of Sonic but who grew up watching Carrey 25 years ago and are nostalgic for his brand of humor. If demographic breakdowns this weekend show a stronger than expected turnout from non-family audiences over the age of 35, that might be a reason why.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” will also release in 41 countries overseas, including in South America, Australia, and much of Europe. But China and Japan, the Asian markets where Sonic is most popular, are still to come. But even if word of mouth is positive both domestically and internationally this weekend, Paramount could see overseas numbers sag if the coronavirus crisis persists by the time “Sonic” is released in Chinese theaters on February 28.

China’s government has ordered the closure of almost every theater in the country as part of an effort to contain the virus that has as of this writing killed over 1,000 people. The lockdown began during the Lunar New Year holiday when many Chinese films come out, and those films have had their theatrical releases indefinitely postponed. Even if theaters are back in business by the time “Sonic” is supposed to be released in China, it’s quite likely that it will have to compete with an extremely jammed market filled with local fare like “Detective Chinatown 3,” reducing how much money it might make in Asia. That will be something both Paramount and analysts will have to keep in mind when it comes time to look at the overall theatrical performance and determine whether we will see a “Sonic 2” in the future.

Also Read: Coronavirus Lockdown Cripples Chinese Box Office: Will Hollywood Movies Take a Hit?

Directed by Jeff Fowler, “Sonic the Hedgehog” follows the SEGA video game icon (voiced by Ben Schwartz) as he flees his world and arrives on Earth to hide from those who want to take his super-speed powers. But after an accidental encounter with a small-town Montana sheriff (James Marsden,) Sonic’s presence is exposed to the world, and he must team up with the cop to avoid being hunted down by the evil Dr. Robotnik. Tika Sumpter also stars in the film, which was written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller.

In addition to “Sonic,” two other wide releases will try to bring in Valentine’s Day couples looking for a date movie: the Sony/Blumhouse horror film “Fantasy Island” and the Universal romance “The Photograph.”

“Fantasy Island” is a dark take on the classic Ricardo Montalban TV series, starring Michael Peña in Montalban’s role as Mr. Roarke, the owner of a mysterious remote island that offers to make the wishes of its visitors come true. But for Roarke’s visitors, those granted wishes soon turn into nightmares, forcing them to figure out the island’s secrets if they want to make it out alive. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, the film is projected to earn a 4-day opening of around $18 million against a reported budget of $7 million. Sony is projecting a $13-15 million start.

“The Photograph” stars LaKeith Stanfield as a journalist who forms an unexpected relationship with the estranged daughter (Issa Rae) of a recently deceased photographer he is writing a story on. Lil Rel Howrey, Rob Morgan and Courtney B. Vance also star in the film, which was written and directed by Stella Meghie. The film has a reported budget of $16 million and is projected to earn a 4-day opening weekend of $12-14 million.

None of this weekend’s new releases had a critics score on Rotten Tomatoes at time of writing.

Related stories from TheWrap:

New 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Design Wins Over Rebellious Fans: 'All Is Forgiven'

Jim Carrey on 'Sonic' Redesign Forced by Fans: 'It's Either Going to Be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing'

'Sonic the Hedgehog' Director Vows to Change Character Design After Fan Backlash | 2/12/20

It must have been a galling experience for President Trump when his good mate British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to step in line with Trump's demand that the UK should also boycott the Chinese firm Huawei by not allowing them to be involved in the rollout of 5G in Britain. However, the involvement of Huawei will be limited.

It further proves that boycotting Huawei is a political and not a technical issue. Huawei is a poster child for China's international technology success and, by boycotting Huawei, Trump is hurting China as a global technology leader.

While there are other good telecoms manufacturers, Huawei is internationally recognized for being the leader in 5G technology, innovation and R&D, at the same time, it has been able to offer their products and services at a significantly lower cost than its competitors. Britain recognizes, as do many other countries in Europe and Asia that this provides them with the best possible mobile technology, which will assist these countries in global competitiveness and provides lower prices to its citizens.

To highlight this situation, the restriction put on Huawei in the rollout of 5G in the UK is going to cost British Telecom £500 million, as it will have to buy more expensive gear from other suppliers. BT's shares, already down 25% over the previous 12 months, were down a further 7.5% after the company's assessment of the Huawei impact.

I totally agree we need to be very wary of the totalitarian regime in China, where President Xi Jinping is using technology in an Orwellian way to control and manipulate its population, with the aim of making them placid and complacent. And he would like to extend his surveillance state model beyond the Chinese borders.

However, these sorts of concerns should be addressed through international forums putting pressure on China to adhere to global values and agreements. In these international forums, the rest of the world shouldn't shy away from strong pressure and strong condemnation.

As mentioned, the UK is not giving Huawei a free ride — there is a range of restrictions on the company's participation in the 5G rollout. Also, Boris Johnson voiced its support for more local R&D support in order to stimulate more competition into the telecoms equipment market. There are basically three major global telecoms manufacturers, apart from Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia (the latter two both European companies).

Back to the politics of the issue, in my opinion, Trump tries to mix these real concerns with global hegemony issues and the fear of the United States losing out economically to China.

It will be interesting to see if there will be any fallout of Johnson's decision not to follow Trump's lead. Unlike other countries in Europe and Asia who are still buying Huawei equipment, Britain is part of the Five Eyes countries. These Anglo-Saxon countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) share intelligence, and Trump has already mentioned his concerns about any of these countries not complying with the U.S. policy on Huawei.

With Britain leaving the EU, this country is now desperately looking for new bilateral trade deals, and Trump could make life difficult for Johnson by dragging out negotiations and/or being stubborn about making deals.

By the same token, an unpredictable President Trump could suddenly end the Huawei boycott if he believes he may get good concessions out of President Xi Jinping.

Another interesting development to follow is the reaction of other countries in the process of making decisions about the rollout of their 5G network. Will they follow UK's lead and withstand the Trump threats? Through the so-called Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliances, many more countries are linked to intelligence sharing arrangements with the United States. Apart from Australia and Japan, none of them have followed the U.S. lead.

It is expected that New Zealand and Canada are now expected to follow the UK's lead. The EU, as a group, has already indicated it is not in favor of banning any company from the 5G rollouts. Instead, they are working on a stringent security framework for these networks that will be imposed on all players. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced her opposition to a Huawei ban, and the UK decision will no doubt also further strengthen her stand on the issue.

At the same time, countries in Africa and Asia are continuing to roll out networks with Huawei's 5G equipment, and here the UK decision will have a positive effect on further decisions to be made on these continents.

In short, this story is far from over, and there will be many more twists and turns before we will see the end of this. In the meantime, the real focus should be on global corporations aimed at ensuring that our democratic and human rights values are well protected in the wake of all the new technologies — not just in relation to 5G, but also and in particular AI.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication | 2/12/20
The industry says the UK government has told it to prepare for trade barriers with the European Union. | 2/10/20

Most of us, when we go to a website and see the little lock at the top of the browser, don't think twice and trust that we are communicating with the right company or organization. However, this is no longer the case because of a rather radical development that has largely occurred without notice or intervention by almost everyone. The web now has its own rapidly spreading version of CallerID spoofing that is about to get worse.

Thirty-five years ago, the National Security Agency working with the private sector, developed what has proven the most important and widely used means for digital identity trust. It is known as the Public Key Infrastructure digital certificate or "PKI cert" for short and was specified in a global intergovernmental standard known as ITU-T X.509.

The idea was simple. Any organization that wants to be trusted goes to a special provider known as a public Certificate Authority (CA) who is supposed to verify certain essential identity basics, and then issue a unique, encrypted key — the PKI cert — to the organization with its identity information securely contained. The platform was approved by all the world's governments and became the basis for trusted digital identity globally. Europe added further trust features through an ETSI Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures standards group.

Then came the World Wide Web with sites all over the world as a kind of universal user interface to billions of people. The problem was that users couldn't trust who was actually running the websites. So a little over ten years ago, the five companies which produce most of the world's web browsers got together with most of the CAs to develop a standard for vetting organization identity for trusted website certificates and display that information in a little lock icon that appears at the top of the browser. They collaborate and reach agreements through an organization known as the CA/Browser Forum. The activity has very far-reaching, fundamental cybersecurity consequences as they control who gets trusted, how verification occurs, and how that trust is provided to billions of users around the world.

Until relatively recently, as required by well-established global standards and practices, the PKI certs had some substantial vetting of an organization's identity, which was then coded into the certificates and displayed to end-users in the browser lock. There was even a high trust certificated known as an "extended validation certificate" that turned the lock green in most browsers and displayed the validated name.

However, starting in 2013, several parties started up a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in Silicon Valley (Internet Security Research Group) to dramatically disrupt the digital identity world by issuing free, zero-trust, instant certificates with no organization identity vetting. These so-called Domain Certificates were then marketed commercially beginning in 2016 under the registered trademark Let's Encrypt® and browser vendors were asked to recognize them as a trusted CA. If you see one of these Let's Encrypt certificates (identified as "DST Root CA X3) and click on the lock, the Subject Organization identity information is completely missing and simply says "unknown." It is caveat emptor.

The tactic proved enormously successful as the organization itself described in a highly detailed, tell-all paper presented in a London conference made public last December. As they note in the paper, it "has grown to become the world's largest HTTPS CA… and by January 2019, it had issued over 538 million certificates..." The paper also documents how Let's Encrypt has had a profound effect on the CA market — now dominating it with 57% of the certificates. "Let's Encrypt has seen rapidly growing adoption among top million sites since its launch, while most other CAs have not." They also describe how they used the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to leverage their activities. The commercial opportunity was further facilitated through sponsors who make tax-exempt contributions to the organization's $3.5 million reported 2018 income - some of whom then market the certificates as part of their business offerings.

The paper also admits that "important security challenges remain." The cybersecurity impacts arise — because with zero validation, anyone with interest in spoofing, hiding their identity, or otherwise exploiting security flaws can do so — and indeed have.

Legal and public policy concerns

Although Let's Encrypt has a small section in its December paper describing the "legal environment," it doesn't even begin to treat the major national security, public policy, public safety, antitrust, tort liability, law enforcement, IRS, consumer protection dimensions that have gone with virtually no notice or discussion. Perhaps the most central concern can be summed up by four questions: who gets to decide who is trusted, with what level of vetting, with what manner of notice to end users, and who bears the consequences.

The challenge of digital identity trust was largely solved 35 years ago through a comprehensive, visionary Reagan Administration initiative known as Secure Data Network Systems (SDNS) that in fact was responsible for today's X.509 PKI environment. However, all the required public-private administrative and identity vetting actions necessary to successfully implement the platform were eliminated a decade later by the Clinton-Gore Administration in the belief that Silicon-Valley itself could handle everything and grow the information economy.

As a result, we have inherited today a world of rampant cybersecurity and societal problems stemming from an inability to trust anything online, and where some of the most important identity trust decisions for most of the world's population are made by a handful of firms and organizations with no oversight or control or consequences. It seems long overdue for a concerted global public-private effort to significantly improve digital identity trust for the web and all the giga-objects and services that will constitute the new 5G virtualised communications ecosystem. Potential sweeteners for Silicon Valley with government involvement is the relief from the potentially enormous antitrust, consumer protection, and tort liability consequences.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 2/9/20

The last few weeks have shown that n avigating Latino identity is a minefield that can set off an explosion at any moment in American culture. Such as: Is Antonio Banderas Latino or not?

This and other hot-button debates — including the unalloyed joy at Shakira and JLo performing at the Super Bowl — expose the complexity of what it means to be Latinx. These heated discussions drive home why Hollywood desperately needs gatekeepers who understand what these cultural firestorms are really about.

That’s because the unspoken rules regarding Latino identity shift depending on the context. (We can’t even agree on what to call ourselves, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Let me break down the firestorms of the past month as a way to unpack the lessons embedded within.

1. Antonio Banderas: Colonist or Hollywood trailblazer for Latinos?

Exactly on queue, on the morning Oscar nominations were announced last month, outrage among Latinxers erupted on social media. Aside from widespread frustration with JLo’s nomination snub, despite her head-turning role in “Hustlers,” debate raged over Banderas’ nomination for his leading role in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory.”

The rub? For some, Banderas, who was born in Spain, does not represent diversity in Hollywood. The outrage at the suggestion that his nomination was a small win for all Latinos was so strong, one would think Banderas makes it a habit of waking up in the morning and dressing in Spanish conquistador armor before heading to Hollywood meetings. Others within the Latinx community dismissed the debate as divisive — a win for someone with Spanish-speaking roots should be a win for all.

That awkward moment when Antonio Banderas, a white man from Spain, is included with Cynthia Erivo in @CTVNews’s #OscarNoms report. Antonio Banderas, just like Catherine Zeta Jones, is a white European. #OscarsSoWhite

— Alfonso Martin Espina Opiniano (@alfonsoespina) January 13, 2020

That awkward moment when Antonio Banderas, a white man from Spain, is included with Cynthia Erivo in @CTVNews’s #OscarNoms report. Antonio Banderas, just like Catherine Zeta Jones, is a white European. #OscarsSoWhite

— Alfonso Martin Espina Opiniano (@alfonsoespina) January 13, 2020

Perhaps a more constructive conversation would be examining how Hollywood’s executive elite perceives Banderas. Have studio heads historically seen him as one of their own, a slam dunk for quintessential Hollywood roles? Or has Banderas, in his 30+ years in Hollywood, too been perceived as an “other” in those closed-door, career-defining conversations by gatekeepers?

The response to Banderas’ nomination among the Latinx community should have come as no surprise: The entertainment industry would do well in trying to understand the nuances of representation.

Mexican director Alfonso Cuarónlast year captured the ongoing struggle about the lack of representation of U.S. born Latinos in an interview with media company Remezcla.

“There is so much talk about diversity, and I mean some progress has been made, but definitely the Hispanic Americans — and specifically Chicanos — are really, really badly represented still,” Cuarón said after winning an Oscar for the feature film “Roma.” “It’s amazing, you know? It’s a huge percentage of the population.”

Why Hollywood darling “American Dirt” turned to ash

Before copies even hit the bookshelves, the Mexican migrant novel by Jeanine Cummins unleashed the wrath of many Mexican Americans and other Latinos for what has been described as the book’s unsophisticated narrative — a tale laced with stereotypes, clichés and a hollow understanding of the journey to cross the border.

Imperative Entertainment, the production company behind Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule,” acquired the rights to the novel after a publishing bidding war resulted in a seven-figure sum for Cummins. In the author’s note, Cummins now famously says she wished “someone slightly browner than me” had written the novel, before conceding she had the “capacity” to be some sort of a cultural bridge, presumably because her husband was an undocumented immigrant (from Ireland, it was later known) and her grandmother is Puerto Rican.

Barnes & Noble

Did Hollywood jump before doing its due diligence? How we tell the important stories of our time is just as important as deciding what stories to tell.

The “American Dirt” controversy reminds me of a time early in my career when I was tapped by newsroom editors as a lead writer to help chronicle California’s changing demographics. I was being dispatched to the border to tell the story of the explosive population growth among Latinos, which for the first time was more a result of births than of immigration.

Barely out of college from my hometown of Miami — where Latinos dominate every layer of business, politics and culture — I felt the assignment was all wrong. So I mustered up the courage to ask for a meeting with editors to discuss the direction of the story.

Journalists, as with entertainment execs, are fans of storytelling extremes — when, in fact, most of our daily lives are lived within the gritty, ambiguous in-between. My twenty-something self sat in a chair inside a small office, flanked by three veteran journalists, all white men. I proceeded to explain what I saw as flaws of the story idea.

Latinos, it seemed from our conversation, were something to observe through a fishbowl. “Why do Latinos have so many babies? Let’s go see them in the wild,” it felt as though they were asking.

When I pushed back, one of the journalists who was standing inside of the cramped office asked if I felt as though I was “too close to the story” and couldn’t be impartial.

Would it be better, he asked, “if a Bavarian wrote it?” He was the said Bavarian.

I’m not exactly sure how I managed to pick up my metaphorical mouth from the floor and continue my pitch, but it remains a moment of pride that I walked out of that office with a completely different assignment of my own choosing. I would spend several months reporting and writing — alone, without the Bavarian.

It helped that I came to the meeting prepared, having spent hours analyzing census and private polling data. I found that if you look deeper at the trends over time, Latinos across generations very much begin to resemble white America when it comes to birth rates.

So I set out and found the perfect family (who hadn’t settled on the poverty-stricken border) from which to tell a generational story that begins at the Rio Grande, migrates to California’s crop-picking fields and finishes (or begins again) on college campuses.

It’s too late to change the immigrant tale at the center of “American Dirt,” though its publisher, Flatiron Books, backpedaled on its marketing push and book tour after the fervent backlash:

“We should never have claimed that it was a novel that defined the immigrant experience; we should not have said that Jeanine’s husband was an undocumented immigrant while not specifying that he was from Ireland…” the statement read. “We can now see how insensitive those and other decisions were, and we regret them.”

Does it come as a surprise that Latinos made up just 3 percent of the publishing workforce in 2018, according to a 2019 Publisher’s Weekly study?

No, not really.

3. How Shakira and JLo’s performance united Latinos

“I’ve often wondered why Latinos, particularly considering our share of the population, have struggled to make the same headway in Hollywood as African Americans and Asian Americans.

Then I think about some of the complicated conversations with my friends. For context: I’m the daughter of Cuban immigrants; my husband is second-generation California Mexican American; our friends are a mix of children and grandchildren of Mexican, Peruvian, Argentinian and European immigrants; and several also proudly represent Boyle Heights and East L.A.

On a recent night, we went from debating the Banderas nomination to discussing the Latino director of some obscure film. The assumption was that he was of Mexican heritage. Then we Googled his name.

“Oh, he’s Puerto Rican,” my friend, a self-described Chicana, said.

“You sound disappointed,” I responded, as her shoulders slightly slumped.

“I thought he was Mexican.”

In that disappointment lies the crux of why what Shakira and JLo did Sunday night felt so significant. For 12 minutes, these power women brought pan-ethnic Latinos together, forcing us to forget our differences and instead focus on our shared culture, experience and love of Spanglish.

We were one. And when JLo draped herself in a feathered Puerto Rican flag, Latinos collectively cheered, regardless of what country our parents or grandparents immigrated from; whether or not we speak Spanish; and no matter if we identify as Latinx or not.

Because in the context of making entertainment history on the most significant of stages, Latino identity transcended divisions.

So, yes, Latinos can gripe about whether a Banderas Oscar nomination counts toward Latino representation — and still see ourselves in “Pain and Glory.” We can tear apart the immigrant story central to “American Dirt” — and still demand more stories about the struggles south of the border. We can wear our different nationalities as badges of honor — and still come together as one when our culture is center stage.

Rather than see us as too difficult to understand, Hollywood should value us for being complicated and dynamic and flawed — a true American story.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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On January 28, the UK government was set to announce whether it would allow Huawei, the Chinese information and communication technologies provider, to develop its 5G infrastructure. Given Brexit and its need to form new alliances, the decision was marked as a significant moment for the UK's trade future. Leading up to the day of the decision, the UK was subjected to a significant amount of pressure from the United States government to reject any deal with Huawei. (Similar pressure was exercised towards any other US ally considering to use Huawei's 5G infrastructure). In a tweet sent by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the day before the decision was due, he made the claim that Britain's decision would effectively be one of sovereignty.

We can debate the merits of this claim, but the thing that I want to focus on is the often-use of the word 'sovereignty' in conjunction with the Internet and technology. It is interesting to observe how in almost every single discussion about the role governments should have in the Internet, the term 'sovereignty' pops up. Terms like "digital sovereignty," "technological sovereignty," or "Internet sovereignty" have become commonplace.

But, does sovereignty help advance the Internet governance conversations?

The answer is an emphatic 'no'; sovereignty adds an extra layer of complexity and only pushes states further apart while, simultaneously, it undermines and fragments the Internet. Sovereignty and the Internet are — prima facie — two irreconcilable concepts.

Born out of the effort to connect networks with one another, the Internet was originally designed not to recognize any geographical boundaries. Its design embodies a true decentralized structure in the sense that it is both architecturally decentralized — it runs on multiple computers — as well as politically — no central authority has power over those networks. This decentralized nature has further allowed the various autonomous networks to interconnect with one another irrespective of where in the world they are located. In fact, since its inception, one of the Internet's distinguishable characteristics has been its global reach: "any endpoint of the Internet can address any other endpoint, and the information received at one endpoint is as intended by the sender, wherever the receiver connects to the Internet. Implicit in this is the requirement of global, managed addressing and naming services ."

Sovereignty, on the other hand, is all about strict geographical boundaries. It refers to the legal autonomy of the state to act independently and without constraints within its own territory. Under its Rousseaunian tradition, it reflects the power of the state emerging from its people and for the people.

In the context of geopolitical disputes for transnational communication technologies, sovereignty is currently seen as the construction of a governance system with the ability to coordinate and manage exchanges that may or may not address primary issues of privacy/data protection and security. In this context, its application is one of scale. Historically, countries always sought to impose some sort of domestic legislation to the Internet, but, at the same time, most of them equally understood and respected the need for network autonomy and integrity. Over the past few years, however, there has been a significant shift in this thinking, with an increasing number of countries now actively seeking to centralize control over the Internet. For any country interested in the governance of the Internet, the claim to sovereignty is a claim to power.

Such a Foucauldian approach considers sovereign power as a constant negotiation about the validity of claims of knowledge and truth, which dictates the power dynamics within a system. In this context, we can observe countries, like Russia and China, racing to codify their own notions of sovereignty in international law, much in the same way, the West was integrating its ideas of "universal values" when the Internet first emerged and for the best part of its commercial history.

Three distinguishable forms of "Internet sovereignty" have emerged thus far.

The first one is China's vision of sovereignty, which is predominantly attached to notions of national security and securitization. (Russia is also part of this thinking, but its vision and technology implementation is not nearly as advanced as China's.) China's Internet sovereignty is all about the right of national governments to supervise, regulate and censor all electronic content that passes through its borders — what Bill Bishop has referred to as the "invisible birdcage. " In China, "Internet sovereignty" first appeared in a 2010 White Paper, which indicated that "within Chinese territory the Internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty. […] To build, utilize and administer the Internet well is an issue that concerns national economic prosperity and development, state security and social harmony, state sovereignty and dignity, and the basic interests of the people ". Since then and through a series of laws focusing primarily on cybersecurity, China has increasingly placed chokepoints on its Internet infrastructure, requiring network operators to store data within China and allowing Chinese authorities to conduct spot-checks on the network operations of any company operating out of China. On December 1, 2019, China rolled out its Cybersecurity Multi-level Protection Scheme (MLPS 2.0), aiming to create a system that is able to monitor every activity in China: Internet, mobile, WeChat type social networks, cloud systems, national and international email — everything. The framework's goal is not to empower users or even allow companies to make money; it is an attempt to centralize control over key network operations to the Chinese government. With this strategy, China does not seek to close itself out of the global Internet but, instead, to strengthen global network integration.

For Europe, sovereignty means independence from the dominant US technology companies. Europe started flirting with "digital sovereignty" as a response to the Snowden revelations in 2013. A 2014 research paper by the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) and New America's Open Technology Institute identified around 12 European countries using the term or considering practical policy solutions to its end. These policies ranged from the construction of new undersea cables to stronger data protection rules; they detailed different layers of extreme with some going as far as to suggest forced data localization and routing rules. Although most of these proposals never materialized, Europe has integrated sovereignty in its recent digital strategy. Last year, Ursula Von Der Leyen, Europe's chief Commissioner stated that "it is not too late to achieve technological sovereignty in some critical areas. "Similarly, her number two and the EU's competition czarina, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager argued that digital sovereignty can be achieved through "the development of key value chains and technologies that are of strategic importance for Europe" and which should be "open, truly European, innovative and lead to widespread knowledge dissemination. "

And, then, there is the case of India. India presents a big oxymoron being both the largest democracy in the world and the world leader in deploying Internet shutdowns as a political tool to assert its sovereignty. Since August 2019, India has sanctioned the longest Internet shutdown ever to occur in a democracy, in the disputed Kashmir region. Discretionary and vague legal rules regarding the control the government can exercise over India's Internet service providers has further enabled the government to restrict or limit access to regional and district levels. But, it is its data localization laws that further indicate India's direction towards a more sovereignty-based Internet. A series of recent laws require different forms of data, from governmental to heath and financial to be stored in India. Additionally, India's data protection legislation lays out the conditions under which "critical" and "sensitive" data are to be stored locally; this includes, financial, health and biometric information. An official document by the Committee of Experts on data protection acknowledged that although "laws facilitating cross-border data flows […] greatly foster research, technology development and economic growth ", critical personal data should be processed only in India with no cross-border transfer allowed.

So, what does this all mean and why should we care?

For the state, to view the Internet as nothing more than an extension of its sovereignty right should not come as a surprise. The key role of states is to make more of life 'legible' as James Scott has convincingly argued — this means to better record and measure human affairs in an effort to make them easier to manage. However, the drive for 'legible' or readable structures that can be easily understood and regulated often comes with a fatal flaw; in the top-down drive to simplify and formalize our understanding of complex systems, we sometimes disregard the local and practical knowledge critical to managing the complexity. To this end, our expectations that the state should — or would for that matter — see the Internet in a different fashion must be moderated. With this in mind, what is the impact sovereignty has on the current state of play?

The first point of this consideration is the pressure sovereignty places on the Internet. Although, as we said previously, it should be expected that governments apply rules of sovereignty in all aspects of international relations, including the Internet, the stricter the application of those rules, the more danger there is for the Internet to splinter and fragment. And, by this, we don't mean that the global Internet will cease to exist; rather, it will be neither desirable nor beneficial for people and networks to participate in the global Internet. Its resilience, which depends on the very fact that networks are diversely spread around the world, will diminish and with it any need for interoperation.

The other problem is how sovereignty contributes to state actors not being willing to collaborate. States are already split in their views of the Internet — a split that grows bigger. A UN resolution by Russia in the last days of 2019 on cybercrime, demonstrated the increasing division amongst the views of states. The resolution, which was opposed by the US and Europe but backed by China, passed 79 to 60, with 33 abstentions. And, although we should not sound the alarm bells yet, still this resolution indicates a clear move towards a more sovereign based approach for the Internet, which does not create any conditions for collaboration. In fact, sovereignty is the antithesis to collaboration, and this constitutes a problem. The Internet's past is based on collaboration. Its future also depends on it.

Why is all this important? Because, whichever nation manages to crack the sovereignty code, will also determine the Internet we will end up using. Will it be an open and global space-based on interoperation and mutual agreement? Or, will it be a closed and fragmented model based on geographical boundaries and cultural relativism?

This post was originally published in

Written by Konstantinos Komaitis, Senior Director, Policy Development and Implementation, Internet Society | 2/5/20
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On the 5th of November 2019, the release of the first of ITU's Measuring Digital Development series coincided with Freedom House's unveiling of its Freedom on Net 2019 report. This serendipity prompted me to write this blog note after carefully examining both reports.

On one hand, ITU's analytical publication, with its new friendly format, emphasizes that Internet use continues to spread, warning however that the digital gender gap is widening. The estimated 4.1 billion people using the Internet in 2019 reflect a 5.3 per cent increase, confirming the trend of slowing global growth rates. More men than women use the Internet in every region of the world except the Americas, which has near-parity, and 97 percent of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal, reveals the report, offering interesting snapshots of other important ICT indicators. With its global and regional perspectives, ITU's Facts and Figures 2019 also recalls that most of the offline population (46 percent of the world population) lives in the least developed countries, with Europe and Africa having the highest and lowest Internet usage rates, respectively.

On the other hand, the Freedom on the Net 2019 focusing on 'the Crisis of Social Media' comments that the Internet, once a liberating technology, has opened new conduits for surveillance and electoral manipulation. Internet Freedom Declines outnumber gains for the ninth consecutive year with Ethiopia recording the largest gains in 2019 following the election of a new Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, who loosened restrictions on the Internet and unblocked 260 websites. "Digital platforms are the new battleground for democracy and Internet freedom is increasingly imperiled by the tools and tactics of digital authoritarianism” notes the report recalling that of the 65 countries assessed, 33 have been on an overall decline since June 2018. The future of Internet freedom rests on our ability to fix social media, predicts the report offering a series of recommendations to 'fairly' regulate a technology now pervasive in business, politics, and personal lives.

The more we connect the world, the less free it becomes?

Time to pick the Good from the Bad and the Ugly

At the multilateral level, narratives advocating the Good of connecting the next 46 percent to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals are necessary more than ever but no longer sufficient. Containing the Bad and Repressing the Ugly is more and more critically needed to ensure a higher aggregate contribution of the growth of the Internet to the interconnected goals of the 2030 Agenda.

It is time for multilateral and other actors to acknowledge that neither the utopian hopes and optimistic narratives, nor the dystopian fears and pessimistic discourses reflect the evolving and more complex uses of the Internet witnessed in our current era. The rise of Social Media Platforms and Frontier Technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Advanced Biometrics etcetera) are reportedly posing new challenges to human rights and to values that are enshrined in the United Nations organizations serving as guiding principles for international civil servants in all their actions. The future of privacy, free expression, and democratic governance rest on policy choices and actions made or not today.

New perspectives are needed from scholars, intergovernmental bodies, policy makers and technologists when pursuing their respective missions, seeking for a deeper understanding of nuanced issues beyond just technological advancements. This could be achieved through innovative forms of partnerships driving thinking and advocating practices so that digital advancements are informed, with evidence, by their holistic social and human impacts when addressing developmental challenges outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

Measuring Success of actions to connect the next billion (and the remaining 46 percent of the world) could go beyond connectivity related quantitative assessments and consider the extent of which lives and freedom have improved with Digital Development.

Key findings of both reports are summarized below.

On the growth of Internet use :

  • Internet usage keeps growing, but barriers lie ahead. Some 4.1 billion people are now online, but in developing countries, women's Internet use is falling behind. Affordability and lack of digital skills remain some of the key barriers.
  • Most of the offline population lives in least developed countries. An estimated 3.6 billion people remain offline, with the majority of the unconnected living in the Least Developed Countries where an average of just two out of every ten people are online.
  • The digital gender gap is growing fast in developing countries. More men than women use the Internet in every region of the world except the Americas, which has near-parity. Wide gender gap in mobile phone ownership often coupled with a wide gender gap in Internet use.
  • Mobile-broadband subscriptions continue to grow strongly. ITU data show that 97 per cent of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal and 93 per cent within reach of a 3G (or higher) network.
  • Almost the entire world population lives within reach of a mobile network. ITU data show that 97 per cent of the world population now lives within reach of a mobile cellular signal and 93 per cent within reach of a 3G (or higher) network.
  • Computers no longer needed to access the Internet at home
  • Bandwidth growing fast, but with regional differences
  • Lack of ICT skills a barrier to effective Internet use
  • Broadband still expensive in LDCs

On the decline of Internet freedom

  • Declines outnumber gains for the ninth consecutive year. Since June 2018, 33 of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net experienced a deterioration in internet freedom. The biggest score declines took place in Sudan and Kazakhstan, followed by Brazil, Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe. Improvements were measured in 16 countries, with Ethiopia recording the largest gains.
  • Internet freedom declines in the United States. US law enforcement and immigration agencies increasingly monitored social media and conducted warrantless searches of travelers' electronic devices, with little oversight or transparency.
  • China is the world's worst abuser of internet freedom for the fourth consecutive year. Censorship reached unprecedented extremes in China as the government enhanced its information controls ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and in the face of persistent anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
  • Digital platforms are the new battleground for democracy. Domestic state and partisan actors used propaganda and disinformation to distort the online landscape during elections in at least 24 countries over the past year, making it by far the most popular tactic for digital election interference.
  • Governments harness big data for social media surveillance. In at least 40 out of 65 countries, authorities have instituted advanced social media monitoring programs. These sophisticated mass surveillance systems can quickly map users' relationships; assign a meaning to their social media posts; and infer their past, present, or future locations.
  • Free expression is under assault. A record high of 47 out of 65 countries featured arrests of users for political, social, or religious speech. Individuals endured physical violence in retribution for their online activities in at least 31 countries.
  • Authorities normalize blanket shutdowns as a policy tool. Social media and communication applications were blocked in at least 20 countries, and telecommunications networks were suspended in 17 countries.
  • More governments enlist bots and fake accounts to manipulate social media. Political leaders employed individuals to surreptitiously shape online opinions and harass opponents in 38 of the 65 countries covered in this report — another new high.

The two reports can be downloaded here:
Facts and figures 2019 — Measuring digital development
Freedom on the Net 2019 – The Crisis of Social Media

Written by Kitaw Yayehyirad Kitaw | 1/24/20
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As we embark on a new year and decade, it seemed worthwhile to take a peek at the principal forums for global 5G industry technical collaboration and do a quick assessment of what is occurring and who are the "leaders." The leadership dimension is especially relevant in Washington these days — which is suffering from a peculiar 5G dementia. As the year ended, there were no less than 35 current 5G related Congressional legislative actions, several of which actually passed one of the chambers. One is literally named "promoting United States international leadership in 5G."

These efforts in an alternative reality are orchestrated by a recently appointed loyal White House drone with numerous adhoc K-Street lobbying organizations smoking the 5G dope produced around town. (Cannabis is now legal in Washington.)

5G Leadership Reality

There are many ways to measure leadership in the 5G arena, but one of the most compelling and measurable is to examine the participation in the principal industry technical venues where all the parties collaborate together in deciding 5G features and instantiating them in global specifications that everyone implements in products and services worldwide. Those parties consist of chipset vendors, equipment manufacturers, service providers, network operators, support organizations, institutes, and government agencies.

Participation is also a considerable undertaking because it requires the necessary resources to understand the subject matter and what is occurring across the dozens of bodies that are meeting now almost every month. The principal defining body for 5G — 3GPP — now has 1,114 work items (435 legacy, 601 full 5G, 78 next-generation 5G). The full "stand-alone" 5G specs are known as Release 16 and scheduled for adoption this year. The participation metrics of both attendance and substantive submissions are the ultimate reality test of who are the serious parties in the real 5G world. Less measurable are the "bonus points" for leadership acquired by initiating and leading particularly innovative new work and 5G features.

The meetings for advancing this work are hosted among the participants, and now typically occur every month — constantly rotating around the world at locations in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In addition to advancing the work, the meetings also serve as a critical means for obtaining consensus among the participating parties, for establishing features and implementation schedules, for discovering and serving customers, and demonstrating substantive leadership. The processes are well-honed and have been highly successful globally in developing the world's most significant network communications medium — the global mobile communications infrastructure.

January was an unusually slow 5G collaborative "breather" month — presaging a considerable array of meetings in February. It was marked by meetings of the 5G architecture group (SA2) in Incheon, the CODEC group (SA4) in Wroclaw, the mission-critical communications group (SA6) in Hyderabad, and the core E2E network & terminals group (CT1) virtually. So, who was present? Who contributed input documents to shape the results — arguably the most important metric of leadership?

The 5G Architecture group is one of its most important and active. It's interim meeting in Incheon attracted 194 participants from 82 industry and government players, with the largest number from Huawei, Samsung, ETRI, Ericsson, LG, Nokia, and InterDigital. A number of other U.S. players were present, including both DHS' FirstNet and the DOJ. There were 1831 document submitters from 72 industry players, led by Huawei/HiSilicon, Nokia/Nokia Shanghai-Bell, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Vivo. Among government agencies, DHS FirstNet had 3. The principal work item submissions included 38 key 5G architecture features, at the top of which were Network Automation for 5G, Proximity-based Services, Vertical and LAN Services, advanced V2X, Edge Computing, Non-Public Networks, Cellular IoT support and evolution for the 5G System, Access Traffic Steering, Switch and Splitting support, Policy and charging control, 5G multicast-broadcast services, multi-USIM devices, Specific services support, Location Services, Enablers for Network Automation for 5G, Enhancement of Network Slicing, and Enhancements to the Service-Based 5G System Architecture.

The 5G CODEC group is a highly specialized group that attracts those who offer multimedia platforms. Its Wroclaw meeting attracted 67 participants from 32 industry players, with the largest numbers from Ericsson, Qualcomm, Nokia, Huawei, InterDigital. Notably, Dolby, Apple, and even Facebook were present. There were 166 document submitters from 23 industry players, led by Qualcomm, Ericsson, Sony, Dolby, and Nokia.

The 5G mission-critical group is also highly specialized that deals with both National Security Emergency Preparedness (NSEP) capabilities as well as high resilience capabilities such as required for utility infrastructures. Its Hyderabad meeting attracted 68 participants from 33 industry and government players with the largest numbers from the Indian government, Samsung, ZTE, AT&T, Huawei, Motorola, and Qualcomm. There were 196 document submitters from 30 industry and government players, led by Samsung, Huawei/Hisilicon, Ericsson, ZTE, Convidia, and Nokia/Nokia Shanghai Bell. The Netherlands Police was the only government agency submitting contributions. The principal work item submissions included 13 key 5G mission-critical features, at the top of which were enabling Edge Applications, Mobile Communication System for Railways, application layer support for Factories of the Future, Mission Critical Services support over 5G System, architecture and information flows for Mission Critical Data, application layer support for V2X services, support for Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Mission Critical services over 5G multicast-broadcast system, and location enhancements for mission-critical services.

The 5G E2E core network and terminals group met virtually among 35 participants from 23 industry and government players, including DHS FirstNet, with the largest numbers from Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson and MediaTek. There were 172 document submitters from 14 industry players with the largest numbers from Huawei/HiSilicon, Ericsson, Nokia/Nokia Shanghai Bell, MediaTek, Qualcomm and Blackberry. Almost all contributions were focussed on a single work item — the NAS protocol, which is used to manage the establishment of communication sessions and for maintaining continuous communications with the user equipment as it moves.

5G Security

In the ever-important world of 5G security, some of the most significant work continues to be led by the UK government. The assertion out of Washington that somehow China controls or dominates the 5G security activity flies in the face of myriad security activities that proceed on a collaborative consensus basis, and at which the principal U.S. government security agencies and regulators have long been absent, much less active contributors.

In addition, some of the details of the annual Security Week event emerged with a focus on 5G security and an announcement of a 5G security certification initiative.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 1/15/20

I posted reviews of important LEO-satellite Internet service developments during 2017 and 2018. I've been updating those posts during the years and have 16 new posts for 2019. In 2019 we saw four inciteful simulations, Leosat suspending operations and Amazon announcing the availability of a new ground station service and plans for a LEO constellation, progress in phased-array antennas but a lowering of expectations for inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs), new competition from China, worries about space debris and SpaceX racing ahead of the pack. The following are brief summaries of and links to those 2019 posts:

Simulation of OneWeb, SpaceX and Telesat's proposed global broadband constellations (January 2019) – Inigo del Portillo and his colleagues at MIT have run a simulation comparing OneWeb, SpaceX and Telesat's proposed LEO Internet service constellations. They estimated the average data rate per satellite and total system throughput (sellable capacity) for each constellation then computed the number of ground stations needed to achieve full capacity. The simulations were run with and without ISLLs. The configurations of SpaceX and OneWeb's constellations have changed somewhat since they ran the simulations, but del Portillo does not think the numbers for total throughput and number of ground stations would vary a lot for SpaceX and he expected the total system throughput would decrease slightly for OneWeb because of the reduction of the number of satellites from the initial 720 to 600.

Fifteen-dollar, electronically-steerable antennas for satellite and terrestrial connectivity (February 2019) – OneWeb founder Greg Wyler announced that his self-funded side project, Wafer LLC, has developed a flat, low-power phased-array antenna that could be mass-produced for $15. If that is the case, we can look forward to end-user terminals in the $2-300 dollar range. At this cost, one can envision deploying large numbers of two-antenna user terminals to act as ground stations when they are otherwise idle. A recent simulation shows that doing so would result in lower latency and jitter than today's terrestrial networks. Owners of these relay terminals could be subsidized.

Google balloons and Telesat satellites (February 2019) – Telesat will use Google's network operating system. In return, Google, which is also a SpaceX investor, may get access to some Telesat data in addition to compensation for their software. Another intriguing possibility is that Google might be planning to integrate Project Loon, their stratospheric balloon Internet service with Telesat's LEO satellite Internet service — to use Telesat's network as a global backbone. That integration would be facilitated by their both running the same SDN software — the same network operating system. (In the long run, I expect that all network layers will be integrated — from the ground to airplanes to geostationary orbit).

SpaceX's Starlink Internet service will target end-users on day one (March 2019) – Starting with Teledesic in 1990, would-be LEO satellite constellations have pitched their projects to the FCC, other regulators, and the public as a means of closing the digital divide, but they also have their eyes on lucrative aviation, maritime, high-speed trading, mobile backhaul, enterprise, and governments markets. (LEOSat, which had planned to focus exclusively on the enterprise and government markets recently suspended operations). SpaceX has filed an FCC application for one million ground stations, indicating that they will be focused on end-users and small organizations in addition to high-end customers from the start.

Are inter-satellite laser links a bug or a feature of ISP constellations? (April 2019) – OneWeb has decided not to include ISLLs in the first phase of their constellation, and SpaceX will not introduce them until near the end of 2020, at which time they may start with test satellites. OneWeb's decision was motivated by political issues in Russia as well as technical considerations. They will need more ground stations to offer global service without ISLLs, and a team of MIT researchers has run a simulation of a 720-satellite OnWeb constellation. They estimate that 71 ground stations would be required to reach maximum throughput.

Amazon's orbiting infrastructure (April 2019) – In his first annual stockholder letter, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stressed that Amazon was focused on investing in infrastructure. Initially, they invested in retail distribution centers but have added an Internet backbone, trucks and planes, third party retail support, cloud computing and storage, and satellite launch and ground station service and are now working on a constellation of LEO satellites for broadband service. They use this infrastructure themselves and market it to competitors like online retailers and they have contracts to launch satellites for OneWeb and Telesat. This infrastructure yields both revenue and access to market data and there have been calls for antitrust action against Amazon.

Satellite Internet Service Progress by SpaceX and Telesat (May 2019) – Telesat has signed their first LEO customer, Omniaccess a provider of connectivity to the superyacht market, received a subsidy from the Canadian budget for providing service in rural Canada, is working with two teams that are competing to be the prime contractor for their constellation, and signed a launch contract with Amazon's Blue Origen. They also announced that they had demonstrated 5G mobile backhaul in tests with Vodaphone and the University of Surrey. SpaceX also announced ambitious plans for future launches, which have subsequently been surpassed.

SpaceX reports significant broadband satellite progress (May 2019) – SpaceX announced a significant reduction in the size and weight of their satellites and the addition of krypton-powered thrusters that would enable them to autonomously avoid collisions with on-orbit debris that was large enough to track. The thrusters would also be used to de-orbit obsolete satellites. Might the collective constellation "learn" to avoid smaller debris one day?

Might satellite constellations learn to avoid debris with sensors on satellites? (May 2019) – According to the European Space Agency, there are about 5,000 orbiting satellites, about 40% of which are still functioning. They estimate that there have been over 500 break-ups, explosions, collisions, or anomalous events resulting in fragmentation, and they estimate that there are 34,000 debris objects >10 cm, 900,000 from 1 to 10 cm and 128 million from 1 mm to 1 cm. NASA says there are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball, 500,000 the size of a marble or larger, and many millions so small they can't be tracked. Space debris is a "tragedy of the commons." SpaceX plans to launch thousands of satellites. Could sensors on satellites detect and catalog small pieces of debris and, if so, could that lead to meaningful evasive action?

Hongyun Project — China's low-earth orbit broadband Internet project (June 2019) – China has announced two LEO broadband satellite projects and a LEO narrowband Internet of things constellation. While far behind SpaceX in technology, the Chinese companies have a large domestic market, access to government capital, and political and economic ties to many nations through their Belt and Road and Digital Silk Road infrastructure projects.

Amazon's AWS Ground Station service is now available (June 2019) – Amazon is offering satellite ground station access as a service. They list a number of advantages to their service, several of which are based on complementary Amazon offerings like access to their data centers and global network backbone and cloud computing and storage services. We can assume that Amazon's satellite constellation will use these ground stations at cost and, like their launch service, they will be made available to competitors. Amazon has been accused of predatory pricing in retail, and competing ground-segment companies may fear the same.

Latecomer Amazon will be a formidable satellite ISP competitor (July 2019) – In spite of being a latecomer to the race to deploy a constellation of LEO broadband Internet satellites, Amazon's Project Kuiper will be a formidable competitor. While far behind SpaceX, Amazon has in-house launch capability, and they have extensive complementary infrastructure including data centers, Web services, and a ground-station service. They also have the funds to finance the constellation as well as to develop or acquire critical technology like ISLLs and cost-effective phased-array antennas. They have also hired ex-SpaceX executives and engineers, and in Jeff Bezos, they have a leader who is comparable to Elon Musk.

An optimistic update from Telesat (August 2019) – Telesat received 685 million Canadian dollars from the government to subsidize rural connectivity. They plan to start service at the end of 2022 with 200 satellites in polar orbit, to add 100 more in inclined orbit in 2023, and perhaps eventually reach 500 satellites. Combining polar and inclined orbits and utilizing the far-north ground stations they already have for their profitable, established geosynchronous satellite service will help them gain a foothold in rural Canada and polar regions.

Inter-satellite laser link update (November 2019) – SpaceX initially planned to have five ISLLs per satellite but cut that back to four due to the technical difficulty of linking to a fast-moving satellite in a crossing plane and the short duration of such links. OneWeb has decided against using ISLLs for the time being due to cost and political considerations and Telesat remains committed to them. SpaceX is engineering its own ISLL hardware, but OneWeb and Telesat may be working with third parties. The situation with Hongyun is unknown, and LEOsat has abandoned their effort.

What to expect from SpaceX Starlink broadband service next year and beyond (November 2019) – By the end of 2020, SpaceX will have coverage in the heavily populated parts of the world between around 50 degrees north and south latitude. They expect to be launching 120 satellites a month and, by the end of 2020, the satellites will be equipped with ISLLs. However, by that time, they will have many legacy satellites in space, and those early ISLLs may just be for testing. They expect the next-generation Starship to be able to place at least 400 Starlink satellites in orbit, reducing the per-satellite cost to 20% of today's 60-satellite launches. They hope to compete with the "crappy" $80/month service in the US and, since the cost of the constellation is fixed, they will strive for affordable prices worldwide.

Starlink simulation shows low latency without inter-satellite laser links (ISSLa) (December 2019) – Mark Handley, a professor at University College London, has made two terrific videos based on runs of his simulation of the first — 1,584 satellite — phase of SpaceX Starlink. I discussed the first video, which assumes that the satellites have ISLLs, in a recent post. This one shows that, while not as fast as an equivalent ISLL path, long bent-pipe paths would typically have lower latency than terrestrial fiber routes between the same two points. It also considers the possibility of using end-user terminals as ground stations when they are idle, which would further reduce latency and jitter.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University | 1/15/20
Tesla is making progress on its plan to build its European gigafactory in Berlin, Bloomberg reports. The Elon Musk-run automaker is working with state officials in Brandenburg on the contract to secure around 740 acres of land just outside Berlin in Gruenheide, and the government has agreed to the contract as currently written and is […] | 12/21/19

The early designers of the Internet quickly realized that as the number of domain names flourished, there was a need for tracking domain name owners to resolve questions and conflicts that might arise. To that end, they created WHOIS, a public database with the names, phone numbers, email addresses, and mailing addresses of registered domain owners and operators.

This database has become a fundamental tool of transparency on the Internet, helping catch cybercriminals, stop malware and spam, and protect copyright and trademark owners. For example, Facebook has used the WHOIS database to identify a network of fake news sites spreading disinformation, and Microsoft has used the it to identify fraudulent domains used for phishing attacks. Unfortunately, Europe's poorly crafted privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is undermining both the WHOIS database and the global multi-stakeholder governance structure that has been key to the Internet's flourishing. If the EU will not back down, and ICANN — the nonprofit organization that runs key technical functions of the Internet, including WHOIS — finds itself unable or unwilling to act, then the United States should step in to protect these global interests.

The GDPR went into effect in May 2018, requiring organizations to minimize the personal data they collect and granting individuals more control over how organizations use their data. Since the EU can seek penalties against any organization that violates the GDPR, including those outside the EU, this means that domain registrars who collect and publish WHOIS information from website owners also must be GDPR compliant, even if they are located in the United States.

Here is where things get sticky.

ICANN sets its policies through a transparent multi-stakeholder process involving the private sector, civil society, and governments. The goal of this process is to ensure fair and equitable outcomes and to foster global collaboration and consensus building — in short, the purpose is to encourage stakeholders to work together and avoid having a few countries tell the rest of the world what to do.

Some of these policies are about the WHOIS database. ICANN has contracts with domain registries and registrars requiring them to collect and publish domain ownership information in WHOIS. However, since GDPR gives users the right to delete their personal data, and GDPR violators face fines of up to €20 million or 4 percent of their annual turnover, some domain registrars have started violating their contracts with ICANN by no longer collecting the required WHOIS information. And while the U.S. government has pushed ICANN to make sure registrars collect and release WHOIS information, ICANN has failed to act.

In an attempt to update its rules before GDPR went into effect in May 2018, ICANN approved a temporary policy that made a lot of personal information on WHOIS unavailable to the public. Under this policy, only certain third parties who have a "legitimate interest" can receive permission from ICANN to access non-redacted WHOIS data. These restrictions have already had a negative impact on those working to fight fraud and abuse online. For example, the electronics company Panasonic was unable to identify the owner of a domain that was using its logo to steal its customers' credentials. Furthermore, an October 2018 survey of 300 cybersecurity professionals found that this new policy is "significantly impeding cyber applications and forensic investigations and allowing more harm to victims," and 91 percent of respondents believed the redaction of WHOIS data was excessive.

This is not to say that ICANN should not modernize the WHOIS database. The WHOIS protocol has no standard data formats, no international support (i.e., using different character sets), and no security controls. But ICANN should make updates in a way that preserves the openness and transparency of the existing databases, balances the needs of different stakeholders, and does not simply bow down to the EU's overly restrictive privacy rules. To ensure that happens, the United States should step in to prevent the EU from steamrolling ICANN.

The best way to do this, absent ICANN expeditiously changing its policy — call it the nuclear option — would be for Congress to pass a law requiring all U.S. registrars to gather and report WHOIS data. Because most major domain registrars are located in the United States, congressional action would ensure the majority of the WHOIS database remains intact.

The goal would not be to dictate the rules for other countries, as the EU is attempting to do, but rather reassert that no government has the right to set the rules for others by setting up a clear contradiction with the EU's privacy law. Such a U.S. law would result in many domain registrars making the WHOIS data publicly available rather than capitulating to the threat of European fines. Once ICANN sees that companies are operating under two WHOIS policies — an unsustainable situation — it will force them to revisit the policy. The U.S. government should then work with key allies, such as Japan, to pressure the EU to limit the scope of the GDPR so it does not continue to undermine the multi-stakeholder framework that is the foundation of Internet governance.

Written by Daniel Castro, VP at Information Technology and Innovation Foundation | 12/19/19
Its government has already been referred to the European Court of Justice over rules for judges. | 12/17/19

Filed under: Government/Legal,Hirings/Firings/Layoffs,Chrysler,Fiat

The European carmakers' association (ACEA) has appointed Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Mike Manley as its new president from January 2020, it said on Thursday. Manley will take over the role from PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares, who has served two one-year terms as ACEA President, the Brussels-based lobby group said in a statement.

Continue reading Fiat Chrysler chief Mike Manley to head European auto lobby group ACEA

Fiat Chrysler chief Mike Manley to head European auto lobby group ACEA originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 12 Dec 2019 08:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink  |  Email this  |  Comments | 12/12/19
The woman in charge of promoting the divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union in Washington has reportedly quit from her post because she no longer wants to “peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust.” | 12/7/19

While Netflix continues to tell the tale of Queen Elizabeth II with “The Crown,” Starz is bringing the story of the first Queen Elizabeth to a small screen near you with a series order for new drama “Becoming Elizabeth.”

Created and written by award-winning playwright and television screenwriter Anya Reiss (“Spur of the Moment,” “The Acid Test”), “Becoming Elizabeth” is the “fascinating story of the early life of England’s most iconic Queen,” according to Starz. “Long before she ascended the throne, young Elizabeth Tudor was an orphaned teenager who became embroiled in the political and sexual politics of the English court. With no clear heir, the death of King Henry the VIII sets into motion a dangerous scramble for power. His surviving children find themselves pawns in a game between the great families of England and the powers of Europe who vie for control of the country.”

“Elizabeth struggles to control her own destiny and take real power as the men around her attempt to claim her sovereignty. Her fascinating and factual journey to secure the crown is filled with scheming, betrayal and illicit relationships that threaten to bring forth her demise at a time in which every man or woman of the court is on the wheel of fortune, which may take them to a position of great power one moment, or the executioner’s block the next.”

Also Read: Claire Foy to Return to 'The Crown' in Season 4 Flashback Scene

Reiss will serve as lead writer on the eight-episode season and be joined by an all-female writing team including Emily Ballou (“Traitors,” “Taboo,” “Humans”), Anna Jordan (“Succession”) and Suhayla El- Bushra (“Ackley Bridge,” “Hollyoaks”). Reiss will executive produce the series alongside The Forge’s George Ormond (“National Treasure,” “Great Expectations”) and George Faber (“Shameless,” “Generation Kill”). Senior vice president of original programming Karen Bailey is the Starz executive in charge of “Becoming Elizabeth.”

“The world of ‘Becoming Elizabeth’ is visceral and dangerous – judgments are rendered quickly and no one is safe,” Starz CEO Jeffrey A. Hirsch said. “This series explores the Tudor Reign and young Elizabeth, who would become England’s ‘Gloriana’ and one of history’s most dynamic figures, through a new lens which we think viewers will find highly engaging.”

“This is Elizabeth as you’ve never seen her before, a teenager finding her way in a treacherous world, and in Anya’s hands she’s a truly electrifying character,” Ormond said. “Starz immediately embraced the ambition and vision of the series and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with them on it.”

Also Read: Gillian Anderson on Why Nailing Margaret Thatcher's Hair Is Key to 'The Crown' Season 4 (Video)

Reiss added: “Drama seems to skip straight from Henry VIII’s turnstile of wives to an adult white faced Gloriana. Missing out boy kings, religious fanatics, secret affairs and a young orphaned teenager trying to save herself from the vicious scramble to the top. I should have found it hard to relate to 500 year old royalty but Elizabeth lived in dangerous, polarizing times and often made terrible hormone-fueled decisions. I’ve found writing her story a thrilling experience.”

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Films designed to look like one uninterrupted take — whether they’re really one long shot, or just cleverly edited to appear that way — can be sweeping and engrossing or merely a novelty. At their worst, they inspire sentiments similar to what a friend of mine once wrote on social media: “Hey directors, I don’t buy a ticket to your movies so I can be your editor.”

The premise of crafting a feature that appears to be a single camera movement gets a boost from Sam Mendes’ “1917,” which follows two British soldiers during WWI on a life-or-death mission through No Man’s Land to the front lines. Under the guidance of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, that camerawork leads to moments of genuine suspense and wartime horror, with only occasional instances of gimmickry.

Bookended by sequences involving people running through crowded trenches of soldiers — the obvious lack of tracks for the moving camera adding to the physical burden of Deakins and his camera operators, who had to shoot these scenes handheld — “1917” gives its very linear plot a palpable sense of immediacy by almost never stopping its forward momentum.

Watch Video: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman Embark on a Dangerous Mission in First '1917' Trailer

We open in a tranquil field, in which napping Lance Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, “Game of Thrones”) and Schofield (George MacKay, “Captain Fantastic”) are awakened and sent to report to their commanding officer (Colin Firth), who has a mission for them: A massive mobilization of British troops, including Blake’s brother, are unknowingly heading into a German trap. With telephone lines down, it’s up to the two young soldiers to traverse dangerous ground and physically deliver the order to stop the battle from happening.

And then they’re off and running, through barbed-wire and craters, bombed-out towns and elaborate tunnels. When our heroes are not directly under fire, every lull in the action is merely a prelude to the next catastrophe, which boosts the state of tension throughout. Between the unexpected bursts of violence in the script by Mendes and co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns (“Penny Dreadful”) and the fact that most of the mission is being presented in what appears to be actual time, “1917” offers few opportunities for the audience to exhale.

Also Read: Watch Out, Oscars - '1917' Is Here, and It's the Real Deal

As such, the movie is more successful as a thriller than as a thoughtful examination of war and its horrors; Mendes seems less interested in bigger ideas about the nightmare of battle and its effects on his characters than he is in Hitchcockian audience manipulation. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it does differentiate the film from earlier WWI tales like “Paths of Glory” or “Gallipoli” or “La Grande Illusion,” which used the conflict as a way to discuss class or military injustice or the last gasp of the European aristocracy.

“1917” is certainly a technical marvel, not just for Deakins but also for the brilliant sound work, visual effects, and Lee Smith’s editing, which hides the cuts that would have broken the “one-take” spell. (If there’s one element that doesn’t work here, it’s Thomas Newman’s score, which tends to lay it on too thick, particularly during a third-act sequence in the ruins of a French village.) But the craft on display doesn’t take away from MacKay and Chapman’s performances; their exhibitions of bravery, terror, loyalty, determination and desperation are never overshadowed by the camerawork.

Watch Video: '1917': See How Sam Mendes Tackled 'One Continuous Shot' for World War I Epic

Mendes also works in a series of cameos for well-known actors to play officers; in addition to Firth, the chain of command also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden and Mark Strong. Each of these pros knows how to make an impression with just a few lines of dialogue, and each becomes an important story checkpoint along the way.

“1917” will at some point make a great double feature with “They Shall Not Grow Old,” the 2018 documentary in which Peter Jackson took 100-year-old war footage and colorized it, corrected the frame rate, and bumped it up to 3D to make the conflict more immediate for contemporary audiences. Both films give 21st century viewers a very different way of looking at World War I, and the technical wizardry behind each film’s creation might be the tiniest bit more interesting than the actual content.

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The past week in the 5G world was notable because of some major events in Reno in the 5G race to roll out the full 5G specifications known as Release 16. A set of seven major concurrent industry standards meetings were hosted there over five days last week. The metrics are indicative of who really participates in and shapes the rapidly emerging 5G platforms.

The Reno entrants included 1911 registered industry technical experts from 231 different participating companies and organizations who worked through 12254 submissions from 165 of those entities to proceed toward the final initial specifications for Stand-Alone 5G products and services. These sets of 3GPP meetings on 5G occur about every 60 days with many smaller meetings on specialized 5G platforms in between. The 5G Mobile Edge Computing Group, as well as the Cybersecurity Technical Committee, were meeting the previous week in Sophia Antipolis, France, where other significant 5G platforms were considered. These are the hard-core technical venues where the "5G leaders" participate and collaborate on 5G.

If one counts registrants in the race, the Top Ten ranked as follows:

96 Samsung
89 Ericsson
83 Huawei
83 Nokia
72 Intel
63 Qualcomm
60 LG Electronics
58 China Mobile
46 Apple
44 Interdigital

Some U.S. government agencies actually managed to get a few people there. They included the DOD, CISA/FirstNet, NTIA, DOJ, and FCC. The real rubber meeting the road in the race, however, is measured by the number of input documents amongst those 12 thousand submissions. Those at the lead of the race were:

1517 Huawei
1305 Ericsson
1119 HiSilicon
936 Nokia
870 Nokia Shanghai Bell
682 Qualcomm
622 ZTE
456 Samsung
366 China Academy of Telecom
337 Intel
330 LG Electronics
264 MediaTek
226 vivo
217 China Mobile
197 OPPO
169 China Telecom
162 Apple
160 Sanechips
105 Motorola
90 Lenovo
79 Interdigital

HiSilicon is Huawei's chip foundry and works jointly. Nokia and Nokia Shanghai Bell also work closely together. Amongst U.S. government agencies, CISA/FirstNet produced 12 submissions, and NIST had 2 — all focused on NSEP requirements. On the cybersecurity side, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) proceeded to advance the key 5G virtualization security requirements.

The European Union, which is projected to be the 2nd largest 5G market after China, remains in the lead in dealing with 5G industry collaboration and network security. Its recently released NIS Cooperation Group Report on EU coordinated risk assessment of the cybersecurity of 5G networks" provides a best-of-breed, comprehensive overview of all the basics and is proceeding with rolling out 5G possible risk alleviating measures "toolbox."

Meanwhile, Washington clowns around banning vendors — a clear violation of the public international law which U.S. itself established over many years. As TechCrunch notes in reporting on the current state of affairs, "business of 5G security will need to get commensurately large to scale to meet the multi-dimensional security challenge that goes hand in glove with the next-gen tech. "Just banning a single supplier isn't going to cut it." European authorities generally have both the knowledge base and the ability to act effectively — which the U.S. Government completely lacks.

The 5G world of virtualized networks and services is not a zero-sum game. The ultimate winners will be the providers who can enter, innovate, and thrive in the global market for those virtualized networks and services. They are the ultimate 5G value proposition, not the network boxes.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 11/24/19
Yesterday was another bonkers day in politics. Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, testified in a public hearing for the impeachment inquiry. Sondland is a businessman millionaire who donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s campaign and that’s how he became an ambassador. In previous statements, Sondland’s story about the Ukrainian “drug deal” […] | 11/21/19

The second week of public impeachment inquiry hearings began on Tuesday morning with testimony from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s Director for Europe, and Jennifer Williams, the Russia and Europe special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.

Both Vindman and Williams were present in the White House’s Situation Room to listen in on the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

Here are six key moments from Tuesday’s first hearing. Stay tuned for our coverage of Tuesday afternoon’s hearings.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

1. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman describes Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president as “inappropriate” and “improper”

Vindman said he found Trump’s phone conversation with Zelensky to be “improper.”

“I was concerned by the call. What I heard was inappropriate,” Vindman said during his opening statement. “It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent. It was also clear that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play. This would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing bipartisan support, undermine U.S. national security, and advance Russia’s strategic objectives in the region.”

The lieutenant colonel said he was compelled to raise concerns about the phone call “out of a sense of duty.”

“My intent was to raise these concerns because they have significant national security implications for our country,” Vindman said. “I never thought I’d be sitting here, testifying before the committee and the American public, about my actions. When I reported my concerns, my only thought was to act properly and to carry out my duty.”

Vindman, a Ukrainian refugee, also addressed his father directly during his opening statement: “Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected officials is proof that you made the right decision, 40 years ago, to leave the Soviet Union.”

“Do not worry,” he added. “I will be fine for telling the truth.”

“Vindman is shaking as he reads his opening statement in the impeachment hearing,” tweeted political scientist Miranda Yaver. “Depressingly high odds that President Trump and Fox primetime hosts mock him for that.”

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

2. A visibly nervous Vindman says character attacks against impeachment hearing witnesses are “reprehensible”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was visibly shaking as he gave his opening remarks and declared that character attacks against witnesses are “reprehensible.”

“These vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible,” Vindman said. “We are better than personal attacks.”

Also Read: Trump Attacks Ousted Ukraine Ambassador Mid-Hearing, Schiff Suggests It's 'Witness Tampering'

Last Thursday, Trump disparaged the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, as she gave her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. His comments, which Yovanovitch described as “intimidating,” led Chairman Adam Schiff to question whether Trump’s real-time tweets counted as “witness intimidation.”

Vindman himself was also subjected to unfounded attacks by Fox News host Laura Ingraham and one of her guests, who suggested that Vindman was involved in “espionage.” (Ingraham and the guest, the attorney John Yoo, were both criticized across party lines for their remarks.)

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

3. Jennifer Williams says she was “surprised” by Trump’s tweet about her

During member questioning, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Connecticut) asked Jennifer Williams, the Russia and Europe special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, about Trump’s Sunday tweet about her.

“It certainly surprised me,” she admitted. “I wasn’t expecting to be called out by name.”

Himes said he was surprised too, then added that it “certainly looks like witness tampering” — a statement that mirrors how Schiff described Trump’s similar disparaging remarks about Yovanovitch last week.

Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2019

In his Sunday tweet, Trump wrote, “Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement [sic] from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”

Jacquelyn Martin / Getty Images

4. In his opening statement, ranking member Devin Nunes attacks the press as “puppets for the Democratic party”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) used his opening remarks to largely attack the press for its coverage of the impeachment hearings, calling members of the media “puppets for the Democratic party” and again focusing on the identity and motivations of the whistleblower.

“Now that the whistleblower has successfully kickstarted impeachment, he has disappeared from the story, as if the Democrats put the whistleblower in their own whistleblower protection program,” Nunes said, despite the fact that there is federal law outlining the protection of whistleblowers.

Also Read: Fox News' Neil Cavuto Defends Chris Wallace, Tells Trump That Journalists 'Are Not Entitled to Praise You' (Video)

5. House Democrats defend Vindman, a veteran and American citizen, from Republican inquiries about his patriotism and loyalty

House Republicans and the staff counsel, Steve Castor, questioned Vindman’s loyalties to America by asking him about a job offer he received from a Ukrainian official for the position of defense minister in Kyiv.

“I’m an American. I came here when I was a toddler, and I immediately dismissed these offers, did not entertain them,” Vindman said. “The whole notion is rather comical that I was being asked to consider whether I’d want to be the minister of defense. I did not leave the door open at all. But it is pretty funny for a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, which is really not that senior, to be offered that illustrious a position.”

Later, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) brought up a comment made by Vindman’s former boss at the NSC, Timothy Morrison, that he and Fiona Hill “had concerns” about Vindman’s “judgment” — a quote that was also shared by the White House’s official Twitter account.

“Any idea why they have those impressions?” Jordan asked Vindman.

Vindman came prepared and rebutted Jordan’s line of questioning by reading his performance review written by Hill.

“Alex is a top one percent military officer and the best army officer I have worked with in my 15 years of government service,” Hill’s review of Vindman said. “He is brilliant, unflappable, and exercises excellent judgment.”

“I can’t say why Mr. Morrison questioned my judgment. We had only recently started working together, he wasn’t there very long and we were just trying to figure out our relationship,” Vindman said.

“And Colonel, you never leaked information?” Jordan asked.

“I never did, never would. That is preposterous that I would do that,” Vindman responded.

Also Read: Facebook Bans 'Any Mention' of Potential Trump Whistleblower's Name

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) also took issue with how House Republicans questioned Vindman’s loyalties to America.

“They’ve accused you of espionage and dual loyalties. We’ve seen that in this room this morning. The three minutes that were spent asking about the offer made to make you the minister of defense, that may have come cloaked in a Brooks Brothers suit and in parliamentary language, but that was designed exclusively to give the right-wing media an opening to question your loyalties. I want people to understand what that was all about,” Himes said. “It’s the kind of thing you say when you’re defending the indefensible. It’s what you say when it’s not enough to attack the media, the way the ranking member gave over his opening statement, or to attack the Democrats, but it’s what you stoop to when the indefensibility of your case requires that you attack a man who’s wearing a Springfield rifle on a field of blue above a Purple Heart.”

.@jahimes slams the GOP's attempt to accuse Vindman of having dual loyalties: "That was designed exclusively to give the right-wing media an opening to question your loyalties … It's the kind of thing you say when you're defending the indefensible."

— Oliver Willis (@owillis) November 19, 2019

6. Nunes and Vindman have tense exchange

During his first minutes questioning Vindman, Nunes addressed the lieutenant colonel as “Mr. Vindman.”

Vindman quickly corrected him: “Ranking member, it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, please.”

???? from VINDMAN, correcting @DevinNunes for referring to him as “Mr. Vindman,” instead of “Lt. Col. Vindman.”

— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) November 19, 2019

When Vindman declined to name the intelligence officials he spoke to about the phone call to protect the whistleblower’s identity, Nunes asked if he was going to “plead the fifth.”

“What I can offer is that these were properly cleared individuals, or was a properly cleared individual, with a need to know,” Vindman said.

“You can plead the fifth, but you’re here to answer questions and you’re here under subpoena. So you can either answer the question or you can plead the fifth,” Nunes said.

“Excuse me, on behalf of my client, we’re following the rule of the committee, the rule of the chair with regard to this issue. This does not offer an answer that is invoking the fifth or any theoretical issue like that,” Vindman’s attorney, Michael Volkov, interjected.

Watch the full hearing above.

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5 Key Moments From Trump Impeachment Hearing Day 2, From Trump's Tweet to a 'Devastated' Marie Yovanovitch

5 Key Moments From Trump Impeachment Inquiry Hearing Day 1 (Video) | 11/19/19

A brilliant orator, Eban served as diplomat, government minister and Member of Knesset. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he sought to consolidate Israel’s relations with the United States and secure association with the European Economic Community. Before and after the Six-Day War, he led Israel in its political struggle in the UN.

Read More... | 11/17/19

In the first public hearing for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the House Intelligence Committee heard testimony from George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state, and William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, on Wednesday morning.

The hearings are further examining whether Trump sought to use a foreign power to influence the upcoming 2020 election by withholding critical military assistance to the Ukrainian government in exchange for a Ukrainian investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D. – Mass.) and ranking member Devin Nunes (R. – Calif.) both used staff attorneys — Daniel Goldman for the Democrats, Steve Castor for the Republicans — to conduct the majority of their 45-minute questioning.

Here are five takeaways from Wednesday’s hearing, where Kent and Taylor testified for roughly five and a half hours.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

1. “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden” than about Ukraine

William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, added new information to his testimony regarding a phone call that he said President Donald Trump had with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, one day after his White House call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

During the newly disclosed July 26 call, which was overheard by one of Taylor’s staff members, Trump had asked Sondland about the “investigations” — which Taylor said he understood to mean formal inquiries into Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden for which Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had been advocating.

Based on Taylor’s retelling, the staff member overheard Sondland tell Trump that the “Ukrainians were ready to move forward” with the investigation into Biden and Burisma. “Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for,” Taylor said.

Later, during questioning, Schiff returned to the overheard phone call. “I take it the import of that is he cares more about that [the Biden investigation] than he does about Ukraine?” Schiff asked.

“Yes, sir,” Taylor responded.

Also Read: Colbert Shows Off His 'Impeachment Tree' to Celebrate the Public Trump Impeachment Hearing (Video)

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

2. A tale of two opening statements

Schiff and  Nunes began Wednesday’s hearing with widely differing opening statements. Schiff, a Democrat, emphasized the historical significance of the impeachment inquiry’s findings on the future of the American presidency.

“The questions presented by this impeachment inquiry are whether President Trump sought to exploit [Ukraine’s] vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference into our elections; whether President Trump sought to condition official acts, such as a White House meeting or U.S. military assistance; or Ukraine’s willingness to assist in two political investigations that would help his re-election campaign. And if President Trump did either, whether such an abuse of his power is compatible with the office of the presidency,” Schiff said. “Our answer to these questions will not only affect the future of this presidency, but the future of the presidency itself and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander in chief.”

“If the president can simply refuse all oversight, particularly in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered,” Schiff said later in his statement. “That is not what the founders wanted.”

Nunes, a Republican, in turn cast the impeachment inquiry hearing as a “televised, theatrical performance staged by the Democrats.”

“You’ve been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel,” Nunes said to Kent and Taylor. “This spectacle is doing great damage to our country. It is nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime.”

Also Read: George Conway Goes on MSNBC, 'Appalled' by GOP Handling of Trump Impeachment Hearings

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

3. Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to “gin up politically motivated investigations” were “infecting” U.S.-Ukraine relations, Kent says

During his opening statement, Kent said that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, was conducting a “campaign to smear” former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and that his efforts to induce a Ukrainian investigation into the Bidens was impacting U.S. and Ukraine relations.

“In mid-August, it became clear to me that Giuliani’s efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting U.S. engagement with Ukraine, leveraging President Zelenskyy’s desire for a White House meeting,” Kent said.

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

4. Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio) attacks Taylor’s testimony: “I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this”

GOP Rep. Jim Jordan scored points by noting that Taylor’s testimony was based in part on second- and third-hand accounts: “Ambassador Taylor recalls that Mr. Morrison told Ambassador Taylor that I told Mr. Morrison that I conveyed this message to Mr. Yermak on Sept. 1, 2019 in connection with Vice President Pence’s visit to Warsaw and a meeting with President Zelensky.”

“We got six people having four conversations in one sentence and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding,” Jordan said to Taylor at one point. “I’ve seen church prayer chains that are easier to understand than this.”

He scoffed that Taylor, who was not on Trump’s telltale July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, was presented as, in his words, a “star witness” for the Democrats.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

5. The White House says Trump wasn’t watching the hearing — but his Twitter feed suggests otherwise

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters earlier during Wednesday’s hearing that Trump was in the Oval Office taking meetings. “Not watching. He’s working,” Grisham said.

At the same time, Trump’s personal Twitter account began retweeting videos of House Republicans criticizing the inquiry. Grisham also tweeted that the “sham” hearing was “boring.”

During the hearing Trump’s 2020 campaign also sent out an email to supporters:

“The Impeachment Scam hearings begin today! This is a complete Fake Hearing (trial) to interview Never Trumpers and a Pelosi-Schiff SCAM against the Republican Party and me. It’s obvious they hate me, but more importantly, they HATE YOU. The Democrats know they can’t win in 2020, so they want to rip the power from your hands by ERASING your VOTE, ERASING your VOICE, and ERASING your FUTURE! BOTTOM LINE: THIS WITCH HUNT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PROCEED. The Radical Left and Lamestream Media are just trying to make it hard for TRUE AMERICANS, including YOUR PRESIDENT, to win in 2020. We can’t let them get away with this.”


Watch Wednesday’s hearing in full above. The next hearing will take place on Friday.

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Impeachment Update: House Approves Resolution to Formalize Inquiry | 11/13/19

One of the most embarrassing and pernicious realities in the world of cybersecurity is the stark reality that some industry cybersecurity standards practices are themselves cyber threats. How so?

Most industry and intergovernmental standards bodies serve as means for assembling the constantly evolving collective knowledge of participant experts and package the resulting specifications and best practices as freely available online documents to a vast, diverse universe of users. In many cases, these materials have the force and effect of law through governmental bodies who reference them as compulsory requirements for an array of cybersecurity products and services provided to end-users.

Unfortunately, a few remaining outlier standards organizations attempt to exploit the cybersecurity marketplace by significantly restricting availability of their standards and charging incredulous prices for access to documents that deter use. This behavior is often coupled with lobbying co-opted government authorities to reference the specifications as mandatory requirements — flying in the face of longstanding juridical norms. In some cases where such references have created artificial demand, the prices reach an astronomical seven dollars per page for a single user to simply look at specifications that are often trivial and useless, yet mandated by some governmental authority or certification group. The result is that the cybersecurity standards practices themselves become cyber threats because the needed specifications are not available to end-users who cannot or will not pay seven dollars per page for a standard.

The most extreme of these bodies is the Geneva-based, private International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which together with its regional and national partners, manages to continue the practice of enticing participants to contribute their cybersecurity intellectual property for free — which is then resold by the organization's secretariats at vicarious prices reflecting whatever the cybersecurity market will bear. That some of the participants are also government employees who are contributing government IPR, and then effectively serving as marketing arms for secretariats selling the pricey products, makes the practice all the more unacceptable.

In a recent proposal to the European Union on cybersecurity normative standards, the entire bundle of proposed ISO/IEC specifications amounts to $ 5000 per individual user license. Additionally, that amount is potentially recurrent every five years - the asserted maintenance period for the standards. For the proposed bundle of 31 documents, the per-page price varies wildly between 0.68 and 6.77 Swiss Francs with the average 2.63 Francs ($ 2.65) per page as downloadable PDF files. The 6.77 Swiss Franc ($ 6.81) per page amount is for the ISO/IEC 30111 standard on how to process and resolve potential vulnerability information in a product or online services. And, these 31 standards only include the explicitly mandated specifications themselves. Secondary normative references requiring still further ISO/IEC standards can significantly add to the cost.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) engages in similar behavior, and even leverages its association with engineering profession members. Its price per page varies between $0.56 to $3.48 for common cybersecurity standards.

Over the years, most standards bodies who once sold their cybersecurity standards have ceased the practice — realizing that meaningful standards making in the ICT sector effectively require freely available standards to as many people and entities as quickly as possible. Where public safety or security are factors, or where the specification is referenced as a regulatory requirement, freely available standards are essential, and the converse inexcusable.

Several years ago, the American Bar Association advanced an initiative on public ownership of the law and adopted a resolution calling for public availability to standards which are the subject of regulatory enactments. However, the ISO/IEC national body in the U.S., ANSI, mounted a fierce lobbying effort asserting their right to pursue a business model of whatever the market will bear, and to do otherwise will put them out of business — without ever providing supporting financial data.

Today, as cybersecurity becomes ever more critical, government authorities worldwide need to seriously question arguments of the few remaining standards bodies who seek the largesse of a cybersecurity regulatory imprimatur, while maintaining a business model which is a clear detriment to end-users. Attempting to extract revenues from a cybersecurity standards marketplace is clearly very different from standards developed for a closed manufacturing community of physical "widgets." Today, there are many other cybersecurity standards bodies for governmental authorities to choose from who do have acceptable business models.

So in sum, while charging whatever the market will bear for cybersecurity specifications may be ill-considered as a private standards organization business practice, it is ultimately its choice. However, they should not be seeking a helping hand from regulatory authorities to prop up a broken business model at the expense of diminished cybersecurity.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC | 11/13/19

Magnolia Pictures has acquired the U.S. rights to “About Endlessness,” a Swedish drama from director Roy Andersson, the distributor announced Monday. Magnolia plans to release the film theatrically in 2020.

Andersson, the director of “You, The Living” and “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” won Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival where the film made its premiere. It made its North American premiere at TIFF.

His latest film, “About Endlessness,” is a reflection on human life in all its beauty and cruelty, its splendor and banality. We wander, dreamlike, gently guided by our Scheherazade-esque narrator. Inconsequential moments take on the same significance as historical events: a couple floats over a war-torn Cologne; on the way to a birthday party, a father stops to tie his daughter’s shoelaces in the pouring rain; teenage girls dance outside a cafe; a defeated army marches to a prisoner-of-war camp. Simultaneously an ode and a lament, “About Endlessness” presents a kaleidoscope of all that is eternally human, an infinite story of the vulnerability of existence.

Also Read: Participant and Magnolia Acquire Romanian Government Corruption Documentary 'Collective'

Magnolia released Andersson’s previous film, “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence,” in 2015 which emulated the deadpan vignettes of his latest film but was geared more as a comedy.

“Roy Andersson is a cinematic master and he’s crafted another extraordinary film in ‘About Endlessness,'” Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said in a statement. “We’re honored to be bringing this film to American audiences.”

“I’m so happy that Magnolia will be our U.S. distributor,” Andersson said. “They did a great job releasing my last film, so I’m confident that they will take care of ‘About Endlessness’ in the best possible way. I’m so proud of the new film and very much looking forward to the US release.”

Also Read: 'Joker' Wins Golden Lion, Roman Polanski's 'An Officer and a Spy' Wins Grand Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival

Andersson wrote and directed “About Endlessness.” The movie is a Roy Andersson Filmproduktion AB in co-production with 4 ½ Fiksjon AS, Essential Films, in association with Parisienne de Production, Sveriges Tele-vision AB, Arte France Cinéma, ZDF/Arte, and Film CapitalStockholm Fund.

The film is produced by Pernilla Sandström and Johan Carlsson and co-produced by Philippe Bober and Håkon Øverås. The executive producers are Sarah Nagel and Isabell Wiegand. The film is supported by Swedish Film Institute, Eurimages Council of Europe, Nordisk Film & TV Fund, Norwegian Film Institute, Film-und Medienstiftung NRW, and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia EVP Dori Begley and Magnolia SVP of acquisitions John Von Thaden with CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers. Coproduction Office is overseeing international sales.

Variety first reported the news of the sale.

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The Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon said in a statement Wednesday that it is imperative that a new Government is formed without delay and that structural reforms will be implemented.

Bob Berney and Jeanne R. Berney have relaunched their label Picturehouse and have acquired the North American rights to faith-based drama “Fatima,” the couple announced on Sunday along with James T. Volk, chairman and founder of Origin Entertainment.

The film is directed by Marco Pontecorvo and produced by Origin Entertainment along with Elysia Productions and Rose Pictures. Picturehouse has set a release date for the film on April 24, 2020.

Bob Berney was the head of marketing and distribution at Amazon Studios and left the company in June of this year. He headed Picturehouse in 2005 as a joint venture between HBO and New Line Cinema, and he and his wife relaunched the label in January 2013 as an independent distributor before he joined Amazon in 2015.

Also Read: Amazon Studios Marketing and Distribution Chief Bob Berney to Exit Company

“Fatima” is a feature film starring Stephanie Gil, Lúcia Moniz, Joaquim de Almeida, Goran Visnjic, Sonia Braga and Harvey Keitel. It’s the story of a 10-year-old shepherd and her two young cousins in Fátima, Portugal, who report seeing visions of the Virgin Mary. Their revelations inspire believers but anger officials of both the Church and the secular government, who try to force them to recant their story. As word of their prophecy spreads, tens of thousands of religious pilgrims flock to the site in hopes of witnessing a miracle. What they experience will change their lives forever.

“Marco Pontecorvo has created a beautiful and inspirational film telling the emotional story of three young children whose visions captured a nation at a time when World War I was ravaging Europe,” Bob Berney and Jeanne R. Berney said in a joint statement. “We are extremely excited to bring this film to North American theatergoers.”

Directed by Marco Pontecorvo and written by Pontecorvo, Valerio D’Annunzio and Barbara Nicolosi, “Fatima” is produced by James T. Volk, Dick Lyles, Stefano Buono, Maribel Lopera Sierra, Rose Ganguzza, Marco Pontecorvo and Natasha Howes. The film features the original song “Gratia Plena” (“Full of Grace”) performed by Andrea Bocelli and composed by Italian composer Paolo Buonvino.

Also Read: 'Metallica Through the Never' Rocks the Rebirth of Indie Picturehouse

“Fatima” is the second feature by Pontecorvo following the drama “Pa-ra-da.” He’s also credited as a cinematographer on “Game of Thrones” and “Rome.”

“It is amazing to realize that in 1917, before television, the internet or any reliable mass communication, 70,000 people gathered at this remote site to witness an anticipated miracle,” Volk said in a statement. “It’s truly a remarkable story, based on real events, and we are excited to partner with Picturehouse in the release of this film.”

“Fatima is not a film about religion,” Ganguzza said in a statement. “It is a film about the power of faith in times of conflict and turmoil.”

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In an ideal world, administrators should never run across threats to their web properties. However, human errors and vulnerabilities inevitably get in the way of cybersafety. Managed Domain Name System (DNS) providers, registrars, and services can sometimes put users at immense risk as well. Add to this the fact that practically anyone can easily acquire a top-level domain (TLD) name.

Hackers sometimes deploy malicious schemes by gaining access to and altering the configuration of nameservers. All they need to do is take hold of floating domains and available nameservers (NSs) or exploit domain misconfigurations.

Why Nameservers Are Prone to Hacking

NSs are inherently vulnerable because like most protocols, they were not designed with security in mind. And because the DNS is a critical part of any organization's operation, the servers that make sure its business stays connected are often subjected to cache poisoning, botnet, DNS amplification, and other attacks.

The first line of defense against NS abuse is to gather a comprehensive set of threat intelligence and use analyses findings for protection. Let's take a look at some scenarios where threat intelligence can help prevent NS attacks.

Nameserver Attack Scenarios

Identifying Misissued Access to an Authoritative Domain Nameserver

In 2017, a security researcher took control of more than 270,000 .io domains by purchasing four .io authoritative NSs. Using a proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit, he registered .io NS domains that were up for sale. Within 24 hours, the NS domains pointed instantly to their corresponding authoritative NSs.

The researcher tested his theory of using an expired or wrongly configured domain and registered it to obtain privileged access to an authoritative NS. The vulnerability came to the fore during a TLD handover from .io to a third-party, which failed to block four of .io's seven NSs during the transfer.

In such a case, domain analysis could have mitigated the exposure. Using a threat intelligence platform, for instance, could have revealed NS misconfigurations. This tool can compare the NS details in a registrant's NS and the related domain's WHOIS records. If inconsistencies are found, potential violations are revealed.

Landing on a Hijacked Domain

At times, users attempting to access a legitimate website are redirected to a malicious one instead. In such a case, the site may have been subjected to a DNS hijacking attack, specifically a rogue DNS server attack. In such an attack, the hijacker hacks a vulnerable DNS server and changes how it's configured so anyone who visits the domain it's tied to lands on a malicious site. Victims of rogue DNS server attacks can end up as either pharming or phishing victims.

Using a reverse NS API can help spot hijacked domains in that it identifies all domains that use the same NS. If the domain users land on isn't tied to the known NSs of the organization that owns the website they're accessing, that may be an indication of domain hijacking.

Uncovering Cyber Espionage and Other Complex DNS Attacks

Late last year, Talos discovered what it had dubbed a "DNSpionage” campaign. The term referred to a series of sophisticated DNS hijacking attacks that targeted several entities in parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Government agencies, private businesses, Internet service providers (ISPs), and software supply chains were affected by the breach.

This case reiterated the importance of monitoring DNS traffic to make sure that it isn't being redirected to malicious sites. Keeping one's DNS records updated and making sure it remains unchanged by unauthorized users is also paramount. Using a threat intelligence solution that automatically checks how users' DNS infrastructure and hosts are configured can help prevent the damage brought on by DNSpionage attacks.

* * *

Content protection via encryption with the HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols is not enough in itself to protect users' privacy. Organizations should remember that attackers also monitor all the relevant protocols of Internet communication, notably DNS transactions. To truly ensure user privacy protection, they need to pay attention to their domains and protect their DNS infrastructure using all available means. | 10/25/19

U.S. companies were selling $11 billion a year of parts to Huawei before the blockade. Losing those sales is just the start of the damage. Every other Chinese and Russian company is making sure to find non-US suppliers. The U.S. has threatened India and Turkey with sanctions as well.

As other companies replace U.S. components, the impact will be tens of billions more than the $11 billion of Huawei suppliers. Redesigning mobile phones and other products can take from three months to three years, so sales will be lost over time.

The relative decline in sales at Qualcomm and Broadcom suggests they are seeing other customers are cutting back, not just Huawei. That isn't certain yet, however.

European companies are considering similar self-protection. A very senior German engineer tells me German companies in automotive and electronics are also designing out components only available from the U.S. Given how few electronic products are produced and manufactured in the U.S., the ultimate impact can be enormous.

No company is more vulnerable than Google. 90% of Google's income is from advertising, much of it dependent on YouTube and Gmail. Huawei Harmony is ready to replace Android, although it has some rough edges. Android has an obsolete file system that wasn't designed for a mobile phone. Huawei's F2FS file system replacement is 60% faster. (While the file system is faster, the press reports that Hong Meng/Harmony is 60% faster overall were misinterpretations.)

Huawei is now making most R.F. parts and sourcing others in Asia

Huawei has replaced all but two components in the radio frequency front end with Asian parts. After satisfying Huawei's needs, these vendors will inevitably win other contracts away from Broadcom, Skyworks, and other U.S. parts makers.

Huawei's HiSilicon remains primarily a supplier to the parent company but also sells parts to others. For example, it is now selling its 4G IoT chip. If HiSilicon sold other mobile manufactures R.F. parts to replace U.S. company's R.F. parts, it could make some money. The government would be happy because it would reduce the semiconductor trade deficit.

Broadcom, Qualcomm, and others will undoubtedly lose some future sales to newly emerging suppliers. China has engineers who design state-of-the-art R.F. components for military and aerospace. Chinese academics are doing important R.F. research. The capability is there.

China is already investing over US$100 billion for domestic memory chip manufacturing. The government is ready to fund other components, including R.F.

What percentage of sales and value could disappear?

Qualcomm, Broadcom, Skyworks, Qorvo, and other companies directly affected have a market value of half a trillion dollars. Reduced sales to China would have a large effect. 20% of half a trillion is far more than any previous estimate of the cost of blockading Huawei.

An estimate like that is hard to believe but not unreasonable.

Written by Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime | 10/18/19
The Latest on Brexit (all times local): 2:15 p.m. French president Emmanuel Macron has expressed his hopes that the divorce deal between the European Union and the British government will be adopted by Oct. 31, the date Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc. | 10/18/19

German regulators have released a set of guidelines addressing network security for companies wanting to help build next-generation 5G infrastructure. The conditions have not excluded China's Huawei Technologies despite the United States pressure on its allies to shut out the Chinese vendor. "We are not taking a pre-emptive decision to ban any actor, or any company," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters. "German operators are all customers of Huawei and have warned that banning the Chinese vendor would add years of delays and billions of dollars in costs to launching 5G networks," says Reuters. The new German rules follow the European Union's recent warnings concerning increased risks of cyber attacks on 5G networks by state-backed actors, which also did not specifically mention China as a threat in its report. | 10/16/19
The Queen says the government's priority "has always been to secure the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on the 31 October". | 10/14/19

By now, we are all exposed to the narrative of how the Internet is no longer a safe place. It is full of bots, misinformation, abuse and violence; it is a space that has been overtaken by terrorists and extremists. The Internet is weaponized to influence elections, undermine democracies, and instill fear in its users. That's the story we are told.

No one can deny the swift change that is taking place in global politics. The "brave new world" that has emerged is, currently, based on isolation and fear. We have officially entered the politics of fear.

How true is this though? How real is fear on the Internet?

Arguably, fear is as old as life. It is deeply part of all living organisms that have survived extinction through billions of years of evolution. Its roots go deep in our biological and psychological existence, and it is one of the most intimate feelings we get to experience. Demagogues have always used fear as a means to intimidate their subordinates or enemies, while shepherding the tribe by the leaders. Fear is a very strong tool that can blur humans' logic and change their behavior.

Fear has become part of the Internet experience. Every week there is another data breach, another privacy violation, child abusive content proliferates, questionable forums like 8chan are increasing, and people are constantly bullied for expressing — or not expressing — their opinions. The Internet is a dark place. That's the only story we get to hear. That's the story world leaders — democratic and not — tell to justify their attempts to control the Internet and turn it into a centralized and restricted space. This is the global trend. But is it?

In the past ten days, I have been fortunate to spend some time in New Zealand. What a pleasant surprise it has been. I left the European way of Interneting, a way that is based on distrust, individualism, and fear, only to be exposed to the Kiwi way, which is based on trust, collaboration, and hope. I, myself, had lost hope that such a way still exists.

March 15, 2019, is the date New Zealanders — and the rest of the world — will never forget. A gunman carrying two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns, and a lever-action firearm opened fire indiscriminately at two mosques in Christchurch during Friday prayer. The first attack was live-streamed on Facebook. It was viewed 200 times during its live broadcast and 4000 times in total before it was removed. According to Facebook, the company was notified about the live stream 12 minutes after the video had ended. Over the 24 hours following the attack, individuals attempted to re-upload the video 1.5 million times.

New Zealand had a choice to make: succumb to fear or hang on to hope. And, it chose the latter. Post-Christchurch, the government of New Zealand, did not order a shutdown of the Internet or its services; it did not rush through legislation that sought to regulate the way companies and users interact on the Internet. Its government did not engage in fear-mongering. Instead, led by its Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand turned to the international community asking for collaboration to address what she considered to be a global issue — how to deal with extremist and violent content online (what would become the "Christchurch call"). In praising this collaborative approach during my panel intervention at NetHui, New Zealand's version of an Internet governance dialogue, I was told: "this is the Kiwi way of doing things." Well, the Kiwi way is also the Internet way. Bringing people together to collaborate to solve "wicked problems" and address complex questions has been the "Internet way" all along. Without necessarily realizing it, New Zealand was upholding one of the Internet's most fundamental properties.

During her speech at NetHui, the Prime Minister recognized the challenges the Internet is facing and the slow progress post-Christchurch. Yet again, this did not make her move into panic mode. Instead, she reaffirmed and recommitted to an open, secure, and free Internet. She mentioned that she still believes in the ability of the Internet to bring positive change; to be the space of expression and creativity; to be the engine of unstoppable innovation. She said she wanted to do the right thing.

Let's not miss the significance of this. Without intending, New Zealand has become an example of how we must all approach the challenges we face on the Internet; it has become the Internet's champion. Sure, there are still things that the Kiwis need to learn about the Internet and understand better the way it works. Sure the "Christchurch call" process has its own deficiencies and issues. But, ultimately, it is all about New Zealand's willingness not to close, shut down, centralize or try to control the Internet that they must be commended.

The 'kiwi way' of Interneting must not go unnoticed. It must become a lesson for the rest of the world leaders.

Written by Konstantinos Komaitis, Policy Advisor for the Internet Society | 10/10/19

There's a well-documented crisis facing the domain name system: very few who rely on domain name registration data from the Whois database to perform vital functions can do so any longer, which is escalating consumer harm and abuse on the internet worldwide. And the problems, thanks to ICANN's overly restrictive policy post-GDPR and a failing policy process, are piling up. The practical solution here is that ICANN Org now must step forward with meaningful Whois requirements (embodied in contracts and enforced by ICANN Compliance) that includes a workable data access model — and soon — or the rest of the world might do ICANN's job for it and move legislative and regulatory solutions.

This is because ICANN's current solution — the ongoing expedited policy development process (EPDP) — has failed to make progress and is unlikely to be the answer. Mired in minutia, the EPDP working group is progressing much slower than expected and governments (including the European Commission itself) are increasingly signaling their growing impatience with no access solution. The latest salvo, from the G7 Lyon-Roma Group's 21 June letter, called on ICANN to act quickly to implement a unified access solution for third parties with legitimate purposes. ICANN should be prepared to act quickly when, by its Montreal meeting in November, its EPDP working group doesn't produce a model — or be prepared to be rendered moot by legislation that, in some cases, is already being proposed.

Specifically, ICANN left to its EPDP working group the public interest issues the G7 Lyon-Roma Group and many others raised over the last few years — repeatedly turning away opportunities to address these issues head on. The EPDP's first phase of policy development on Whois and GDPR failed to address this public interest, and the current phase of policy development work that's under way — ostensibly to establish a predictable access and disclosure system for Whois data — has made no real progress over the past several months.

Meanwhile, the law enforcement, cybersecurity, consumer protection, intellectual property and other communities who rely on access to Whois for legitimate work continue to suffer in their efforts to protect users and combat bad actors. This is met with much indifference from registrars and registries who, during recent three day in person meetings in Los Angeles, seemed to ignore facts to the contrary and confuse a perception of not receiving reveal requests with no demand — when the fact is that there's no productive or standard path for submitting those requests today.

The truth is, the situation is very dire for those seeking access to non-public WHOIS data for legitimate purposes that are entirely consistent with GDPR. I have spoken to several companies and attorneys who submit legitimate Whois requests (both in the EU and abroad). The commonly shared experience in frustratingly slow or non-existent replies is backed by data from numerous companies that have continually made data requests of registrars and registries for such purposes and are hearing (largely) silence in return. Whois requests for obviously infringing domain names (including those used for phishing attacks against consumers) for globally recognized brands have been unnecessarily denied.

The stats speak for themselves. From June 2018 to June 2019, brand protection providers made on behalf of numerous clients thousands of requests under lawful bases. The resulting numbers are disappointing:

  • 13,904 requests were made of 413 registrars and 35 registries.
  • Of those requests, the compliance rate hovered between 4% and 14%.
  • Further, of reported percentages by one provider:
    • 49.5% — nearly HALF — were outright ignored, with no response at all.
    • 5.75% generated an automatic reply, with no resulting follow-up.
    • A fifth — 20.4% — were sent back with a legal citation for not providing the data.
    • 14.36% were returned with a requirement for additional action (e.g., send by snail mail).
    • 3.68% took irrelevant action (e.g., simply forwarded to the registrant without action).
    • A smattering, less than 1%, demanded payment for the data.

A learning curve might be expected from contracted parties when coming up to speed on GDPR compliance, but we've been in the post-GDPR world now for over a year, and one can't excuse a real issue when requests are outright ignored. Requestors are met often with replies such as: "Send a subpoena" or "File a UDRP" or even "Don't contact us again." A learning curve is one thing — outright antipathy is another.

As predicted by experts, investigatory capability immediately waned the moment ICANN and contracted parties threw the Whois "off switch" in May 2018 — something confirmed by law enforcement officials, who warn that "the internet has become less safe because of an overly conservative interpretation of the GDPR by the ICANN community." This as cybersecurity experts around the world document the rapid increase in cybercrime:

It is clear then that the longer ICANN dawdles the more damage will ensue and the more impatient everyone will get. On the governmental side the United States, including the U.S. Congress, is paying attention. In a strongly worded May 2019 letter to then NTIA administrator David Redl, Senate Commerce Committee chairman Roger Wicker wrote: Absent a meaningful resolution to [these] issues, Federal legislation guaranteeing access to WHOIS data may be warranted.

Discussions also are under way within the European Commission with far reaching implications for the domain name industry. For example, a leaked concept paper of a proposed Digital Service Act to revamp the eCommerce Directive shows that the European Commission is exploring intermediary liability concepts for registries and registrars, and rules for public interest data sets.

ICANN is now faced with the political reality that it has failed to protect the public interest, failed to coordinate this aspect of the DNS, and needs to act swiftly or face further regulation. Governments in particular — advocates of some level of Whois access — have shown that they are not in the mood for games and may soon pass regulation if they don't see results. This frustration was on full display in ICANN's recent L.A. EPDP meeting, where a government representative made clear her constituents in Washington are looking for answers and expect them by the Montreal ICANN meeting.

Frustration is boiling over. ICANN Org simply must step up to the plate and establish workable registration data access requirements. If not, based on the continued heel-dragging within ICANN policy work on Whois, this road ends at the imposing doors of discontented governments, who are watching carefully — and with pens in hand.

Written by Fabricio Vayra, Partner at Perkins Coie LLP | 9/25/19
Russia has weaned off the threat of default by fully securing possible lump payments on its public debt. In doing so, Russia has also waved off the threat of political blackmail through sanctions. For the first time since 2014, Russia's net government debt has fallen below zero into the negative zone. This became possible owing to record reserves that have covered the debt of the state, RBC said. Net debt shows company's ability to pay the entire debt at the time of analysis. To do this, specialists compare the size of long-term and short-term borrowings with available highly liquid assets.In a nutshell, if Russia found itself in need to pay off its debts immediately, it would be possible to do it at the expense of government deposits at the Central Bank and commercial banks.Oleg Alexandrov, director of CEFK GROUP, told Pravda.Ru, that such an  achievement may show positive influence on Russia's international ratings. "The state can now direct more investments into economy, including for infrastructure development," Oleg Alexandrov noted. According to the expert, the changing structure of prices on hydrocarbons, Russia may switch to developing non-oil exports and the non-oil sector of economy. Russia can now enter the borrowing market for much more favorable conditions. Gazprom, for example, has placed its bonds at 1.1% per annum. Naftogaz of Ukraine - at 12% per annum. The Ukrainian company must thus pay a higher interest to compensate investors' risk. Russia's Ministry of Finance announced that it would enter the borrowing market if it could borrow at lower interest rates than existing ones - 3.4% per annum.The accumulation of public debt in developed countries and issuing countries, especially in the United States, is not seen as a dangerous phenomenon, because those countries profit from selling their currency as a commodity. In order to repay and service previous debts, new ones are issued at lower rates. In other words, new loans keep their economies afloat. For those countries that maintain complicated relationships with the United States, the accumulation of public debt is deemed dangerous. They may lose a possibility to refinance it being unable to access short-term borrowings, for example, as a result of appropriate sanctions. Russia experienced this situation in 1998 due to the crisis of the global financial system. Russia experienced default, the collapse of the national currency rate and the impoverishment of the population.As usual, there is another side to the issue of debt stability. Against the backdrop of growing state reserves, the Russian economy is showing low growth rates. In the first half of 2019, Russia's GDP grew by only 0.7% in annual terms. The Russian government is running a tight budget policy, both in terms of control over government spending and the tax burden. The budget builds up savings by withdrawing assets from the private sector.In developed countries the debt burden grows disproportionately to economic success. There is stagnation both in the USA and in Europe. The only solution to debt problems of developed countries is devaluation of reserve currencies. Such a move will lead to inflation and a decline in the welfare of the population of issuing countries. The dollar may lose its reserve currency status in the world, which will be very difficult to restore.
British lawmakers on Monday demanded Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government release private correspondence about Brexit and plans to suspended Parliament, weeks before the United Kingdom is slated to leave the European Union. | 9/10/19
Iran will "take a strong step" away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if Europe cannot offer the country new terms by a deadline at the end of this week, a government spokesman said Monday as top Iranian diplomats traveled to France and Russia for last-minute talks. | 9/2/19

Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” has found a domestic distributor in Paramount Pictures, according to an individual familiar with the project. The film has also added Frank Langella, another individual told TheWrap, and Mark Rylance, who is in negotiations, according to a third individual.

Cross Creek has also come aboard the historical drama as a co-financier and producer with Amblin Pictures, and production on the long-delayed and anticipated film, which Sorkin intends to direct, is now on track to begin this fall.

Langella joins the cast as U.S. District Court Judge Julius Hoffman, and Rylance will play the defense lawyer for the Chicago 7, William Kuntsler. They join a previously announced cast that includes Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Majors and Alex Sharp.

Also Read: Aaron Sorkin Says He Has 'No Plans' to Revive 'The Newsroom' (Video)

Based on Sorkin’s screenplay, the film is based on the infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more after they were arrested during the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The story is set in 1968 and 1969, but it speaks directly to the divisiveness of our times and how young people can take on power and change the world.

Marc Platt is producing with Steven Spielberg, as is Cross Creek CEO Tyler Thompson and Stuart Besser. Shivani Rawat is serving as an executive producer.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” was put on hold last December, with Sorkin citing scheduling complications with the staging of his play based on “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was revived in February and was introduced to international buyers at the European Film Market.

Also Read: Aaron Sorkin Knows They Should Make a 'Social Network' Sequel (Video)

Spielberg had previously eyed to direct “Chicago 7,” and Paul Greengrass was attached as far back as 2013, but ultimately recused himself from the project over disagreements on the film’s budget. At one point, Michael Keaton attached to star in the film as Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

“Chicago 7” will be Sorkin’s directorial follow-up to “Molly’s Game” from 2017, which he also wrote and starred Jessica Chastain.

Rylance is represented by CAA, Hamilton Hodell, Ltd., and Peikoff Mahan Law Office. Langella is represented by ICM and Circle of Confusion.

News of Paramount acquiring “Chicago 7” was first reported by Deadline.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Aaron Sorkin Says He Has 'No Plans' to Revive 'The Newsroom' (Video)

Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Join Aaron Sorkin's 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'

Aaron Sorkin Knows They Should Make a 'Social Network' Sequel (Video) | 8/29/19

The summer of 2018 produced three documentaries that earned over $10 million at the domestic box office. While this summer didn’t get quite as close, this fall has documentary releases about rock stars, athletes and even one posthumous release from an auteur. New films by Bruce Springsteen, Agnès Varda and Asif Kapadia could help make for a busy season for non-fiction cinema, with many more potentially on the way from the fall festival circuit. Here are 10 with impending releases you need to check out.

“Untouchable” – Sept. 2 (Hulu)

Too soon? The Hulu documentary “Untouchable” opens some still fresh wounds about the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement. Ursula Macfarlane’s documentary first made its premiere at Sundance, and it features some harrowing interviews with accusers such as Rosanna Arquette, Hope D’Amore, Paz de la Huerta, Erika Rosenbaum and others.

“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” – Sept. 6 (Greenwich Entertainment)

Oscar winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman direct this documentary about the career of Linda Ronstadt, gathering together archival footage that spans 50 years. It charts the early days of her career in the 1960s through becoming the highest paid female rock and roll performer in the ’70s, all culminating in her retirement in 2011 due to her battle with Parkinson’s disease. Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown and JD Souther are just some of the friends and collaborators interviewed for the film.

“Blink of an Eye” – Sept. 6 (1091)

History isn’t often focused on the losers, but “Blink of an Eye” looks at the career of Michael Waltrip, a NASCAR racecar driver who held a record losing streak across 462 races. Despite his struggles, he was invited to be a part of Dale Earnhardt’s Sr.’s racing team and soon earned his first checkered flag. The only problem was that race was the 2001 Daytona 500, the race in which Earnhardt Sr. was killed in a tragic crash on the race’s final lap. “Blink of an Eye” examines Waltrip’s relationship with the Earnhardt family, and the documentary from director Paul Taublieb will also be adapted into a narrative feature film.

“Liam: As It Was” – Sept. 13 (Screen Media)

With Oasis, Liam Gallagher was the frontman of one of the biggest rock bands in the world. But the film “Liam: As It Was” looks at how Gallagher had to reset his career and find his voice after splitting from the band as part of his fractured relationship with his brother Noel. In fact, Noel specifically refused to allow Liam to use any Oasis songs as part of the documentary. The film coincides with the release of Gallagher’s second solo album, “Why Me? Why Not.,” and directors Gavin Fitzgerald and Charlie Lightening even capture the frank and frequently foul-mouthed Gallagher behind the scenes and at home with his mother grousing about Noel.

“Diego Maradona” – Sept. 20 (HBO)

Asif Kapadia’s gift as a filmmaker is weaving a narrative entirely through archival footage. Just as with “Senna” and “Amy,” Kapadia combs through over 500 hours of the legendary Argentinian soccer star’s personal archive. The film starts with his arrival in Europe in July 1984 and how in the subsequent years he was treated as though he were a God, both on and off the field. But it also examines how that extreme level of fame led to darker days and strained relationships.

“Where’s My Roy Cohn?” – Sept. 20 (Sony Classics)

Filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer told TheWrap at Sundance that he chose to make his film about the political maneuver Roy Cohn the day Donald Trump was elected. His ruthless influence was felt far and wide, not just on politics but on the culture at large, serving as a mentor for Roger Stone, Ronald Reagan and Trump alike. The film takes a blunt approach in describing just how deeply this one man has shaped American democracy and society.

“Midnight Traveler” – Sept. 18 (Oscilloscope)

Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili got intimate access to the story of a family fleeing their home after being targeted by the Taliban. That’s because it was his own family who was on the run. Fazili shot his film “Midnight Traveler” across several years on three separate iPhones, capturing the daring moments as they crossed borders and the more intimate home movie moments of his family as refugees. The doc won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Western Stars” – October (Warner Bros.)

Bruce Springsteen knew he wasn’t going to tour on behalf of his latest album “Western Stars,” so he and collaborator Thom Zimny co-directed a documentary by the same name that features live performances of all 13 of the album’s tracks. Springsteen parked under a 100-year-old barn to perform the more acoustic, melancholy sounds of “Western Stars,” and the film is laced with The Boss’s narration and archival footage as he reflects on his past.

“The Cave” – Mid-Oct. (Nat Geo)

Not to be confused with the narrative feature about the Thai soccer team rescue mission, “The Cave” is the latest film from “Last Man in Aleppo” director Feras Fayyad as he gets inside a secret, hidden, underground hospital in Syria. The hospital is led by a team of female medical professionals and civilians and provides under the radar care for the besieged refugees and locals in the region. Fayyad specifically profiles the work of Dr. Amani, a 30-year-old pediatrician who works tirelessly to restore health and hope to Syrian youth.

“The Kingmaker” – Late Oct. (Greenwich Entertainment/Showtime)

Lauren Greenfield has made a name for herself directing documentary profiles on those who live opulently and lavishly, specifically with her films “The Queen of Versailles” and “Generation Wealth.” But her latest combines that lavish lifestyle with politics, obtaining unprecedented access to the former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. “The Kingmaker” explores the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and chronicles Imelda’s present-day push to help her son, Bongbong, win the vice-presidency. Greenfield’s film takes on the form of a “dark fairy tale” as Marcos tries to rewrite her family’s corrupt history and prove she’s a matriarch who deeply loves her country.

“Scandalous” – Nov. 15 (Magnolia/CNN Films)

Mark Landsman’s “Scandalous” looks at the life of Generoso Pope Jr., the media magnate who turned the National Enquirer from a simple racing and sporting magazine to a household name for gossip and one that frequently finds itself at the center of political scandal. The film’s history dates back to the 1950s but includes interviews with former staffers and other media experts who examine how the paper has thrived on its diet of scandal, gossip, medical oddities, conspiracy theories, and paparazzi photos.

“Varda by Agnes” – Nov. 22 (Janus Films)

In what is the final film of the late, French auteur Agnès Varda, “Varda by Agnès” is a playful and profound retrospective on Varda’s career as examined by Varda herself. She reflects in a autobiography of sorts on filmmaking, feminism, aging and even the smaller things like cats, colors, beaches and heart-shaped potatoes. The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, shortly before her death in March. | 8/28/19
Tel Aviv-based sales agent Cinephil has taken world sales on Emmy Award-winning director Alexander Nanau’s “Collective,” an investigation into the tragic 2015 fire in a Bucharest night club, fallout from which toppled Romania’s government. The high-profile doc is screening in Venice and Toronto. Co-produced by Nanau with HBO Europe and Romania’s Samsa Film — and […] | 8/26/19

The politics of Europe deals with the continually evolving politics within the continent. It is a topic far more detailed than other continents due to a number of factors including the long history of nation states in the region as well as the modern day trend towards increased political unity amongst the European states. The current politics of Europe can be traced back to historical events within the continent. Likewise geography, economy and culture have contributed to the current political make-up of Europe. Modern European politics is dominated by the European Union, since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc of Communist states. After the end of the Cold War, the EU expanded eastward to include the former Communist countries. By 2007, it had 27 member states.

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