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Watch out, the Brexiteers might be coming for your paid holidays | Frances O’Grady

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Millions of Britons rely on the EU’s working time directive for the most basic rights. It appears this is under threat, despite Vote Leave’s promises

Ministers including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are plotting to scrap the working time directive, according to numerous media reports. This is a crucial piece of EU law that protects working people – and which working people were promised would still apply after Brexit.

If Johnson and Gove succeed, 7 million workers could lose their guaranteed legal right to paid holidays. That includes nearly 5 million women and many workers on part-time and zero-hours contracts.

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zippy72
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Find out if anyone tied to the films or TV shows you watch is accused of sexual misconduct by searching 'Rotten Apples'

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It's said that it takes just one bad apple to spoil the bunch. If you'd like to know if any of the movies or TV shows you watch has a bad apple --someone accused of sexual misconduct-- affiliated with it, you need to head over to The Rotten Appl.es.

A quick search of their database will tell you if a cast-member, screenwriter, executive producer or director is an alleged abuser.

They write:

The goal of this site is to further drive awareness of just how pervasive sexual misconduct in film and television is and to help make ethical media consumption easier.

By no means is this site meant to serve as a condemnation of an entire project.

I was glad to see that two of my favorite shows, The Handmaid's Tale and Stranger Things, were deemed "Fresh Apples," ie. had no one affiliated that has been accused of abuse.

(tmn)

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GDPR: Why We Stopped Selling Stuff to Europe

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The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of rules that give consumers rights about how their data is stored, used, and deleted. This step-by-step GDPR guide for managers is a great place to start understanding it, or for something a little more dry and lengthy, try Microsoft’s guide to GDPR.

As a consumer, I love a lot of things about the GDPR. I’m sick and tired of software that phones home without telling us what data it’s taking, doesn’t tell us where the data goes or who sees it, and doesn’t give us the right to have it erased.

But for businesses, the GDPR is a little vague and more than a little scary. It gives EU citizens the right to be forgotten – which means when they ask, the business has to delete everything about that customer. Plenty of gotchas apply – like you have to keep enough to still pass a tax audit – but as an example of a really curious gotcha, what about your backups?

For example, do you have to delete the customer’s data inside your past backups? There’s a discussion about that, and it’s made even harder by products like Apache Kafka that don’t really support deletes.

I can only imagine how the initial round of enforcement attempts are going to go. It’ll be a wild West for a while as software vendors, service providers, consultants, lawyers, and judges struggle to figure this thing out.

The max penalties are terribad.

  1. First violation – up to €10 million or 2% of your company’s annual revenue, whichever is higher
  2. Second violation – up to €20M or 4% – again, whichever is higher

Those numbers are big enough to get business’ attention, so I figured that leading up to the May 2018 deadline, companies would start discontinuing services. Sure enough, Microsoft has made it official – Connect.Microsoft.com is a dead man walking:

Disconnecting Connect

If Microsoft can’t even figure out how to get Connect.Microsoft.com to work with GDPR regulations, how are small businesses supposed to cope? It’s gonna be tough.

We sell online training in the EU.

We’re a small business based in the US. We sell consulting & training for Microsoft SQL Server.

You wouldn’t think that would be a big deal – but you’d be surprised. For example, students send us information about their databases all the time as part of asking questions – and they often send it unsolicited, through unencrypted email channels. That information ends up all over the place: our mail server, our desktops, phones, laptops, search indexes, etc. I’m not really worried about us maintaining the confidentiality of that data, but now we’d have to add in new audit-able tracking.

See, under the GDPR, if someone asks us to delete their data, we not only have to delete it, but we have to audit that we deleted it, and maintain those records for EU authorities. And then respond to EU requests for that documentation.

But only 5% of our revenue is from the EU.

I know with exact numbers because a couple years back, the European Union decided to start making non-EU businesses collect tax online whenever EU citizens bought stuff – even if we, the seller, had no presence in the EU whatsoever.

This represented a new burden on us – we had to start tracking EU customer locations, collect taxes, and file taxes in the EU. Thankfully, the UK offered a VAT Mini One Stop Shop: register & file in the UK, and they would pay all your taxes to the different countries in the EU. With Brexit, there was already some uncertainty about how this would work going forward.

Back then, I was fine with the additional tax hassles & paperwork because it was 5% more revenue than we had before.

Today, between the GDPR and Brexit’s affect on the VAT Mini One Stop Shop – it’s just not worth the hassle.

So we’re gonna sit this round out.

For 2018, we’re not selling directly to folks in the EU anymore. Thankfully, the WooCommerce EU VAT Compliance plugin makes this as easy as checking a box:

Yay, checkboxes

That plugin is totally awesome – uses things like IP address, geolocation, credit card billing address, and more to determine location. Been really happy with it, highly recommended.

We’ll still keep the blog & mailing list open to EU folks – those are a little easier to manage – and we’re still doing SQL Bits 2018 since the conference organizers are the ones who track personal data, not us.

Long term, I’m hopeful that the GDPR will get sorted out in a way that protects consumers’ rights, and still lets businesses use off-the-shelf tools and policies to provide services to the EU. Hopefully the situation improves quickly and we can revisit that policy in 2019.

Are you being paid fairly? Let's find out: the 2018 Data Professional Salary Survey is open.

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zippy72
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Unfortunately this doesn't let them off the hook, as EXISTING data now has to be regulated under GDPR. As does the email address of people on their mailing list who are based in the EU.
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Microsoft's 'Surface Phone' is the ghost of Courier laughing mockingly at fanbois

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New hinge design looks back not forward

The handful of fans anticipating a Microsoft "Surface Phone" should brace themselves for disappointment.…

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zippy72
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So... Surface books are (apparently) running at 30%+ return rates and the "Surface Phone" would be a competitor to the original Motorola RAZR. It's not going well, this Surface lark, is it?
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Spare us the moral hysteria that threatens a new age of censorship | Rachel Cooke

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The muddle over sexual behaviour is already proving dangerous for free expression in the arts

To the casual eye, George Devine made for an unlikely-seeming revolutionary. In Howard Coster’s 1934 photograph, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, he looks like nothing so much as a master at Greyfriars School, his spectacles horn-rimmed, his hair neatly oiled. Only the flamboyant angle of the hand that holds his cigarette suggests the reality: this was the actor who, as the director of the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, would produce John Osborne’s 1956 play Look Back in Anger.

According to Irving Wardle, the nearest thing he has to a biographer, Devine was “personally inconspicuous”. If creating an “open space” for “rebel artists” took courage – it’s difficult to grasp, now, how incendiary Osborne’s words seemed at the time – it also involved a certain quietness. The work would speak for itself.

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Congresswoman Says Rumor Is That Trump Will Fire Mueller Before Christmas

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Republican lawmakers have been increasingly frustrated by revelations that one of the FBI agents who had a pivotal role in both the early stages of what became the Mueller investigation and the bureau’s decision to excuse Hillary Clinton shared anti-Trump sentiments with his mistress, also an FBI employee.

Earlier this week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley fired off a letter to the DOJ asking Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to explain this and other disturbing revelations indicating bias toward Trump from within both the DOJ and the Mueller probe specifically. To wit, nearly every Mueller team member donated to at least one of Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. Furthermore, Mueller’s right-hand man Aaron Zebley represented the IT staffer who installed Clinton’s illegal server.

These frustrations came to a head earlier this week when Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Rosenstein engaged in a testy exchange during the latter’s public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Given the mounting pressure on Mueller, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Friday that the rumor on Capitol Hill is that President Donald Trump is planning to fire Mueller before Christmas, but after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess.

“The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller," Speier told California's KQED News.

According to the Hill, Speier, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Trump was trying to shut down the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. As evidence, she pointed to the lack of interviews scheduled for the new year.

The New York Times reported Friday that the committee is scheduling its final witnesses of the year to testify in New York despite important votes coming up in Washington, DC, and confirmed no additional witnesses are scheduled yet in 2018.

"We can read between the lines I think," Speier said. "I believe this president wants all of this shut down. He wants to shut down these investigations, and he wants to fire special counsel Mueller."

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), also said Friday that he is worried that Republicans leading the committee are seeking to shut down the committee's investigation by the end of the year.

"Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017 [sic]. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on," he tweeted Friday.

Of course, there’s also reason to take Speier’s comments with a grain of salt: Rumors that Trump might fire Mueller have been circulating since May.

"There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in October.

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zippy72
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If Trump fires Mueller, it's over. Republicans and Democrats will unite to impeach him.
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