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12.12.18

Links 12/12/2018: Mesa 18.3.1 Released, CNCF Takes Control of etcd

Posted in News Roundup at 7:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dell’s 2018 XPS 13 DE—The best “out of the box” Linux laptop gets the best OS

      It has been six years since Dell first introduced its XPS Developer Edition moniker, which refers specifically to the company’s XPS laptop models that ship with Ubuntu Linux (and not Windows) pre-installed. Ever since, Dell has been producing some of the best Linux “ultrabooks” in recent memory.

      Ars has already put the Windows-boasting XPS 13 through its paces earlier this year since the device received a serious overhaul in 2018. Dell bumped up the hardware specs, revamped the thermal system, and introduced a new rose and white version, for instance. But how is latest edition of the premier “just works” Linux laptop doing with the added muscle?

    • Microsoft Keeps Track Of Your Activity Even If You Forbid It

      At first, it was just speculation doing rounds on the Reddit, but when Chris Hoffman from How-To-Geek looked further, it was confirmed that Microsoft does keep “Activity History” even when we tell it not to.

      Rather than telling you how the story unfolded, I will instead show you because it’s not just me or Chris, it’s affecting everyone who has a Windows 10 PC.

    • Microsoft Admits Normal Windows 10 Users Are ‘Testing’ Unstable Updates
    • What is the preferred developer operating system?

      If you compare traditional OSes, the differences shouldn’t be that significant for developers.

      We deploy most apps in the cloud now, where you can choose to host them on whichever developer operating system you want — well, maybe not on macOS, but certainly Windows or Linux. And, even if you deploy your application locally, virtual machines (VMs) make it easy to set up whichever type of OS environment you need.

      Cross-platform portability is an explicit goal for most popular programming languages today, such as C, Java and Python. C was born in the early 1970s as a way to make Unix portable across different hardware platforms. The Java virtual machine greatly simplified cross-OS portability. And Python applications can run on virtually any OS.

      Modern programming languages still aren’t entirely OS-agnostic, of course. Developers often have to address OS-specific dependencies when they write an application, and the installation process for most applications differs from one OS to the next.

      Still, by and large, the modern programmer doesn’t have to think about the differences between various developer operating systems nearly as much as she did a decade ago. In some cases, you can drag and drop the same application from one OS to another without requiring any configuration changes at all.

  • Server

    • Open Source Is the Future, So Where Does IBM i Fit In?

      The IBM i server reached a milestone this year when it turned 30 years old, an amazing feat for a remarkable system that continues to provide computational value to tens of thousands of organizations around the world. But another birthday was celebrated this year that the IBM i community should take note of: The 20th anniversary of the beginning of the open source movement.

      Now, this birthday is a little bit questionable because open source software existed before 1998, of course. But the time is worth marking because an important meeting took place in Palo Alto, California, where the phrase “open source” was deliberately created by a group of industry leaders.

      That meeting, which was spurred by the release of the source code to the Netscape Web browser, would set into motion a movement that would change the entire IT industry. The concept of freely sharing the guts of software, rather than treating it as private property, started slowly, but it would eventually build into an insurmountable force.

      [...]

      There’s no reason why both approaches can’t co-exist. IBM can bring machine learning tools like Scikit-Learn and Numpy to the platform via PASE, while others in the IBM i community can develop native open source software, including an ERP package. There will be tradeoffs in performance and usability, of course, but having choices is part of the joy of having a healthy, robust community – and there’s even a place for proprietary software too.

      In the end, the momentum behind the open source software movement is just too great to ignore. Where IBM i sits in 2028, when it celebrates its 40th birthday, will largely depend on how welcoming IBM and the IBM i community are to open source software and modern software development methodologies. The future literally depends on it.

    • Oracle shows up at KubeCon bearing ‘comprehensive cloud native framework’

      Oracle crashed the party at KubeCon today, promising to free developers from vendor lock-in with what it claims is the “most comprehensive cloud native framework”.

      The veteran enterprise software vendor said its Oracle Cloud Native Framework “arms” developers with “a cloud native solution that spans public cloud, on premises and hybrid cloud deployments.”

    • Everything that was announced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon

      KubeCon + CloudNativeCon 2018 is being held this week in Seattle, and naturally a long list of companies and organizations are using the event to update the public on their projects related Kubernetes and Cloud Native Computing.

      The event is hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, under the auspices of the Linux Foundation. The foundation oversees Kubernetes and other open source projects related to microservices.

    • Google’s rent-a-cloud biz revs Istio for its Kubernetes service

      As a gathering of DevOps types at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 gets under way in Seattle, Washington, Google plans to tell anyone who will listen that its managed Kubernetes service, GKE, now can be ordered with Istio on the side, though you’ll have to ladle it on yourself.

      Here’s how the Chocolate Factory described the open source software:

      “Istio is a service mesh that lets you manage and visualize your applications as services, rather than individual infrastructure components,” said Chen Goldberg, director of engineering at Google Cloud and Jennifer Lin, director of Google Cloud management, in a blog post provided in advance to The Register.

    • Exploring Kubernetes’ impact in hybrid cloud at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018

      In a computing market constantly chasing more agile methods of deploying data, portable container technologies have become the lynchpin in enterprise multicloud strategy with the Kubernetes container orchestration at the helm. Boasting historic growth and popularity among leading cloud vendors, the relatively young technology is proving fundamental within a market transforming as a result of the freedom and experimentation it has enabled.

      As a shift in favor of hybrid cloud computing prompts cloud leaders to prioritize Kubernetes and, more directly, leverage its capabilities, how will its standardization and widening adoption transform the open-source tool? Moreso, how will Kubernetes continue to transform the market at large?

      Looking to answer these and other questions, SiliconANGLE is at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018, currently underway in Seattle, Washington, with exclusive commentary and interviews from our roving news desk, theCUBE. TheCUBE coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. PST Tuesday, Dec. 11, and end at 3:30 pm. Thursday, Dec. 13.

    • CNCF Takes Control of Open Source etcd Data Store Project

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which oversees the development of Kubernetes, announced today that the open source etcd distributed key value store has now been accepted as a complementary incubation project. The announcement was made at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 conference today.

      etcd was developed by CoreOS to provide a reliable way to store data across a cluster of machines. CoreOS was subsequently acquired by Red Hat. At its base level, etcd is written in Go and relies on the Raft consensus algorithm to manage a highly available replicated log to manage everything from recovering from hardware failures to portioning networks.

    • Red Hat donates a key open-source Kubernetes tool to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation
    • The Cloud Native Computing Foundation adds etcd to its open-source stable

      The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), the open-source home of projects like Kubernetes and Vitess, today announced that its technical committee has voted to bring a new project on board. That project is etcd, the distributed key-value store that was first developed by CoreOS (now owned by Red Hat, which in turn will soon be owned by IBM). Red Hat has now contributed this project to the CNCF.

      Etcd, which is written in Go, is already a major component of many Kubernetes deployments, where it functions as a source of truth for coordinating clusters and managing the state of the system. Other open-source projects that use etcd include Cloud Foundry, and companies that use it in production include Alibaba, ING, Pinterest, Uber, The New York Times and Nordstrom.

    • ​Bitnami Kubernetes Production Runtime released

      If you want to use a safe third-party container, smart people know they should turn to Bitnami. This company packages, deploys, and maintains applications in virtually any format for any platform. Now, at KubeCon in Seattle, Bitnami announced its Kubernetes release: Bitnami Kubernetes Production Runtime (BKPR) 1.0, a production-ready open source project.

      So, with everyone and their cloud provider offering Kubernetes, why should you care? Well, first, BKPR provides built-in monitoring, alerting, and metrics automatically, thereby enabling developers to avoid reinventing the wheel when they rollout a Kubernetes application.

    • Why the Cloud-Native Market Is Expanding at KubeCon

      The KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America event is a beacon for news, with vendors showcasing their wares and making multiple announcements.

      KubeCon + CloudNativeCon runs here from Dec. 11-13 and has brought 8,000 attendees and more than 187 vendors into the exhibit hall. Kubernetes itself is part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which is also the home now to 31 open-source cloud projects.

      In this eWEEK Data Points article, we look at the major areas of innovation and new services announced at the conference.

    • Add It Up: Enterprise Adoption of Kubernetes Is Growing

      A recently updated user survey from monitoring software provider Datadog confirms an increase in Kubernetes adoption. We believe this is the result of three factors: 1) more organizations using containers in production; 2) Kubernetes has emerged as the leading orchestration platform; 3) organizations are choosing to adopt Kubernetes earlier in cloud native voyage. There is also some evidence that Kubernetes adoption is more likely among organizations with more containers being deployed. This article highlights findings from several studies released in conjunction with KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America, a Kubernetes user conference being held this week in Seattle.

      Cloud Foundry’s most recent survey of IT decision makers shows container production usage jumping from 22 percent in early 2016 to 38 percent in late 2018, with these deployments increasingly being described as “broad.” The Cloud Foundry report also found an increase in the number of containers being deployed — in 2016, only 37 percent of cont

    • Oracle Q&A: A Refresher on Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel

      Oracle caused quite a stir in 2010 when it announced its Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Oracle Linux. We’ve checked in with Sergio Leunissen, Vice President, Linux and VM Development at Oracle, for an update on the ABCs of this important introduction as well as the company’s latest take on Linux.

    • Get the Skills You Need to Monitor Systems and Services with Prometheus

      Open source software isn’t just transforming technology infrastructure around the world, it is also creating profound opportunities for people with relevant skills. From Linux to OpenStack to Kubernetes, employers have called out significant skills gaps that make it hard for them to find people fluent with cutting-edge tools and platforms. The Linux Foundation not only offers self-paced training options for widely known tools and platforms, such as Linux and Git, but also offers options specifically targeting the rapidly growing cloud computing ecosystem. The latest offering in this area is Monitoring Systems and Services with Prometheus (LFS241).

      Prometheus is an open source monitoring system and time series database that is especially well suited for monitoring dynamic cloud environments. It contains a powerful query language and data model in addition to integrated alerting and service discovery support. The new course is specifically designed for software engineers and systems administrators wanting to learn how to use Prometheus to gain better insights into their systems and services.

    • Red Hat Container Development Kit 3.7 now available
    • CodeReady Workspaces for OpenShift (Beta) – It works on their machines too

      “It works on my machine.” If you write code with, for, or near anybody else, you’ve said those words at least once. Months ago I set up a library or package or environment variable or something on my machine and I haven’t thought about it since. So the code works for me, but it may take a long time to figure out what’s missing on your machine.

    • OpenShift & Kubernetes: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going Part 2

      The growth and innovation in the Kubernetes project, since it first launched just over four years ago, has been tremendous to see. In part 1 of my blog, I talked about how Red Hat has been a key contributor to Kubernetes since the launch of the project, detailed where we invested our resources and what drove those decisions. Today, that innovation continues and we are just as excited for what comes next. In this blog, I’d like to talk about where we are going and what we’re focused on, as we continue driving innovation in Kubernetes and the broader cloud native ecosystem and building the next generation of OpenShift.

    • Red Hat OpenStack Platform and making it easier to manage bare metal

      Bare metal is making a comeback. At Red Hat we have been observing an increase of the use of bare metal in general. And we aren’t the only ones. In 2017’s OpenStack User Survey there had been a growth of bare metal in production environments from 9% to 20% of the production deployments. The 2018 survey says that adoption of Ironic is being driven by Kubernetes, with 37% of respondents who use Kubernetes on OpenStack using the bare metal provisioner.

      And there are many reasons for this growth. A great blog post about Kubernetes on metal with OpenShift by Joe Fernandes described this growth in the context of containers on bare metal with Kubernetes as a driver for this growth. But, it doesn’t stop there – High-Performance Compute (HPC), access to hardware devices or scientific workloads such as AI/ML or data lake management are also contributing to this increase.

    • etcd finds new home at CNCF

      CoreOS has moved to secure the independence of etcd by donating the distributed key-value store to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

      The project was started by Core OS – now part of Red Hat – in 2013 to handle coordination between container instances so that a system reboot was possible without affecting the uptime of applications running on top. Its name can be seen as an hint to the management of configuration files, which over the years have grown to be stored in /etc directory in Unix systems.

    • Kubernetes etcd data project joins CNCF

      How do you store data across a Kubernetes container cluster? With etcd. This essential part of Kubernetes has been managed by CoreOS/Red Hat. No longer. Now, the open-source etcd project has been moved from Red Hat to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

      What is etcd? No, it’s not what happens when a cat tries to type a three-letter acronyms. Etcd (pronounced et-see-dee) was created by the CoreOS team in 2013. It’s an open-source, distributed, consistent key-value database for shared configuration, service discovery, and scheduler coordination. It’s built on the Raft consensus algorithm for replicated logs.

    • Welcome etcd to CNCF

      Etcd has been written for distributed systems like Kubernetes as a fault-tolerant and reliable data base. Clients can easily watch certain keys and get notified when their values change which allows scaling to a large number of clients that can reconfigure themselves when a value changes.

    • etcd: Current status and future roadmap

      etcd is a distributed key value store that provides a reliable way to manage the coordination state of distributed systems. etcd was first announced in June 2013 by CoreOS (part of Red Hat as of 2018). Since its adoption in Kubernetes in 2014, etcd has become a fundamental part of the Kubernetes cluster management software design, and the etcd community has grown exponentially. etcd is now being used in production environments of multiple companies, including large cloud provider environments such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Azure, and other on-premises Kubernetes implementations. CNCF currently has 32 conformant Kubernetes platforms and distributions, all of which use etcd as the datastore.

      In this blog post, we’ll review some of the milestones achieved in latest etcd releases, and go over the future roadmap for etcd. Share your thoughts and feedback on features you consider important on the mailing list: etcd-dev@googlegroups.com.

    • Red Hat contributes etcd, the cornerstone of Kubernetes, to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

      Today Red Hat is thrilled to announce our contribution of etcd, an open source project that is a key component of Kubernetes, and its acceptance into the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), a vendor-neutral foundation housed under The Linux Foundation to drive the adoption of cloud native systems.

      The etcd project’s focus is safely storing critical data of a distributed system and it demonstrated its quality early on. It is most notably the primary datastore of Kubernetes, the de facto standard system for container orchestration. Today we’re excited to transfer stewardship of etcd to the same body that cares for the growth and maintenance of Kubernetes. Given that etcd powers every Kubernetes cluster, this move brings etcd to the community that relies on it most at the CNCF.

    • Banks take next steps to digital refinement

      The financial services industry (FSI) has gotten the message: customer expectations have changed radically. They want to experience banking services through multiple digital channels, and they want those services to go well beyond the generic products that traditional banks typically offer. Customers are looking for personalization, are comfortable with service automation, and are eager to get what they need quickly and easily.

      As the value chain for financial institutions’ services expands along with the need to deliver new and relevant customer offerings, their dexterity is being put to the test, according to an article by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). To enable the flexibility and agility they need to support a dynamic environment, they’ve begun to create a culture of continuous delivery (CD). This allows for continuous cross-channel development, may allow deployment of features in hours rather than months, and lends support for performing system upgrades with zero downtime and without disturbing the customer experience.

    • CentOS 7-1810 “Gnome” overview | The community enterprise operating system
    • How to prepare for digital transformation with Red Hat Virtualization and Veeam

      Red Hat has a history of helping organizations reduce the cost of IT, from infrastructure to applications, while also helping to lay the foundation for open source digital transformation. More recently, Red Hat has sought to help organizations reduce the cost of virtualization, aiming to make it easier to accelerate their digital transformation journey through innovative technologies such as Red Hat Ansible Automation or Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat’s comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes Platform.

    • Red Hat schedules stockholder meeting to vote on $34B IBM deal
    • INVESTIGATION NOTICE: Kaskela Law LLC Announces Shareholder Investigation of Red Hat, Inc.
    • Red Hat sets date for stockholders to vote on the merger with IBM
    • Arista Works With Red Hat and Tigera on Container Environments for Enterprises

      Arista Networks is working with Red Hat and Tigera to help enterprises adopt containers in both private and public clouds. The three companies are demonstrating a preview of their upcoming offering this week at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 in Seattle.

      The integrated product will include Arista’s containerized Extensible Operating System (cEOS) and CloudVision software along with Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform and Tigera’s Secure Enterprise Edition.

    • Knative Meshes Kubernetes with Serverless Workloads

      Google Cloud’s Knative initiative launched in July is expanding to include an updated version of Google’s first commercial Knative offering along with a batch of new distributions based on serverless computing framework.

      Knative is a Kubernetes-based platform for building and managing serverless workloads in which cloud infrastructure acts as a server for managing the allocation of computing and storage resources. It is being offered as an add-on to Kubernetes Engine used to orchestrate application containers.

    • Red Hat Steps Up with HPC Software Solutions at SC18

      In this video from SC18 in Dallas, Yan Fisher and Dan McGuan from Red Hat describe the company’s powerful software solutions for HPC and Ai workloads.

    • RedHat contributes etcd, a distributed key-value store project, to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon
  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel Developers Discuss Dropping x32 Support

      It was just several years ago that the open-source ecosystem began supporting the x32 ABI, but already kernel developers are talking of potentially deprecating the support and for it to be ultimately removed.

      The Linux x32 ABI as a reminder requires x86_64 processors and is engineered to support the modern x86_64 features but with using 32-bit pointers rather than 64-bit pointers. The x32 ABI allows for making use of the additional registers and other features of x86_64 but with just 32-bit pointers in order to provide faster performance when 64-bit pointers are unnecessary.

    • Linux I/O Schedulers

      The Linux kernel I/O schedulers attempt to balance the need to get the best possible I/O performance while also trying to ensure the I/O requests are “fairly” shared among the I/O consumers. There are several I/O schedulers in Linux, each try to solve the I/O scheduling issues using different mechanisms/heuristics and each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

      For traditional spinning media it makes sense to try and order I/O operations so that they are close together to reduce read/write head movement and hence decrease latency. However, this reordering means that some I/O requests may get delayed, and the usual solution is to schedule these delayed requests after a specific time. Faster non-volatile memory devices can generally handle random I/O requests very easily and hence do not require reordering.

    • Btrfs Restoring Support For Swap Files With Linux 4.21

      The Btrfs file-system hasn’t supported Swap files on it in early a decade, but that support will be restored again with the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel.

      Btrfs hasn’t supported Swap files on it since 2009 thus making swap partitions necessary unless having a mix of file-systems on your box (or not caring about any swap capabilities), but now with Linux 4.21 that support will be restored for allowing swap files to be reside on Btrfs.

    • Intel’s IWD Linux Wireless Daemon 0.13 Adds Opportunistic Wireless Encryption

      Intel’s promising IWD open-source wireless daemon continues picking up additional functionality in its trek towards potentially replacing wpa_supplicant. Out this week is IWD 0.13.

      With the IWD 0.13 release there are fixes as well as support for Opportunistic Wireless Encryption and support for the common EAP-TLS framework.

    • Intel Developing “oneAPI” For Optimized Code Across CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs & More

      Intel’s 2018 Architecture Day was primarily focused on the company’s hardware architecture road-map, but one of the software (pre)announcements was their oneAPI software stack.

    • Intel Working On Open-Sourcing The FSP – Would Be Huge Win For Coreboot & Security

      Intel’s Architecture Day on Tuesday was delightfully filled with an overwhelming amount of valuable hardware information, but Intel’s software efforts were also briefly touched on too. In fact, Raja Koduri reinforced how software is a big part of Intel technology and goes in-hand with their security, interconnect, memory, architecture, and process pillars and that’s where their new oneAPI initiative will fit in. But what learning afterwards was most exciting on the software front.

    • Linux Foundation

      • New Ebook Offers Comprehensive Guide to Open Source Compliance

        The Linux Foundation has released the second edition of Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise by Ibrahim Haddad, which offers organizations a practical guide to using open source code and participating in open source communities while complying with both the spirit and the letter of open source licensing.

        This fully updated ebook — with new contributions from Shane Coughlan and Kate Stewart — provides detailed information on issues related to the licensing, development, and reuse of open source software. The new edition also includes all new chapters on OpenChain, which focuses on increasing open source compliance in the supply chain, and SPDX, which is a set of standard formats for communicating the components, licenses, and copyrights of software packages.

        “Open source compliance is the process by which users, integrators, and developers of open source observe copyright notices and satisfy license obligations for their open source software components,” Haddad states in the book.

      • Inaugural Hyperledger Global Forum Showcases Strong Community Momentum

        Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, today kicked off the first day of its Hyperledger Global Forum. The event has drawn more than 650 attendees from as far as Australia and Argentina for an extended conversation about the state of open source enterprise blockchain and vision for the Hyperledger community and technologies.

        Headlined by keynotes like Leanne Kemp, CEO of Everledger, Hyperledger Global Forum addresses a wide range of business and technical topics. Key topics include use cases, production blockchain deployments and live demos of Hyperledger in a range of new systems. Hands-on workshops and technical talks will serve as fuel for the community development at the core of Hyperledger.

      • Hyperledger Adds Alibaba Cloud, Citi, Deutsche Telekom, we.trade and 12 more New Members at Hyperledger Global Forum

        Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, today announced Alibaba Cloud, Citi, Deutsche Telekom, we.trade and 12 more organizations have joined the project. This news came during day one of the inaugural Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland.

        “We are starting Global Forum off with a bang with this impressive line-up of new members,” said Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger. “The growing Hyperledger community reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets. The latest members showcase the widening interest in and impact of DLT and Hyperledger.”

      • Firefox 64 Now Available, SoftMaker Office Announces “Load and Help” Fundraising Campaign, the Joint Development Foundation Has Joined The Linux Foundation, Google+ to End in April 2019 and Valve Releases Proton 3.16 (Beta)

        The Joint Development Foundation has joined The Linux Foundation family to “make it easier to collaborate through both open source and standards development”. The press release quotes Executive Director of The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin: “Leveraging the capabilities of the Joint Development Foundation will enable us to provide open source projects with another path to standardization, driving greater industry adoption of standards and specifications to speed adoption.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Linux Is Already In Good Shape For The New Features Of Intel Gen11 Graphics & Icelake

        Besides seeing Icelake demos at the Intel Architecture Day that were running on Ubuntu, with closely tracking the Linux kernel’s development most of the new features presented for Sunny Cove and Gen11 graphics have already been merged or at least available in patch form for some months within the Linux ecosystem. Here’s a look at the features talked about yesterday and their state on Linux.

      • Intel Details Gen11 Graphics & Sunny Cove For Icelake

        At Intel’s architecture day, the company finally detailed their “Gen 11″ graphics that we’ve been seeing open-source Linux graphics driver patches for many months (Intel OTC posted their initial open-source display driver code in early January and has continued the enablement work since) albeit elusive in substantive user details and hardware until Icelake. But today at least we can share more about the significant improvements with Gen11 graphics.

      • mesa 18.3.1

        This version disables the VK_EXT_pci_bus_info extension due to last minute issues spotted in the specification.

      • Mesa 18.3.1 Released To Disable Botched Vulkan Extension

        Mesa 18.3 was released less than a week ago while today Mesa 18.3.1 was issued due to an error in the Vulkan specification.

        The motivating factor for this quick Mesa 18.3.1 release was to disable the VK_EXT_pci_bus_info extension that had just been introduced weeks ago. The Vulkan working group mistakenly assumed that PCI domains are 16-bit even though they could potentially be 32-bit values. The next Vulkan spec update will change the relevant structure to be 32-bit, which is a backwards-incompatible change.

      • High resolution wheel scrolling on Linux v4.21

        Most wheel mice have a physical feature to stop the wheel from spinning freely. That feature is called detents, notches, wheel clicks, stops, or something like that. On your average mouse that is 24 wheel clicks per full rotation, resulting in the wheel rotating by 15 degrees before its motion is arrested. On some other mice that angle is 18 degrees, so you get 20 clicks per full rotation.

        Of course, the world wouldn’t be complete without fancy hardware features. Over the last 10 or so years devices have added free-wheeling scroll wheels or scroll wheels without distinct stops. In many cases wheel behaviour can be configured on the device, e.g. with Logitech’s HID++ protocol. A few weeks back, Harry Cutts from the chromium team sent patches to enable Logitech high-resolution wheel scrolling in the kernel. Succinctly, these patches added another axis next to the existing REL_WHEEL named REL_WHEEL_HI_RES. Where available, the latter axis would provide finer-grained scroll information than the click-by-click REL_WHEEL. At the same time I accidentally stumbled across the documentation for the HID Resolution Multiplier Feature. A few patch revisions later and we now have everything queued up for v4.21. Below is a summary of the new behaviour.

        The kernel will continue to provide REL_WHEEL as axis for “wheel clicks”, just as before. This axis provides the logical wheel clicks, (almost) nothing changes here. In addition, a REL_WHEEL_HI_RES axis is available which allows for finer-grained resolution. On this axis, the magic value 120 represents one logical traditional wheel click but a device may send a fraction of 120 for a smaller motion. Userspace can either accumulate the values until it hits a full 120 for one wheel click or it can scroll by a few pixels on each event for a smoother experience. The same principle is applied to REL_HWHEEL and REL_HWHEEL_HI_RES for horizontal scroll wheels (which these days is just tilting the wheel). The REL_WHEEL axis is now emulated by the kernel and simply sent out whenever we have accumulated 120.

      • Nouveau Lands Initial Open-Source NVIDIA Turing Support – But No GPU Acceleration

        Just in time for the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel, the developers working on the reverse-engineered, open-source support for NVIDIA GeForce RTX “Turing” GPUs have published their preliminary code. But before getting too excited, there isn’t GPU hardware acceleration working yet.

        Ben Skeggs of Red Hat spearheaded this enablement work. He’s got the initial support working right now for the TU104 and TU106 chipsets, but not yet TU102 due to hardware access. The TU106 is the RTX 2060/2070 series while the TU104 is the GeForce RTX 2080 and the TU102 is the RTX 2080 Ti and TITAN RTX. Back on launch day the Nouveau community crew started their Turing reverse-engineering work. NVIDIA doesn’t support nor hinder the Nouveau driver work, though these days do sample hardware to the developers and are occasionally able to answer technical questions for them.

    • Benchmarks

      • ODROID-XU4: Much Better Performance Than The Raspberry Pi Plus USB3 & Gigabit Ethernet @ $60

        Hardkernel recently sent over the ODROUD-XU4 for benchmarking. This ARM SBC that just measures in at about 82 x 58 x 22 mm offers much better performance than many of the sub-$100 ARM SBCs while also featuring dual USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, eMMC storage, and is software compatible with the older XU3 ARM SBCs. Here’s a look at the performance of the ODROID-XU4 compared to a variety of other single board computers.

        This ~$60+ ARM single board computer is built around a Samsung Exynos5422 SoC that features four Cortex-A15 cores at 2.0GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores at 1.3GHz while the graphics are provided by a Mali-T628.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Calamares seeking translators

        Calamares, the Linux system installer for boutique distro’s, is translated into 50 or so languages. It’s not a KDE project, but uses a bunch of KDE technology like the KDE Frameworks and KPMCore. It doesn’t use the KDE translation infrastructure, either, but Transifex.

      • ROOT histograms

        In one of the previous blogs we introduced the new capability of LabPlot to calculate and to draw histograms. Given a data set, the user can calculate the histogram using different binning methods and to visualize the calculated histogram in the new plot type “histogram”. A different workflow is given when the histogram was already calculated in another application and the application like LabPlot is just used to visualize the result of such a calculation and to adjust the final appearance of the plot.

        Couple of weeks ago Christoph Roick contributed a new input filter for ROOT histograms. ROOT is a computational environment developed at CERN that is used for data processing, statistical analysis and data visualization, mainly for purposes in the high energy physics community.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Christmas Maps

        It´s been ages since I last shared any Maps news, so it´s probably about time…
        Some things have happened since the stable 3.30.0 release in September.

        First off we have a new application icon, courtesy of Jakub Steiner using the icon style for the upcoming GNOME 3.32

  • Distributions

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Bosch Group expands Digital Services with SAP HANA on SUSE

        SUSE has just published a new success story with Bosch Group, a global supplier of technology and services.
        Bosch Group is an innovation leader with expertise in sensor technology, software, and services, as well as its own IoT cloud, offers customers connected and cross-domain solutions. Taking advantage of the digital transformation happening across all industries, Bosch wants to build on its high-quality solutions and expand its offerings with new, digital services.

      • SUSE Cloud Application Platform v1.3 released

        SUSE Cloud Application Platform v1.3 is now available! If you’re in Seattle for Kubecon this week, be sure to stop by our booth for a new pair of socks, a demo, or to learn more. The new version focuses on our continuing effort to provide a cloud native developer experience to Kubernetes users, an improved UI, additional services brokers, and more.

        You can now graphically track metrics and see into the underlying Kubernetes infrastructure with an updated version of Stratos UI. Stratos is a UI web console that manages Cloud Foundry clusters, and the workloads running on them, and is adding additional Kubernetes integration with each release. In this newest version, application and Kubernetes pod attributes such as CPU and memory usage are tracked in a graph over time, and the status of the underlying Kubernetes cluster is now available.

      • Tis the Season for My Top 10 Predictions for 2019

        Tis the season for spending time with loved ones, reminiscing about the past year and of course, technology forecasts and predictions. Whether we like it or not, nothing ever stays the same, in life and in business.

        [...]

        10. Open source software will continue to thrive and play a pivotal role in all of these predictions

        Why? Because open source communities have become the vanguard of innovation. Open source software plays a pivotal role in all the dominant technology trends and is increasingly relied on by enterprise businesses around the globe.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29, second test – Old laptop & Nvidia graphics

        Fedora 29 fresh installation was a completely different experience from the in-vivo upgrade. The latter builds on months of work, tuning, tweaking and making everything behave well, so all of that didn’t come to bear in my first review. But it did here, making the overall impression much, much less than before. Networking, media, performance, graphics drivers, none of these were good. The last two are action killers.

        I also had to invest a lot of effort making the distro look and behave, and this can be a fun exercise, but it’s ultimately a futile one, because there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be sane, simple defaults that work well for ordinary folks. There were some nice points, but they can’t offset the overall negative feeling. I mean, I have a box that hardly copes with workload, I can’t use the graphics card, and it takes effort making it do the basics.

        Alas, Fedora is still a distro for hardcore veterans, most of whom will never care or see the stuff I’m testing, because they will have been upgrading since about Fedora 2, and won’t find anything in their daily routines to relate to the 99% of people out there – nor will they relate to Fedora. I am still happy with my first attempt, and I’ll show you how to customize the distro to perfection, but in general, this ain’t the distro for you. Or me. Shame. Because it started nice, and then just went nowhere. Here comes the rain again.

      • Fedora’s Strategic Direction: An Update from the Council
    • Debian Family

      • Montreal Bug Squashing Party – Jan 19th & 20th 2019

        We are organising a BSP in Montréal in January! Unlike the one we organised for the Stretch release, this one will be over a whole weekend so hopefully folks from other provinces in Canada and from the USA can come.

      • Debian Cloud Sprint 2018

        Recently we have made progress supporting cloud usage cases; grub and kernel optimised for cloud images help with reducing boot time and required memory footprint. There is also growing interest in non-x86 images, and FAI can now build such images.

        Discussion of support for LTS images, which started at the sprint, has now moved to the debian-cloud mailing list). We also discussed providing many image variants, which requires a more advanced and automated workflow, especially regarding testing. Further discussion touched upon providing newer kernels and software like cloud-init from backports. As interest in using secure boot is increasing, we might cooperate with other team and use work on UEFI to provide images signed boot loader and kernel.

      • Derivatives

        • Third Point Release of Univention Corporate Server 4.3-3

          With UCS 4.3-3 the third point release for Univention Corporate Server (UCS) 4.3 is now available, which includes a number of important updates and various new features.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Everything You Need to Know About Using PPA in Ubuntu

            An in-depth article that covers almost all the questions around using PPA in Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.

          • Canonical Launches MicroK8s

            Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, has announced MicroK8s, a snap package of Kubernetes that supports more than 42 flavors of Linux.

            MicroK8s further simplifies the deployment of Kubernetes with its small disk and memory footprint. Users can deploy Kubernetes in a few seconds. It can run on the desktop, the server, an edge cloud, or an IoT device.

            Snap is a self-contained app package solution created by Canonical that competes with Flatpak, which is backed by Red Hat and Fedora. Snap offers macOS and Windows-like packages with all dependencies bundled with it. A snap package of Kubernetes means any Linux distribution that supports Snap can benefit from MicroK8s

          • Compiz: Ubuntu Desktop’s little known best friend
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • 5 resolutions for open source project maintainers

    I’m generally not big on New Year’s resolutions. I have no problem with self-improvement, of course, but I tend to anchor around other parts of the calendar. Even so, there’s something about taking down this year’s free calendar and replacing it with next year’s that inspires some introspection.

    In 2017, I resolved to not share articles on social media until I’d read them. I’ve kept to that pretty well, and I’d like to think it has made me a better citizen of the internet. For 2019, I’m thinking about resolutions to make me a better open source software maintainer.

  • Lessons in Vendor Lock-in: Shaving

    The power of open standards extends beyond today into the future. When my son gets old enough to shave, I can pass down one of my all-metal, decades-old antique razors to him, and it will still work. While everyone else in a decade will have to shave with some $20-per-blade disposable razor with three aloe strips, seven blades, and some weird vibrating and rotating motor, he will be able to pick any razor from my collection and find affordable replacement blades. This is the power of open standards and the freedom to avoid vendor lock-in.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 64 Released With Multi-Tab Management & Smart Suggestions

        The latest version of Mozilla Firefox for desktop and Android, version 64 just got released, and it brings a handful of useful features along.

        The biggest change here is the new tab management features. Press CTRL+Shift+click to select multiple tabs from the tab bar and you can move them around, close, bookmark, or pin very quickly.

      • Firefox 64.0 Released

        Firefox 64.0 is available today as the last major feature update to Mozilla’s web browser for 2018.

      • Firefox 64 Released

        Firefox 64 is available today! Our new browser has a wealth of exciting developer additions both in terms of interface features and web platform features, and we can’t wait to tell you about them. You can find out all the news in the sections below — please check them out, have a play around, and let us know your feedback in the comment section below.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Help us to make document compatibility even better

      The Document Liberation Project (DLP) is a sister project to LibreOffice, and provides many software libraries for reading and writing a large range of file formats – such as files created by other productivity tools. Thanks to the DLP, LibreOffice (and other programs) can open many legacy, proprietary documents, but there’s always room for improvement! Check out this short video to learn more:

  • CMS

    • What’s New in WordPress 5.0 “Bebo” (Features and Screenshots)

      WordPress is a free and open source Content Management System for creating beautiful websites, blogs, and apps. It powers 32% of the web and boasts a community of developers, site owners, and content creators in their thousands who meet up monthly in 436 cities worldwide.

      WordPress is always getting updated but it recently received its biggest update in the form of version 5.0 (codenamed “Bebo”) with changes that make it a lot easier to use and powerful to work with. The most important changes are its new editor and default theme.

      Let’s talk a look at what’s cool about them.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 12.0 Officially Released

      FreeBSD 12.0 has made its debut as the latest stable version of this popular BSD operating system.

      FreeBSD 12.0 brings its compiler toolchain updated against LLVM 6.0.1, switches to OpenSSL 1.1.1a, the NUMA option is flipped on by default for AMD64 generic, significant VT driver improvements, various graphics driver improvements, NVMe device emulation for the Bhyve hypervisor, and a variety of other hardware support improvements.

    • FreeBSD 12 released: Here is how to upgrade FreeBSD 11 to 12

      The FreeBSD project announces the availability of FreeBSD 12.0-RELEASE. It is the first release of the stable/12 branch. The new version comes with updated software and features for a wild variety of architectures. The latest release provides performance improvements and better support for FreeBSD jails and more. One can benefit greatly using an upgraded version of FreeBSD.

      FreeBSD 12.0 supports amd64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, powerpcspe, sparc64, armv6, armv7, and aarch64 architectures. One can run it on a standalone server or desktop system. Another option is to run it on Raspberry PI computer. FreeBSD 12 also runs on popular cloud service providers such as AWS EC2/Lightsail or Google compute VM.

    • FreeBSD 12.0 is now out!

      12.0, which marks the first release of the stable/12 branch. This version is available for the amd64, i386, powerpc, powerpc64, powerpcspe, sparc64, armv6, armv7, and aarch64 architectures.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guix: Back from SeaGL 2018

      SeaGL 2018 has concluded. Thank you to everyone in the local Seattle community who came to participate!

      As previously announced, Chris Marusich gave a talk introducing GNU Guix to people of all experience levels. Some very Guixy swag was handed out, including printed copies of this handy Guix reference card. The room was packed, the audience asked great questions, and overall it was tons of fun!

      If you weren’t able to come to SeaGL this year, that’s OK! You can watch a video of the talk below.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Blockchain: What’s Not To Like?

      I gave a talk at the Fall CNI meeting entitled Blockchain: What’s Not To Like? The abstract was:

      We’re in a period when blockchain or “Distributed Ledger Technology” is the Solution to Everything™, so it is inevitable that it will be proposed as the solution to the problems of academic communication and digital preservation. These proposals typically assume, despite the evidence, that real-world blockchain implementations actually deliver the theoretical attributes of decentralization, immutability, anonymity, security, scalability, sustainability, lack of trust, etc. The proposers appear to believe that Satoshi Nakamoto revealed the infallible Bitcoin protocol to the world on golden tablets; they typically don’t appreciate or cite the nearly three decades of research and implementation that led up to it. This talk will discuss the mis-match between theory and practice in blockchain technology, and how it applies to various proposed applications of interest to the CNI audience.

  • Hardware

    • Amazon’s Homegrown Chips Threaten Silicon Valley Giant Intel

      Amazon does not plan to sell this chip directly to customers, but the decision by one of the world’s biggest buyers of computer processors to go the do-it-yourself route is likely to have a major impact on Intel, the iconic Silicon Valley chip maker.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • PETA and the ‘S’-Word

      Those “disturbing” and “offensive” maniacs over at PETA are back at it, this time with an “extreme” suggestion that people stop using expressions which, in the organization’s view, “trivialize cruelty to animals.” Substitute other expressions, PETA proposes.

      Instead of “kill two birds with one stone,” say “feed two birds with one scone”; instead of “beat a dead horse,” say “feed a fed horse”; and so on. PETA is clearly being waggish here, as is their wont, but the underlying point is the same one they’ve been making for almost forty years: harming animals is wrong and we shouldn’t do it.

      The alternative idioms were presented in a computer-generated chart via Twitter, along with the following statement: “Words matter, and as our understanding of social justice evolves, our language evolves along with it. Here’s how to remove speciesism from your daily conversations.”

      In a follow-up statement PETA wrote: “Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialize cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are.”

      Within hours the headlines proliferated, all to the same effect. USA Today titled their story: “PETA ridiculed, criticized for comparing ‘speciesism’ with racism, homophobia and ableism.”

    • Illinois Regulators Are Investigating a Psychiatrist Whose Research With Children Was Marred by Misconduct

      Illinois regulators have launched an investigation into a prominent former University of Illinois at Chicago psychiatrist whose research into children with bipolar disorder was shut down because of her misconduct.

      The state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has issued three subpoenas to UIC seeking records related to Dr. Mani Pavuluri, who resigned from the university in June amid controversy. She has since opened her own medical practice, the Brain and Wellness Institute, in Lincoln Park.

      The subpoenas were issued by the IDFPR division that evaluates and grants doctors’ licenses. One was from the state’s medical disciplinary board, which reviews complaints about Illinois doctors and decides if discipline is appropriate. The board approved issuing the subpoena at a September meeting; it ordered UIC to provide records related to a clinical trial that Pavuluri oversaw studying the effects of the powerful drug lithium on children and teenagers.

      ProPublica Illinois revealed in April that, in a rare rebuke, the National Institute of Mental Health ordered the university to repay $3.1 million in grant money it had received for the study.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned

      On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered the Second World War. A war of horrors, it normalized the intensive, barbaric bombing of civilian populations. If the Spanish Civil War gave us Guernica and Picasso’s wrenching painting, WW2 offered up worse: London, Berlin, Dresden to name a few, the latter eloquently described in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughter House Five.” Against Japan, the firebombing of Tokyo, and above all the revulsion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki radiated a foretaste of ending life on the planet.

      Reparations demanded from Germany had led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and a thirst for revenge. Thus Hitler demanded France’s 1940 surrender in the same railway carriage where the humiliating armistice was signed in 1918.

      If the war to end all wars — its centenary remembrance a month ago — killed 20 million plus, the successor tripled the score. Disrupted agriculture, severed supply chains, fleeing civilians, starvation and misery; civilian deaths constituting an inordinate majority in our supposedly civilized world.

      One of the young men baling out of a burning bomber was George H. W. Bush. He was rescued but his crew who also baled out were never found, a thought that is said to have haunted him for the rest of his life. He went on to serve eight years as vice-president under Ronald Reagan and then four more as president. Last week he passed away and was honored with a state funeral service in Washington National Cathedral.

    • Why Green New Deal Advocates Must Address Militarism

      In the spirit of a new year and a new Congress, 2019 may well be our best and last opportunity to steer our ship of state away from the twin planetary perils of environmental chaos and militarism, charting a course towards an earth-affirming 21st century.

      The environmental crisis was laid bare by the sobering December report of the UN Climate panel: If the world fails to mobilize within the next 12 years on the level of a moon shot, and gear up to change our energy usage from toxic fossil, nuclear and industrial biomass fuels to the already known solutions for employing solar, wind, hydro, geothermal energy and efficiency, we will destroy all life on earth as we know it. The existential question is whether our elected officials, with the reins of power, are going to sit by helplessly as our planet experiences more devastating fires, floods, droughts, and rising seas or will they seize this moment and take monumental action as we did when the United States abolished slavery, gave women the vote, ended the great depression, and eliminated legal segregation.

      Some members of Congress are already showing their historic mettle by supporting a Green New Deal. This would not only start to reverse the damage we have inflicted on our collective home, but it would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs that cannot be shipped overseas to low wage countries.

    • Stand with Okinawa

      “Don’t cry here,” an 86-year-old Okinawan grandmother I had never met before told me. She stood next to me and took my hand. I had been visiting my family in Okinawa with my four children early in August and had traveled to Henoko, in the northeastern region of our main island, to join the protest against the U.S. military’s relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station from Futenma, located in the center of an urban district, to Camp Schwab, in a more remote coastal region. My teenage daughter, Kaiya, and I had spent the day with a crowd of elders holding protest signs in front of the gates of Camp Schwab. Rows and rows of more than 400 trucks hauling large rocks passed by, ready to outline an ocean area for the new base, equivalent to the size of 383 football fields. Our beautiful, tropical ecosystem with all of its internationally proclaimed and protected biodiversity was to soon be crushed, destroying coral and marine life. This, despite the overwhelming opposition of Indigenous island people. I began to cry as I held up my protest sign.

      “Grandma is going to cry when I get home tonight so I will be crying with you,” she said squeezing my hand. “Here, we fight together.” We watched as trucks flooded through the gate of the military base where Japanese police had pushed us away moments before. With tears in her eyes she said, “It wouldn’t be strange if we all jumped in front of every one of those trucks, because this is our ocean. This is our island.”

    • Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?

      The Harry Truman Show double-tapped the “Japs” in ‘45, not to end World War 2 ASAP, but to flourish the Yankee saber before the Ruskies at Potsdam and ensure they knew who the sheriff was in the new world order that followed, according to some accounts. Like two ancient warrior tribes, the Anglos and the Vikings, say, the Americans have been rattling words and swords ever since, from Sputnik to Stuxnet, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Edward Snowden. They are inextricably linked in modern history and, like the synthetic product of a Hegelian dialectical struggle, have revolutionized the world together.

      You could draw a straight line from Sputnik to Stuxnet, from the early battle to control outer-space to the World War Cyber we are currently in. Sputnik, the world’s first man-made satellite, was seen as a Russian warning shot across the bow of the growing American talk-soft-Exceptionalism-and-carry-a-big-nuclear-stick empire. Out of the ensuing reactionary panic, the Pentagon developed the first internet (ARPANET), which was designed, in part, to be a Doomsday communication system to ensure that American ICBM missiles could retaliate, should the Cold War get hot in a hurry.

      It was a long time in coming, but Stuxnet, like Sputnik, is a firing-across-the-bow, an American warning to the world, but especially to the Russkies, that it’s game on in cyber-space. Stuxnet was the first virus designed to take out not code but hardware: Iranian nuclear centrifuges overheated with a resulting system catastrophe. Imagine a virus that targeted the fan of your laptop, resulting an overheating that destroyed the motherboard. Now imagine the world of industry — electric grids, oil wells, and yes, military hardware, etc. — targeted by tailored viruses. That’s the world we live in now.

    • Ahead of Historic War Powers Vote to End US Complicity in Yemen, ‘Tell Your Senators You’ll Be Watching’

      With the humanitarian crisis in Yemen getting worse by the day as Saudi Arabia continues to bombard the impoverished nation with the enthusiastic backing of the Trump administration, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday will have a historic opportunity to end America’s “participation in this horror” by voting on a War Powers resolution that would cut off military assistance the Saudi kingdom.

      “Tell your senators you’ll be watching their vote today on our bill to end U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who is sponsoring the resolution alongside Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah.), declared in a series of tweets. “The bombs dropped on children. The shrapnel left behind. The planes in the sky. All of this is made in America, sold to the Saudis, and used to perpetrate war crimes against the people of Yemen.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Court in Ecuador to consider appeal of Wikileaks founder Assange,says lawyer

      An Ecuadorian court will consider the appeal submitted by the defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange against the demand of the country’s government to comply with a protocol containing rules specially developed for him, Assange’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda said.

      The whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012.

      Assange has repeatedly suggested he might be apprehended outside the embassy and extradited to the United States,reported Sputnik.

    • Ecuador court to hear appeals of Julian Assange on Wednesday
    • Ecuador court to hear appeals of Julian Assange on Wednesday
    • Court In Ecuador To Consider Appeal Of Wikileaks Founder Assange On Wednesday – Lawyer
    • Ecuador court to hear appeals of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday

      An Ecuadorian court will consider on Wednesday the appeal submitted by the defense of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is living in the country’s embassy in London, against the demand of the country’s government to comply with a protocol containing rules specially developed for him, Assange’s lawyer in Ecuador, Carlos Poveda, told Sputnik.

      The whistleblower has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012. Assange has repeatedly suggested he might be apprehended outside the embassy and extradited to the United States. Over the past months, the Ecuadorian authorities have been putting various restrictions on the conditions of Assange’s stay in the embassy, which the whistleblower’s defense called the violation of human rights.

      “We hope that the court will adequately analyze our petition and accept 15 facts of evidence that were requested in order to leave the protocol and restrictions on visits in place,” Poveda said.

      According to the lawyer, these arguments include letters from individuals and organizations that were not allowed access to Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

    • 4 Journalists and a Newspaper Are Time’s Person of the Year

      Time magazine on Tuesday recognized journalists, including the slain Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as its 2018 Person of the Year in what it said was an effort to emphasize the importance of reporters’ work in an increasingly hostile world.

      The designation wasn’t intended as a specific message to the magazine’s runner-up choice, President Donald Trump, who has denounced “fake news” and called some reporters enemies of the people, said Ben Goldberger, executive editor.

      Time cited four figures it called “the guardians.” Besides Khashoggi, they are the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot to death in June; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who have been jailed in Myanmar for a year.

    • Dems demand Pompeo brief Congress on whether he discussed Assange with Ecuadorian official

      A group of top Democrats is requesting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brief Congress on his meeting last month with Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, specifically demanding he provide details on whether WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange’s future in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London was discussed.

      In the letter, sent Tuesday, the Democrats — including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) — wrote that they “remain deeply interested” in whether Pompeo discussed Assange with Valencia.

      “As you are aware, in January 2017, the unclassified report by the U.S. Intelligence Community assessed with high confidence that Russian military intelligence used proxies to transfer hacked data obtained in cyber operations to WikiLeaks,” the letter reads. “These activities were explicitly intended to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

      The lawmakers asked Pompeo to inform Congress next week if he asked Valencia to confirm a report that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy, as well as for logs and other information tracking Assange’s visitors.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Controversial Australian Climate Science Denier Cardinal George Pell Removed from Vatican Advisory Group

      Australian Cardinal George Pell has been removed from his role as one of the Vatican’s key advisors as Pope Francis moves to distance himself from the controversial figure.

      Pell last year took an indefinite leave of absence from his job as the Vatican’s economy minister to defend himself from prosecution for historical child sexual offences.

      Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Chile – also the subject of allegations related to sexual abuse,- has also been removed from C-9, a prominent advisory group, Reuters reports.

      Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the world to be facing trial over historical sexual offence allegations. In June, Pell was charged with historical sexual assault offences by Australian police in the state of Victoria. Pell denies all the allegations.

      Pope Francis and Cardinal Pell, described by some as number three in the church’s hierarchy have divergent views on climate channge. Whilse Pope Francis has been widely praised for his “encyclical”, in which he described climate change as “one of the principal challenges facing humanity, Cardinal Pell has conaistently promoted climate science denial.

      In Laudato Si’ – On Care For Our Common Home, the Pope set out the strong moral case for action. He wrote: “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

    • Concluding #COP24 Without Bold Climate Action Plan ‘Would Be Suicidal,’ UN Chief Warns

      “To waste this opportunity in Katowice would compromise our last best chance to stop runaway climate change,” he declared. “It would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal.”

      “In my opening statement to this conference one week ago,” Guterres said, “I warned that climate change is running faster than we are and that Katowice must—in no uncertain terms—be a success, as a necessary platform to reverse this trend.”

    • Petrochemical Booster Rick Perry Rides to the Rescue of the Fracking Industry

      When he took the job, Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t seem to know what the Department of Energy actually did. But since then, he has committed himself to one mission: promoting fossil fuels and petrochemicals.

      Specifically, Perry is pushing a massive petrochemical buildout in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, which would turn the Tri-State area into a new epicenter of highly polluting petrochemical manufacturing to rival the Gulf Coast. Last week, the Energy Department released a Report to Congress boasting the erroneous benefits of a key piece of infrastructure called the Appalachian Storage Hub. Secretary Perry also gushed about the storage hub on the op-ed page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

      The Trump administration’s push for petrochemicals is perfectly in sync with what major corporate powers are proposing. Right now, investors are pouring billions of dollars into Appalachia to create a cluster of gas infrastructure and plastics and petrochemical factories. An alliance of industry players, government officials and regional universities have also been promoting this substantial investment.

      Two of the facilities are petrochemical crackers that turn the natural gas liquid ethane into a chemical used to make plastic (one in Pennsylvania is under construction, while the other is proposed in Ohio). The third piece is the Appalachian Storage Hub in Ohio, which received partial approval early this year for a $1.9 billion Department of Energy loan. The Storage Hub would hold natural gas liquids like ethane underground and connect with a web of pipeline infrastructure to supply regional petrochemical and plastics facilities.

    • Typhoon Haiyan Survivor: Fossil Fuel Companies Killed My Family by Hastening Climate Change

      As we broadcast from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, world leaders and officials from nearly 200 countries are here to negotiate how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement. But three years after Paris, they appear no closer to curbing global emissions and halting catastrophic climate change. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much as 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. As the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe, we speak with Joanna Sustento, who has already felt the harrowing effects of climate change and has dedicated her life to climate activism as a result. Her life was turned upside down in 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones in recorded history, devastated the Philippines, killing five members of her family and thousands of others.

    • Trump’s Energy Adviser Runs Away When Questioned by Democracy Now! at U.N. Climate Talks

      The Trump administration is promoting fossil fuels at the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, despite outcry from climate activists and world leaders concerned about the devastating threat of climate change. Chief among Trump’s representatives at the climate summit is Wells Griffith, special assistant to the president for international energy and environment. He is a longtime Republican operative who served as deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus when Priebus was chair of the Republican National Committee. Amy Goodman attempted to question Wells Griffith about the Trump administration’s climate policy at the U.N. summit Tuesday. Griffith refused to answer questions and ran from our camera team for about a quarter-mile, retreating to the U.S. delegation office.

    • Countries that Blocked ‘Welcoming’ of Major Climate Science Report at UN Talks have Dozens of Delegates with Ties to Oil, Gas, and Mining

      Dozens of delegates from four countries that forced the UN climate negotiations to weaken language around the acceptance of a major climate science report have ties to the oil, gas and mining industries.

      At least 35 delegates from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the US are either currently employed or used to work for companies and organisations involved in the petrochemical and mining industries or lobbying on behalf of those industries.

      On Saturday, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “noted” the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark 1.5 degrees report at the annual talks in Katowice, Poland. Poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study, Climate Home reported.

      The IPCC’s report, released in October 2018, warned that the world has 12 years to radically cut emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change. The report was commissioned by countries at the annual climate talks in Paris in 2015.

      Of the 35 delegates DeSmog UK has identified with ties to the fossil fuel and mining industries, 12 are representing Saudi Arabia, and nine are representing Russia. NGO Climate Tracker previously identified 13 delegates representing Kuwait that worked for the fossil fuel industry.

    • In Early Holiday ‘Gift to Polluters,’ Trump Guts Protections for 60 Percent of Nation’s Streams, Wetlands, and Waterways

      Sixty percent of U.S. waterways will be at risk for pollution from corporate giants, critics say, following the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday that it will roll back an Obama-era water rule meant to protect Americans’ drinking water and all the waterways that flow into it.

      The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule (WOTUS) rule would be redefined and no longer protect many of the nation’s streams and wetlands.

      “This is an early Christmas gift to polluters and a lump of coal for everyone else,” said Bob Irvin, president of the national advocacy group American Rivers. “Too many people are living with unsafe drinking water. Low-income communities, indigenous peoples, and communities of color are hit hardest by pollution and river degradation.”

    • Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son

      In February 2019, I will become a Father. One thing I am learning about the capitalist marketing of parenthood is the endless list of items one “needs” for their infant. Cribs, changing pads, clothes, boopies, bottles, bassinets, rockers, car seats, lotions, oils, and then what do you need when your little one soils his or herself?

      Then there’s classes to take to prepare for your upcoming project of parenthood like birthing and new born classes. Don’t get me wrong these things are supposed to make a parent’s life easier and knowing what is happening inside your partner’s body and how to take care of the infant once it hits the outside world is vital, but it all becomes overwhelming and some of items marketed for infants taps into our excessive culture of consumption for temporary fulfillment and usage.

      It’s as if becoming a parent is being marketed as going to war. And in a capitalist economy war is a racket, this war on newfound parenthood is a racket on your bank account, and the capitalists wouldn’t have any other way. One would think the human species would have never reached 7.6 billion people and counting without various forms of plastic equipment to guide your children through infancy.

      Figuring out how a diaper genie works is not what keeps my mind racing and thoughts popping into my head late into the evening. Wishing that I could rub the diaper genie to have an actual genie appear before me to grant me three wishes is what I think about.

    • Sport, Fashion, and Tourism: Corporate Greenwash’s New Frontiers at the UN Climate Talks

      What do Adidas, Hilton hotels, and the World Surfing League all have in common?

      They’re all climate champions, apparently.

      They also have a lot of customers and fans. Much more than most climate activists – just take a look at their Twitter followings – which could explain why this year’s annual UN climate talks welcomed them with open arms.

      But are the industries serious about addressing the problem, or are they simply following a greenwash playbook rolled out by the fossil fuel industry each year at the talks?

    • Calling Promotion Betrayal of Planet, Groups Denounce Schumer for Giving ‘Fossil Fuel Servant’ Joe Manchin Top Spot on Energy Committee

      “Appointing Senator Manchin as ranking member of the Energy Committee is completely at odds with any plan for real climate action,” May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement. “Manchin has taken every opportunity to put Big Oil before the health and safety of communities and our climate.”

      Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, argued that the appointment of the pro-coal West Virginia senator to a top Energy Committee slot is a “stark failure of Chuck Schumer’s leadership” in the midst of dire scientific warnings that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2040 to avert planetary catastrophe.

    • Democratizing Money

      The Green New Deal has been in the air lately. In a recent piece on this website, Rob Urie writes that the Green New Deal is “the last, best hope for environmental and social resolution outside of rapid dissolution toward dystopian hell.”

      Quite a claim. Let’s take a closer look.

      The Green New Deal, first articulated by the Green Party but now supported by many progressive Democrats, calls for “real financial reform” to address the twin problems of climate change and economic insecurity.

      Included are some of the standard proposals we regularly hear, such as restoring the Glass-Steagell Act (separating commercial and investment banking), breaking up the big banks, ending bank bailouts, reducing debt burdens, regulating derivatives, and taxing bank bonuses.

    • ‘Gas is Not a Solution to Climate Change’: Activists Interrupt Fossil Fuel Lobby Group Event at UN Climate Talks

      Activists interrupted a keynote address by a gas industry lobbyist to demand the European Union do more to prove itself as a climate leader, and stem the flow of gas across the continent.

      Around 30 activists conducted a “symbolic walk out” during a talk by Marco Alvera, president of lobby group GasNaturally. The campaigners rose from their seats as Alvera declared that the industry “fully supports the Paris Agreement” and said there was an opportunity for the gas industry to “capitalise” as other fossil fuels are phased out.

      Gas emits less carbon dioxide than other fossil fuels such as coal and oil when burned. But scientists say that use of natural gas could have to reduce “by more than 50 percent” by 2050 if the world is going to prevent warming of 1.5 degrees, or unless new technology to capture and store the fuel’s emissions is developed.

      Simon Roscoe Blevins, an anti-fracking campaigner from the UK who was part of the action, told the media “natural gas is not the solution to climate change. There is no place for it, now or in the future”.

    • Canadian Government Declares Oil Trains Safe and Plans to Get Into the Oil Train Business

      As Canadian oil-by-rail numbers reach record new volumes (and expected to rise), Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) announced recently that it would no longer list shipping the hazardous material by rail as a top safety concern.

      Just a month later, the Alberta provincial government — where the majority of tar sands oil is produced — announced plans to bail out the tar sands industry by getting into the oil-by-rail business.

      Here’s why that’s bad news for the communities in both Canada and the U.S. where this influx of oil train traffic will pass.

    • Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections

      Last week the Trump administration announced it was slashing the area dedicated to protecting imperiled sage grouse populations from 10.7 million acres to 1.8 million acres and opening the rest to drilling and mining. For the faux conservation collaborators who were crowing about their great victory in keeping sage grouse from being protected by the Endangered Species Act, it’s another huge loss for collaboration and a win for industry and developers.

      Sage grouse are native ground-dwelling birds about the size of chickens that only a century ago numbered 16 million across 13 Western states and three Canadian provinces. Latest estimates put their decimated population at somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000, primarily due to habitat destruction through sagebrush eradication, industrial impacts and development.

      Sage grouse have been candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act since 2002, but in 2015 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was congressionally prohibited from listing the birds as threatened for 10 years. That should have been a wake-up call to those who profess to being advocates for sage grouse protection and restoration that politics, not science, would call the shots in the future. Unfortunately, instead of putting up a fight for giving the birds the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, various groups and agencies opted for collaboration to halt the precipitous population decline.

    • How Regenerative Agriculture Could Be Key to the Green New Deal

      With the 2018 mid-term election and the prospect of 2020, people are finally beginning electing more climate realists over fossil fuel apologists. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her band of newly elected progressive congresswomen, and Bernie Sanders, the most popular politician and likely presidential candidate, have proposed a Green New Deal. This paln would put the government’s economic resources behind a definitive move to renewable energy and an end to fossil fuel dominance. With the recent IPCC report predicting that the earth will reach critical thresholds as early as 2030, there’s not a moment to waste.

  • Finance

    • Tencent Music Sets $1.1 Billion IPO at Bottom as Markets Gyrate

      Tencent Music will debut at a valuation of about $21.3 billion, falling short of the $23.3 billion of Spotify Technology SA, the Swedish peer that’s also an investor in the Chinese company. Its less-than-optimal IPO pricing doesn’t bode well for mainland companies considering their own coming-out parties, and follows recent lackluster debuts by the likes of Mogu Inc.

    • China bans sale of most iPhone models after granting Qualcomm an injunction against Apple

      The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit. The phones covered by the ban make up about 10% to 15% of current iPhone sales in China, according to Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities.

      The court granted a pair of preliminary injunctions requested by Qualcomm, an American microchip maker. Qualcomm claims that Apple violates two of its patents in the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The patents allow people to edit and resize photos on a phone and to manage apps by using a touchscreen, according to Qualcomm.

    • Charter School Teachers in Chicago Organize to Strike

      Noting that “the conflict between educators, the two corporate controlled political parties, and the unions that falsely claim to represent teachers has now reached a new stage,” in November 2018, Kristina Betinis reported for the World Socialist Web Site that teachers at four charter school operators in Chicago had voted overwhelmingly to strike. Teachers at Acero Schools and Chicago International Charter Schools, which together operate 19 schools, approved a strike with above 95% support of teachers from all schools. Subsequently teachers at two more Chicago charter school operators, Civitas Education Partners and Quest Management, authorized walkouts.

      As Betinis reported, Chicago charter school teachers sought to organize strikes and walkouts to demand better pay, smaller class sizes, longer parental leave, and increased resources and wages for special education and paraprofessionals.

      Charter schools have grown rapidly in Chicago. In 2010, charter school approximately 35,000 students in Chicago attended charter schools. By 2017, that figure had risen to an estimated 65,000 students. Increases in charter school enrollments reduce attendance at—and funding for—the city’s public schools.

    • Teacher Strikes and the Shortcomings of Establishment Reporting

      In August 2018, Los Angeles public school teachers voted to strike, following high-profile teacher walkouts in other states across the country, including West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma, as Michael Sainato reported for the Guardian. A study by Frederick Hess and RJ Martin found that, although the increase in strikes by teachers has been covered by corporate media, these reports consistently marginalized the voices of the major parties affected—parents and students—and neglected to give a clear understanding of teacher compensation (including health care benefits, pensions and salaries).

      Teachers across the country have gone on strike to focus public attention on their concerns, but corporate coverage has tended to ignore how the lack of funds for public education is at the core of these actions. The Guardian reported that, depending on the criteria used to rank states, California’s spending per student consistently ranked from 37th to 50th in the country.

    • UK Special Education Programs at Risk Following Budget Cuts

      In November 2018, the Guardian discovered information requests and council reports indicating that funding for children with special needs in England has been cut in several districts. This is due to massive overspending on special needs programs, such as the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) program. Because of this increase in spending, councils across the nation are scrambling to find financial stability while also maintaining support for special needs students. So far, the Guardian has identified approximately forty councils who are either cutting funding, contemplating cutting funding, or using money from other education budgets to sustain themselves until a solution can be found.

      This unfortunate incident has led to parents taking legal action against councils who are considering defunding or making cuts to SEND. This funding supports children with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other disabilities.

      The Guardian estimated that £315 million (approximately $354 million) from the education budget will be used to fill gaps in special needs funding by the end of the year. This increased spending for SEND funding draws from an increased need for special education programs, which benefit students across the nation. Reported data from 117 councils (out of 152) has identified that this spending rose from £61 million to £195 million from 2015-2018.

    • Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000 — or $400,000?

      When Natassia Smick, 28, filed her family’s taxes in January, she already had plans for the refund she and her husband expected to receive. Mainly, she wanted to catch up on her credit card debt. And she was pregnant with their second child, so there were plenty of extra expenses ahead.

      Since Smick, who is taking classes toward a bachelor’s degree, and her husband, a chef, together earned around $33,000 in 2017, about $2,000 of that refund would come from the earned income tax credit. It’s among the government’s largest anti-poverty programs, sending more than $60 billion every year to families like Smick’s: people who have jobs but are struggling to get by. Last year, 28 million households claimed the EITC.

      Smick, who lives outside Los Angeles, thought she’d get her refund in a month or so, as she had the year before. But no refund came. Instead, she got a letter from the IRS saying it was “conducting a thorough review” of her return. She didn’t need to do anything, it said. Smick waited as patiently as she could. She called the IRS and was told to wait some more.

      It wasn’t until four months later, in July, that she got her next letter. The IRS informed her that she was being audited. She had 30 days to provide “supporting documentation” for basically everything. As she understood it, she needed to prove that she and her husband had earned what they’d earned and that her child was her child.

    • The Brexit Shambles Rambles On

      This week was meant to be the denouement of the UK’s divorce from the EU, as the House of Commons was due to vote on the final EU divorce deal Theresa May had hammered out with EU leaders.

      May however postponed the vote the day before it was due to be held, saying that “if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin”.

      Allegedly May wanted more time to return to Brussels to plead with EU leaders for concessions that would sweeten her deal, even if only cosmetically.

      More than 100 of her own backbenchers indicated they would not support May’s deal, as had her Northern Irish DUP allies, and with Labour also opposed, she would have lost this vote by a large margin.

      May’s trip to Brussels with be a waste of time. The eurocrats have been unyielding in their dealings with the UK on Brexit, and sure enough, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, tweeted this week that the EU “will not renegotiate the deal, including the backstop”.

      The “backstop” refers to the open border between the north and the south of Ireland that is the cornerstone of the Good Friday peace agreement. If the border remains open after the divorce, there will be a part of the UK (Northern Ireland) that will have the same border with an EU country (Ireland) that all EU members have with each other.

    • The Co-Opting of French Unrest to Spread Disinformation

      Online, a more insidious war rages. On Twitter, outsiders with little or no association with France or French politics—including far-right figureheads, conspiracy theorists, and pro-Kremlin influence networks—are capitalizing on interest in the gilets jaunes to spread disinformation, push state-sponsored propaganda, and advance their own political agendas. Research reviewed by WIRED indicates that these accounts are responsible for at least tens of thousands of posts on Twitter, many of which were then shared by thousands of others, often unaware they were spreading disinformation. The campaigns have echoes of the Russian-inspired disinformation effort in the US during the 2016 election.

    • Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job

      The deletion of events that don’t fit with the reigning ideology is part of how ruling class-owned media works to manufacture mass consent to unjust hierarchy.

      I spent much of last week in a cable-television-equipped U.S.-American apartment with CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News at my fingertips. As I inhabited this abode, flicking between sports and cable news, a political crisis of the state was unfolding in one of the world’s richest and most powerful states. France was gripped by an historic working- and middle-class uprising. In the biggest popular unrest seen there since May of 1968, many hundreds of thousands of Gilets Jaunes (“yellow vests”) took to French roadways and other public space in their fourth straight week of explosive mass protests.

    • The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It

      When millennials head home for the holidays this month, many who are city dwellers will be hosted by parents or grand-parents whose housing is far more spacious and financially secure than their own. Even guests with well-paid jobs in relatively stable rental markets will cast an envious eye at the benefits of baby boomer house buying decades ago.

      That’s because these holiday visitors belong to a “generation priced out” of America’s hottest urban markets for single-family homes, condos, and rental apartments. According to Berkeley author Randy Shaw, skyrocketing prices for all three forms of housing have created a generational divide, with major political implications for progressive city governments and advocates of affordable housing.

      On one side, we find older Americans, of varying income levels, who were able to take advantage of past market conditions, local zoning practices, or home ownership incentives to secure affordable housing that’s now in short supply for their own off-spring. On the other side are growing numbers of younger people—poor, working class, and even professional middle-class–who struggle to put a roof over their head that’s not on top of someone else’s garage. (As we saw in Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley’s ode to millennial life in rapidly gentrifying Oakland, its better, in a rent-paying pinch, if the garage owner is your uncle!).

    • There’s a Hunger Crisis in North Carolina

      We have a hunger epidemic in North Carolina, and it’s getting worse.

      North Carolina is the ninth-hungriest state in the nation, with 16.2 percent of residents receiving some amount of federal assistance to buy food in the form of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

      One in eight individuals in the state were food insecure last year — food insecurity is defined as not having reliable access to your next meal. According to the North Carolina Department of Housing and Human Services, 56 percent of public-school children are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and one in five children face hunger on a daily basis.

      The North Carolina General Assembly’s Committee on Food Desert Zones reported over 350 food deserts in the state in 2014. These numbers are significantly larger in 2018. According to the NC Action Research Center, 18 percent of elderly individuals struggle with hunger.

      In short, all kinds of people in North Carolina — children, adults and seniors — face food insecurity and hunger.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • The somewhat absurd controversy over Maine’s ranked choice voting system, explained

      The new system allows voters to number the candidates on their ballot; their alternate choices come into play if no candidate receives the majority (50 percent plus 1) of first preferences. If that happens, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their votes redistributed to whomever those voters ranked second. This is repeated in rounds until one candidate reaches a majority. It resembles the run-off style elections held in states like Mississippi, but without needing to hold a whole new election — in a sense, simulating a series of runoff elections.

      Depending on whom you ask, the new method of voting is either a push toward a more democratic system or a logistical hellscape. Despite the fact that it’s used in multiple countries around the world with little fuss, in Maine, it’s proven more the latter, thanks in part to political resistance and legal challenges from the state’s Republicans.

    • ‘If You Don’t Want Negative Search Results, Don’t Do Negative Things,’ Ted Lieu Tells GOP During Google Hearing

      That’s what Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) told his Republican colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday during a hearing that featured testimony from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and amid ongoing, yet unfounded, complaints by right-wing lawmakers and commentators that the search giant is biased against them.

      To make his point, Lieu used the example of Google news searches he did on two House Republicans named Steve: one was Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and the other was Steve King of Iowa.

      After reading aloud headlines from each set of results—the Scalise articles were generally positive, while the King results noted his record of racists remarks and retweets—and asking Pichai to confirm that the algorithms of the search engine don’t order results based on ideological leanings, the congressman offered some advice.

    • UK’s human rights abuses – Does Theresa May have a link to the Ariana Grande concert bombing? (E691)

      Historian Mark Curtis reveals that Britain bears responsibility for around 10 million deaths since WW2. He goes over Britain’s support for repressive regimes throughout the period, bloody conflicts Britain has been involved in, and massacres Britain has been complicit in which have been wiped from the history books.

    • Theresa May’s Britain

      I have only ever been able to discern two underlying motivations in Theresa May’s career; a love of office and a hatred of immigrants. It is possible to love office without loving power; loving power means you want to do something with it, whereas loving office is just for prestige and personal economic opportunity. I do not imagine May’s hatred of immigrants is driven by actual racism, easy though it is to read that into her hostile environment, go home van, end free movement, career. It is rather that the incredibly successful Tory narrative remains the false attribution of working class poverty to immigration, rather than its actual cause, massive inequality and an entire legal structure and system of government geared to promoting the interests of the super wealthy.

      I do not understand the notion that we have a constitutional crisis. The solution seems self-evident. England and Wales voted to leave the EU, by a large margin if you take those two countries, which share a legal system, alone. Let them leave the EU. Scotland voted by a still larger majority to remain in the EU. Let it become Independent, remain in the EU, and not need to thwart the will of the English and Welsh to leave. And let Ireland forget its bigots and be a united country.

      Constitutional crisis over. Indeed, that there is no other viable solution, and the UK is no longer a viable political unit, I can guarantee you will be universally recognised by the year 2030 as having been a self-evident truth. The actual dissolution of the UK will come ten years before that.

      [...]

      The decline of leisure is not something to be celebrated. The shrinking of the “economically inactive” figure to 21% means that many pensioners are forced to keep on working because they cannot make ends meet on the developed world’s most miserly pensions, that parents of young children are forced both to stay in jobs rather than provide all the love, protection and affection they may wish. Every time Theresa May is questioned on the heartless fiasco of universal credit, she states its aim is to “get people back into work”, by which she means choose between starvation and vicious drudgery; with no rights, no prospects and low paid hours handed down as a favour.

    • UK’s May to Face No-Confidence Vote by Lawmakers

      British politics was thrown into chaos and Brexit into doubt Wednesday as Conservative lawmakers triggered a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Theresa May that will see her removed as party and government leader if she loses.

      May vowed to fight the challenge “with everything I’ve got,” after Graham Brady, who heads a committee overseeing Conservative leadership contests, said he had received letters from at least 48 lawmakers asking for a vote.

      As a result, he said, “the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded.”

      Brady said the vote would be held in Parliament between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (1800GMT and 2000GMT) on Wednesday evening, with the results announced soon after.

    • With or Without Theresa May, Says Corbyn, Brexit Chaos Proves Tory Party’s “Total Inability to Govern”

      The United Kingdom’s Tory government is on the verge of total collapse, and many believe Prime Minister Theresa May could soon be on her way out.

      Following May’s abrupt decision to postpone a vote on her widely condemned Brexit plan after it became clear the 600-page agreement would be soundly rejected by Parliament, the prime minister on Wednesday will face a no-confidence vote brought by members of her own party that could ultimately oust her from power—if she doesn’t offer to step down first.

      But in a speech on the floor of Parliament ahead of the planned vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the Conservative government of “running away” from May’s Brexit crisis and argued the outcome of the no-confidence vote “is utterly irrelevant to the lives of people across our country.”

    • Conservatives Own the Ongoing Disaster That Is Brexit

      I’ve just returned from a whirlwind visit to the United Kingdom, where the elephant in every room seems to have grown to such proportions that Brits can hardly breathe without mentioning it with a groan. I’m talking about Brexit, of course, the U.K.’s ill-fated divorce from the European Union, which began over two years ago with a referendum that launched British politics into chaos.

      Since that June day in 2016, nothing’s been quite the same in Britain, and almost nothing else has been more pressing on the minds and mouths of Britons everywhere. Turn on any channel in the U.K., pick up any paper on your way to the tube, step into any pub from Aberdeen to London or visit any British news website, and you’ll likely see or hear at least one mention of Brexit, if not several.

      And yet, nothing has actually happened. Well, a few things have. The gamble-prone David Cameron resigned as prime minister in disgrace, a quick leadership contest in the Tory party led to the rise of former Home Secretary Theresa May over the infamous “Leave” campaigner Boris Johnson, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty was triggered to begin the divorce negotiations, May called for a snap election that actually led to Tories losing seats in Parliament, and through it all Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has held his own against threats to his leadership within his party, a hostile media and even a possible government-funded conspiracy.

      But in terms of Brexit, the U.K. is no closer now than it was in 2016 to even beginning its formal departure from the EU. May’s government has spent the better part of two years negotiating with the European Union, only to come up with a deal that pretty much no one likes, and that Corbyn calls “the worst of all worlds.”

    • Statement on Strasbourg attack: response from Molly Scott Cato MEP

      Responding to last night’s attack in Strasbourg, in which three peolle were killed and 12 others injured, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who was close to the attak when it happened, said:

      “Following the shocking attack in Strasbourg last night I would like to offer my sympathy to the families of those who were killed and the many people who were injured and to send solidarity to everybody in the city who feels shaken and brutalised this morning.

      “Strasbourg is at the centre of the European peace project and also the heart of human rights in our continent since it houses both the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights. As Greens we therefore restate our total commitment to both these idealistic and hopeful projects this morning.

    • What We Now Know about Manafort, Cohen and “Individual-1” — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      Court filings by prosecutors last week shined a light on the business lives of two men who worked get Donald Trump elected president: former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

    • ‘We Need an Unprecedented Transformation in Every Sector’: 250 Climate Activists Stage Sit-in at Pelosi’s San Francisco Office

      That’s what 24-year-old Morissa Zuckerman—one of 250 youth climate activists and constituents who staged a sit-in at the San Francisco office of presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday—wants to know.

      “If Nancy Pelosi is up to date on the latest climate science, then she knows that we need an unprecedented transformation in every sector of the economy over the next 12 years,” Zuckerman said in a statement. “Planning for a Green New Deal is common sense. It’s the Democratic Party’s ticket to the White House.”

      While a surge of support since Monday—after at least 1,000 youth activists flooded Capitol Hill and more than 140 were arrested—has brought the total number of incoming House Democrats calling for the creation of a select committee for a Green New Deal to 35, Pelosi is not yet among them. The protesters hope to change that.

    • If Democrats Fracture, This Will Be the Fault Line

      Back in the closing years of the 20th century, the British Labour Party leader Tony Blair thoroughly redefined his party’s essence. Labour, Blair believed, had to shake off the past and become a political force “on the side” of the upwardly mobile, not just workers and their unions.

      Blair’s chief strategist, Peter Mandelson, would capture the new Blairite sensibility with a quip that would go viral in the UK, even before the days of social media.

      “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich,” Mandelson opined, “as long as they pay their taxes.”

      And those taxes would stay modest in the years after Blair’s electoral triumph in 1997. Prime minister Blair would pay precious little attention to the increasing concentration of British income, wealth, and power in the hands of a filthy rich few.

      How did that benign neglect work out for average people in the UK? Not so well. Families in Britain’s industrial belt, reeling ever since the 1980s free-market fundamentalism of the Conservative Party leader Margaret Thatcher, continued on a dispiriting economic slide.

      Corporate and banking honchos, meanwhile, stuffed their pockets and eventually crashed the British economy. For an encore, they helped shove Great Recession Britain into years of austerity that placed the full burden of economic recovery onto the backs of low- and middle-income households.

    • I’m with Progressives Against Impeachment

      Why? Because it bypasses democratic politics in favour of the legal system, or the quasi-legal impeachment process. But democratic electoral politics operates in its own, independent realm.

      For instance, Marion Barry was a U.S. civil rights leader who got elected mayor of Washington D.C. in the ’80s. The FBI entrapped him in a crack sting and he went to jail. Then he got reelected. His slogan was, “He isn’t perfect but he’s perfect for D.C.” Voters got the distinction.

      Take a Canadian example. In the 1830s, William Lyon Mackenzie was elected to Ontario’s legislature. The aristocrats in the Family Compact expelled him because he wanted democratic reform. Basically, they impeached him — four times. But the voters returned him each time.

      In Brazil, the right used impeachment to remove progressive president Dilma Rousseff and the courts jailed former president Lula to stop him from running again because he’d have won.

    • Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin

      The power grab by Wisconsin Republicans to limit the incoming authority of the Democratic Attorney General and Governor is about pettiness and being a sore loser. But it is not the only instance of such pettiness–Michigan too is experiencing this, as did North Carolina a few years ago when the Democratic governor ousted the Republican. Pettiness seems to be de rigueur, inspired by Donald Trump’s brand of politics, violating two norms, one informal, the other constitutional.

      Pettiness and being a sore loser is not a unique feature of contemporary American politics–it tradition goes back perhaps as early as 1800. Then, when Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Democrats took control of the White House and Congress and ousted John Adams and the Federalists, the latter retaliated with a series of late minute acts that included judgeships to stack the courts. This resulted in the appointment by John Adams of a judicial commission to William Marbury, who, while confirmed by the Senate, did not have his judgeship delivered in term and which Thomas Jefferson refused to honor. The dispute resulted in the arguably the most important and famous Supreme Court case in American history–Marbury v. Madison–which established the principles of judicial review, constitutional supremacy, and separation of powers as fundamental values in American law and politics.

      The incidents surrounding Marbury are twofold important. First, the 1800 elections were arguably the most significant in American history, establishing a pattern of peaceful transition of government power from one party to another. A hallmark of democracy is the acknowledgment by one party that it has lost and its willingness to give up the reigns of power peacefully to the opposition. Yes, in 1800 the Federalists were sore losers, but power transferred without gun shots and the election established the unwritten norm of how parties ought to observe one another–not as enemies or criminals to be locked up–but as rivals with whom you disagree but nonetheless will not seek to illegitimately undermine.

    • How To Elect Democrats Who Actually Answer To Workers

      Over the past decade in particular, right-wing forces have doubled down on their multifaceted effort to rig the rules of governmental elections. Examples include unlimited and unaccountable spending by the employer class, restrictions on who is eligible to be on the voter list itself, and gerrymandering galore.

      Many of these tactics will feel familiar to workers, whose power has been undermined for decades by bosses manipulating the system. Employers routinely “gerrymander” workplaces before union elections, removing pro-union workers from the eligible voter pool with gimmicks that include drastically reducing their hours or alleging they have newfound management duties.

      At times it’s blatantly obvious that the right-wing electioneers are borrowing straight from the union-busting playbook. In blue-state Massachusetts, voters statewide got a taste of one of the most effective tools in the union avoidance industry, captive audience meetings, where workers are forced to sit through anti-union presentations as a condition of work. Hospital bosses went to such extremes to defeat a November 2018 ballot initiative to secure safe patient limits for nurses that they forced patients and families entering emergency rooms, checking in for surgery, or undergoing any procedure to sit through briefing sessions where they were told that voting “no” on the initiative was the only way to ensure the hospital or clinic would remain open. (The bosses won.)

      The employer class has eviscerated workplace democracy over the past 40 years. Using many of the same weapons, they’ve got their sights set on civic elections. To preserve democracy and rebuild working-class power requires a key tactic revived in 2018, in the nick of time: the all-out strike.

      Strikes are a uniquely powerful form of the political education required to prepare workers to pull the levers in the voting booth because they clarify the most important political lesson urgently needed today: There are only two sides, the owners and the rest of us. Unions that still win great contracts—which generally requires their having a credible strike threat—can point the way, as educators did earlier in 2018 from West Virginia to Oklahoma to Arizona and beyond. The #Red4Ed movement led to unprecedented numbers of educators running for office and winning, and made support for public education a key issue up and down the ballot. In Arizona, the movement soundly defeated a Koch Brothers-backed initiative to expand private-school vouchers. This suggests that to build effective political operations, unions should understand that more strikes are key to winning elections, not just good contracts.

    • ‘This Is Why People Hate Congress’: With Buried Provision in Must-Pass Farm Bill, House GOP Uses Last Days in Power to Block Yemen Vote

      As the U.S. Senate prepared Wednesday to vote on a resolution to cut military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, House Republicans in their last days in power moved to undermine efforts to end U.S. complicity in the assault that’s dragged on for more than three years in the impoverished country.

      The House Rules Committee advanced the Farm Bill to a floor debate Tuesday evening, with progressives celebrating the absence of work requirements for low-income families who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—but hidden in the annual agricultural bill was a provision keeping lawmakers from forcing a vote on any legislation invoking War Powers resolutions for the rest of the year.

    • Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions

      Beware the corpse that never truly expires. General Francisco Franco might well be entombed in the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) – at least for the moment – but his remains are set for exhumation, to be disturbed on the wishes of Spain’s socialist government led by Pedro Sánchez. Fernando Martínez of the Justice Ministry, entrusted with handling matters on the delicate subject of historical memory, explains the rationale. “In a democratic society, there cannot be a dictator who is the subject of homages, or whose tomb is a site of fascist pilgrimage, or who has a monument in his honour.”

      This might be all well and good, though it tends to jar with the delicate transition process Spain endured in the 1970s. It also sits uncomfortably with voters, whether as a priority or as a necessity. Sigma Dos, in a July poll for the daily El Mundo, found a mere 41 percent of Spaniards in agreement with moving the remains, while 54 percent also felt that the issue was not of importance at this time.

      What came after the general’s death was a matter of political juggling, as much a case of rehearsed, and encouraged amnesia, as it did archiving matters of the mind. This form of forgetting had much practice, perfected by Franco himself before his death through what was termed “recuperation”. Reconciliation was off the books, though Franco, in his last message, sought “pardon of all my enemies, as I pardon with all my heart all those who declared themselves my enemy, although I did not consider them to be so.”

      To attain the goal of democracy came with its own distasteful compromises, not least of all an acceptance that Francoist officials would be left untouched by any prosecuting process. Victims of Franco’s Spain duly felt confined to the status of víctimas de segunda– “second class citizens”, contributing to the new, and reformed country, in painful silence.

    • What’s behind Mike Pence’s stony visage? Trump may plan to dump him for Nikki Haley

      It looks as if The Trump Show will take some interesting turns in the new season, which begins Jan. 3. The teaser we saw on Tuesday was a doozy. Minority Leader and soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went up to the White House to meet with the president about the looming government shutdown and all hell broke loose before the meeting even started. When the fur starts flying at the photo-op, you know that things are going to get crazy.

      Trump did his normal thing: Lying, exaggerating, threatening, bragging, complaining. But instead of the usual GOP sycophants clapping like a bunch of trained seals, this time he got pushback. He’s not used to that and it didn’t go well for him.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Google CEO Argues for Company’s China Return in Congress

      Pichai has been under pressure from politicians, activists and staff to stop building a censored search engine for China. The company has said it’s not close to launching such a product, although details of the project were exposed by media reports earlier this year.

    • The Sundar Pichai Hearing Was a Major Missed Opportunity

      The hearing was more than a missed opportunity for both lawmakers and members of the public. It was a foreboding reminder of Congress’s continued technological ignorance, and a sign that while lawmakers almost unilaterally agree that something must be done about tech giants’ tremendous power, they remain unwilling to set aside partisan squabbles to actually do anything about it.

    • The rise of academic mobs

      In each case, the letters, intended for publication and widespread dissemination, are designed to shame the individual and their institutional employer. They are better described as petitions, with the ensuing rush to gather signatures a thinly veiled witch-hunt. The aim is the squashing of research, opinions or even just awkward questions through public disapproval and humiliation.

      These academic pile-ons, complete with grandstanding public declarations, are most often based on a disingenuous and mendacious interpretation of the target’s research.

    • Guardians of the truth? Some of TIME’s ‘Person(s) of the Year’ choices are perplexing

      TIME magazine has chosen a group of journalists it refers to as ‘The Guardians’ as its 2018 most influential ‘Person of the Year’ – but some of the journalists the magazine included for honors have raised a few eyebrows.
      The decision to pick journalists for the annual title was perhaps not so surprising in the era of Donald Trump, who is constantly at odds with the media at large, labeling any report he isn’t fond of as “fake news” – but there is a niggling sense that TIME’s decision to put the spotlight on the media as the Guardians of truth is not entirely sincere.

      TIME explains its reasoning under the headline “The Guardians and the War on Truth” and, while it would be difficult to quibble over including murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – or Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested covering the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, some of the other choices are more surprising.

      Take Ukrainian journalist Arkady Babchenko. For many in the West, the first they had heard of Babchenko was the news of his untimely death at the hands of alleged Russian state assassins; It turned out to be one of the biggest fake news stories of the last year, orchestrated by none other than Babchenko himself, along with the SBU, Ukraine’s security service (SBU). While Time seems to applaud Babchenko’s fakery, which, they note, turned him into a “pariah” among some of his Ukrainian colleagues who felt their own credibility was damaged after the stunt.

    • European Parliament calls for automated and private censorship of the Web for security purposes

      As we feared last Monday, European Parliament has just adopted a Report pushing for the outsourcing of Web censorship to Facebook and Google, using the pretext of the fight against terrorism.

      This Report suggests, among numerous others recommendations, that it would be necessary to “achieve automatic detection and systematic, fast, permanent and full removal of terrorist content online” and to prevent “the re-upload of already removed content”. The text specifies that it “welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online”, “calls on the co-legislators to urgently work on the proposal” and “invites the Member States to put in place national measures if the adoption of legislation is delayed” (§47).

      Three amendments would have allowed the European Parliament to stand out from the willingness of Emmanuel Macron and the European Commission to submit the whole Web to the surveillance and automated censorship tools provided by Facebook and Google, as we have denounced it with 58 others organisations.

      A first amendment proposed that the censorship of “terrorist content” could not be “automatic” ; this amendment has been rejected by 311 votes against 269 (77 abstentions). A second amendment proposed that this censorship could not imply an active “detection” of content, nor a “systematic and fast” removal ; it has been rejected by 533 votes against 119 (4 abstentions). A third amendment proposed that platforms should not have an obligation “to remove [the content] fully” ; it has been rejected by 534 votes against 105 (14 abstentions).

    • Censoring This Documentary Only Plays Into AIPAC’s Hands

      On Wednesday, in keeping with its image as a progressive leader in social policy, the City of West Hollywood, Calif., was scheduled to host a film screening and panel discussion on the painful birth of Israel and the Palestinian refugee crisis. Instead, the city is playing censor, “postponing” the event until further notice.

      The screening of the new documentary, “1948: Creation and Catastrophe,” and panel, which I was invited to join, are part of West Hollywood’s Human Rights Speaker Series, co-sponsored by PBS SoCal. But after spurious allegations of anti-Semitism by local rabbi Denise Eger, the city pulled the plug. City Council member Lindsey Horvath said she didn’t want West Hollywood to become a “refuge for hate.”

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • China’s Surveillance & Social Credit system alive & kicking in Berlin…

      Earlier this week I was giving a speech on Data Ethics in Copenhagen when I was approached by one of the participants who wanted to ask me about a service they recently started using in Berlin called Mobike.
      They were concerned that the app which is required to use the service (which is a dock less bicycle sharing service) was collecting all their location data and sending it back to China (where Mobike is based). They also mentioned that the App had a form of discriminative pricing whereby if you broke their “rules” your monthly subscription price would increase.
      Obviously this piqued my interest for a number of reasons. At first glance of the app it was obvious that there is a scoring system similar to the controversial Chinese Social Credit system and in order to determine your score minor infringements (such as not parking in a public parking zone) were being constantly monitored — in fact other users of the service are encouraged to report bikes parked in unauthorized zones. If you think this sounds creepy, it is because it is.

    • How Bike-Sharing Services And Electric Vehicles Are Sending Personal Data To The Chinese Government

      A year ago, Techdirt wrote about the interesting economics of bike-sharing services in China. As the post noted, competition is fierce, and the profit margins slim. The real money may be coming from gathering information about where people riding these bikes go, and what they may be doing, and selling it to companies and government departments. As we warned, this was something that customers in the West might like to bear in mind as these Chinese bike-sharing startups expand abroad. And now, the privacy expert Alexander Hanff has come across exactly this problem with the Berlin service of the world’s largest bike-sharing operator, Mobike…

    • UK Spies Say They’re Dropping Bulk Data Collection For Bulk Equipment Interference

      The lawfulness depends on the “double lock” process. The government alone can’t give GCHQ permission to engage in bulk EI. There’s a judge involved now, making this more of a warrant process than a subpoena process, to make a somewhat clumsy analogy. According to this report, bulk EI is still waiting in the wings. If true, it’s a good thing because the double-lock process didn’t actually go into effect until the end of November.

      What bulk EI is remains somewhat of a mystery. But some of what’s described in a 2016 report [PDF] containing several hypotheticals sounds like a lot of large-scale intrusion, ranging from Stingray-esque device location to tactics that have been left up to the imagination thus far.

      This sounds a bit like the FBI’s child porn hunting Network Investigative Technique: serving up malware to collect information on devices and their users.

    • Techly Explains: Why Australia’s new encryption laws are so alarming

      The Australian Labor Party decided not to oppose a controversial new bill that gives Aussie law enforcement unprecedented powers to crack encryption.
      The new law gives security agencies the ability to access the encrypted messages of suspected criminals. Notice how it says suspects, not actual criminals.

      The bill even gives government agencies the power to request that tech companies create new ways for them to access messages. That means secret backdoors accessible by them – and potential hackers.

    • European split over Huawei ‘threat’ risks ruffling Western alliances as EU states build 5G partnerships despite accusations of spying

      As international pressure mounts on Huawei amid allegations about spying, European nations are walking a fine line between their economic and security interests in an issue that could divide them.

      The United States is leading the charge that the company is a security threat, but the claim is not shared by all Western nations and no evidence has been produced.

      So far, none have gone as far as the US, Japan, New Zealand or Australia and issued an outright ban on their governments using Huawei’s technology. But signals coming from the EU are mixed as to how to respond to the push from the US and European security agencies.

    • Facebook plays down relevance of location prediction patent

      Facebook has played down the importance of a patent application linked to technology that could predict a user’s future location.

      The patent, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, uses previously logged location data from a user as well as other people to make predictions on where they are likely to go next.

      However, the social network said the application should be not seen as confirmation of any plans to implement any such system.
      “We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications – such as this one – should not be taken as an indication of future plans,” a Facebook spokesman said.

    • Surveillance Capitalism at the BBC

      Here’s hoping that when the folks at the BBC see this, they will do some soul searching and revise their policies. At the very least, please do not include a third-party tracker in video embeds. Innocent people who just want to share videos should not find themselves unknowingly complicit in web tracking and profiling.

      As for all of you looking for ethical alternatives to surveillance-based video services for your own content, check out Peertube.

    • Facebook wants to patent tech to predict where users are going

      The patent sounds like something you’d expect to see in an episode of Black Mirror or in some near-future dystopia pretending to be a pristine utopia designed to make you feel safe and sound by predicting your every move.

      But what it plans to do, at least in the short term, is to predict where people plan to go “based at least in part on previously logged location data”.

    • Facebook Filed A Patent To Calculate Your Future Location

      In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison said, “We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications — such as this one — should not be taken as an indication of future plans.” While a patent application doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook plans to implement the technology, it does show the company’s interest in tracking and predicting your locations, an important tool for helping it serve you more effective ads.

    • Facebook’s Scheeler new man at the top of CEBIT

      Former Facebook Australia and New Zealand CEO Stephen Scheeler has been appointed chairman of CEBIT Australia.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Georgia Charter School Reinstates Corporal Punishment

      On September 10, 2018, Lauren von Bernuth, writing for Citizen Truth, reported that a Georgia charter school had reinstated an outdated form of school punishment for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Consent forms were sent to the parents of each child at the Georgia School for Innovation and Classics, asking for their permission to inflict corporal punishment, within means, on their children, as part of the school’s new three strike policy.

      Von Bernuth reported that over one hundred consent forms were returned to the school and about one third of parents will allow their children to be paddled. This law would apply only to students between Kindergarten and 9th grade. Students will face corporal punishment as a consequence of their third documented infraction. Children of parents who did not give consent will be suspended from school for five days if they receive a third strike. Citizen Truth quotes directly from the consent form, highlighting that students will be brought into an office with closed doors and will “place their hands on their knees … and will be struck on the buttocks with a paddle.”

    • Hidden But Prevalent Racism in Georgia’s Special Education Programs

      On October 1, 2018, The New Yorker reported that the state of Georgia has been using disproportionate diagnoses of developmental and behavioral issues in black children to segregate them into the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS). This was the first article to frame the story of GNETS schools as a racial issue. The article focuses on a boy named Seth Murrell in Seminole County during the fall of 2015. Seth originally attended his local public school, but Seth’s teachers decided to send him to a GNETS school due to his disruptive behavior in class. GNETS have a ten percent graduation rate and there have been reports of experimentation on and violence against the students in the schools.

      GNETS schools are set up in school buildings that were formerly meant for black students during segregation. At best, they are holding centers for black students with disabilities who do not fit in the current educational infrastructure, despite the responsibility of public schools to provide space and resources for them. At worst, they are centers for physical and mental abuse, as detailed by Suzie Dunson, grandmother to a student at the Woodall Center. GNETS is a statewide institution, so families cannot escape the system by moving to a different district once their child has been identified as disabled.

    • Imagine a World Without War, Where Migrants Are Welcomed, Where Women Are Not Targets

      It is worthwhile to point out that it was the Indian delegate—Hansa Mehta—who objected to the phrase “all men are born free and equal.” She insisted that it be changed to “all human beings are born free and equal.” Hansa Mehta was thinking of women when she made that alteration. She knew that the costs of war and hunger are borne so sharply by women. So did Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic) and Begum Shaista Ikramullah (Pakistan), both of whom made key interventions into that declaration.

      This year, two important events took place on December 10. First, the nations of the world signed on to a Global Compact for Migration. Second, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, both campaigners against sexual violence as a weapon of war. These are two events that drive forward the good side of history.

    • Huawei CFO Gets Bail; China Detains Ex-Canadian Diplomat

      A Canadian court granted bail on Tuesday to a top Chinese executive arrested at the United States’ request in a case that has set off a diplomatic furor among the three countries and complicated high-stakes U.S.-China trade talks.

      Hours before the bail hearing in Vancouver, China detained a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in apparent retaliation for the Dec. 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder.

      After three days of hearings, a British Columbia justice granted bail of $10 million Canadian (US$7.5 million) to Meng, but required her to wear an ankle bracelet, surrender her passports, stay in Vancouver and its suburbs and confine herself to one of her two Vancouver homes from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

    • In the Hands of Justice: White Supremacist Gets Life In Prison Plus 419 Years For Murdering Heather Heyer

      A jury has sentenced 21-year-old, very sick, evidently remorseless neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. to life in prison plus 419 years for killing activist Heather Heyer and seriously injuring 35 others when he rammed his car into a crowd of protesters at the August 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA. Fields, who was convicted last week of first degree murder, also faces fines of $480,000, presumably a moot point other than symbolically. The jury tacked on the additional 419 years for his other charges: 70 years for each of five malicious wounding charges, 20 years for each of three other malicious wounding charges, and nine years on one charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving a death. Judge Richard Moore accepted the jury’s recommendation; a formal sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 29.

      Fields must still stand trial next year on federal hate crime charges, for which he faces the death penalty. FBI Special Agent in Charge Adam Lee said Fields’ crimes, and his fate, offer “a grim reminder to those who are motivated by hate and intent on committing violence: We are going to be there.” Many others echoed the same determination that, post-Charlottesville, hate would not win. After Fields’ conviction, residents marched downtown declaring, “We have reclaimed our streets”; others sang, “We will walk with you, Charlottesville, and sing your spirit home.” At the sentencing hearing, survivors wept as they described their “living nightmare,” and Heyer’s mother Susan Bro, who has taken up her daughter’s activism, testified, “The darkness has tried to swallow us whole.” She doesn’t hate her daughter’s killer – “I’m leaving him in the hands of justice” – but neither will she accede to his hate-filled world view. “Heather was full of love, justice, and fairness,” Bro said. “Mr. Fields tried to silence her. I refuse to allow that.”

    • Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA

      One troubling example is with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2018. Sadly, it isn’t the first time that Republicans have attempted to block VAWA, literally using women’s lives as a bartering tool.

    • Trump’s Attorney General Nominee Helped Bush Sr. Get Away With Murder

      Donald Trump has been president for almost 700 days now. In all that time, I have managed to find exactly one redeeming quality in the man: I thoroughly enjoyed the prodigious hard time he gave his now-departed attorney general, Jefferson Beauregard Sumpter Appomattox Shiloh Both Bull Runs Sessions III. Even that small pleasure, however, is poisoned.

      Aside from Scott Pruitt, who managed to defoliate the Environmental Protection Agency while stealing everything that wasn’t nailed down or glued to a desk, Sessions was Trump’s most effective cabinet secretary by far and away. His backlit segregationist tendencies, his ruthless pursuit of child-parent separation at the southern border, and his retrograde approach to the criminal legal system and the so-called “war on drugs” all conspired to make me loathe Sessions without restraint. Trump hated Sessions because Sessions wouldn’t protect him from Robert Mueller, which thoroughly spoiled my enjoyment of that spectacle while it lasted.

      The Trump-Sessions passion play ended a day after the 2018 midterms with all the class and collegiality of a car accident, to the great surprise of nobody. Three weeks later, we are three weeks away from the arrival of a new Congress, which will have on its plate Trump’s nominee to replace Sessions. Trump has tapped William Barr to be his next attorney general. In the context of the ongoing Mueller investigation, the nomination of Barr is both appalling and unsurprising in equal measure.

    • I Walked Right Up to Militarized Police at the Border

      Recently, I was arrested on our southern border for acting on my convictions.

      I had joined about 400 faith leaders from many different traditions at the entrance of Border Field State Park in San Diego for a demonstration to launch the Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice week of action.

      We had marched together on flooded paths through the historic park, which sits on the U.S.-Mexico border, making our way around large puddles, singing and chanting the whole time. It was inspiring to feel the spirit of unity that motivated this group of people to act together with one voice.

      We walked to the beach where the border wall can be seen extending out into the ocean. As we approached, a line of U.S. Border Patrol officers wearing riot gear ordered us to stop.

      I spoke out in blessing, feeling the support of everyone around me, saying in part that, “We bring this consecrated water to pour out here near the border wall. Water knows no borders, and love knows no borders.”

    • Criminally Insane in Oregon Attack Twice as Many People Than Previously Known, New Data Shows

      People freed by Oregon officials after being found criminally insane are charged with new felonies more often than convicted criminals released from state prison, with family members and first responders often the targets of violence, a new analysis by the Malheur Enterprise and ProPublica shows.

      All told, 23 percent of people freed by the state’s Psychiatric Security Review Board are charged with felonies within three years of their release, compared with 16 percent of those released from Oregon prisons.

      [...]

      In November, the Enterprise and ProPublica reported that the rate of new criminal charges was roughly similar among those released from oversight by the board and those freed from prison. That was based on data officials provided this year when the Enterprise requested the names of everyone freed by the board in the last decade and searched public records to establish how many had been arrested.

      A week after publication, the board’s executive director, Alison Bort, told the newsrooms that officials had not, in fact, shared the identity of everyone it had discharged from state custody. (The board turned over information in two batches. The data for the years 2013 to 2017 included the identities of everyone the board had released. For 2008 to 2012, the board provided only the names of people for whom they granted early discharge, not those released once they completed the sentences they would have served had they been found guilty in criminal court.)

      Within a day, the board gave the Enterprise the missing names for 192 people who successfully pleaded insanity in a felony case and were later freed by the state. As we did with the earlier names, we searched public records to identify those who were charged with new crimes.

    • Fascists Find Fertile Recruitment Ground in Anti-Choice Movement

      Those on the far right who have long discussed and acted upon their desire to dominate women’s sexual and reproductive rights are pushing that agenda into the political mainstream with help from the anti-choice movement.

      The traditional right wing in the United States tries to distance itself from fascists, but far-right groups are weaponizing traditionalism and “normie optics” to infiltrate anti-choice platforms to recruit and organize young white men.

      Attacks on reproductive rights are nothing new, but fascist groups’ infiltration of anti-choice groups and recruiting around anti-choice organizing in their genocidal agenda is an escalation. Leaked conversations between white supremacist groups using the Discord messaging site show users discussing recruiting members based on their opposition to abortion rights. “March for life never has effect until White Nationalists join [sic],” the Discord user “Commander Davis” said in the Traditionalist Worker Party chatroom, a now disbanded neo-Nazi group. March For Life is a decades old radical anti-choice movement and protest popular among Republicans. President Trump addressed the March for Life rally in January.

      Under the Trump administration, a surge in white nationalist organizing and policies has meant an uptick in threats against abortion providers and clinics, creating an even more unsafe environment for patients as Republican lawmakers further erode their rights. Threats of violence against abortion clinics have nearly doubled since 2017, and trespassing incidents have more than tripled, according to data compiled by the National Abortion Federation.

    • On Being Breathless in the Age of Trump

      As people set upon Khashoggi, he started fighting for air, repeating, “I can’t breathe” at least three times.

      As aficionados of human suffering may recall, these were precisely the same final words uttered by Eric Garner on July 17, 2014 on Staten Island when New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold. Police accosted Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes without a tax stamp and pulled him down to the sidewalk.

      While four other officers restrained him and Pantaleo pushed his face into the sidewalk, Garner repeated “I can’t breathe” eleven times before losing consciousness. Neither the officers nor the emergency medical technicians they called performed CPR on Garner, who was pronounced dead at the hospital.

      The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, but a grand jury opted not to indict Pantaleo. Only the man who took a video of the incident was jailed. A public outcry and various demonstrations protesting police brutality to Garner caused the City of New York to settle out of court with Garner’s family for $5.9 million.

    • Bayou Bridge Pipeline Foes Say Moonlighting Sheriff’s Deputies Protect Corporate Interests at Expense of Constitutional Rights

      Iraq war veteran and pipeline opponent Ramon Mejia was trying to stop Energy Transfer Partners from illegally constructing a pipeline on a cypress tree-covered swath of land deep in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin when St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s deputies arrived.

      Mejia had a letter dated July 25 confirming he and other activists had been invited to the property by one of the hundreds of co-owners of the 38-acre property. He wasn’t on the easement, the part of the property where construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline was in full swing.

      When deputies told him he was trespassing, he at first thought it was a misunderstanding.

      If anybody should be in trouble that morning of Aug. 18, it should be the pipeline company, he reasoned. Without legal permission, it had cut a large swath of centuries-old trees and was in the process of installing the pipeline in a deep, water-filled trench it had cut through the property.

      Minutes after arriving, deputies arrested Mejia — along with two other activists and this reporter — for felony trespassing on “critical infrastructure,” which was defined to include oil pipelines and pipeline construction sites under a Louisiana law that took effect Aug. 1.

    • Tijuana Crossing: Asylum Seekers Hold Out Hope in the Face of Trumpism

      Fear and caution are drawn in the face of Efraín. It’s 7:00 am. A man’s voice announces “480” while the people around listen attentively for their turn outside the sentry box of San Ysidro in Tijuana, Mexico. Efraín asks others for the waiting time regarding the numbering running daily — his family got the number 512 — and someone told them that, if luck smiles at them, they will soon have made it. At the site, dozens of parents and children, especially mothers and children, are added to a notebook containing numbers and names.

      Efraín, his wife and their three children under the age of 14 believe that it will probably take around five weeks until they can cross the border. (Time is not written on the pages of the notebook.) They are coming from Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, Mexico, a place hit by crime, drug trafficking and violence. Days ago, they arrived at the site where the digits represent the door to a new landscape: the United States. Here, they have an appointment with hope.

    • Refused Right to Seek Asylum, Honduran Refugees Demand Reparations for Destructive US Foreign Policy in Central America

      A month after arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S, about 100 refugees from Honduras marched to the U.S. Consulate in the border city of Tijuana on Tuesday to tell officials that they will return to home—but only if the country that’s refused to observe their right to asylum pays them reparations for the destruction and destabilization its foreign policy has caused in their home country and throughout Central America.

      The group demanded $50,000 each from the U.S. government in return for turning back to their home country, asking the the U.S. answer its request within 72 hours. The sum would be enough, the group reasoned, for each asylum-seeker to start a small business or otherwise rebuild their life in a country where two-thirds of the population live in poverty and one in five people survive on less than $2 per day.

      The letter condemned the United States’ foreign policy in Honduras—including the 2009 military coup backed by the Obama administration—which has contributed to the circumstances that many are fleeing now.

      “We remind you that if the U.S. does not want more migration, it should put a stop to the economic, political, and military intervention in our territory,” wrote the asylum-seekers in the letter, which Common Dreams obtained. “Therefore, we ask you to take away your 13 military bases and all their extractive companies that offend and loot our native land.”

    • “Landmark” Maternal Health Legislation Clears Major Hurdle

      Congress moved a big step closer on Tuesday toward addressing one of the most fundamental problems underlying the maternal mortality crisis in the United States: the shortage of reliable data about what kills American mothers.

      The House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 1318, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, to help states improve how they track and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.

      The bipartisan bill authorizes $12 million a year in new funds for five years — an unprecedented level of federal support — for states to create review committees tasked with identifying maternal deaths, analyzing the factors that contributed to those deaths and translating the lessons into policy changes. Roughly two-thirds of states have such panels, but the legislation specifically allocates federal funds for the first time and sets out guidelines they must meet to receive those grants.

      “We’re going to investigate every single [death] because these moms are worth it,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., the lead sponsor, testified at a hearing in September. Lisa Hollier, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the legislation a “landmark.”

    • Receiving “Inspiration of the Year” Award From Christine Blasey Ford, First Nassar Accuser Says, “Be Willing to Hear the Truth”

      Christine Blasey Ford, the college professor who accused now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, presented Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year Award on Tuesday night to Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual assault, saying the former gymnast’s courage “galvanized future generations to come forward, event when the odds are seemingly stacked against them.”

      “Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence. And we all know the result,” Blasey Ford said in a video statement presenting the award. “We all have the power to create real change, and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others,” the psychology professor added.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Net neutrality bill 38 votes short in Congress, and time has almost run out

      Legislation to restore net neutrality rules now has 180 supporters in the US House of Representatives, but that’s 38 votes short of the amount needed before the end of the month.

      The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, already approved by the Senate, would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules. But 218 signatures from US representatives (a majority) are needed to force a full vote in the House before Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

    • If You’re Surprised By Verizon’s AOL, Yahoo Face Plant, You Don’t Know Verizon

      While some folks reacted with “shock” on Twitter, none of this should really have been a surprise to anybody who has watched Verizon do business over the last decade or two.

      Pretty much every time Verizon wanders outside of its core competencies (operating admittedly excellent networks, lobbying to hamstring competition, being misleading about net neutrality), Verizon falls flat on its face. Whether it’s the company’s failed Go90 platform, failed video joint venture with RedBox, failed news website Sugarstring (which you may recall tried to ban reporters from talking about surveillance or net neutrality), its app store, its “me too” VCAST apps, or any of a dozen other countless efforts to expand into less familiar territory, Verizon failed. Usually semi-spectacularly.

      This happens because having spent the better part of a generation engaged in turf protection and lobbying, telcos really can’t innovate. We’ve known this for more than a decade, yet somehow, each time Verizon announces some new pivot, we forget. Telecom executives tend to think they can overcome this character flaw via megamerger, which usually just saddles the company with oodles of additional debt, but doesn’t really address any of the sector’s core shortcomings, built on the back of being largely government-pampered natural monopolies for the better part of a generation.

    • The Trump Administration Just Killed Net Neutrality for Text Messages

      The Trump administration just made it a lot easier for big wireless providers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to interfere with texting, all in the name of protecting consumers from spam, according Democrats and digital rights groups.

      Have you ever signed up to receive text blasts from an activist campaign? Does your doctor’s office text you reminders about upcoming appointments?

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines on Wednesday to classify SMS and MMS text messaging as a Title I “information service” rather than a Title II “telecommunications service” under federal law, a move that congressional Democrats and digital rights groups say will give wireless providers the power to block and censor text messages and widen the digital divide.

    • ISPs Say That Poor People Don’t Deserve Fast Internet Speeds
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Amgen’s Biosimilar IP Win Was Wrong, Hospira Tells Fed. Circ.

      Hospira has urged the Federal Circuit to toss a $70 million jury verdict finding its biosimilar version of Amgen Inc.’s blockbuster anemia treatment Epogen infringed an Amgen patent,..

    • Indigenous IP And Climate Change Subject Of New Book

      The book, titled Intellectual Property and Clean Energy, seeks to provide a critical analysis of the impact of the Paris Agreement on climate adaptation and mitigation technology.

      Matthew Rimmer, professor in intellectual property and innovation law at the Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia, authored several chapters of the book.

      In one of them, he considers the atmospheric trust litigation in the case of Nelson Kanuk v. State of Alaska over “the climate inaction of the State of the Alaska.” According to Rimmer, the case “is a compelling case study in respect of constitutional law, the public trust doctrine, climate change, intergenerational justice, Indigenous rights, and Indigenous intellectual property.”

      The question of indigenous rights was “prominent during the negotiations over the Paris Agreement 2015,” and there have been concerns “that the international climate law framework is inadequate and insufficient to address Indigenous rights,” he said in the book. From an intellectual property perspective, the chapter looks at the impact of climate change upon traditional knowledge.

      In another chapter, Rimmer explores the larger questions about the treatment of indigenous rights under international law.

    • The Danish Maritime & Commercial Court issues ruling on the potential bias of judges

      With the Danish patent litigation community being limited in numbers and the pool of legal judges and expert judges available to the Danish specialty patents court being likewise limited in numbers, The Maritime & Commercial High Court (“MCC”) – along with its appellate branches – has long since decided that judges deciding an application for an interlocutory injunction are not prima facie biased in relation to hearing an ensuing action on the merits.

      In a pending matter, however, a somewhat different aspect came up when a party applied for an injunction to be lifted (repealed) by MCC – which had also granted the injunction – due to a subsequent decision in a parallel matter in which an application for an interlocutory injunction had been denied by the MCC.

    • Trademarks

      • Iowa State Tells Students To Piss Off And Continues Its New Trademark Policy Despite Their Concerns

        We’ve been discussing Iowa State University’s bold attempt to twist itself into a knot over its trademark policy for some time now. This all started when the school attempted to bow at the alter of certain Iowa state government reps to disallow a pro-marijuana alumni group from using school iconography. For its efforts, the alumni group beat the school in court on First Amendment grounds, eventually resulting in a $600k judgement against the school. Rather than learning its lesson, the school reacted to all of this by rewriting its trademark policy for student groups, pulling back permission of all kinds for groups to use the school’s name and symbols. This, predictably, led to a full on revolt by students, with all kinds of groups refusing to associate themselves with the school at all. The student government, meanwhile, pointed out that the policy was written with zero input from students or student representatives.

    • Copyrights

      • BREAKING: AG Szpunar advises CJEU to rule that unlicensed sampling MAY be a copyright infringement and German free use may be contrary to EU law

        Last year The IPKat reported that the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) had referred the longstanding Metall auf Metall litigation to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The case is now Pelham and Others, C-476/17.

      • Malware Purveyors Targeting Pirate Sites With Bogus DMCA Takedown Notices

        That’s the way the law works. Takedown notices claiming DRM circumvention (most pirated software involves some sort of circumvention) cannot be contested. Google is allowing replies in these cases, but what it’s doing isn’t mandated by law. Google, however, is obliged to comply with requests unless it feels the complaint isn’t legitimate. How strongly it feels sometimes depends on the manpower available… or the attention the issue is receiving elsewhere on the web.
        The notices collected by TorrentFreak hardly seem legit, even with only a cursory review. They’re littered with typos and make unrealistic/absurd claims, like supposedly filing on behalf of Steam even though Steam doesn’t actually own or produce the game titles listed in the takedown notice.
        As TorrentFreak notes, thousands of URLs have already been taken down, pushing malware-loaded sites higher in search listings. Internet users seeking free games now may find they’ve picked up bitcoin-mining hitchhikers after visiting these scammers’ sites.

      • CC’s 4.0 license suite now in Greek

        All six of the Creative Commons licenses v4.0 are now available in Greek as a result of the joint and volunteer effort of the University of Cyprus, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus, and the legal firm Ioannides Demetriou LLC. The multi-year process began when the first draft translation of the Creative Commons license into Greek was submitted to CC HQ in 2016.All six of the Creative Commons licenses v4.0 are now available in Greek as a result of the joint and volunteer effort of the University of Cyprus, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus, and the legal firm Ioannides Demetriou LLC. The multi-year process began when the first draft translation of the Creative Commons license into Greek was submitted to CC HQ in 2016.

      • Legacy Copyright Industries Lobbying Hard For EU Copyright Directive… While Pretending That Only Google Is Lobbying

        Have you heard that all of the opposition to the EU Copyright Directive and its hugely problematic Articles 11 and 13 is really being driven by Google lobbying? Most of you probably realized this was nonsense, but it now turns out that not only was the lobbying almost entirely dominated by the legacy copyright players, but a key plank of their lobbying campaign was to falsely allege that all opposition was just Google.

        If you’ve been paying attention at all to the crazy fights over the EU Copyright Directive, you may have heard some claims being passed around that it’s somehow “Google” lobbying heavily against the bill. Indeed, all over Twitter, that’s the talking point from tons of EU Copyright Directive supporters. After the EU Parliament put the breaks on the bill back in July, I even saw a former RIAA exec (who has since blocked me on Twitter, so I can’t show it to you) tweet that this was a clear perversion of the “will of the people” by Google’s corporate lobbying. Of course, it’s hilarious for that to come from an ex-RIAA exec, who was heavily involved over the past 3 decades in pushing through all sorts of protectionist, anti-public, anti-musician legislation and trade agreements.

        But… it’s a talking point. And it’s one that lots of people have jumped on. Digital Music News, who is always quick to restate the recording industry’s talking points, claimed that Google spent more than $36 million lobbying over Article 13. Billboard Magazine published a similar claim. Various music industry groups, in what appeared to be closely coordinated messaging, all started blaming Google and “the tech giants” for any opposition to the EU Copyright Directive — which, mind you, would change the fundamental ways in which the internet works. Yet, in their minds, all of the opposition came from the internet giants.

      • Activists to Deliver 4 Million Anti ‘Article 13’ Signatures to EU Parliament

        Ahead of the final trilogue negotiations this Thursday, activists will deliver an anti “upload filter” petition signed by four million people to the European Parliament. Lawmakers will try to agree on the final text of the controversial Article 13 this week. The latest proposals stress that any measures platforms take should not remove legitimate content.

      • Article 13 isn’t quite as messy as Brexit, but its still a confused mess

        The latest summary document about the wider EU Copyright Directive has been published and seems to contain some weasel words, which suggest that there would be no filters applied to uploading to the internet, but only because it thinks that calling them something else is the same as not having them. It isn’t.

EPO Trust, Leadership and Commitment

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: “Trust, leadership and commitment” is the latest publication from EPO insiders, who in the absence of free speech and freedom of association for the union/representation are an essential spotlight on EPO abuses

THE FOLLOWING publication was made available yesterday. Here it is in HTML form.


LIFER

11 December 2018

IFLRE

EPOFLIERNo. 45

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict

Trust, leadership and commitment

The president recently announced1 that the Office will run a staff survey in early 2019. That’s good news. The plan is for the survey to measure staff’s level of engagement (commitment). The results, to be published in March 2019, complement the president’s one-to-one meetings with staff members. Regular further staff surveys are planned for the future.

The skills, talents, creativity, innovation, and passion of its people can be the difference between organizations achieving exceptional performance or wallowing in mediocrity. In order to come out on the winning side of this challenge, organizations must connect the dots between trust, leadership, and engagement. Trust is the foundation, leadership is the driver, and engagement is the goal.

Randy Conley2

Trust is the foundation

Randy Conley says that in organisational life, trust simultaneously acts as the bonding agent that holds everything together and the lubricant that keeps things moving smoothly2. According to Will Campbell, trust is like a workplace currency, it is given and received, and convertible into higher productivity and increased staff engagement3.

Unfortunately, Mr Battistelli’s administration destroyed the staff’s trust in their employer4,5. This is not Mr Campinos’ fault, but it leaves him with a herculean task to rebuild it.

How to build trust

According to a global trust survey by PR giant Edelman, employees and executives agree that ‘treating employees well is one of the most important things a company can do to build trust.’”3

Leaders can build trust using “trust boosting” behaviours, such as asking for and receiving feedback openly, admitting mistakes, acting honestly, ethically and legally, and being consistent in word and deed, writes2 Randy Conley. That way, they “cultivate an environment where employees feel safe and want to invest their discretionary effort2.

Further trust-building elements are transparency3, consistent and transparent communication6, the recognition of employee’s contributions6 and providing opportunities for involvement6. Research has also indicated that the leading factor influencing an employee’s engagement is his relationship with his direct manager2.

Trust – where do we stand?

While the president’s one-to-one meetings with staff members may help to build trust, there are currently enormous deficits in many areas.

When the president announces that the Office will focus on quality, for example, COOs, line and team managers pass on the message to their staff that the knowingly7 overambitious and unrealistic production targets set by the Office must be met by all means8. Here, the Office is not consistent in word and deed. The new president recently told the delegations that president and Administrative Council must speak with one voice9. We agree. And we think that this should also apply to the EPO management (COOs, HR, directors and team managers).

Staff members’ contributions are often not recognised. The new career system is a lottery. Not even everyone who has reached his target gets a reward. It’s as if the system was designed to reward the top-producers, punish the under-producers and ignore the vast numbers of colleagues in-between, who work honestly, diligently – and unspectacularly – day in, day out. Can management expect trust to build on such uncertainty?

One of Mr Battistelli’s mantras was that employees need to be pushed to produce more by making them feel uncomfortable. Intimidation became – and still is – a management tool at the EPO. As production and productivity targets rise, increasing numbers of colleagues who fail to reach them are at risk of being classified as “incompetent” and dismissed10. Managers do not always act honestly, ethically and legally under these conditions. Some are using threats to push individuals to increase their output. But if Randy Conley is right2, only employees who feel safe will fully commit themselves to their tasks. Warigon and Bowers11 say that employees managed by intimidation will “not be sufficiently motivated to give their best or walk extra miles.” Staff who experience chronic work stress are at risk of a suffering from a wide spectrum of diseases12. And intimidation techniques are definitely not compatible with the president’s announced13 goal to increase the service quality, since employees whose adrenalin levels are driven up by fear will not be able to focus on their work a prerequisite for delivering high quality intellectual services14.

The legal system has also become a lottery. Staff can neither rely on a fair internal appeal system, nor on the ILO Tribunal to stop abuses of the administration4,15,16.

The uncertainty for the staff has meanwhile spread to the applicants and the public, where it has materialised as legal uncertainty through low quality patents17, and led to a loss of trust18.

The staff representatives are still being obstructed in their communication. The president has only made cosmetic changes19 to the total ban on mass emails from staff representatives introduced by his predecessor. The total blocking of staff union emails is still in place. Staff committees can now send two (2!) mass emails per year, and only when inviting staff to general assemblies. All staff committee papers must still get prior approval from the Office before they are published20. While the average DG1 directorate size is about 70, individuals can send emails to a maximum of 50 persons.

While social dialogue seems to be slowly resuming, there are still deficiencies in transparency and in providing opportunities for involvement to staff committees and staff unions. To name an example, a new circular on performance management, which will enter into force on 1 January 2019, is being prepared in a rather opaque manner21.

How can trust and engagement be improved?

Without knowing the results of the upcoming staff survey, it is already clear from the above that the Office management needs to do much more if it wants to regain the staff’s trust.

But there is more. The survey provider says that engaged staff “believe in where we’re going” and are “proud to work at the EPO1. For staff to believe in where we are going, management must first indicate where it wants to go. The president needs to define a clear and transparent overall Office strategy, and the individual staff members must know their role in that strategy. They must also be able to rely on their management to stick to the strategy it has defined. For staff to be proud to work at the Office, they must identify with its mission and feel valued for their contribution.

For staff to be engaged, they need to trust their management and their organisation. And for that trust to emerge and grow, there must be a high level of certainty for them. That certainty can only be provided by fair rules and a reliable justice system which staff experience as fair.

After eight years of destructive management, the EPO workforce is exhausted. Staff are thirsty for genuine leadership whose cornerstones are honesty, consistency and fairness. Their hopes for swift improvements must not be disappointed. If the president wants to energise the staff, meeting them face-to-face for 15 minutes alone won’t do the trick. Concrete actions are required.

Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. It’s as simple as that.

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group22

www.epostaff4rights.org

1 Communiqué “Update on the planned staff engagement survey” (28.11.2018)

3 Why Trust Is The Core Of Employee Engagement (Will Campbell, 22.11.2015)

4 Destroying trust – for a long time. (SUEPO The Hague, 05.03.2018, monthly password required)

5 EPO FLIER No. 36 “Trust is broken & quality in decline” (16.03.2018)

7 Patent quality has fallen, confirm Euro examiners (Kieren McCarthy, The Register, 15.03.2018)

8 An example are two recent and rather contradictory messages from one of our COOs. One of them addresses her staff, requesting them to improve the quality of patent grants, the other one was sent to her directors and team managers, pushing for higher production. See “New EPO messages reveal quality decline and ‘confuse’ staff“ (Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 4.10.2018), “Act Now? –YES, please!” (SUEPO Munich, 8.10.2018, password needed)

9 Report on the 121st meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (CSC, 31.10.2018)

10 Which recently happened: EPO dismisses employee under new controversial ‘incompetence’ provisions(Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 06.09.2018)

11 Why management-by-intimidation can never work long-term in IT (Scott Robinson, Tech Decision Maker, 18.12.2011)

12 Such as burnout, heart disease, diabetes, and infectious diseases as the immune system becomes compromised; see Burnout Prevention and Treatment (helpguide.org), the Whitehall study, and What ails us? – Or: what the Whitehall study tells us about the relationship between work and health (CSC, 14.11.2005, password needed)

13 Communiqué “Moving forward with quality” (8.10.2018) and EPO FLIER No. 41 “The Price of Quality” (15.10.2018)

14 ”Impact of Management by Intimidation on Human Capital: is it destroying you organisation?” (Slemo D. Warigon, Betsy Bowers, see College & University Auditor, Vol. 50, No. 2 / SUMMER 2006, pages 5-10)

15 EPO FLIER No. 38 “The ILO Tribunal – Is it still worthy of our trust?“ (12.06.2018)

16 EPO FLIER No. 42 “Status of EPO disciplinary cases” (7.11.2018)

17 EPO FLIER No. 39 “Reputation and patent quality after eight years of Battistelli: ruined” (26.06.2018)

18 The EPO’s Vision (V) – Trust (Thorsten Bausch, Kluwer Patent Blog, 31.03.2018)

19 EPO partially ends staff rep email ban (Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 13.11.2018)

20 In February 2018 the Office refused permission to publish a CSC paper it didn’t like: EPO staff committee argues against publication review (Barney Dixon, IPPro Patents, 14.03.2018)

21 At a staff general assembly on 15.11.2018, called by LSCTH, staff were informed that minutes of a recent working group meeting were not taken since the matter was considered “highly confidential” by HR management.

22 Virgin Group Ltd. controls more than 400 companies with approximately 71,000 employees.

12.11.18

Links 11/12/2018: Tails 3.11, New Firefox, FreeBSD 12.0

Posted in News Roundup at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Best Lightweight Linux Distros for Older Computers

      Don’t throw away that old Pentium III tower and CRT monitor just yet! While that old laptop in the closet may not be able to run Windows 10 or macOS Mojave, it doesn’t mean it’s destined for the dump.

      Many Linux distributions are made specifically for utilizing the ancient, underpowered hardware found in older machines. By installing these lightweight distros, you can breathe new life into an old PC thought to be long past its prime. Here are the best lightweight Linux distros that we’ve picked out from the pile.

    • VirtIO-FS: A Proposed Better Approach For Sharing Folders/Files With Guest VMs

      Red Hat developers have proposed a new VirtIO-FS component to provide better support for shared folders/files between the host and guest virtual machines.

      VirtIO-FS was developed out of the need to share folders/files with guest VMs in a fast, consistent, and secure manner. They designed VirtIO-FS for Kata containers but coud be used with other VMs too. The closest existing project to fulfilling their needs was Virtio-9p, but there were performance issues and other factors leading them to designing this new solution.

    • Peter Hutterer: Understanding HID report descriptors

      This time we’re digging into HID – Human Interface Devices and more specifically the protocol your mouse, touchpad, joystick, keyboard, etc. use to talk to your computer.

      Remember the good old days where you had to install a custom driver for every input device? Remember when PS/2 (the protocol) had to be extended to accommodate for mouse wheels, and then again for five button mice. And you had to select the right protocol to make it work. Yeah, me neither, I tend to suppress those memories because the world is awful enough as it is.

      As users we generally like devices to work out of the box. Hardware manufacturers generally like to add bits and bobs because otherwise who would buy that new device when last year’s device looks identical. This difference in needs can only be solved by one superhero: Committee-man, with the superpower to survive endless meetings and get RFCs approved.

      Many many moons ago, when USB itself was in its infancy, Committee man and his sidekick Caffeine boy got the USB consortium agree on a standard for input devices that is so self-descriptive that operating systems (Win95!) can write one driver that can handle this year’s device, and next year’s, and so on. No need to install extra drivers, your device will just work out of the box. And so HID was born. This may only an approximate summary of history.

      Originally HID was designed to work over USB. But just like Shrek the technology world is obsessed with layers so these days HID works over different transport layers. HID over USB is what your mouse uses, HID over i2c may be what your touchpad uses. HID works over Bluetooth and it’s celebrity-diet version BLE. Somewhere, someone out there is very slowly moving a mouse pointer by sending HID over carrier pigeons just to prove a point. Because there’s always that one guy.

      HID is incredibly simple in that the static description of the device can just be bytes burnt into the ROM like the Australian sun into unprepared English backpackers. And the event frames are often an identical series of bytes where every bit is filled in by the firmware according to the axis/buttons/etc.

    • Windows 10 Sends Your Activity History to Microsoft, Even if You Tell It Not To

      Windows 10 collects an “Activity History” of applications you launch on your PC and sends it to Microsoft. Even if you disable or clear this, Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard still shows an “Activity History” of applications you’ve launched on your PCs.

      This problem was recently discussed on Reddit, and it’s pretty easy to confirm. Head to Settings > Privacy > Activity History and disable “Send my activity history to Microsoft.” It was already disabled on our PC, so it made this easy to test.

    • Watch Out: Clicking “Check for Updates” Still Installs Unstable Updates on Windows 10

      Microsoft hasn’t learned its lesson. If you click the “Check for Updates” button in the Settings app, Microsoft still considers you a “seeker” and will give you “preview” updates that haven’t gone through the normal testing process.

      This problem came to everyone’s attention with the release of the October 2018 Update. It was pulled for deleting people’s files, but anyone who clicked “Check for Updates” in the first few days effectively signed up as a tester and got the buggy update. The “Check for Updates” button apparently means “Please install potentially updates that haven’t gone through a normal testing process.”

  • Server

    • Intel Launches Open-Source Deep Learning Reference Stack Powered By Clear Linux & Kata

      The Intel Deep Learning Reference Stack is an integrated, performance-focused open-source stack built atop their Clear Linux distribution, utilizes their Kata Containers technology, the Intel Math Kernel Library, and supports TensorFlow and other machine learning frameworks.

    • Open Source’s Evolution in Cloud-Native DevOps

      “Open source, and especially the open source community, are constantly coming up with new tools, approaches and best practices to solve business use cases in the cloud native world. Not a day goes by where we don’t see a new tool, library or framework seeing the light on GitHub that is solving key problems that adopters of cloud native run into as they start rolling out more applications through a DevOps delivery pipeline,” Andreas Grabner, a DevOps activist, for Dynatrace, said. “Thanks to the openness of the community and the willingness to share best practices with others, open source is a core building block of the cloud native movement. The flipside of this, however, is that many organizations are overwhelmed with the constant change in open source offerings.”

    • OpenShift & Kubernetes: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going Part 1

      As we approach the end of another year for Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes, and another Kubecon, which I believe will be even bigger than the last, it’s a great time to reflect on both where we’ve been and where we’re going. In this blog I will look back over the past 4+ years since Red Hat first got involved in the Kubernetes project, where we have focused our contributions and the key decisions that got us to this point. Then in Part II, I will look ahead at some of the areas we’re focusing on now and into the future.

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available

      Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available. The main drivers for the 6.4.1 release are upgrade and stability fixes. Thirteen bugs have been addressed in this release – the complete list is at the end of the post. The most notable issue is compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6.

      There is one erratum for the server and one for the hosts. The install ISOs will be updated soon, but customers registered via Red Hat Subscription Manager can update via `foreman-maintain` as described in the upgrade guide today.

    • How AWS Lambda Serverless Works

      Four years ago, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched a revolution with the debut of its Lambda service. Rather than being an expansion of existing virtual machine services that provide cloud based servers, Lambda offered users a different promise – the promise of ‘serverless’ computing.

    • How Google Is Improving Kubernetes Container Security

      The open-source Kubernetes container orchestration project has become increasingly important in recent years as organizations rely on it to deploy applications. With the increased reliance has come increased scrutiny on security, especially at Google, which hosts a managed Kubernetes service called Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

      In a call with press ahead of the KubeCon conference that runs Dec. 11-13 in Seattle, Maya Kaczorowski, product manager, Security & Privacy, at Google, outlined the steps Google is taking to help secure Kubernetes now and into the future.

    • Cumulus Networks Partners with Lenovo to Deliver Networking Switches for the Open, Modern Data Center

      Together, Lenovo and Cumulus Networks provide operational efficiency with the robust Linux ecosystem, scalability with Ethernet VPN, and a simplified cloud-based operational model. Lenovo fulfills its promise of vendor flexibility, while at the same time delivering true open switch products that enable organizations to choose the OS best suited for its business.

    • SAP HANA Systemreplication Automation with SUSE HA on Alibaba Cloud
    • Red Hat collaborates with Google, SAP, IBM and others on Knative to deliver hybrid serverless workloads to the enterprise
    • NeuVector Adds to Kubernetes Security Solution, Releases Containerd and CRI-O Run-Time Support

      NeuVector, the leader in Container Network Security, today announced containerd and CRI-O run-time support. The Kubernetes security company is unveiling these new additions to its platform at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018, where NeuVector is participating as an exhibitor and conference sponsor. Attendees are invited to learn how customers use NeuVector – and get 1:1 demos of the platform’s new capabilities – at booth S/E24. KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 takes place December 10-13 in Seattle.

    • Aqua Security, Amazon Web Services and Red Hat to Co-Host First-Ever KubeSec Enterprise Summit

      JP Morgan Chase, Starbucks, Tinder and Forrester are among the presenters who will examine best practices and emerging trends in Kubernetes security technologies

    • Red Hat Slashes Price for Managed Kubernetes by up to 50%

      Red Hat has slashed the costs to use OpenShift Dedicated, its Kubernetes-as-a-service platform, by up to 50 percent.

      OpenShift Dedicated is hosted and managed by Red Hat. It offers clusters run in a virtual private cloud on AWS.

      Starting on December 12, 2018, the Raleigh-headquartered open source company has cut cost of an OpenShift Dedicated cluster by 25 percent and the cost of additional nodes by 50 percent, it said.

    • Lightbend Fast Data Platform Now Generally Available on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform
    • VMware taps into Istio to manage Kubernetes clusters

      Istio, which allows users to connect, manage and secure microservices for both containerized and non-containerized workloads, was developed by IBM, Google and Red Hat before it was put into open source last year.

    • VMware Climbs on the Istio Train for Kubernetes Management

      VMware has updated its NSX networking platform to support managing, securing and ensuring performance of native cloud apps, using open source Istio software.

      Istio is an open source project backed by IBM, Google, Red Hat, Lyft and Pivotal, which hit version 1.0 in July. Istio manages interactions between containers. It complements Kubernetes, which provides lifecycle orchestration for containers, keeping them available and scaling them up and down as needed.

    • Red Hat, Google, IBM, And SAP Go Knative For Serverless

      The history of digital computing is to provide increasing levels of abstraction to get programmers further and further away from directly manipulating the ones and zeros. So it is no surprise that so-called serverless computing is getting a lot of looks from developers who want to focus more on their applications and less on managing the infrastructure they run on.

      As we at The Next Platform have discussed before, serverless computing doesn’t mean that the work is being done without servers, but rather that there is such a high level of abstraction for the compute that the server is no longer a concern for developers. They don’t have to worry about it because it’s a problem that someone else – like a cloud provider – has to deal with.

    • Red Hat Sets Jan. 16, 2019, Special Meeting for Vote on Merger Agreement with IBM

      Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, announced today that it had established a record date of Dec. 11, 2018, and a special meeting date of Jan. 16, 2019, for a meeting of its stockholders to, among other things, consider and vote on a proposal to adopt the previously announced Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of Oct. 28, 2018, by and among Red Hat, International Business Machines Corporation (“IBM”) and Socrates Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of IBM, pursuant to which IBM will acquire Red Hat for $190.00 per share in an all-cash transaction. The board of directors of Red Hat recommends that stockholders vote in favor of the merger with IBM.

    • Red Hat sets date for stockholders to vote on IBM merger

      Open source solutions provider Red Hat has set a special meeting on 16 January for stockholders to consider and vote on IBM’s proposed acquisition of the company.

      On 28 October, IBM and Red hat announced an agreement and plan of merger which would see IBM acquire Red Hat for $190.00 per share in an all-cash transaction.

      “The board of directors of Red Hat recommends that stockholders vote in favour of the merger with IBM,” the company said in a statement on 11 December.

    • IBM exec: Why buying Red Hat is better than partnership
  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Going Linux #358 · Listener Feedback

      This month we have voice feedback from Paul, suggestions on alternatives for G+, a question on OpenVPN, feedback and problems moving to Linux. Troy provides a Going Linux story on software for Linux users.

    • Linux Thursday – Dec 6, 2018
    • Gnocchi: A Scalable Time Series Database For Your Metrics with Julien Danjou – Episode 189

      Do you know what your servers are doing? If you have a metrics system in place then the answer should be “yes”. One critical aspect of that platform is the timeseries database that allows you to store, aggregate, analyze, and query the various signals generated by your software and hardware. As the size and complexity of your systems scale, so does the volume of data that you need to manage which can put a strain on your metrics stack. Julien Danjou built Gnocchi during his time on the OpenStack project to provide a time oriented data store that would scale horizontally and still provide fast queries. In this episode he explains how the project got started, how it works, how it compares to the other options on the market, and how you can start using it today to get better visibility into your operations.

    • Podcast.__init__: Gnocchi, a Time Series Database for your Metrics
    • Episode #190: Teaching Django

      You’ll find this episode to be part discussion on how to teach and learn Django as well as why learning web development can be hard and part meta where Will Vincent and I discuss the business of creating content and teaching around Python.

    • 57: What is Data Science? – Vicki Boykis

      Data science, data engineering, data analysis, and machine learning are part of the recent massive growth of Python.

  • Kernel Space

    • Adiantum File-System Encryption Support Ready For Linux 4.21

      Adiantum, Google’s newly developed crypto algorithm to replace their planned use of the controversial Speck, is ready to begin providing speedy file-system encryption support for low-end devices with the upcoming Linux 4.21 merge window.

      Adiantum is intended to be eventually used by low-end Android Go devices where their limited SoCs don’t provide any hardware crypto extensions. As covered back in November, Adiantum was added to the Linux kernel’s crypto subsystem is staging it ahead of Linux 4.21.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Linux networking project: ‘expose & orchestrate’ to ONAP

        LF Networking (LFN) is the label used by the Linux Foundation to denote the coming together of seven top networking projects.

        In other (arguably more straightforward) words, LFN is an open source networking stack.

        The openly stated aim of LFN is to increase harmonisation across platforms, communities and ecosystems.

        This December 2018 sees new platform releases from ONAP (Casablanca) and OPNFV (Gambia) with additional support for cross-stack deployments across use cases such as 5G, Cross-Carrier VPN (CCVPN), as well as enhancements to cloud-native VPN.

      • Straight outta Linux: Cloud tech conference KubeCon will feature hip-hop star at ‘Ice Cube-Con’

        Will Tuesday be a good day? It will be for those attending KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in Seattle this week if they’re fans of the legendary rapper Ice Cube.

        The cloud-computing startup Mesosphere is taking tech conference musical guests to a fun new level by presenting a side event Tuesday night called Ice Cube-Con. A website dedicated to the performance even reads “Straight Outta KubeCon” in a nod to NWA’s 1988 debut album “Straight Outta Compton.”

      • Celebrating K8s crates inflation rate, Linux mates congregate

        A number of open source types are heading toward Seattle, Washington, on Monday, if they’re not already installed there, to attend the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s (CNCF) KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2018 confab.

        The forecast for the cloud-centric event is rain, with widespread Kubernetes. The gathering begins Tuesday, not counting preparatory cocktails. Nonetheless, a press release downpour should arrive on Monday in which less consequential announcements get served as hors d’oeuvres.

        Platform9, a managed hybrid cloud service, plans to tout a handful of corporate customers – Aruba Networks, EBSCO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Juniper Networks, and Snapfish – who’ve started using its managed Kubernetes service. The idea is that if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.

      • Introducing the Interactive Deep Learning Landscape

        The artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning (DL) and machine learning (ML) space is changing rapidly, with new projects and companies launching, existing ones growing, expanding and consolidating. More companies are also releasing their internal AI, ML, DL efforts under open source licenses to leverage the power of collaborative development, benefit from the innovation multiplier effect of open source, and provide faster, more agile development and accelerated time to market.

        To make sense of it all and keep up to date on an ongoing basis, the LF Deep Learning Foundation has created an interactive Deep Learning Landscape, based on the Cloud Native Landscape pioneered by CNCF. This landscape is intended as a map to explore open source AI, ML, DL projects. It also showcases the member companies of the LF Deep Learning Foundation who contribute contribute heavily to open source AI, ML and DL and bring in their own projects to be housed at the Foundation.

      • Linux Foundation’s ONAP ‘Casablanca’ Enables 5G Management

        Today’s topics include the Linux Foundation adding new features to ONAP Casablanca for 5G enablement, and Censys raising seed money to expand internet scanning for threat hunting.

        The Linux Foundation’s LF Networking project group last week took the next step in delivering an open-source platform to enable telecom providers to deploy next-generation network services.

      • The Joint Development Foundation Joins the Linux Foundation Family to Drive Adoption of Open Source and Standards

        The Linux Foundation and the Joint Development Foundation today announced an agreement to bring the Joint Development Foundation into the Linux Foundation family to make it easier to collaborate through both open source and standards development. The Joint Development Foundation is a nonprofit that provides a “standards organization in a box” to enable groups to quickly establish projects. With today’s news, the Linux Foundation and the Joint Development Foundation plan to provide greater capabilities for communities to engage in open source and standards development to speed industry adoption.

        “Linux Foundation communities have been engaged in developing open standards and specifications around Linux since day one and more recently with newer efforts such as OpenChain and the Open Container Initiative to collectively solve technical challenges,” said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation. “Leveraging the capabilities of the Joint Development Foundation will enable us to provide open source projects with another path to standardization, driving greater industry adoption of standards and specifications to speed adoption.”

      • How CNCF Is Growing the Cloud Landscape at KubeCon

        Thousands of developers, vendors and end users alike are descending on Seattle from Dec. 11-13 for the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America event. They are all here to learn and talk about the growing cloud native landscape, anchored by the Kubernetes container orchestration system.

        Among those at KubeCon is Chris Aniszczyk, Chief Operating Officer of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). In a video interview with eWEEK, Aniszczyk provides insight into the KubeCon event as well as highlighting the current and future direction of the CNCF, which now hosts 31 different open-source efforts.

        [...]

        Aniszczyk is also particularly enthusiastic about the Envoy project, which was created by ride-sharing company Lyft and officially joined the CNCF in September 2017. Envoy is a service mesh reverse proxy technology that is used to help scale micro-services data traffic. Among the organizations that are now using Envoy are Square, Stripe, Amazon and Google.

    • Graphics Stack

      • V3D Compute, VC4 display, PM

        For V3D last week, I resurrected my old GLES 3.1 series with SSBO and shader imgae support, rebuilt it for V3D 4.1 (shader images no longer need manual tiling), and wrote indirect draw support and started on compute shaders. As of this weekend, dEQP-GLES31 is passing 1387/1567 of tests with “compute” in the name on the simulator. I have a fix needed for barrier(), then it’s time to build the kernel interface. In the process, I ended up fixing several job flushing bugs, plugging memory leaks, improving our shader disassembly debug dumps, and reducing memory consumption and CPU overhead.

      • AMD Outs New Vega 10 & 20 IDs With Linux Driver Patch

        AMD may have accidentally revealed some new products containing its Radeon RX Vega 10 and Radeon RX Vega 20 graphics technologies. The company patched its RadeonSI Mesa and AMDKFD/AMDGPU kernel drivers with new PCI IDs; no other changes were made with the patch.

        Phoronix reported that the patch added six new IDs released to Vega 10: 0×6869, 0x686A, 0x686B, 0x686D, 0x686E, and 0x686F. These are new IDs that were previously only referenced in an update to macOS Mojave and GPUOpen’s lists of GFX9 parts. That could mean AMD plans to introduce new Vega 10 products sooner than later, but the company might also be internally testing new products that are a ways from release.

      • AMD Files Trademark For Vega II

        It looks like AMD could be announcing Vega II as new 7nm Vega GPUs soon complementing the recently announced Vega 20 Radeon Instinct MI50 / MI60 accelerators.

      • The Linux Direct Rendering Manger Subsystem Poised To Have A Second Maintainer

        For hopefully helping out with code reviews and getting code staged in a timely manner before being upstreamed to the mainline Linux kernel, Daniel Vetter of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center is set to become a co-maintainer.

        Daniel Vetter who has been with Intel OTC for a number of years working on their Linux graphics driver has proposed becoming a DRM co-maintainer, “MAINTAINERS: Daniel for drm co-maintainer…lkml and Linus gained a CoC, and it’s serious this time. Which means my [number one] reason for declining to officially step up as drm maintainer is gone, and I didn’t find any new good excuse.”

    • Benchmarks

      • An Initial Look At The Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver PerformanceAn Initial Look At The Intel Iris Gallium3D Driver Performance

        One of the most exciting developments in the open-source Intel driver space this year was the Iris Gallium3D driver taking shape as what’s destined to eventually succeed their “classic” i965 Mesa driver. With Iris Gallium3D maturing, here’s a look at how the performance currently stacks up to their mature OpenGL driver.

        The Intel Iris Gallium3D driver is designed for Skylake (potentially Broadwell too) support and newer generations while being a forward-looking driver and utilizes their mature NIR compiler support. Iris holds much more performance potential than their classic Mesa driver albeit the developers haven’t really taken to performance optimizations yet but rather getting the driver up and running, eliminating test suite failures, and getting to the point of feature parity with the i965 driver.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE4 and Qt4 deprecation in FreeBSD

        This is a reminder — for those who don’t read all of the FreeBSD mailing lists — that KDE4 is marked deprecated in the official ports tree for FreeBSD, and will be removed at the end of this year (in about 20 days). Then Qt4 will be removed from the official ports tree in mid-march.

        Since both pieces of software are end-of-life and unmaintained upstream already for several years, the kde@ team at FreeBSD no longer can maintain them. Recent time-sinks were dealing with OpenSSL 1.1.1, libressl, C++17, .. the code is old, and there’s newer, nicer, better-maintained code available generally by replacing 4 with 5.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Devs Experiment with a Refreshed GTK & Icon Theme

        Now, if you’re a regular reader of this site then may recall our post on a new GNOME icon theme back in July. At the time only a handful of core GNOME apps had been given newly redesigned icons.

        Fast forward a season or so and not only is the give-core-apps-new-icons initiative well underway, but the redesign effort has extended to other parts of the desktop experience, including the default theme.

        Modernising the look and feel of GNOME apps and the shell is a) a bit overdue and b) happening as part of a wider update to GNOME design guidelines. The idea is to give the desktop a distinct yet consistent appearance.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The PCLinuxOS Magazine Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1

        The PCLinuxOS Magazine staff is pleased to announce the release of the Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1 of the PCLinuxOS Magazine. The PCLinuxOS Magazine is a product of the PCLinuxOS community, published by volunteers from the community. The magazine is lead by Paul Arnote, Chief Editor, and Assistant Editor Meemaw.

    • Arch Family

      • Arch Linux Users With Intel Graphics Can Begin Enjoying A Flicker-Free Boot

        It looks like the recent efforts led by Red Hat / Fedora on providing a flicker-free Linux boot experience and thanks to their upstream-focused approach is starting to pay off for the other desktop Linux distributions… A flicker-free boot experience can now be achieved on Arch Linux with the latest packages, assuming you don’t have any quirky hardware.

        A Phoronix reader reported in earlier today that Arch Linux as of the 4.19.8-arch1-1-ARCH kernel is working out well for the seamless/flicker-free boot experience. The caveat though — like with Fedora — is that it only works with Intel graphics hardware/driver for now and does require setting the “i915.fastboot=1″ kernel module parameter.

    • Slackware Family

      • KDE Plasma 5 for Slackware – end of the year edition

        I just uploaded a whole new batch of packages containing KDE Plasma5 for Slackware. The previous batch, KDE 5_18.10 is already two months old and has some library compatibility issues. The new KDE 5_18.12 for Slackware consists of KDE Frameworks 5.53.0, Plasma 5.14.4 and Applications 18.08.3. All this on top of Qt 5.11.3.
        Compiled on the latest Slackware -current, it’s running smoothly here on my laptop.
        I decided against upgrading to QT 5.12.0. This is a new LTS release, but I will wait for the other distros to find bugs in this new software. Next week, KDE will release KDE Applications 18.12.0 and that too is something I want to check a bit before releasing Slackware packages. Therefore it’s likely that a new batch of packages containing Qt 5.12 and KDE Applications 18.12 will see the light shortly after the New Year.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29 Release Party Novi Sad

        Fedora 29 Release Party was held at University of Novi Sad in Serbia like our previous events. Around 50 Fedorians were presents, and I am happy to report that I saw a lot of new faces.

      • Fedora Looks To Build Firefox With Clang For Better Performance & Compilation Speed

        Following the move by upstream Mozilla in switching their Linux builds of Firefox from being compiled by GCC to LLVM Clang, Fedora is planning the same transition of compilers in the name of compilation speed and resulting performance.

        FESCo Ticket 2020 laid out the case, “Mozilla upstream switches from gcc to clang and we’re going to follow upstream here due to clang performance, maintenance costs and compilation speed. Tom Stellard (clang maintainer) has asked me to file this ticket to comply with Fedora processes.”

      • Work in progress: PHP stack for EL-8
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.11 is out
        • [Tor] Transparency, Openness, and Our 2016 and 2017 Financials

          After completing a standard audit for 2016, our 2016 federal tax filings and audit, along with our 2017 federal tax filings, are available. We publish all of our related tax documents because we believe in transparency.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • IoT Gateway uses Ubuntu Core and integrates with AWS IoT Greengrass

            Rigado’s Cascade IoT Gateway running Canonical’s secure operating system Ubuntu Core, has integrated with the newly released Amazon Web Services (AWS) IoT Greengrass features to help give teams an easy-to-use mechanism to get Bluetooth-based data to their cloud applications.

            This new functionality combines the scalability of AWS IoT Greengrass edge computing with the flexibility of Bluetooth connectivity and is provided as part of Rigado’s “edge-as-a-service” Cascade IoT Gateway. The direct connection from the Bluetooth sensor to the cloud is made possible through the integration of AWS IoT Greengrass and Rigado’s Edge Connect on the Cascade gateway. It provides the ability to interact with Bluetooth devices using Rigado REST APIs via AWS Lambda. AWS IoT Greengrass Connectors, a new feature of AWS IoT Greengrass, allows applications to connect to AWS services including Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), and Amazon CloudWatch. This allows for a full data chain with little to no coding required.

          • Ubuntu burrows deeper into Kubernetes clouds

            Canonical is taking steps to cement the presence of its Ububtu Linux in the cloud through the appeal of containers and Kubernetes.

            The company has expanded its partnership with Supermicro on OpenStack while smoothing the design and deployment of containers on Ubuntu clusters on cloud.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 556
          • Canonical makes Kubernetes moves

            When last I spoke to Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s founder, in Berlin, he told me that — when it comes to Kubernetes — enterprise “Kubernetes runs on Ubuntu.” Kubernetes, the most popular cloud container orchestration program, “makes life easier for people who want portability across public clouds. With multiple Kubernetes clusters you have one common way to run workloads on Linux over both private and public clouds.”

          • Canonical announces support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu

            Canonical is pleased to announce full enterprise support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu, including support for kubeadm, and updates to MicroK8s – our popular single-node deployment of Kubernetes.

            Canonical’s certified, Charmed Distribution of Kubernetes (CDK) is built from pure upstream binaries, and offers simplified deployment, scaling, management, and upgrades of Kubernetes, regardless of the underlying hardware or machine virtualisation. Supported deployment targets include AWS, GCE, Azure, VMware, Openstack, LXD, and bare metal.

            CDK integrates tightly with underlying cloud services and hardware without requiring special configuration – from exposing the GPU to leveraging cloud native services like load balancers and storage. Each component of CDK can be easily scaled to an HA or minimal configuration, and upgrades from one version to the next are a breeze.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Nextcloud 15 goes social, enforces 2FA and gives you a new generation real-time document editing

    Nextcloud 2018 ends the year with a big announcement: Nextcloud 15 is here! This release marks a big step forward for communication and collaboration with others in a secure way, introducing…

  • Nvidia Open Sources Physics Engine

    Nvidia has released a new version of its physics engine, PhysX, and has made it open source. The developers say the engine has been upgraded to provide industrial grade simulation quality at game simulation performance.

    PhysX was already available for use for free, even in commercial projects, but the fact it is now open source means developers can modify the engine if they want to without paying a license fee.

  • 5 things you won’t learn from The Open Organization Leaders Manual

    Today the open organization community—a global group of writers, consultants, theorists, managers, and other organizational leaders dedicated to helping others understand how open principles can transform organizational culture and design—unveiled the second edition of The Open Organization Leaders Manual. Billed as “a handbook for building innovative and engaged teams,” the book is available now as a Creative Commons-licensed eBook and a paperback.

  • Companies behind on digital transformation get ahead with open leaders

    One source of that disruption is digitization. Digitization is reshaping the way we lead, manage, and work. Even in the scope of the last decade, we’ve seen rapid adjustments to how we live, connect, and receive services. While we’ve been discussing ad nauseum how (or whether) we should be redefining organizational cultures and business models, the clock has been ticking, and the pace of digitization has not been slowing. In his book The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology, author Venkat Venkatraman argues that, by 2025, differences between digital and non-digital functions, processes, and business models will no longer exist.

  • DAV1D v0.1 AV1 Video Decoder Released

    Out today is DAV1D as the first official (v0.1) release of this leading open-source AV1 video decoder.

    This release was decided since its quality is good enough for use, covers all AV1 specs and features, and is quite fast on desktop class hardware and improving for mobile SoCs.

  • PikcioChain plans for open-source MainNet in roadmap update

    France-based PikcioChain, a platform designed to handle and monetize personal data, has announced changes to its development roadmap as it looks towards the launch of its standalone MainNet and block explorer in the first quarter of 2019.

  • New Blockstream Bitcoin Block Explorer Announces The Release Of Its Open Source Code Esplora

    Blockstream has just announced a release of Esplora, its open source software. This is the software that keeps the website and network running. This new release follows on the heels of its block explorer that was released in November to the public.

    The company released the block explorer, and after making sure it was successful, released the code behind that block explorer. This way, developers can easily create their block explorers, build add-ons and extensions as well as contribute to Blockstream.info.

  • Will Concerns Break Open Source Containers?

    Open source containers, which isolate applications from the host system, appear to be gaining traction with IT professionals in the U.S. defense community. But for all their benefits, security remains a notable Achilles’ heel for a couple of reasons.
    First, containers are still fairly nascent, and many administrators are not yet completely familiar with their capabilities. It’s difficult to secure something you don’t completely understand. Second, containers are designed in a way that hampers visibility. This lack of visibility can make securing containers extremely taxing.

  • Huawei, RoboSense join group pushing open-source autonomous driving technology

    Telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Technologies, its semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon and RoboSense, a maker of lidar sensors used in driverless cars, have become the first Chinese companies to help establish an international non-profit group that supports open-source autonomous driving projects.

    The three firms are among the more than 20 founding members of the Autoware Foundation, which aims to promote collaboration between corporate and academic research efforts in autonomous driving technology, according to a statement from the group on Monday.

    The foundation is an outgrowth of Autoware.AI, an open-source autonomous driving platform that was started by Nagoya University associate professor Shinpei Kato in 2015.

  • Events

    • Red Hat KubeCon Seattle 2018 Events & Demos

      Stop by the Red Hat booth D1 to explore 1:1 demos and speak with our open source specialists. We’ll be giving away Red Hat beanies, stickers, Command Line Hero coloring books and more, while supplies last.

    • Future Session #10 Open Innovation & Open Design

      On November 27th 2018, The Spindle, in collaboration with HumanityX, organised a Future Session about global technological developments and open innovation & open design. Participants to this meeting came from various organisations, sectors, and backgrounds, which provided fruitful input and discussions, especially during the workshop part of the session.

      The session was led by expert Diderik van Wingerden, who is an Open Source Innovation expert and pragmatic idealist. To find out more about Diderik and his work, visit www.think-innovation.com. You can find Diderik’s presentation and the material that he used for this session here.

      Introduction to Technological Trends

      Diderik started off by presenting a great selection of today’s technological trends and developments, among which virtual reality, big (open) data, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, 3D printing, open source & open design, internet of things and robots & drones.

    • 40 top Linux and open source conferences in 2019

      Every year Opensource.com editors, writers, and readers attend open source-related conference and events hosted around the world. As we started planning our 2019 schedules, we rounded up a few top picks for the year.

      Which conferences do you plan to attend in 2019? If you don’t see your conference on this list, be sure to tell us about it in the comments and add it to our community conference calendar. (And for more events to attend, check out The Enterprisers Project list of business leadership conferences worth exploring in 2019.)

  • Web Browsers

    • HTC Exodus: Open Source Brave to be Blockchain phone’s default web browser

      HTC’s latest release HTC Exodus 1 is set to introduce the free and open source blockchain-backed Brave as its default browser.

      In a tweet, the CEO & Co-Founder of Brave and Basic Attention Token (BAT) Brendan Eich, shared the development. Brendan said, “We are very happy to have @Brave as default browser & to be working with HTC on their Exodus phone”.

    • Chrome

      • Microsoft vs the web

        I have been saying for a few years now that Chrome is the new IE, and the Google is the new Microsoft (Microsoft being the new IBM). This statement have been somewhat tongue in cheek, but I have always been serious about it not being a joke: history is repeating. I could got at length on all the reasons why I believe this to be true, but I’ll just talk about one new development.

        Last week, Microsoft announced that they had decided to abandon EdgeHTML, their web browser engine, and move to be using Google’s Chromium as the heart of the web browser offering, Edge. [1] Whether it will be just Blink and V8 (Web rendering and JS engine respectively) or also parts of Chromium is something unclear.

      • What is Chromium and why is Microsoft using it for Edge?

        Chromium is very similar. You can install a standalone application for Windows, macOS and any flavor of Linux named Chromium that’s a complete web browser complete with synchronization through Google’s could services. But Chromium is also the name of the open-source code project used to make Chromium, as well as the Chrome web browser, Chrome OS, Amazon Silk, and the Android Chrome web-view component companies like Twitter can use to build a browser into an application.

      • How Microsoft Is About to Make Google Chrome Even Better
    • Mozilla

      • If your bug bounty program is private, why do you have it?

        The big bug bounty platforms are structured like icebergs: the public bug bounty programs that you can see are only a tiny portion of everything that is going on there. As you earn your reputation on these platforms, they will be inviting you to private bug bounty programs. The catch: you generally aren’t allowed to discuss issues reported via private bug bounty programs. In fact, you are not even allowed to discuss the very existence of that bug bounty program.

        I’ve been playing along for a while on Bugcrowd and Hackerone and submitted a number of vulnerability reports to private bug bounty programs. As a result, I became convinced that these private bug bounty programs are good for the bottom line of the bug bounty platforms, but otherwise their impact is harmful. I’ll try to explain here.

      • BBN challenge resolution: Exploiting the Screenshotter.PRO browser extension

        The time has come to reveal the answer to my next BugBountyNotes challenge called Try out my Screenshotter.PRO browser extension. This challenge is a browser extension supposedly written by a naive developer for the purpose of taking webpage screenshots. While the extension is functional, the developer discovered that some websites are able to take a peek into their Gmail account. How does that work?

        If you haven’t looked at this challenge yet, feel free to stop reading at this point and go try it out. Mind you, this one is hard and only two people managed to solve it so far. Note also that I won’t look at any answers submitted at this point any more. Of course, you can also participate in any of the ongoing challenges as well.

      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

        It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use.

      • Version 64.0, first offered to Release channel users on December 11, 2018
      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

        It’s the season for spending time with family and friends over a nice meal and exchanging gifts. Whether it’s a monogrammed bag or a nicely curated 2019 calendar of family photos, it’s the practical gifts that get the most use.

        For Firefox, we’re always looking for ways to simplify and personalize your online experience. For today’s version of Firefox for desktop, we have a couple new features that do just that.

      • Firefox 64.0 Released with Enhanced Tab Management

        Mozilla Firefox announced new stable 64.0 release a few hours ago with new features and performance improvements.

      • Mozilla Firefox 64 Now Available for Download on Windows, Linux, and macOS

        Mozilla has just released Firefox 64 stable for users on Windows, Linux, and macOS, with the Android version likely to be updated in the coming hours.
        While checking for updates using the built-in update engine may not offer you Firefox version 64, you can download the browser using the links below, as Mozilla has just updated its servers with the new builds.

        Firefox 64 introduces a series of changes that were previously tested as part of the beta versions, including recommended extensions. This feature is supposed to help improve the experience with the browser by providing suggestions on services that are relevant to your activity.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Pimcore Closes $3.5M in Series A to Expand Open-Source Data and Experience Management Platform Into the U.S.
    • Open source software platform Pimcore raises $3.5M funding

      Pimcore, open-source software platform startup, has raised $3.5 million in the first funding round to expand operations in India and enhance marketing activities in the US. The funding round was led by German Auctus Capital Partners AG.

      The firm focuses on user experience, data management among other solutions. The Austria headquartered startup, which has agreements with Infosys, Happiest Minds, and UST Global for implementation of its software platforms, is looking to expand product development activities in India as well.

    • Solo.io raises $11M to help enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies

      Solo.io, a Cambridge, Mass-based startup that helps enterprises adopt cloud-native technologies, is coming out of stealth mode today and announcing both its Series A funding round and the launch of its Gloo Enterprise API gateway.

      Redpoint Ventures led the $11 million Series A round, with participation from seed investor True Ventures . Like most companies at the Series A state, Solo.io plans to use the money to invest in the product development of its enterprise and open-source tools, as well as to grow its sales and marketing teams.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 9 Guts Out The PowerPC SPE Support

      It should come as no surprise since it was deprecated in this year’s GCC 8 release, but the PowerPC SPE code has been removed.

      This isn’t to be confused with conventional POWER/PowerPC but rather PowerPC SPE that is for the “Signal Processing Engine” on older FreeScale/IBM cores like the e500. It’s not all that important these days and doesn’t affect newer versions of the 64-bit Power support.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • How Shared, Open Data Can Help Us Better Overcome Disasters

        WHEN A MASSIVE earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant failed, leaking radioactive material into the atmosphere and water. People around the country as well as others with family and friends in Japan were, understandably, concerned about radiation levels—but there was no easy way for them to get that information. I was part of a small group of volunteers who came together to start a nonprofit organization, Safecast, to design, build, and deploy Geiger counters and a website that would eventually make more than 100 million measurements of radiation levels available to the public.

        We started in Japan, of course, but eventually people around the world joined the movement, creating an open global data set. The key to success was the mobile, easy to operate, high-quality but lower-cost kit that the Safecast team developed, which people could buy and build to collect data that they might then share on the Safecast website.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital Takes A RISC

        Proponents of RISC-V say that it that enables the diversity of Big Data and Fast Data applications and workloads proliferating in core data centers and in remote and mobile systems at the edge. It provides an alternative to current, standard, general purpose compute architectures. With RISC-V, open standard interfaces can be utilized to enable specialty processing, memory centric solutions, unique storage and flexible interconnect applications. The RISC-V Foundation has a broad ecosystem represented by the significant increase in attendees at the 2018 Summit compared to 2017.

      • The Year 2018 in Open Hardware

        2018 saw several open hardware projects reach fruition. Where the open hardware movement goes from here, remains to be seen.

        2018 was not “The Year of Open Hardware,” any more than it was the fabled “Year of the Linux Desktop.” All the same, 2018 was a year in which open hardware projects started to move from fundraising and project development to product releases. Many of these open products were traditional hardware, but 2018 also saw the release of innovative tech in the form of new and useful gadgets.

        In the background, open hardware hangs on to traditional niches. These niches occur at the intersection of altruism, hobbyists, academia, and the market, to say nothing of crowdfunding and the relative affordability of 3D printing. A prime example of this intersection is the development of prosthetics. Much of the modern work in open hardware began almost a decade ago with the Yale OpenHand project. At the same time, sites like Hackaday.io offer kits and specifications for hobbyists, while the e-NABLE site has become a place for exchanging ideas for everyone from tinkerers to working professionals in the field. As a result, open hardware technology in the field of prosthetics has grown to rival traditional manufacturers in a handful of years.

        This niche is a natural one for open hardware not only because of the freely available resources, but for simple economics. Traditionally manufactured prosthetic hands begin at about $30,000, far beyond the budgets of many potential customers. By contrast, an open hardware-based company like the UK based Open Bionics can design a cosmetically-pleasing hand for $200, which is still a large sum in impoverished areas, but far more obtainable. A non-profit called Social Hardware estimates that a need for prosthetic hands in India alone numbers 26,000 and hopes to help meet the demand by offering a development kit on which enthusiasts can learn and later donate their results to those who need them.

      • This MIT Developed 3D Printer Is 10 Times Faster Than Modern 3D Printers

        3D printers have become more and more useful in the mass production of complex products that are cheaper and stronger. However, the only issue with 3D printing is its slow speed. These desktop 3D printers can print only one product at a time and only one thin layer at a making.

      • Accelerating 3-D printing

        Imagine a world in which objects could be fabricated in minutes and customized to the task at hand. An inventor with an idea for a new product could develop a prototype for testing while on a coffee break. A company could mass-produce parts and products, even complex ones, without being tied down to part-specific tooling and machines that can’t be moved. A surgeon could get a bespoke replacement knee for a patient without leaving the operating theater. And a repair person could identify a faulty part and fabricate a new one on site — no need to go to a warehouse to get something out of inventory.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python Community Interview With Brian Peterson

      To date, I’ve interviewed people you’ve likely heard of before from the Python community. But this column isn’t just about interviewing the rock stars and core devs. It’s also a means to shine light on the huge contributions to the community that can often go unthanked and overlooked. As such, I present to you Brian Peterson.

      Brian is a project manager by day, and by night he’s one of the moderators of the Pythonista Café, a peer-to-peer learning community for Pythonistas. In our interview, we talk about how Python helps him in his role as a project manager, and how moderating a large forum for Python enthusiasts has impacted his coding chops. Let’s dig in!

    • Building a GraphQL API with Django
    • Create the pause scene for the game
    • PyDev of the Week: Steve Dower
    • How to Fix your Python Code’s Style
    • LLVM’s OpenMP Runtime Picks Up DragonFlyBSD & OpenBSD Support

      Good news for those using the LLVM Clang compiler on OpenBSD or DragonFlyBSD: the OpenMP run-time should now be supported with the latest development code.

    • Nick Cameron: Rust in 2022

      In case you missed it, we released our second edition of Rust this year! An edition is an opportunity to make backwards incompatible changes, but more than that it’s an opportunity to bring attention to how programming in Rust has changed. With the 2018 edition out of the door, now is the time to think about the next edition: how do we want programming in Rust in 2022 to be different to programming in Rust today? Once we’ve worked that out, lets work backwards to what should be done in 2019.

      Without thinking about the details, lets think about the timescale and cadence it gives us. It was three years from Rust 1.0 to Rust 2018 and I expect it will be three years until the next edition. Although I think the edition process went quite well, I think that if we’d planned in advance then it could have gone better. In particular, it felt like there were a lot of late changes which could have happened earlier so that we could get more experience with them. In order to avoid that I propose that we aim to avoid breaking changes and large new features landing after the end of 2020. That gives 2021 for finishing, polishing, and marketing with a release late that year. Working backwards, 2020 should be an ‘impl year’ – focussing on designing and implementing the things we know we want in place for the 2021 edition. 2019 should be a year to invest while we don’t have any release pressure.

      To me, investing means paying down technical debt, looking at our processes, infrastructure, tooling, governance, and overheads to see where we can be more efficient in the long run, and working on ‘quality of life’ improvements for users, the kind that don’t make headlines but will make using Rust a better experience. It’s also the time to investigate some high-risk, high-reward ideas that will need years of iteration to be user-ready; 2019 should be an exciting year!

    • A Java Developer Walks Into A Ruby Conference: Charles Nutter’s Open Source Journey

      As a Java developer, Nutter began looking for an existing way to run Ruby within a Java runtime environment, specifically a Java virtual machine (JVM). This would let Ruby programs run on any hardware or software platform supported by a JVM, and would facilitate writing polyglot applications that used some Java and some Ruby, with developers free to choose whichever language was best for a particular task.

    • Good ciphers in OpenJDK
    • Don’t delete the same file in its own directory
    • Create a home button on the pause scene
    • Discovering the pathlib module

      The Python Standard Library is like a gold mine, and the pathlib module is really a gem.

    • QtCreator CMake for Android plugin

      It’s about QtCreator CMake for Android! I know it’s a strange coincidence between this article and The Qt Company’s decision to ditch QBS and use CMake for Qt 6, but I swear I started to work on this project *before* they announced it ! This plugin enables painless experience when you want to create Android apps using Qt, CMake and QtCreator. It’s almost as easy as Android Qmake QtCreator plugin! The user will build, run & debug Qt on Android Apps as easy as it does with Qmake.

    • Testing Your Code with Python’s pytest, Part II
    • Top Tips For Aspiring Web Developers

      As we’re a portal geared towards open-source development, we’re naturally going to bang the drum about the benefits of getting involved in open-source projects. There are so many fantastic open-source projects that are still going strong today – WordPress, Android and even Ubuntu/Linux to name but a few. Open source projects will give you direct hands-on experience, allowing you to build your own portfolio of work and network with other like-minded developers too.

    • Announcing Rust 1.31 and Rust 2018

      The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.31.0, and “Rust 2018″ as well. Rust is a programming language that empowers everyone to build reliable and efficient software.

    • A call for Rust 2019 Roadmap blog posts

      It’s almost 2019! As such, the Rust team needs to create a roadmap for Rust’s development next year.

    • Processing CloudEvents with Eclipse Vert.x

      Our connected world is full of events that are triggered or received by different software services. One of the big issues is that event publishers tend to describe events differently and in ways that are mostly incompatible with each other.

      To address this, the Serverless Working Group from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) recently announced version 0.2 of the CloudEvents specification. The specification aims to describe event data in a common, standardized way. To some degree, a CloudEvent is an abstract envelope with some specified attributes that describe a concrete event and its data.

Leftovers

  • Egypt investigates ‘pyramid nude photo shoot’

    Climbing the pyramids was banned in the 1980s after a number of tourists died attempting to scale them.

  • Science

    • 50 Years Later, We Still Don’t Grasp the Mother of All Demos

      Fifty years ago today, Doug Engelbart showed 2,000 people a preview of the future.

      Engelbart gave a demonstration of the “oN-Line System” at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 1968. The oN-Line System was the first hypertext system, preceding the web by more than 20 years. But it was so much more than that. When Engelbart typed a word, it appeared simultaneously on his screen in San Francisco and on a terminal screen at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. When Engelbart moved his mouse, the cursor moved in both locations.

      The demonstration was impressive not just because Engelbart showed off Google Docs-style collaboration decades before Google was founded. It was impressive because he and his team at SRI’s Augmentation Research Center had to conceive of and create nearly every piece of technology they displayed, from the window-based graphical interface to the computer mouse.

    • Screen Time Changes Structure of Kids’ Brains, ‘60 Minutes’ Says

      In brain scans of 4,500 children, daily screen usage of more than seven hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex, the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world. Though the difference was significant from participants who spent less screen time, NIH study director Gaya Dowling cautioned against drawing a conclusion.

    • When algorithms go wrong we need more power to fight back, say AI researchers

      The report examines the social challenges of AI and algorithmic systems, homing in on what researchers call “the accountability gap” as this technology is integrated “across core social domains.” They put forward ten recommendations, including calling for government regulation of facial recognition (something Microsoft president Brad Smith also advocated for this week) and “truth-in-advertising” laws for AI products, so that companies can’t simply trade on the reputation of the technology to sell their services.

      Big tech companies have found themselves in an AI gold rush, charging into a broad range of markets from recruitment to healthcare to sell their services. But, as AI Now co-founder Meredith Whittaker, leader of Google’s Open Research Group, tells The Verge, “a lot of their claims about benefit and utility are not backed by publicly accessible scientific evidence.”

    • How a telescope forum feud ended with prison time

      Goodyear swore innocence at first, but after increasingly pointed questioning, he confessed. One of his accounts had been banned a couple of weeks ago, he said. In a sudden rage, he’d spammed the site with pornography, then posted its address on a site called HackForums.net, asking for someone to attack it. “I was just, like, what the fuck am I being banned for? I was just pissed,” he told his visitors — one from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and another from the Los Angeles Police Department. “I just went up in, just the heat of the moment.”

      His visitors seemed mildly amused by the forum drama, and he chatted with them about his $100,000 telescope collection before they left. But one year later, Goodyear was arrested. In December 2018, he was sentenced to more than two years in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    • 5 Ways Your Phone Is Secretly Destroying Your Life

      For starters, infants and toddlers were found to be more emotionally distressed and less likely to explore their environments when their mothers were on their phones. In fact, excessive phone use was considered a form of “maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness.”

      That problem continues into tweenhood, where 32 percent of children aged eight to 13 reported feeling unimportant when their parents used their phones during dinner, conversations, and other family occasions, and over half the children in the study felt that their parents used their phones too much in general. Another study suggested that kids were more likely to act out to get the attention of a phone-using parent, while the parents were more likely to be irritable in their responses, feeding a negative cycle.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Just pee in a cup for bladder cancer detection

      Now, scientists have figured out how to use atomic force microscopy (AFM) to detect bladder cancer in urine samples. By analyzing only five cells, it can achieve 94 percent accuracy.

    • Best Option For Funding Medicare For All May Be Employer Mandate

      One of the biggest political and technical hurdles standing in the way of Medicare for All is deciding how to pay for it, but voters have made clear there is one option they would support: simply requiring every employer to purchase Medicare (or equivalent) coverage for their employees.

      This is the least disruptive option. It is successfully used by other countries. Most importantly, it is the only idea that is both popular and can reasonably produce enough money to fund the program.

      In 2016, the United States spent more than $1.12 trillion on private insurance and another $352.5 billion on out-of-pocket expenses. It will be necessary to make up this roughly $1.4 trillion in either taxes, cost-sharing reforms, or new deficit spending in order to move toward a universal system with no or only nominal cost-sharing.

      A well-structured employer mandate is the only option with clear majority support which would produce enough revenue. Most importantly, the idea of an employer mandate has grown more popular in recent years—from 53 percent of Americans in favor in 2016, to 62 and 63 percent in 2017, to 69 percent just last month—even though it has been attacked aggressively by lobbying groups.

      In some polls, the employer mandate even scores slightly better than providing people subsidies to buy insurance or imposing higher taxes on rich people.

    • Experts Call For Global Accountability Mechanism For Access To Essential Medicines

      Global health experts, including senior officials at the World Health Organization, are calling for a global accountability mechanism for access to essential medicines, noting that a the lack of data on medicines affordability and national pharmaceutical expenditures has hindered this process, according a recent article published in UK medical journal The Lancet.

      “The focus of accountability should move away from measuring only availability of medicines towards the effectiveness, quality, and efficiency of patient-centred comprehensive primary care services, which encompasses equitable access to essential medicines,” they said.

      Authors include WHO Deputy Director General Mariângela Simão and WHO Director of Essential Medicines and Health Products Suzanne Hill, along with an array of academics and other experts.

      The article stated that “high-level discussions between WHO, the Lancet Commission, other UN agencies, and NGOs have led to the identification of four priorities to ensure the development of a global Accountability Mechanism for Access to Essential Medicines.”

    • Under Trump, More People Live Without Health Coverage

      The number of adults living in the United States without health coverage increased by more than half a million during President Trump’s first year in office, after steadily declining since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 and began expanding health coverage for millions of people, according to data released Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

      Trump has promised to “blow up” the ACA and his administration has worked to weaken certain key provisions ever since Republicans in Congress failed to repeal and replace the health care law early 2017. The administration also drastically cut funding for and access to outreach programs that help people enroll in the ACA health coverage marketplace.

      The number of uninsured adults under the age of 65 declined dramatically from 44 million in 2013 to just below 27 million in 2016, as ACA provisions expanding Medicaid and offering subsidized insurance plans for people with lower incomes went into effect, according to the Kaiser report. In the first year after Trump took office in 2017, the number of adults living without health coverage increased by nearly 700,000, when about 10 percent of US residents reported living without health insurance.

    • ‘We Can’t Enact Our Agenda Without Seats at the Table’: Tens of Thousands Sign Petition Demanding Powerful Ways and Means Committee Seat for Ocasio-Cortez

      As the House’s key tax-writing body, as Common Dreams previously reported, Ways and Means will have enormous power over every central policy goal of the Democratic Party’s growing progressive wing—from Medicare for All to a Green New Deal to tuition-free public college.

      By vying for a seat on the powerful committee—a spot freshmen are almost never given—Ocasio-Cortez is taking on Wall Street Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi (N.Y.), a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative.

  • Security

    • An evil Penguin grabs the persistence partition’s key of a friend’s Tails operating system
    • Pop the Box

      Let[s] talk a little about this box. In this HTB machine we will see only one port is open and that will be the http one , we will fireup the dirbuster to find the different files and directories inside that website. We will came to know about the phpbash file from where we will be getting code execution. After getting the ever shell we will enumerate more and will be able to find the way to escalate the privileges and became root. This time I have made two video[s] the first one will be on getting our first reverse shell on the box and the second one will be on how we will be able to escalate the privileges. Hope you guys will enjoy it. In last but not the least I have uploaded some file[s] from which you will be able to learn about bash scripting, python and you will learn about the cronjob working.

    • Linux 4.21 Will Better Protect Against Malicious Thunderbolt Devices

      Linux 4.21 is set to further improve the system security around potentially malicious Thunderbolt devices.

      The new protection with Linux 4.21 is the enabling of IOMMU-based direct memory access (DMA) protection from devices connected via Thunderbolt. PCI Express Address Translation Services (PCIe ATS) is also disabled to prevent possibly bypassing that IOMMU protection, per this pull.

    • Google to Shut Down Google+ 4 Months Earlier After Second Data Hack

      Google+ still hadn’t recovered from the data leak it suffered in October. And now it has to go through the same fortune yet again. The company today announced that a new security loophole found last month can impact 52.5 million users. The data of these users can be taken from the apps that use the API of Google+.

      The data of the 52.5 million users consists of their personal information like name, age, occupation, and email address. Even if the accounts are set on private, developers will be able to access the profile information due to the security bug. Even if the information was set to private, developers had easy access to the data of the users.

    • Expediting changes to Google+

      In October, we announced that we’d be sunsetting the consumer version of Google+ and its APIs because of the significant challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations, as well as the platform’s low usage.

      We’ve recently determined that some users were impacted by a software update introduced in November that contained a bug affecting a Google+ API. We discovered this bug as part of our standard and ongoing testing procedures and fixed it within a week of it being introduced. No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the app developers that inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.

      With the discovery of this new bug, we have decided to expedite the shut-down of all Google+ APIs; this will occur within the next 90 days. In addition, we have also decided to accelerate the sunsetting of consumer Google+ from August 2019 to April 2019. While we recognize there are implications for developers, we want to ensure the protection of our users.

    • Google+ closure brought forward after more data leaks

      Google has advanced the date for shutting down its Google+ social network from August 2019 to April 2019, after discovering another bug that leaked the data of some 52.5 million users.

    • Google will shut down Google+ four months early after second data leak

      Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days.

      According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.

    • What’s the most secure operating system?

      Linux has a family of different free versions (known as distributions, or distros) to choose from, based on users’ computer skills. If you’re just getting started, check out Mint or Ubuntu. And because Linux is open-source, users can make copies of modified systems and give them away to friends in need.

    • Choose the Right VPN for Linux in 2019
    • Cryptomining campaign pulls new ‘Linux Rabbit’ malware out of its black hat [Ed: No, it's not ‘Linux Rabbit’ but ‘Weak Password Rabbit’; calling it Linux is rather misleading, distracts from the real problem.]
    • Linux malware: is it so hard to get it right? [Ed: Recognising Catalin Cimpaun for what he really is (and has always been): a clickbaiting troll. For CBS to employ him for ZDNet says a lot about the agenda.]

      Once again, so-called security researchers and tech writers have combined to provide misinformation about trojanised SSH scripts which can be run on a Linux server after said server is compromised through a brute-force attack and root status attained. And they call it Linux malware!
      Security firm ESET and ZDNet writer Catalin Cimpanu have both got it wrong in the past — the latter on numerous occasions as he simply does not seem to understand anything about the Linux security model — but both continue to persist in trying to pursue the topic. ESET has gone in the wrong direction on torrent files and clients too.

      Arguably, there is reason to do so: Linux and malware in the same headline do still serve as some kind of clickbait.

      [...]

      Cimpanu was more descriptive, but again made the same fundamental mistake. Malware can be created for any operating system, but the crucial question is how do you get it onto that system?

      [...]

      Cimpanu’s former employer, Bleeping Computer, was also prone to screw-ups of this nature. Here is the editor of Bleeping Computer, Lawrence Abrams, expounding on ransomware targeting Linux servers.

      But then Bleeping Computer is a relatively small operation. One would have thought that ZDNet, which has tons of resources, would have a little more editorial quality control.

    • Open Source Risk Continues to Challenge Organizations’ Software Security [Ed: Veracode reminds us that it’s nothing more but a propaganda campaign against FOSS, looking to make money in the process (pushing proprietary ‘solutions’). There’s also a Microsoft connection.]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Ransomware still dominates the global threat landscape

      Ransomware attacks continues as the main world’s main security threat and the most profitable form of malware, but a new global report indicates that despite “copious” numbers of infections daily there’s emerging signs the threat is no longer growing.

    • Someone messed with Linux.org’s DNS to deface the website’s homepage [Ed: That's not "deface"' but more like redirect and it's not the site's DNS system but something upstream, another company that's at fault]

      SO IMAGINE YOU REALLY LOVE OPEN SOURCE; you’ve poured yourself a glass of claret from a wine box and have settled into a night of perusing Linux.org. You feel a tingle of excitement as you type in the URL – you’re old skool – but that sours to despair as you see a defaced website greet your eyes.

      Yep, it looks like someone managed to get into the Linux.org website’s domain name service (DNS) settings and point the domain to another server that served up a defaced webpage, which depending on when you may have accessed it, greeted visitors with racial slurs, an obscene picture and a protest against the revised Linux kernel developer code of conduct.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Dave Lindorff Explores the Pentagon’s Financial Mysteries

      Long-time investigative reporter Dave Lindorff explores the Pentagon’s financial mysteries, including massive unaccounted-for spending and decades of non-compliance with audit law.

    • This Is What It Looks Like When Imperialism Comes Home

      You have to hand it to him—the man has a way with words and he sure knows how to fire up his base. Early in November, President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in Montana, and he gushed with pride about his recent deployment of active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. The commander in chief bragged about the job his troops were doing in fending off the “invasion”—that isn’t an invasion at all, of course—from a “caravan” of asylum-seeking Central American migrants who were, at the time, 700 miles away. Regarding recent footage of those troops working on the border, he casually said he “noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire, used properly, can be a beautiful sight.” Beauty, as they say, is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

      Now, at least for the next two months, Mr. Trump remains this soldier’s commander in chief, so I won’t remark on him or his general personality. Still, I was more than a little troubled by this astounding comment. It’s not just that these migrants are empirically not an invading force, generally not “armed,” and certainly not infused with “unknown Middle Easterners” (read: terrorists). And it’s not just that the United States is itself at least partially to blame for the refugee crisis infecting Central America. Nor is it that the sight of tear gas fired at women and children—in scenes reminiscent of the Gaza Strip—is more than a little distressing.

    • Border Patrol Arrests 32 at San Diego Demonstration

      U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers.

      A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.

    • Vladimir Putin Outmaneuvers the U.S. Yet Again

      Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin has racked up another win in his latest skirmish with the west.

      The victory took place Nov. 25 in the Kerch Strait, the narrow strip of water separating the disputed Crimean Peninsula from the Russian mainland to the east. It occurred when the Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels. As always, the details are in dispute, with the Ukrainians claiming that their boats informed the Russians about their plans to navigate the strait but received no reply and Russia saying the opposite.

      But there’s no doubt as to the result. By briefly closing the strait, Russia has demonstrated that it can restrict access at will to roughly half the Ukrainian coastline that lies within the Sea of Azov, including the economically vital ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. Although Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko immediately called for Western intervention, it also demonstrated that there is little NATO can do in response.

      While expressing “full support” for Ukraine, the alliance said nothing about Poroshenko’s request that NATO ships force their way through the Kerch Strait in defiance of the blockade. The same goes for Ukraine’s call to Turkey to close off Russian naval access to the Dardanelles, the equally narrow body of water connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s only response was an offer to mediate.

    • The ADA Is Not Bush Sr.’s Legacy. It Belongs to Disability Activists.

      On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Introduced into the United States Congress in 1988, the ADA is widely recognized and commemorated by disabled people as landmark civil rights legislation and as the culmination of decades of grassroots organizing by disabled people and their allies.

      Together, the titles that comprise the ADA are designed to provide equal access to persons with disabilities and to bar discrimination against us in all areas of public life. While not a panacea for the oppression of all disabled people in the United States, the ADA has, for example, transformed many built environments in essential ways that make community living for disabled people more possible. Although often unrecognized, these modifications — such as curb cuts, ramps, closed captioning and audio-visual announcements on transit — benefit non-disabled people as well.

      The death of the former president on World AIDS Day 2018 has inspired a flurry of hagiographies, some penned by disability rights advocates, that feature the passage of the ADA as a prominent part of Bush’s legacy as a “kinder, gentler” leader. These reconfigurations of history, in which Bush is imagined as the engine of the disability rights movement, cast a long shadow on the struggle of disabled people and imperil disabled peoples’ activist movements today.

    • War Over Ukraine?

      Who wants to go to war against Russia in defense of Ukraine over the Kerch Strait, which lies between the Black and Azov seas and between Russia’s Taman Peninsula and Russian-annexed Crimea?

      [...]

      True, in a week or two, we noninterventionists may look as though we overreacted to the Kerch Strait “crisis.” But who knows? Why take a chance? War would be a catastrophe, maybe the biggest the world has ever seen. I’d rather overreact now than regret not having said anything later.

      The U.S. government has no businesses policing relations between Ukraine and Russia. Even if that role were appropriate for some party, the U.S. government would not be the one because it hardly has clean hands in the matter. Since the 1990s after the peaceful fall of the Soviet Union, Democratic and Republican presidents have threatened Russia by moving the anti-Soviet NATO alliance — which at the latest, should have ended with the fall — right up to Russia’s border, contrary to late President George H. W. Bush’s assurances, by incorporating former Soviet allies and republics.

    • AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?

      Amid the George HW Bush imperial death-orgy, the endless saga of Midtown Mussolini’s daily news cycle, the seemingly unprecedented political upsurge in France, and countless other show-stopping news stories, you likely missed three very sad, yet revealing, incidents out of the Sahel region of West-Central Africa.

      First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

      Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

      And on the very same day, also in Diffa near the Niger-Nigeria border, suspected Boko Haram militants killed seven employees of Foraco, a French well drilling and mining company.

      This spate of deadly, and rather brazen, attacks on civilians along the Niger-Nigeria border paints a troubling picture of the continued instability of the region, and give the lie to the idea that counter-terrorism operations, ongoing for a number of years now, have put Boko Haram and other terror groups on the back foot.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Guardian’s WikiLeaks ‘expose’ only revealed its own incompetence

      Does The Guardian’s latest “expose” on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — currently falling apart in real time — represent its greatest fail yet, in its long and tempestuous history with the Prisoner of Knightsbridge?

      Last week, the paper claimed that Assange had held secret meetings with Trump associate Paul Manafort all the way back in 2012. These deep background stories were soon discredited by embassy security officials of the time.

    • James Goodale, ’58: Former General Counsel of the New York Times and Famous First Amendment Lawyer on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      It’s not a stretch to say that few people are disliked more within media circles than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Yet with the news that Trump’s Justice Department has filed secret charges against him, the rights of many journalists who despise Assange may also hang in the balance.

      It’s still unclear what charges the Justice Department is bringing against Assange, who has lived under diplomatic protection in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years. But if the secret charges implicate any of WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, it could ironically be just the precedent the Trump administration needs to directly go after journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post.

      With that in mind, I recently spoke to James Goodale — the famed First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel the New York Times, who led the paper’s legal team in the famed Pentagon Papers case — about the dire impact the Justice Department’s move may have on press freedom, regardless of whether people consider Assange himself a “journalist.”

    • Assange now “insecure”

      According to the British government, they would never extradite a person to a country where his life is at risk. “He will spend a few months in jail, after that, freedom,” Moreno said. Assange faces a British arrest warrant over violating bail conditions by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, but Sweden, which originally sought to question him on sexual abuse allegations, has said it is no longer seeking to extradite him.

    • Truth and Free Speech Are Being Taken Away From Us

      The attack on Julian Assange is the arrow aimed at the heart of the ability to publish the truth.

    • Major players in Trump-Russia drama seek to dismiss DNC suit alleging international conspiracy

      A group of defendants — including the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and a member of President Donald Trump’s family — unleashed a wave of court filings late last week, a deluge of documents totaling more than 150 pages. It amounts to the most comprehensive legal defense yet presented in the Russia probe, seeking to have the Democrats’ case thrown out.

    • Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks Seek To Kill DNC Hacking Suit
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • By Accident of Fate: The Fires in Paradise

      I breathe dead people. The words ran unfettered across the chalkboard of my mind as I drove the curves of Oregon Route 66 back down into Ashland. It had taken nearly a week for the haze to blow north into our valley from the horrific and devastating Camp Fire that was burning three hours south.

      We experienced days and weeks of smoke in our valley this past summer so thick you couldn’t see the street signs. The haze I saw below wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was surprised how I hadn’t really noticed it until I got up out of it for the day. Sort of how it’s not as easy to see the forest when stuck in the trees.

      I chastised myself for the morbid words that flickered unbidden through my brain as I drove. But then I considered the possible truth of them. What are we actually breathing when so much goes up in flames?

    • The Dream of Capturing Coal’s Carbon Emissions Is Dead. Someone Should Tell Trump.

      This week, a Trump official at the U.S. government’s pro-fossil fuel event at the United Nations climate talks made clear that the idea of burying carbon emissions from coal plants is still alive.

      Wells Griffith, an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said at the event: “For the U.S. energy policy, it’s not about keeping [fossil fuels] in the ground but about using them cleanly.”

      Griffith added: “Alarmism should not silence realism. This is a forum for fact science-based discussions on climate realities.”

      His conclusions make for great talking points, but they’re far from reality. After more than a decade of failed demonstration projects, a recently rescinded $1.1 billion DOE research program, and the Trump administration’s move to roll back requirements that all new coal plants have “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) capabilities, the promise of so-called “clean coal” technology is dead.

    • As Uprising Spreads Across Globe, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky Among Signers of Open Letter Backing Extinction Rebellion

      After starting in the United Kingdom just months ago with a mere 10 members dedicated to pressuring their elected officials to urgently confront the climate crisis, the Extinction Rebellion has quickly ballooned into a global movement spanning an estimated 35 countries—a testament to the growing disaffection with the deadly climate status quo and hunger for transformative change among the world’s population.

      “In the two months since our first action, we have expanded more than we imagined,” Liam Geary Baulch, a U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion activist, told The Guardian. “We are now planning to change our structure so it can accommodate up to two million people.”

      In a sign of the movement’s rapid spread beyond the streets of London, Extinction Rebellion banners have been seen over the past several days at rallies in Katowice, Poland, the site of the ongoing COP24 climate conference. According to the movement’s principal organizers, the goal is to build up to a massive international day of action next April.

    • As Trump Pushes Planetary Destruction at COP24, Investors Holding $32 Trillion Demand Bold Climate Action

      As a new report reveals (pdf) that asset management behemoth BlackRock is continuing to finance “the destruction of our planet”—and the Trump administration pushes that path at the United Nations climate talks—hundreds of global investors holding $32 trillion in assets called for world leaders to commit to greater action to address the climate crisis.

      “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society, and the financial system to climate risks,” a statement signed by 415 investors declared Monday as the COP24 climate summit was underway.

      The signers, including HSBC Global Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller, and Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System, warned of the potentially catastrophic “ambition gap” between the Paris climate accord goal of limiting warming to below 2˚ Celsius and what countries have committed to doing.

    • As Demand for Urgent Transformation Intensifies, New Study Shows Hotter Planet Making Extreme Weather Deadlier

      Titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective” and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), the series of new studies identify a total of 15 weather events that took place throughout the world last year that were made significantly more likely by the human-caused climate crisis, such as deadly heatwaves in China and catastrophic flooding from Uruguay to Bangladesh.

      “A warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year,” BAMS editor-in-chief Jeff Rosenfeld said in a statement. “The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.”

    • ‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      “When the people rise up, the powers come back. They tried to stop us but we keep coming back,” sang the protesters as they occupied Pelosi’s office.

    • “Our Leaders Are Behaving Like Children”: Teen Climate Activist Confronts World Leaders at U.N. Summit

      Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, this week, where world leaders gathered to negotiate climate solutions were confronted last week by a teenage climate activist who says they are not doing enough to turn back the clock and prevent catastrophic climate change. Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg stunned the world last week when she denounced world leaders for inaction and told them: “change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” She has made international headlines since launching a school strike against climate change in her home country of Sweden earlier this year. Every Friday, she protests outside the parliament building in Stockholm instead of attending school, and her actions have inspired thousands of students across the globe to do the same. Before we speak with Thunberg in person, we play an excerpt of her speech that went viral. “I like school, and I like learning,” said Greta, who plans to end her strike when Sweden starts cutting carbon emissions by 15 percent a year. “But why should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more? This is more important than school, I think.”

    • Climate Activists Arrested en Masse at Offices of Top Democrats

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      [...]

      Many also wore T-shirts emblazoned with the following message: “We have a right to good jobs and a livable future,” two key components of the Green New Deal, which would create 10 million jobs in the first decade by putting Americans to work building a green energy infrastructure that would be sustainable for decades and centuries to come—unlike the current coal-, oil-, and gas-reliant system which scientists say will push the warming of the planet past the point of return unless carbon emissions hit net-zero by 2050.

      The halls erupted in cheers when Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the incoming chair of the House Rules Committee, told the group that he would join 22 of his colleagues in backing the creation of a House Select Committee with a mandate to pass a Green New Deal.

    • ‘An Indication of What’s Coming’: Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought

      “The Arctic is an indication of what’s coming to the rest of the globe,” noted Walt Meier, a sea ice expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And while the timeline is uncertain, the region appears on-track to experience an ice-free summer.

      “In the Arctic Ocean, a difference of 2 degrees can be huge. If it goes from 31 Fahrenheit to 33 Fahrenheit, you’re going from ice skating to swimming,” Meier told the Post. “Looking down from the North Pole from above, for all intents and purposes, you’re going to see a blue Arctic Ocean.”

      If ice-free summers become the Arctic’s new normal, it would be an “unmitigated disaster,” concluded Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Such conditions, he warned, could add another half-degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) to the already-alarming rates of global temperature rise.

    • Climate Scientist: World’s Richest Must Radically Change Lifestyles to Prevent Global Catastrophe

      The 24th United Nations climate summit comes amid growing warnings about the catastrophic danger climate change poses to the world. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe—with severe droughts, floods, sea level rise and extreme heat set to cause mass displacement and poverty. But on Saturday, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked language “welcoming” the landmark IPCC climate report. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. A recent report likened the rising emissions to a “speeding freight train.” We speak with Kevin Anderson, professor in climate change leadership at Uppsala University’s Centre for Environment and Development Studies, and 15-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg about the drastic action needed to fight climate change and the impact of President Trump on climate change activism.

    • Biological Annihilation

      been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up. After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

      Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

      Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change. In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming. Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.

      With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

    • The Arctic Just Had Its Hottest Five Years on Record, and It’s Only Getting Worse: Report

      Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their Arctic Report Card this week, with the equivalent of failing grades for a critical marker of environmental health.

      The oldest and thickest ice in the region has declined by 95 percent, meaning, as The Washington Post reported Monday, that “the sea at the top of the world has already morphed into a new and very different state, with major implications not only for creatures such as walruses and polar bears but, in the long term, perhaps for the pace of global warming itself.”

      The age of the ice is directly related to its ability to protect the earth. “The younger the ice, the thinner the ice, the easier it is to go away,” Don Perovich, a scientist at Dartmouth who coordinated the sea ice section of the yearly report, told the Post. The thinner, younger ice may be able to regrow more easily, but as the Post notes, that’s not helpful for climate change: “It may not add much stability or permanence to the Arctic sea ice system if it just melts out again the next summer.”

  • Finance

    • Crypto Diehards Say Slump Is `Bump in the Road’ Before Growth
    • Crypto Market Crash Leaving Bankrupt Startups in its Wake

      Many of the companies are suffering because they kept a portion of their funds in digital assets, whether in tokens they sold through initial coin offerings or in Bitcoin and Ether, which served as the preferred means of exchange in the crypto world. As prices collapsed this year by more than 90 percent in some cases, and their so-called digital wallets thinned out, many developers found they couldn’t raise additional funding.

    • Jeff Bezos Earns [sic] More In 30 Seconds Than The Average Worker Makes In A Year

      Helped by the asset-friendly policies of the world’s largest central banks, the wealthiest 1% of the world now owns nearly half the wealth. The 54 billionaires living in the 54 UK alone have an aggregate $160 billion in wealth, equivalent to over 6% of Britain’s GDP. Meanwhile, the average worker earns about $37,000 a year. Virgin CEO Richard Branson earns that amount in roughly 25 minutes.

    • Uber Is Headed for a Crash

      By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?

      [...]

      If Uber were to drive all competitors out of business in a local market and then jack up prices, customers would cut back on use. But more important, since barriers to entry in the taxi business are low, and Uber lowered them further by breaking local regulations, new players would come in under Uber’s new price umbrella. So Uber would have to drop its prices to meet those of these entrants or lose business.

    • Inequality at the Center of Chicago Charter School Strikes

      Chicago teachers are making history again. Educators at Acero Schools have just reached a tentative deal with their employer after staging the first charter school strike in the nation. After nearly a week of walkouts, the teachers will return to the classroom after the charter network agreed to raises, smaller class sizes, and protections for undocumented students.

      The more than 500 educators who walked out last week are members of a charter division of the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, which staged a hugely influential strike in 2012 that hit a national nerve. And, like with the 2012 strike, a whole host of inequality-related issues were brought front and center by the walkout, from school closings to executive pay and immigration.

      Most of the teachers’ demands centered on improving learning conditions in the classroom. Reductions in the 32-student class size, increased special education funding, and more time for lesson planning were just a few of the issues at play. Educators were also pushing for raises — a CTU statement said that Acero was spending $1 million less in program salary costs in 2018 than it did in the previous year.

    • Brexit Deal in Turmoil as May Postpones Parliament Vote

      Facing almost certain defeat, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal, saying she would go back to European Union leaders to seek changes to the divorce agreement.

      May’s move threw Britain’s Brexit plans into disarray, intensified a domestic political crisis and battered the pound. With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal was not up for renegotiation, the country does not know on what terms it will leave — and whether May will still be Britain’s leader when it does.

      In an emergency statement to the House of Commons, May accepted that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” if the vote were held Tuesday as planned.

      May said she would defer the vote so she could seek “assurances” from the EU and bring the deal back to Parliament. She did not set a new date for the vote. The U.K.’s departure is supposed to take place on March 29.

      Opposition lawmakers — and ones from May’s Conservative Party — were incredulous and angry. Some accused her of trampling on parliamentary democracy.

      “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

    • ‘The System Is Shaken’: As Yellow Vests Persist in France, Macron Bends With Minimum Wage Hike and Pension Tax Canceled

      Following four weeks of “Yellow Vest” protests which have erupted into violence at times, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated Monday that his government can no longer ignore the demands of hundreds of thousands of citizens—announcing a minimum wage increase and a cancellation of a tax on retirees, but still refusing to relent on one of his most widely-criticized tax reforms.

      In a pre-recorded televised address, Macron told the country that the minimum wage would be raised by €100, or $113, per month. As part of the “concrete measures” he said must happen to alleviate the suffering of low- and middle-income French households, a planned tax on pensions under €2,000 will be canceled and overtime pay will be tax-free.

      The announcement follows weeks of protests which first began in rural areas but have spread across the country, with Parisian officials calling for a lockdown over the weekend after more than 100,000 protesters poured into the city’s streets. More than 1,200 demonstrators were arrested on Saturday.

    • May Should Admit That Brexit Has Failed

      Facing a historic defeat for her Brexit deal in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May has, almost unbelievably, managed to make things worse.

      In a speech before the House of Commons on Monday, May postponed a vote on the deal and vowed to reopen talks with the European Union on the most contentious aspect of the whole undertaking, the Irish border. She offered few specifics, little direction, and only the haziest of timelines. To call this the worst of all worlds is only a slight exaggeration.

      It had been clear for weeks that May’s deal — hard fought over months of negotiation — was facing a landslide rejection in the House of Commons. And rightly so: It would stunt Britain’s economy, burden its companies, and infringe its sovereignty, offering essentially no benefits and solving no problems. Everyone hated it.

      Even so, proceeding with the vote had a certain logic. It would have allowed Parliament to reject the deal, and cleared the way for work to begin on alternatives. The country and its voters would have been offered at least the possibility of a way forward. What they got instead was yet more paralysis.

    • How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card

      The Venezuelan government has promoted a Social Benefits Card to facilitate the distribution of goods and services at a time when the country is beset by a pernicious financial blockade that makes it difficult to access food and medicine.

      The sanctions applied against Venezuela by the USA, Canada and European allies are ILLEGAL. They violate the Charter of the UN and the charter of the OAS. But that has not stopped these countries and their corporations – their one desire is to get hold of the country’s oil and gold.

      Instead of implementing “austerity” policies, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has, on the contrary, used every means possible to mitigate the impact of this blockade on its people. In order to efficiently distribute benefits, it is necessary – as logic and good sense indicates- to have an accurate idea of how many people need what services and how many access them. Hence the social benefit card, or as it is called there El Carnet de la Patria (literally, the ID of the Homeland).

      Any Venezuelan can obtain this card – there are no restrictions of any kind, no one is asked whom they voted for, who they will vote for, what party they belong to, or their opinion of the government. It is a free card to all. It is an instrument to help the public services cater to the people’s needs.

    • How the IRS Was Gutted

      In the summer of 2008, William Pfeil made a startling discovery: Hundreds of foreign companies that operated in the U.S. weren’t paying U.S. taxes, and his employer, the Internal Revenue Service, had no idea. Under U.S. law, companies that do business in the Gulf of Mexico owe the American government a piece of what they make drilling for oil there or helping those that do. But the vast majority of the foreign companies weren’t paying anything, and taxpaying American companies were upset, arguing that it unfairly allowed the foreign rivals to underbid for contracts.

      Pfeil and the IRS started pursuing the non-U.S. entities. Ultimately, he figures he brought in more than $50 million in previously unpaid taxes over the course of about five years. It was an example of how the tax-collecting agency is supposed to work.

      But then Congress began regularly reducing the IRS budget. After 43 years with the agency, Pfeil — who had hoped to reach his 50th anniversary — was angry about the “steady decrease in budget and resources” the agency had seen. He retired in 2013 at 68.

      After Pfeil left, he heard that his program was being shut down. “I don’t blame the IRS,” Pfeil said. “I blame the Congress for not giving us the budget to do the job.”

    • Robert Reich: Trump’s Tax Policy Risks Global Recession

      I needn’t remind you that your Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and the rich by about $150 billion annually. You claimed it would cause companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American jobs. They didn’t. (See General Motors.)

      They spent most of their tax savings buying back their own shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not surprisingly, the boost was temporary. Last week the stock market erased all its gains for 2018, and worse may be in store. The whole American economy is slowing.

      Your tariffs could put us into a recession. The world’s other big economies are slowing, too. In 1930, congressmen Smoot and Hawley championed isolationist tariffs that President Herbert Hoover signed into law. They deepened the Great Depression.

    • Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression

      My views on these matters were first put forward in a blog post titled “Did World War Two End the Great Depression”, written in September, 2011. It cited a Paul Krugman Op-Ed piece written in 2008 and titled “Franklin Delano Obama?”. Krugman made the case that “What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.” With respect to the public works projects mentioned by Al Ronzoni, Krugman described them as “largely offset by other factors, notably a large tax increase, enacted by Herbert Hoover, whose full effects weren’t felt until his successor took office.”

      In Krugman’s view, FDR was someone who “thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans.” Sounds rather like Obama, doesn’t it? In fact, Krugman’s op-ed was a cautionary tale warning Obama, the supposed new FDR, not to be as tightfisted with government-funded recovery programs as occurred during the New Deal unless he wanted to take “big risks with the economy and with his legacy.”

      Well, given the high costs of another world war (after all, those H-Bombs can make a real mess of things), Obama didn’t even create a public works program—the only option open to him. In fact, as I have argued, Obama was inspired more by Herbert Hoover than FDR. As someone who relied heavily on U. of Chicago economists, he was not likely to embark on a new New Deal despite all the advice he got from Paul Krugman, The Nation Magazine, Huffington Post, et al.

      While I found Krugman’s arguments convincing, they lacked the economic data that would “close the deal” on how the Depression ended. In the December 1994 Journal of Economic History, there’s an article by J.R. Vernon titled “World War II Fiscal Policies and the End of the Great Depression” that is the standard against which FDR New Deal nostalgia must be measured. (Vernon’s article can be downloaded from https://www.researchgate.net/.)

      Vernon starts off by presenting statistics that make it abundantly clear that fully half of the recovery from the depths of 1933 were realized in just two years: 1941 and 1942. Using Department of Commerce data, Vernon makes the case that the recovery was 78.7 to 86.7 percent complete by the end of 1941 but only half-complete (40.8 to 46.0) by the end of 1940. when the recovery still had more than halfway to go.

    • The Yellow Vests Rise Up Against the Elites and Neoliberal Austerity

      While Americans have been preoccupied by the nostalgic reminiscence and burial of a former president, French citizens have been engaged in mass civil disobedience enacted by the gilets juanes or “Yellow Vests,” the roadside safety vests French drivers are required to have. This action reflects and exposes social divisions barely recognized and inadequately addressed by both the neoliberal corporate right and the traditional social democratic parties, both in the U.S. and in France.

      To put this dispute into terms American drivers would understand the government of President Emmanuel Macron proposed a hike of 28 cents per gallon for diesel and 17 cents per gallon for gasoline. Though these taxes were the immediate trigger, the context in which this policy was imposed made the difference. In domestic economic policy Macron has been a smoother French version of Donald Trump. The tax on diesel followed a whole series of tax gifts to the most wealthy French citizens and businesses, including elimination or reduction of estate and wealth taxes as well as the replacement of a progressive income tax with a flat tax. These tax policies were a neoliberal dream that had already become a nightmare for working class citizens.

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Congress For Giving Themselves Cheap Healthcare

      Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had some choice words about the U.S. healthcare system after comparing what she’s paying now as a Congresswoman to what she paid as a waitress for her healthcare plan — and she’s on a mission to reform it all.

      Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said during her on-boarding to Congress, she was allowed to pick her insurance plan. In doing so, the disparity of what she used to pay earning far less money became quite clear.

      “As a waitress, I had to pay more than TWICE what I’d pay as a member of Congress,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s frustrating that Congressmembers would deny other people affordability that they themselves enjoy.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hightower Hits a Wall

      Not so this week, when Creators editor Maxine Mulvey called Hightower staffer Melody Byrd and told her they wouldn’t be distributing the Nov. 27 column entitled, “Free the free press from Wall Street plunderers.” Byrd says Mulvey told her she liked the column, but that Creators could not risk retaliation from two named “plunderers”: Gatehouse Media and Digital First Media. Together the two mega-corps own some 1,500 newspapers (Gatehouse recently acquired the Austin-American Statesman), many of which use Creators’ material.

      Here’s some of what Hightower wrote about the companies: “They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product – then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.” (For background, Hightower cites the Dec. 27, 2017 American Prospect story, “Saving the Free Press from Private Equity.”)

    • Syndicated columnist censored for writing about the risks of hedge funds and billionaires buying papers

      Jim Hightower is a longstanding, respected columnist distributed by Creators Syndicate — but Creators refused to distribute his latest column, “Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers,” which warns about Wall Street vultures like Digital First Media and GateHouse Media buying up newspapers, including the Austin Statesman.

      The Austin Chronicle reports that Creators wouldn’t distribute the column because it feared retribution from the Wall Street firms; Creators managing editor Simone Slykhous told the Chronicle that “We have more than 200 columnists and cartoonists, and our job is to make sure that our actions do not negatively impact them.”

    • The Empress of Facebook: My Befuddling Dinner With Sheryl Sandberg

      The Facebook of 2013 is now a distant memory. As 2018 comes to a close—a “low dishonest” time, as Auden said of the 1930s—that high-flying, hardly working, nap-besotted, righteous Facebook has given way to one known for secrecy and collaboration with disinformation campaigns and computational propaganda. The purpose of these campaigns at Facebook, in the words of the Oxford Internet Institute at Balliol College, is to “hack people.”

      Hacking us. Not connecting us. I deactivated my Facebook account a year and a half ago, and at the same time sold the few shares of Facebook stock I’d bought to be a good sport on the day of the IPO. Sandberg’s credible moral superiority; her pose as a billionaire basic; and her obsession with eucalyptus-scented lifestyle questions had made me wonder, as far back as 2013, about the leadership at Facebook.

      We can’t remind ourselves enough: With 2.27 billion citizens, Facebook is by far the biggest empire the world has ever known. As with the British one—but more so—it’s inconceivable that the sun could ever set on it. Its users spend 950 million hours on it every day. The social, economic, and political lives of 2.27 billion users depends at least in part on Facebook’s policies, practices, and design. The moral responsibility of its leaders is crushing.

    • To Rebuild Trust, Facebook’s Zuckerberg Looked to Microsoft
    • Mark Zuckerberg has reached out to Microsoft president Brad Smith which is bad for Sandberg because… that’s basically her job

      Smith and Sandberg’s roles aren’t exactly the same, with each executive overseeing a slightly different portfolio of responsibilities. But Smith and Sandberg both essentially serve as the No.2 executive, alongside the CEO.

    • Kushner didn’t stop advising Saudi crown prince after Jamal Khashoggi murder

      Kushner’s attitude toward the Saudi crown prince is directly at odds with the stance articulated by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in an interview with The Atlantic published last week. Despite her plans to leave the administration, Haley is perceived as being on good terms with President Trump and his inner circle.

    • Full transcript reveals slain journalist Khashoggi’s last words: CNN

      Khashoggi, whose October death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul set off an international diplomatic crisis, protested and gasped for air as he was abducted and killed by a group of Saudi agents, some of whom have been identified as top Saudi government officials, the source told CNN.

    • New York Times: Kushner offered advice to Saudi crown prince after journalist’s death

      Although White House protocol stipulated that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi’s death, the Times reported, citing two former senior American officials and two people briefed by the Saudis.

    • Beto O’Rourke Is Like Obama. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing

      Despite narrowly losing his Senate campaign, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has clearly emerged from the 2018 election cycle as a rising star. In the weeks since Election Day, the spotlight on the Texas congressman has only intensified.

      The race had scarcely been called for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz when the speculation began about what O’Rourke would do next, and it didn’t take long for plenty of Democrats to imagine O’Rourke as a possible presidential contender in 2020. The national media followed closely behind.

      Earlier this month, no less a personality than podcaster, former Obama staffer and liberal tastemaker Dan Pfeiffer published “The Case for Beto O’Rourke.” His argument why O’Rourke should run for president: an ability to inspire enthusiasm among voters; the potential to build a winning national coalition; his au courant approach to fundraising and social media. Or, as one major donor put it more bluntly to Politico: “He’s Barack Obama, but white.”

    • Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn

      A secret UK Government-funded infowars unit based in Scotland sent out social media posts attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

      On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.

      But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.

      The “think tank” is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.

    • Russia linked to hacking of anti-propaganda initiative

      British intelligence officers are investigating a hack into a government-funded programme that counters Russian propaganda, The Times understands.

      The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, has launched an inquiry into digital breaches several weeks ago of the Institute for Statecraft.

      Russian media said last month that the hacker collective Anonymous had obtained documents from the Integrity Initiative — an anti-disinformation programme run by the institute — that proved it was part of a hybrid warfare project to interfere in other countries.

    • Where There’s Smock There’s Covfefe

      Laughter Is the Best Medicine Followed By Impeachment and Jail Time Dept: A terrible no good day for our spectacularly inept, perilously insecure “president” for whom mockery is the ultimate threat. First, his peeps were laughed/shamed off the stage at UN climate talks in Poland, where protesters eviscerated their claims that “unapologetic utilization” of “clean” coal, oil and gas is our future. Then, in his frantic Denial of the Day – on Twitter, of course, the new site for all presidential policy briefings – Trump arguably admitted to two felonies, offered a legal defense widely deemed “beyond unconvincing,” and did it with spelling errors that many commenters argued – and confirmed by asking their kids – fourth graders wouldn’t stoop to. “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion,” he blathered, going on to huff and puff about “a simple private transaction” and anyway Obama did it (not).

      Cue the quickly trending hashtag Smocking Gun, full of bad sewing puns, digs at Trump’s best words, and reminders the guy who keeps loudly, lamely protesting his innocence has again moved the proverbial goal post from “I didn’t do anything” to “even if I did, so what?” His idiocy, it is universally agreed, “makes a smockery of” our democracy, the presidency and basic literacy: “I always hope that it’s a parody account and it never is…Can I buy a smocking gun without a background check?…Dude what r U smocking???…It was #ScottFree with the #SmockingGun in the #Covfefe room… Smocky the Bear warned us about this. Only you can prevent re-electing dumb ass presidents.” To help us resist, the Washington Post Fact Checker has added a new mendacity rating for Trump, the “Bottomless Pinocchio,” for formerly 3 or 4 star lies repeated at least 20 times. So far, Trump has 14 whoppers that made the list. Meanwhile, even Fox News pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano actually said out loud that Trump may face indictments. Trump, Giuliani et al, he warned, “mock the government at their peril,” smocking gun or no.

    • Can a New Political Party Save America From Itself?

      When it comes to criticizing the Democratic Party, nothing speaks like experience within the belly of the beast. Ralph Nader is living proof. After years of effectively pressuring congressional Democrats to protect consumers and the environment against corporate greed, he watched firsthand as the party bowed to the demands of Big Business during the Jimmy Carter administration.

      And then there’s Nick Brana, the leading activist behind the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP). Like Nader, Brana isn’t content merely to expose the corruption of the dismal dollar Democrats—a party that late political scientist Sheldon Wolin rightly called “the inauthentic opposition.” He’s looking to replace them with something much better: let’s call it an “authentic opposition.”

      Don’t let his tender age of 29 fool you. Brana has served his time served his time inside the belly of the beast that is the Democratic donkey, first as a volunteer for Barack Obama and later as a member of John Kerry’s political action committee. These experiences gave him a front-row seat to the “quid pro quo” between concentrated wealth and elected officials.

      Brana later served as the deputy director for voter protection of close Clinton ally and top Democratic Party fundraiser Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign. It was, in his words, “a test run for the [2016] Hillary Clinton campaign.” There, Brana got to know future Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook and other high-ranking Clinton staffers.

    • Everybody Loves Redistricting Reform

      2018 was a banner year for redistricting reform, with voters in five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah — putting limits on extreme partisan gerrymandering.

      Not surprisingly, the reforms were especially popular among Democrats, who have been on the receiving end of gerrymandering this decade. But the measures also earned wide backing from Republicans, winning with more than 60 percent support in four of the five states.

      To understand how the measures did among voters, we analyzed the approval rate in each county and compared support for reform with votes cast in a statewide partisan election. Our preliminary analysis makes it clear that these proposals did strikingly well among Republicans, far outperforming candidates of either party in nearly every instance.

      In other words, while the political class may still be divided along partisan lines about fixing gerrymandering, voters aren’t. The American people are strongly in favor of efforts to reform how redistricting is conducted in the states so that partisan lawmakers don’t have unfettered control of the process.

    • Democrats’ 2020 battle royale is going to be brutal, dirty, and totally worthwhile

      Jostling for position in the 2020 Democratic primary has started already, God help us. And there is probably no way around a bitter fight between liberals and leftists over who is going to be the nominee.

      However, it might be possible to head off some of the bitterness that resulted from the 2016 primary by admitting the necessity of that fight and making it about ideology and policy to the greatest possible degree.

      The first big flare-up of 2020 has already happened, over Beto O’Rourke. The failed Texas senate candidate got a ton of positive media attention during his campaign, leading to him being put forward by former Obama staffers as a good presidential candidate. Various lefties expressed some skepticism of this: Zaid Jilani and Branko Marcetic focused on his moderate policy record, particularly his support of financial deregulation, while I focused on how neither O’Rourke nor his Obamaworld supporters have deeply reckoned with the appalling consequences of the too-small stimulus or the corrupt bank bailout.

      It really got going when Elizabeth Bruenig wrote a much more gentle criticism in The Washington Post. She argued that while O’Rourke is well above average when it comes to a possible Texas Democratic senator, he isn’t the kind of full-throated progressive we should ask for, since about anyone should be able to defeat Trump.

    • As Schumer and Pelosi Offer Up $1.3 Billion, Progressives Say ‘Not One Dime’ Should Go to Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reportedly preparing to offer President Donald Trump $1.3 billion for his brutal anti-immigrant agenda during a scheduled budget meeting Tuesday morning, that was the message from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who joined other progressives in warning the Democratic leadership against capitulating to the Trump administration’s xenophobic border policies—and argued the amount of funding they should offer is zero.

      “If anything,” Ocasio-Cortez added in her tweet, “they need to fund healthcare for the children they have traumatized (with lifelong implications) after months of separation from their parents.”

    • See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White

      It is hard to watch TV these days without seeing reports pertaining to the recent death of the elder George Bush — former president, CIA director, and whitewashed war criminal. I call him a “whitewashed war criminal” because there are inconvenient truths that the mainstream media would rather ignore in favor of the usual hero worship that accompanies the death of a popular politician (see also: coverage on the death of John McCainor, even more egregiously, Richard Nixon). Sprucing up our departed politicians, disgraced or otherwise, seems to be a nod to our most respected civil discourse values, but it’s not a favor to the truth and the whitewashing only makes it more likely to happen again.

      Perhaps the most inconvenient truth relating to war crimes of Bush the Elder involves Panama in 1989. Under the guise of protecting democracy, then-President Bush illegally invaded a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the United States, calling it “Operation Just Cause,” in order to remove its ruler — with disastrous results. The U.S. government acknowledges that at least 300 Panamanian civilians were killed, but other sources have estimated that as many as several thousand were killed with tens of thousands displaced. At best you could call it an overreaction to Noriega’s involvement in drug trafficking and a peculiar form of democracy promotion. The era of slaughtering civilians as acceptable collateral damage is over in the eyes of international law and simple decency. Bush could have resolved that contretemps without Panamanian children and other noncombatants dying.

    • The Bad Ideas-Industrial Complex

      One of the integral components of Beltway ecology, along with the Pentagon, intelligence spooks, contractors, and lobbyists, is the think tank. Whether it’s called a foundation, an institute or a trust, it’s not only as important as the other big players, it synergizes with them and cements their power. And since the think tank is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 “charitable” or “educational” pursuit, it operates with an implicit taxpayer subsidy.

      Think tanks have been a part of the American scene since the early 20th century, when passage of the income tax motivated the super-rich to shield their money from the revenooers with some ostensibly do-gooding activity. Some of the major ones performed undeniably laudable works, such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s medical research, but from the beginning, even the highly prestigious foundations, such as Carnegie and Ford, engaged in studies that inevitably impacted the politics of the day.

      That said, the Washington think tank world, at least through mid-1960s, was a mostly gentile and prestigious activity whose directorships were suitable for the political elite. McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson, left government to become president of the Ford Foundation, while Dean Rusk, secretary of state in both administr

    • In Major Victory for Progressives, Democratic Leadership Abandons Tax Rule That Would Have Made Bold Agenda Impossible

      In a major victory for the growing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and everyone who supports popular solutions like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and tuition-free public college, the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday ditched plans to impose a widely denounced right-wing tax rule that would have made a bold agenda impossible to fund.

      “We are pleased to announce that the rules package for the 116th Congress will not include the 3/5 supermajority tax provision promoted by House Republicans in recent years,” the CPC wrote on Twitter. “The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ‘A Cowardly Act’: Democrat Leads Bipartisan Push to Sneak Criminalization of Pro-Palestinian BDS Campaign Into Must-Pass Spending Bill

      If passed, the measure would strike a significant blow against the growing Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement, which has been endorsed by two newly-elected Democratic members of Congress—Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

      “Regardless of how anyone may personally feel about BDS, Congress’ attempts to attach criminal penalties to freedom of expression against the Israeli occupation must not stand,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn.org, said in a statement on Monday. “Hiding anti-BDS legislation in end-of-the-year packages is a cowardly act and one that is being considered only because members of Congress know that this legislation would not pass muster if debated publicly and openly.”

      When Cardin’s bill was introduced in the Senate last year, it was co-sponsored by 42 Republicans, Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), and 15 Democrats—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

    • CNN Must Rehire Pundit Who Defended Democratic Rights

      As Marc Lamont Hill delivered his widely discussed speech at the United Nations on November 28, in which he expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and emphasized the need to protect the human rights and self-determination of all who lived “from the river to the sea,” he probably expected some critical response. What he likely didn’t expect was to be fired from his position as a CNN commentator, and to have his job as a professor at Temple University threatened.

    • Congress Is Trying to Use the Spending Bill to Criminalize Boycotts of Israel and Other Countries

      Congress is trying to sneak an unconstitutional ban on political expression into the spending bill in order to avoid public scrutiny.
      According to recent reports, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle are planning to sneak a bill criminalizing politically motivated boycotts of Israel into the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill.

      The bill’s original sponsor, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), is pushing Democratic leadership to include this bill, which has not moved forward thus far primarily because it violates the First Amendment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are reportedly leaning toward slipping the text into the spending bill, which needs to pass for the government to stay open.

      The ACLU has long opposed the Israel Anti-Boycott Act through its multiple iterations because the bill would make it a crime to participate in political boycotts protected by the First Amendment. Now, the bill’s sponsors are attempting to avoid public scrutiny by including the bill’s unconstitutional criminal penalties in must-pass legislation scheduled for a vote just days before Congress’ holiday recess — likely because it will be harder to pass in the new Congress.

      Earlier versions of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would have made it a crime — possibly even subject to jail time — for American companies to participate in political boycotts aimed at Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories when those boycotts were called for by international governmental organizations like the United Nations. The same went for boycotts targeting any country that is “friendly to the United States” if the boycott was not sanctioned by the United States.

    • 5 Questions Congress Should Ask Google’s Sundar Pichai

      On Tuesday, Pichai will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing focused on transparency, data collection, and filtering. Until now, Pichai has mostly avoided the public lashings in Washington that his contemporaries, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have received. In September, Google declined to send either Pichai or Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to testify alongside Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators instead vented their frustrations with Google to an empty chair, artfully reserved with a name plate for Page.

      Pichai has since held closed door meetings with leading Republicans, including House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who has repeatedly accused Google of skewing its search results in favor of Democrats and their causes. Both McCarthy and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte have signaled that these charges will be central to the committee’s questioning.

    • Human Rights Groups Blast Google for ‘Actively Aiding China’s Censorship and Surveillance Regime’

      The letter (pdf) came ahead of Pichai’s Tuesday morning testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Google’s data collection, use, and filtering practices. His prepared remarks (pdf) read, “I’m incredibly proud of what Google does to empower people around the world, especially here in the U.S.”

      Digital rights defenders, meanwhile, are concerned about the company’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China, warning that it “is likely to set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide.”

      Signed by 61 groups—including Amnesty International, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and Human Rights Watch—as well as 11 individuals that include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the letter points to a series of reports from The Intercept that detail how the project “would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China.”

    • Human rights groups press Google on China plans ahead of Pichai testimony

      “We are writing to ask you to ensure that Google drops Project Dragonfly and any plans to launch a censored search app in China, and to re-affirm the company’s 2010 commitment that it won’t provide censored search services in the country,” the letter, which is addressed to Pichai, begins.

    • Google CEO Has Serious Questions to Answer on China Censored Search

      Google CEO Sundar Pichai will appear before Congress later today to defend his company against allegations of political bias. Google is accused of rigging search engine results against US conservatives, so Pichai can expect the grilling to focus on Google’s domestic operations. But given some of Google’s current activities further afield, lawmakers in Washington would be wise to broaden the scope of their inquiry.

    • Human Rights Groups to Sundar Pichai: Listen to Your Employees and Halt Project Dragonfly

      EFF, as part of a coalition of over sixty other human rights groups led by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International —still have questions for Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO. Leaks and rumors continue to spread from Google about “Project Dragonfly,” a secretive plan to create a censored, trackable search tool for China. Media reports based on sources from within the company have stated that the project was being readied for a rapid launch, even as it was kept secret even from Google’s own security and privacy experts.

      These stories undermine the vague answers we were given in previous correspondence. On the eve of Pichai being called before the House Judiciary Committee, we have re-iterated our profound concern, and jointly called upon Google to halt Project Dragonfly completely.

      Silicon Valley companies know how dangerous it can be to enter markets without considering the human rights implications of what they do. A decade ago, following Yahoo’s complicity in the arrest and detention of journalist Shi Tao, and Google’s own fumbles in creating a Great Firewall-compatible search service, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo agreed to work with independent experts in the Global Network Initiative to stave off the use of new technology to conduct human rights violations. Members of the U.S. Congress concerned about Google and other tech companies’ co-operation with other governments, have been supportive of this open, cautious approach.

      But under Pichai’s leadership, Google appears to have ignored not just outside advice; the company has apparently ignored the advice of its own privacy and security experts. An Intercept article based on statements made by four people who worked on Project Dragonfly noted that Google’s head of operations in China “shut out members of the company’s security and privacy team from key meetings about the search engine … and tried to sideline a privacy review of the plan that sought to address potential human rights abuses.”

    • China has established an ethics committee to vet online games

      China has established a new ‘ethics assessment committee’ to vet online games for release in the country.

      As reported by state media agency Xinhua, the committee is comprised of online gaming experts and researchers from government departments, industry institutions, and media outlets.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • When Not Hiding Cameras In Traffic Barrels And Streetlights, The DEA Is Shoving Them Into… Vacuums?

      This almost sounds like an ultra-low tech version of the NSA’s hardware interdiction program. The NSA intercepts computer equipment to install hardware/software backdoors. The DEA’s vacuum camera possibly could be stashed in a Shop Vac en route to a targeted person/business. Either that or a DEA agent/informant is going to pretend to be a janitor and wheel around a loaded Shop Vac to capture footage.

      It’s weird but it’s pretty much in line with the DEA’s procurement history. A report from Quartz last month showed the DEA was buying cameras concealed in streetlights, traffic barrels, and speed-display road signs. The last one on the list doesn’t house ordinary cameras, but rather automated license plate readers.

      Are there Constitutional concerns? Sure. They’re pretty minimal in areas where any activity could be observed by a member of the public. But they’re not nonexistent. And much of this surveillance activity occurs with the silent blessing of the city governments that own the repurposed streetlights. The government has occasionally pushed for upgraded streetlight systems, with the main “improvement” being the addition of surveillance devices.

    • Mobile Location Scandals Keep Making Facebook’s Privacy Flubs Look Like Child’s Play

      Curiously, the Times doesn’t even mention the cellular carriers’ role in this problem, insisting that location data sales “began as a way to customize apps and target ads for nearby businesses.” In reality, cellular carriers have been tracking and selling your location data before the concept was even a twinkle in many app makers’ eye, and as the recent LocationSmart scandal (which exposed the personal data of nearly every mobile customer in North America) made very clear, this data is sold to dozens of third-party location data brokers and their sales partners — without much, if any, effort to ensure it’s being protected down the chain.

      In other words, app location data sharing is just a smaller part of a massive problem. A problem that started with telecom operators and our total unwillingness to hold them accountable for similar behavior. Politically powerful cellular carriers who repeatedly insisted we didn’t need any meaningful privacy rules of the road because “public shame” would keep the industry honest. That promise has never really worked out that well.

      Multiple ISPs were accused years ago of collecting and selling consumer clickstream data. When they were pressed for details, many simply either denied doing it or refused to respond. Collectively, we decided that was fine. As more sophisticated network gear like deep-packet inspection emerged, ISPs began tracking and selling online browsing habits down to the millisecond, some even charging users extra if they wanted to protect their own privacy. Wireless only made things worse, some carriers even going so far as to modify your very data packets to glean additional insight without your knowledge or consent.

    • Microsoft Posts List Of Facial Recognition Tech Guidelines It Thinks The Government Should Make Mandatory

      Roughly five months later, this blog post was discovered, leading to Microsoft receiving a large dose of social media shaming. A number of its own employees signed a letter opposing any involvement at all with ICE. A July blog post from the president of Microsoft addressed the fallout from the company’s partnership with ICE. It clarified that Microsoft was not actually providing facial recognition tech to the agency and laid out a number of ground rules the company felt would best serve everyone going forward.

      This starting point has now morphed into a full-fledged rule set Microsoft will apparently be applying to itself. Microsoft’s Brad Smith again addresses the positives and negatives of facial recognition tech, especially when it’s deployed by government agencies. The blog post is a call for government regulation, not just of tech companies offering this technology, but for some internal regulation of agencies deploying this technology.

    • Australia’s encryption laws will fall foul from differing definitions

      The Assistance and Access Act, which became law just days ago, defines a systemic weakness as one that “affects a whole class of technology, but does not include a weakness that is selectively introduced to one or more target technologies that are connected with a particular person”.

      That just creates a new conundrum: What counts as a “whole class” of technology?

    • GCHQ now has the power to legally hack anyone

      In a letter filed in the House of Commons library Ben Wallace, security minister, stated that the “GCHQ’s position on the authorisation of equipment interference operations has evolved since the Investigatory Powers Act”, specifying “Since the passage of the Bill, the communications environment has continued to evolve, particularly in terms of the range of hardware devices and software applications which need to be targeted.”

      In the letter, Wallace points to the Investigatory Powers Act (more commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter) as providing a theoretical warrant for bulk equipment interference, with the further permissions to enact it provided by recent warrant applications. He also states that Investigatory Powers Commissioner Adrian Fulford has recommended safeguards for the hacks — although all are post-facto, so may have limited effect.

    • Social Justice Organizations Challenge Retention of DNA Collected from Hundreds of Thousands of Innocent Californians

      California Arrestees’ DNA Profiles Become Part of Federal Database, Accessible to Law Enforcement Across the Country, Even for Those Not Convicted of Any Crime
      San Francisco – Two social justice organizations—the Center for Genetics and Society and the Equal Justice Society—and an individual plaintiff, Pete Shanks, have filed suit against the state of California for its collection and retention of genetic profiles from people arrested but never convicted of any crime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Law Office of Michael T. Risher represent the plaintiffs. The suit argues that retention of DNA from innocent people violates the California Constitution’s privacy protections, which are meant to block overbroad collection and unlawful searches of personal data.

      “One-third of people arrested for felonies in California are never convicted. The government has no legitimate interest in retaining DNA samples and profiles from people who have no felony convictions, and it’s unconstitutional for the state to hold on to such sensitive material without any finding of guilt,” said Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society.

      While California has long collected DNA from people convicted of serious felony offenses, in 2009 the state doubled-down on this policy to mandate DNA collection for every single felony arrestee, including those later determined to be innocent. The intimate details that can be revealed by a person’s DNA only increases as technology develops, exposing plaintiffs to ever heightening degrees of intrusiveness. After collection, the DNA is analyzed and uploaded to the nationwide Combined DNA Index System, or “CODIS,” which is shared with law enforcement across the U.S.

    • Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

      At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

      These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior. It’s a hot market, with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year. IBM has gotten into the industry, with its purchase of the Weather Channel’s apps. The social network Foursquare remade itself as a location marketing company. Prominent investors in location start-ups include Goldman Sachs and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder.

    • Electric vehicles are sending real-time location and diagnostic data to Chinese government monitoring centers

      More than 200 carmakers selling electric vehicles in China – including famous brands like Tesla, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen – send over 60 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms. Chinese officials say that they are merely using the analytics to improve public safety, and to aid with infrastructure planning. Those are certainly legitimate uses of aggregate data, and are similar to how Geotab’s vehicle data is being analyzed and applied in the US. However, in China’s case, the data is flowing to the Beijing Institute of Technology, which is monitoring some 1.1 million vehicles in the country. As the Associated Press article explains, the data flow is about to increase dramatically as part of a “Made in China 2025” industrial development plan.

    • The Week in Business: The Emails Facebook Doesn’t Want You to See

      The victim of Facebook’s latest privacy breach: itself. On Wednesday, Britain’s parliament released 250 pages of the company’s internal documents, including emails between top executives. The messages revealed ruthless efforts to extract as much data as possible from users like you and me, and obscure the fact that it was doing so. The emails also show that the company wielded data like currency, bestowing special access to it as a reward to friendly businesses like Airbnb and Netflix while cutting off rivals. Facebook says the emails don’t tell the full story. It must be painful to have private information given to others without your consent, right?

    • How Tinder creates better matches using AWS image recognition technology

      Speaking during AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas last week, Tom Jacques, VP of engineering at Tinder explained how it is using the deep learning-powered AWS Rekognition service to identify user’s key traits by mining the 10 billion photos they upload daily .

      [...]

      Tinder ingests 40TBs of data a day into its analytics and ML systems to power matches, which are underpinned by AWS cloud services.`

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • YouTube tells impersonation victim: No, you’re not being impersonated

      She took to Twitter to ask her followers how to report impersonation claims on YouTube. After filing a Wednesday impersonation report, which included her government-issued driver’s license, her published book’s jacket sleeve photo, and screenshots of the offending, fake YouTube account, Ng received a Thursday response from YouTube: her report did “not meet our impersonation reporting guidelines.”

      A quick scan of YouTube’s reporting page includes a request for “a clear, readable copy of your valid driver’s license, national ID card, or other photo ID” as an attached image. Ng’s posts did not confirm whether her book’s jacket photo was YouTube’s point of contention, nor whether that photo was used to demonstrate an issue with the fake account: that it had lifted a publicly available photo (from a book’s jacket sleeve) to pretend to be Ng.

    • Atlanta Cops Caught Deleting Body Cam Footage, Failing To Activate Recording Devices

      Officers know the system is flawed and abuse it. Those in charge of securing recordings officers may not want retained either don’t know what they’re doing or are playing dumb when questioned by auditors. At the top of the miserable heap is a chief who has allowed flagrant policy violations to occur under her watch.

      An official worth a damn would never express their lack of surprise at this sort of behavior from underlings. There should be shock and dismay at these results, not a shrug of “They’re cops, what can you do?” emanating from the top person in Atlanta law enforcement. If that’s the official reaction, the next audit will just find more of the same.

    • More Than Half Tech Workers Work In ‘Toxic’ Environment: Survey

      Over half the employees in tech domain find their work culture toxic. According to a survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous work talk app, about 52 percent of participants aren’t happy with their work environment. (Source: WFAA)

    • There’s A Reason They Call It “Work” — As Opposed To “Spa Vacation”

      I saw this question at Quora and found the sense of entitlement to employees’ time, sans pay, pretty unbelievable: [...]

    • Stung by Controversies, Police Chief Resigns in Elkhart, Indiana

      Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Ed Windbigler announced his resignation Monday after recent reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica about disciplinary issues in the city’s Police Department and a video that showed two officers beating a handcuffed man.

      In a letter addressed to members of the Elkhart Police Department, Windbigler said Mayor Tim Neese contacted him on Sunday and asked him to resign.

      “I admit that I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I always tried to make sure we were making decisions that would be best for the department,” Windbigler said in the letter.

      Last month, the mayor suspended Windbigler for 30 days without pay after the release of a video showing two officers repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the police station after he tried to spit on one of them. Windbigler downplayed the severity of the incident at an oversight commission meeting in June and reprimanded the officers. But after the Tribune requested a copy of the video, the officers were criminally charged with misdemeanor battery.

    • 1 in 4 government officials accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era is still in office today

      At least 138 government officials, in both elected and appointed positions, have been publicly reported for sexual harassment, assault, misconduct or violence against women since the 2016 election, according to an analysis my colleagues and I conducted.

      Three in every four of these officials have left or been ousted from their positions. But as many as 33 will remain in office by January.

      Our study of those accused, posted online on Nov. 9, tallied reports of allegations of sex-related misconduct by government officials in the media over the past two years. Although these reports are likely the mere tip of an iceberg of sexual misconduct, they are yet another sign that #MeToo is slowly beginning to disrupt the power structure.

    • Resistance is Not Terrorism

      Today we live in a continuous state of warfare at different levels of intensity. The bully U.S. Empire keeps busy maintaining that level of aggression by using huge amounts of resources taken away from uninformed USAmericans and others.

      We have quite a wide range of “conflictive relationships” masterminded by the U.S. government.

      It’s interesting to see the corresponding proliferation of terminology associated with different types of warfare that we have come to use in describing those conflicts.

    • A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!

      Last year, the College of the Ozarks (C of O), a small evangelical Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, organized a two-week study abroad trip Viet Nam that paired 12 students with 12 US veterans of the US War in Viet Nam. Many of the destinations were sites of battles in which the veterans had fought.

      Launched in 2009, these Patriotic Education Travel Programs affirm one of the five goals of the college: Patriotic Education. According to its website, “These rich educational journeys provide life-changing experiences for College of the Ozarks students, who not only learn volumes of history from its firsthand participants but grow to love and appreciate them as well. Participating students return with renewed respect for Veterans and a dramatically increased love for their country.” The Viet Nam trip, the 21stof its kind, was under the direction of C of O’s “director of patriotic activities.”

      The purpose of the C of O Patriotic Education Program is to “to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibility, love of country, and willingness to defend it.” Not surprisingly, C of O “provides numerous opportunities for students to learn, become involved, and show respect to our nation,” including Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and citizenship classes that “provide formal academic training for students with regard to learning how to become effective citizens and if desired, members of the military” and student organizations that place “a heavy emphasis on patriotism.”

    • ‘Not Your Average Demonstration’: Faith Leaders Arrested Demanding Demilitarization of US Border

      Dozens of faith leaders were arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in California on Monday after they confronted border patrol agents, demanding the demilitarization of the area and calling on the Trump administration to end its detention and deportation of asylum-seekers.

      [...]

      The rally was the first event in a planned week of direct actions, ending on International Migrants Day on December 18. Those who participated came from a number of Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other faiths.

      A small group of Central American refugees has been the latest target of President Donald Trump’s xenophobic fear-mongering regarding immigration; they arrived at the border late last month after fleeing violence and unrest in their home countries and traveling for weeks.

      The protest came two weeks after border patrol agents closed the border’s busiest port of entry—which the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed it wants immigrants to enter the country through—and fired tear gas at asylum seekers including many families with young children.

    • Trump’s Caravan Problem Isn’t Which People Are Coming, But What Kind of Country America Will Choose to Be

      A bleak irony is emerging in Tijuana’s border zone. For all the raging conservative rhetoric about how Central American migrants are lawbreakers who refuse to just “get in line” and enter the “legal” way, the asylum seekers are actually “getting in line” — or what passes for a line — by forming an ad hoc queue that Mexican authorities have improvised to maintain some social order.

      Every day, migrants line up to be “processed” with a black number scrawled onto their arms — an informal label used to secure a “spot” on a theoretical waiting list. Yet, as they wait indefinitely for their number to be called, the basic institutions of due process they hope to invoke are disintegrating in a dysfunctional, backlogged immigration court system.

      The White House remains hell bent on keeping them out, however, and the plan appears to be to warehouse asylum seekers in Mexico with the underlying aim of discouraging them from trying to cross at all. So a ragged encampment in Tijuana is slowly sinking into chaos as heavily militarized American border authorities block and repel refugees.

    • Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.

      Wondering which side police in the U.S. are on…. left or right, is a more certain social science proposition than attempting to guess how many angels can safely fit on the head of a pin.

      For those close to protest from the 1950s through today, including all facets of left protest, the broken and murdered bodies of protesters in the civil rights movement and the Vietnam antiwar movement, and movements beyond those heady days of protest are quite telling. Guns, fire hoses, batons, tear gas, fists, planting evidence, etc., have all been used viciously by police throughout the U.S. in doing the bidding of their political and financial overlords.

      The militarization of the police began, not as a coincidence, in the 1970s. Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) “teams” were soon in evidence, as was the gathering of so-called intelligence by police units, a fact well known to Vietnam-era protesters, the movement to which mass policing responded. The dumping of military weapons and vehicles to the police was the direct result of the massive police mobilization during and following the Vietnam War. All that was needed was a globalized economy to begin the school to prison pipeline of which the police are an integral part.

      Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs (D.A.R.E.), founded in Los Angeles in 1983, have been totally ineffective in stemming the tide of drug use in the U.S. Indeed, D.A.R.E. has seen some police act as enforcers of discipline in schools in mostly poor neighborhoods and has furthered the school to prison pipeline in the U.S.

      That many individual police have authoritarian leanings and behaviors comes as no surprise. The antipathy toward people of color in the civil rights era and beyond had its roots in the mass violence in the U.S. in which police were an integral part. That a member of the Black Panther Party would relate that violence is as “American as cherry pie” is no accident.

    • What white nationalists think about Tucker Carlson

      He has used his nightly show to question whether racial diversity is truly a positive thing in America. He has promoted, and defended, the phrase “It’s OK to be white,” which has become a slogan for racists across the country. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claimed last year the campaign was “sweeping the nation.”

      Just last month Carlson suggested that a Georgetown professor was calling for “genocide” of white people. This is a warning that has been circulating in white supremacist circles for decades. And he has used his perch to play down the issue of white nationalism in America: “It’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category,” he said on his show earlier this year.

      One of the stated goals of leading white nationalists has been to mainstream their racist ideals into the modern conservative movement. With that in mind, we were curious to see whether the hardcore white nationalists on the web viewed Carlson as their messenger to the broader public.

      We asked our Hate Sleuths, a group of loyal Hate Report readers who volunteer their time to help research, to comb through sites that often host hate speech for mentions of the conservative commentator.

      They found overwhelming support for Carlson. Everywhere they looked, the Fox News anchor was being discussed, and ideas were being swapped about how to convince him to continue mainstreaming racist and anti-Semitic talking points.

    • ‘For Taking Great Risks in Pursuit of Greater Truths,’ Journalists Under Attack Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

      Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.

      Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue.

      “Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,” wrote editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. “This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment…They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world—as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018—who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

    • “It’s Called Transparency”: Donald, Chuck, and Nancy Hold Rare Public Talks as Negotiations Erupt on Live TV

      A press availability at the White House with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Democratic leader in the House Nancy Pelosi broke into bizarre—as well as refreshing—public negotiation on Tuesday as the Democrats and the president sparred over funding for a border wall and the prospect of a government shutdown if a budget deal is not reached before a fast-approaching deadline.

      “I will shut down the government,” the president declared at one point. “And I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

    • Trump Bickers With Democratic Leaders, Threatens Shutdown

      Bickering in public with Democratic leaders, President Donald Trump threatened repeatedly on Tuesday to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide the money he says is needed to build a wall at the Mexican border.

      Trump’s comments came as he opened a contentious meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, with a partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21 when funding for some agencies will expire. The president and Pelosi tangled over whether the House or the Senate was holding up his proposal. Trump and Schumer jabbed at each other over the import of the midterm elections — and who will be blamed if a shutdown occurs.

      “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump ultimately declared. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

    • Courage Is Contagious

      One reason for blindness to our own power could be that we can’t see the bucket that our “action drops” are filling up–that is, the big, system-changes our individual choices inch forward. I do know that every time in my life that I have been able to catch even a glimpse of such a bucket, my life has changed.

      Most recently it happened as I marched more than a hundred miles with Democracy Spring in 2016 to sit on the Capitol steps, demanding money out of politics. Knowing that I was part of the rising Democracy Movement, I could feel my “drops” splashing into a powerful bucket.

      But a metaphor of “filling up” from the top down still misses a lot, for in our world where “there are no parts, only participants” (the lovely phrase of my departed friend, physicist Hans Peter Duerr) our energies radiate horizontally.

      It happens because in our interconnected world, almost always someone is noticing. Even if it’s one person.

      On that note, I love a story author Rebecca Solnit tells about a rainy day in the early 1960s when a handful of Women Strike for Peace members protested above-ground nuclear testing in front of the Kennedy White House. They reported feeling “foolish and futile,” she writes.

    • New York Police Rip Toddler From Mother in Plain Sight

      Outrage built Monday over a video showing police officers violently yanking a toddler from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn public benefits office, with officials criticizing police for not de-escalating the situation and clients of the facility complaining it is indicative of how the city treats social-services recipients.

      The video, taken by a bystander, captured the chaotic scene that unfolded last Friday as officers tried to remove mother Jazmine Headley from the crowded office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs. Police were called when she refused a security guard’s order to leave. The woman ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug of war over her 18-month-old son.

    • Unsolicited Dick Pics Prompt Stupid, Unworkable Legislative Response From New York Lawmakers

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic a trenchcoat-wearing lurker. Apple’s AirDrop app, which allows anyone to share files with anyone else using the app, has become the new way to send unsolicited dick pics.

      Granted, there’s a bit of a perfect storm aspect that sets it apart from the ChatRoulettes of the world. Users of the app must allow messages from “Everyone” (rather than just people on their Contacts list) and be within Bluetooth range of the amateur photographer.

      Of course, since it can conceivably happen to someone, it has happened to someone. And the New York Post was there to report on the easily-avoidable menace.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Hardwood Floors, Natural Light and the Right to Choose Your ISP

      Your landlord is prohibited from making deals that restrict you to a single video provider, and those prohibitions should apply to your broadband service as well. Yet, across the country, tenants remain locked into a single choice. In January of 2017, San Francisco became the first city to take action toward filling in the loopholes that enable anti-competitive practices. Will 2019 see more cities adopting similar protections?

      Large Corporate ISPs—looking to lock out competition—have created a market of landlord addiction to practices that take advantage of these loopholes in the FCC’s prohibition on exclusive access agreements, by simply denying physical access to any but their preferred ISP. These owners and Real Estate Investment Trusts may charge prohibitive Door Fees, participate in ISP revenue sharing schemes, or enter into exclusive marketing agreements. While ostensibly legal, these practices often result in the same lack of choice, and disincentivization of innovation, the FCC intended to curtail.

    • FCC to investigate whether major wireless carriers submitted false coverage data
    • At least one major carrier lied about its 4G coverage, FCC review finds

      The RWA, which represents rural carriers, made its case to the FCC by submitting speed test data. The speed tests showed the Verizon network wasn’t providing 4G LTE service in areas that Verizon claimed to cover, according to the RWA.

    • Google, Facebook Face Australia Crackdown Over Market Power

      In a preliminary report released Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a new or existing watchdog should investigate and monitor how large digital platforms rank and display adverts and news. It also expressed concern about a lack of transparency in how their key algorithms work.

  • DRM

    • Denuvo-Protected Just Cause 4 Cracked In A Day, Suffering From Shitty Reviews

      Two common topics here at Techdirt are about to converge in what will likely serve as a lovely example of how piracy is often a scapegoat rather than a legitimate business issue. The first topic is Denuvo, the once-unbeatable DRM that has since become a DRM that has been defeated in sub-zero days before game releases. The exception that used to prove the rule that DRM is always defeated has become another example that yet again proves that rule. On the other hand, we’ve also talked at length that the real antidote for piracy is creating a great product and connecting with fans to give them a reason to buy. The flipside of that formula is that no amount of piracy protection is going to result in big sales numbers for a product that sucks.

      While that’s typically obvious, we’re all about to watch what happens when a game both has its piracy protection fail completely and is deemed to be a shitty product, with Just Cause 4 having its Denuvo protection defeated a day after launch while the game is suffering from withering reviews.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UK pregabalin ruling “increases patent applicant burden”, say drug companies [Ed: A patent maximalists' site complains that patents might be harder to get; pretends it cares about "small innovator companies"]

      “As with many Supreme Court decisions, we will have to wait and see how the lower courts apply it,” says the patent attorney at a UK pharmaceutical firm. “But my concern is that the higher hurdle for plausibility will be applied more widely, and that would increase the burden on patent applicants.”

      The vice-president of IP at a UK biotech company adds that the decision does not reflect the scientific reality of drug development because of the complexities associated with animal models.

      Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Warner-Lambert’s appeal that its patent for medication used to treat anxiety, epilepsy and neuropathic pain was sufficiently disclosed, and upheld Mylan and Actavis’s appeal that the disputed claims were not even partially sufficient.

    • Copyrights

      • While Everyone’s Busy, Hollywood & Record Labels Suggest Congress Bring Back SOPA

        There are a million different things going on these days when it comes to preventing the powers that be from destroying the internet that we know and love. There are dozens of mostly bad ideas for regulating the internet here in the US, and of course, over in Europe, they’re doing their best to destroy everything with the poorly thought out GDPR, the new Copyright Directive and the upcoming Terrorist Regulation (more on that soon). With all of that keeping everyone trying to protect the internet busy, it appears that the MPAA and the RIAA have decided that now would be a good time to re-introduce SOPA. No joke.

        Every year, the US government’s “IP Enforcement Coordinator” — or IP Czar — takes comments for its “Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property,” which is supposed to lay out the federal government’s yearly plan for protecting Hollywood’s profits. As questionable as that is already, this year, the comment submissions seemed to go a bit further than usual. The RIAA’s submission, the MPAA’s submission and the (almost so extreme as to be a parody) Copyright Alliance’s submission all seemed to push a pretty consistent theme. Despite the incredible abundance of content creation happening these days, despite the myriad new ways to distribute, to build a fan base, to create new works and to make money from those works… these legacy gatekeepers all insist that the internet is truly a horrible attack on creativity and must be stopped.

      • Four million Europeans’ signatures opposing Article 13 have been delivered to the European Parliament

        Lawmakers in the European Union (EU) often lament the lack of citizen engagement with the complex policy questions that they wrestle with in Strasbourg and Brussels, so we assume that they will be delighted to learn that more than 4,000,000 of their constituents have signed a petition opposing Article 13 of the new Copyright in the Single Market Directive. They oppose it for two main reasons: because it will inevitably lead to the creation of algorithmic copyright filters that only US Big Tech companies can afford (making the field less competitive and thus harder for working artists to negotiate better deals in) and because these filters will censor enormous quantities of legitimate material, thanks to inevitable algorithmic errors and abuse.

        Currently, the Directive is in the “trilogue” phase, where European national governments and the EU negotiate its final form behind closed doors. We’re told that the final language may emerge as soon as this week, with the intention of rushing a vote before Christmas, despite the absolute shambles that the negotiations have made of the text.

      • Federal Courts Aren’t ATMs, Angry Judge Reminds Copyright Troll

        I will never tire of judges handing down benchslaps to IP trolls. Perhaps I’ll never tire of it because it just doesn’t happen often enough. Or perhaps it cannot happen often enough, given the sheer amount of troll litigation judges preside over. Not every dismissed case can be given the court’s full attention. But this opinion, from Judge Royce Lamberth, should certainly get Strike 3 Holding’s attention.

      • Latest EU Copyright Proposal: Block Everything, Never Make Mistakes, But Don’t Use Upload Filters

        As we’ve been discussing the “Trilogue” negotiations between the EU Commission, EU Council and EU Parliament over the EU’s Copyright Directive have continued, and a summary has been released on the latest plans for Article 13, which is the provision that will make upload filters mandatory, while (and this is the fun part) insisting that it doesn’t make upload filters mandatory. Then, to make things even more fun, another document on the actual text suggests the way to deal with this is to create a better euphemism for filters.

        When we last checked in on this, we noted that the legacy film and television industry associations were freaking out that Article 13 might include some safe harbors for internet platforms, and were asking the negotiators to either drop those protections for platforms, or to leave them out of Article 13 altogether and only have it apply to music.

        The latest brief description of the recommendations for Article 13 appear to be an attempt by bureaucrats who have no understanding of the nuances of this issue to appease both the legacy copyright industries and the tech companies. Notably absent: any concern for the public or independent creators. We’ll dig in in a moment, but frankly, given the state of Article 13 demonstrated in this two-page document, it is horrific that these discussions are considered almost concluded. It is obvious that the vast majority of people working on this have no idea what they’re talking about, and are pushing incredibly vague rules without any understanding of their impact. And rather than taking in the criticism and warning from knowledgeable experts, they’re just adding in duct-taped “but this won’t do x” for every complaint where people warn what the actual impact of the rules will be for the internet.

      • New EU Piracy Watchlist Targets Key Pirate Sites and Cloudflare

        Following the example set by the United States, the European Union has published its very first ‘Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List’. The European Commission report targets a broad range of alleged ‘pirate’ sites in the BitTorrent, cyberlocker, stream-ripping spaces, encouraging law enforcement and network players to help stymie their activities.

      • UK Govt. Backs Anti-Piracy Campaign With £2 Million in Funding

        The UK Government has committed £2 million to fund the ongoing “Get it Right” anti-piracy campaign until 2021. Under this program, UK Internet providers and rightsholders have teamed up to warn alleged pirates and educate the public at large on how to access content through ‘genuine’ channels.

        [...]

        This isn’t the first time that the UK Government has financially supported the ‘Get it Right’ campaign. It also contributed £3.5 million to the program at the start.

      • Scammers Use Facebook and Google to Spread Malicious ‘Pirate’ Files

        Scammers and spammers are using user-generated content sites to distribute links to malware and viruses. The malicious content is advertised as pirated software and games, in an attempt to lure users. The issue is plaguing many platforms but appears to be rather persistent on Facebook and Google groups.

      • IFPI Slams Pirate MEP For ‘Lobbying’ Kids, Forgets a Decade of Rightsholders Doing Just That

        Yet another war of words on Twitter over Article 13 has delivered one of the great ironies of recent times. After Pirate MEP Julia Reda called on kids to ‘lobby’ their parents over the controversial legislation, she got a “shame on you” from IFPI for “manipulating minors”. Trouble is, the entertainment industries have been doing the same for well over a decade.

        [..,]

        Joking aside though, it’s pretty ironic that IFPI has called out Reda for informing kids about copyright law to further the aims of “big tech companies”. As we all know, the music and movie industries have been happily doing exactly the same to further their own aims for at least ten years and probably more.

        Digging through the TF archives, there are way too many articles detailing how “big media” has directly targeted kids with their message over the last decade. Back in 2009, for example, a former anti-piracy consultant for EMI lectured kids as young as five on anti-piracy issues.

Number of Filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Highest in Almost Two Years

Posted in America, Patents at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Objections (post-grant) to particular US patents

Andrei IancuSummary: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which typically invalidate software patents by citing 35 U.S.C. § 101, are withstanding negative rhetoric and hostility from Iancu (on the right)

IMPROVING the quality of US patents would improve their overall value. Maybe not revenue of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but it’s not a corporation and it has no shareholders.

Michael Loney has just crunched some numbers and it looks encouraging. PTAB is, in the simplest of terms, some entity you can tell, “hey, this patent is rubbish, invalidate it already!” And they do. So this highest filing level (in nearly 2 years) is good news for patents’ quality:

November’s 230 petitions filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board was the highest monthly figure since January 2017, while the newly-formed Precedential Opinion Panel will address issue joinder

Challengers flocked to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in November, with 230 petitions filed. This was the largest monthly figure since the 246 petitions in January 2017.

Unhappy about 35 U.S.C. § 101, Watchtroll is attacking SCOTUS again. This is from yesterday. They’re totally losing their minds and their ‘business’ (litigation). The writer this time is Eric Guttag, who boasts “private intellectual [sic] property [sic] law experience on patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret” (what he actually means by ‘IP’). It was only yesterday that we wrote about these ugly tendencies of Watchtroll in light of SCOTUS’ insistence on Alice, not to mention insistence on IPRs (Oil States).

With ‘Brexit’ in a Lot of Headlines Team UPC Takes the Unitary Patent Lies up a Notch

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows EPO

Summary: Misinformation continues to run like water; people are expected to believe that the UPC, an inherently EU-centric construct, can magically come to fruition in the UK (or in Europe as a whole)

THE lies told by Team UPC are nowadays pathetic. The European Patent Office (EPO) seems more reluctant to lie after António Campinos started his term, so the EPO basically says almost nothing.

Funnily enough, even the biggest liars have been mostly silent. Bristows LLP, for instance, barely posts anything on the matter (since the summer) and when Alan Johnson mentioned the UPC a few days ago it wasn’t even about the UPC but about SPCs. It seems as though his employer is now paying to spread its nonsense elsewhere (from its marginalised blog that is barely active anymore). We took note of it at the time.

“They don’t want people to publicly call them “liars” (even implicitly) when they lie. They believe that massively repeating the lies ad infinitum will help these lies stick and thereby shape perceptions. At the same time they attack their critics, albeit only anonymously.”An article by Alistair Maughan, Wolfgang Schönig, Sana Ashcroft, Robert Grohmann and Jana Fuchs (Morrison & Foerster LLP) promoted the same old UPC myths earlier this week. UPC was also mentioned here yesterday. They don’t seem to care about facts. It’s just that same old nonsense about Britain joining something that does not even exist and that it cannot technically join anyway. Team UPC’s Wouter Pors wrote about it first thing in the morning; he carries on with the infamous UPC lies (citing as sources other Team UPC fantasists). These ‘unitary’ patents do not exist and will never exist; they’re just fantasies. They’re staging a legislative coup for self enrichment and in order to succeed they increasingly attempt to rely on lying to politicians, e.g. Wouter’s claim that “if it [UK] does leave the EU, it can still remain part of the UPC, which at least in my view is an honourable cause.”

No, it profitable for you, Wouter, it’s harmful to the UK, and technically it is not even possible. Deep inside Wouter knows it.

Even though they ‘sanitise’ comments to remove dissent (to the UPC) from this blog, Concerned observer’s first and sole comment soon thereafter appeared (one must remember that these commenters have to be exceedingly polite to not have their comment deleted at the back end). To quote:

Wouter,

With all due respect, I think that the above analysis misses one or two key points.

Firstly, it is important to note that Opinion 1/00 included the following conclusion:
“Therefore, the mechanisms for ensuring uniform interpretation of the rules of the ECAA Agreement and for resolving disputes WILL NOT HAVE THE EFFECT OF BINDING THE COMMUNITY and its institutions, in the exercise of their internal powers, to a particular interpretation of the rules of Community law incorporated in the agreement”.

In other words, rulings on provisions of EU law in connection with the ECAA Agreement (in common with rulings of the EFTA Court) would NOT be binding on any EU Member States, and so would not threaten the autonomy of EU law. By way of contrast, the UPC Agreement purports to make rulings of the UPC binding upon the Participating Member States. This is a highly significant difference, meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to draw any positive conclusions from Opinion 1/00 (or either of Opinions 1/91 and 1/92) when it comes to the question of compliance of the UPC Agreement with EU law.

Secondly, I do not believe that paragraph 26 of the CJEU’s ruling in Wightman and others has any significance for the UPC. The key part of that paragraph reads as follows:
“it is solely for the national court before which the dispute has been brought, and which must assume responsibility for the subsequent judicial decision, to determine in the light of the particular circumstances of the case, both the need for a preliminary ruling in order to enable it to deliver judgment and the relevance of the questions which it submits to the Court”.

In essence, the CJEU is saying that it is up to the national court to determine the need for a preliminary reference under Article 267 TFEU. However, the CJEU’s answer is based upon the undisputed assumption that the national court in question was a “court or tribunal of a Member State” in accordance with Article 267 TFEU. Given that the UK’s future participation in the UPC appears to hinge upon that court being classified an INTERNATIONAL court (ie NOT a “court or tribunal of a Member State”), there is at least a prima facie reason to doubt that the CJEU would accept any preliminary references from the UPC.

In other words, the ruling of the CJEU in Wightman and others simply does not address the key point of contention for the UPC.

One final point: the combination of the above two points could well provide reason to doubt Prof. Tilmann’s assertion that the UK’s loss of EU membership is not a fundamental change of circumstances within the meaning of Article 62 VCLT. This is because a potential consequence of that change is the conversion of the UPC to the status of an international court, the rulings of which could then threaten the supremacy and autonomy of EU law. Thus, whilst it is clear that the CJEU is prepared to entertain arguments based upon the VCLT, I do not believe that this would be the end of the matter for the UPC.

One might assume that other comments have been posted or will be posted albeit removed before anyone can see them. Such is the nature of this blog and such is the nature of Team UPC in general (it censors other blogs too, as we’ve demonstrated for a number of years). They don’t want people to publicly call them “liars” (even implicitly) when they lie. They believe that massively repeating the lies ad infinitum will help these lies stick and thereby shape perceptions. At the same time they attack their critics, albeit only anonymously [1, 2].

The EPO Not Only Abandoned the EPC But Also the Biotech Directive

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like outlaws still run the Office

Topić France

Topić letter

Summary: Last week’s decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there’s still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first place

EUROPEAN Patents (EPs) which threaten lives and software patents that are EPs were mentioned in our last post. How far is António Campinos willing to go? How far will Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) go?

How about patents on life itself?

It is widely known that this subject is ‘controversial’, by which we mean on one side we have large corporations like Monsanto and on the other side virtually everyone else, i.e. the public (those not striving to ‘own’ all lives using bizarre patents).

Last week there was some disturbing development/news which made one wonder if judges had been having dinners at Bayer or something like that. There has been no word on this decision from the EPO’s Twitter account, which has been unusually quiet lately (the past few days). Those who covered the decision have been almost without exception patent maximalists; the same goes for comments. Apparently all that matters is how much they can profit from it, not how much sense it actually makes. Miquel Montañá wrote about this yesterday (“The Political Dimension of Tomatoes, Broccoli and Peppers”); it’s about the incredible stance of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Board of Appeal (BoA), which decided that patents on seeds, pigs, plants etc. are acceptable as if people “invented” these. Does the EPC not matter anymore?

Here’s a new comment on the connection between the EU and the EPO:

In response to ‘EPO is not EU…’, please see http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2018/05/08/eu-bring-unitary-patent-system-control/

Already the economic and academic arguments are being made as can be seen in that article. The EPO is being entrusted with the Unitary Patent, but that will bring the responsibility of harmonising with EU. It does not make sense to have 2 different sets of appeal systems in Europe (The EPO Boards and the CJEU). A single system of control is sensible, and I am sure will come into being at some point.

“Finally, as has already been pointed out, Opinion 1/09 closes the door to the EPO becoming an EU institution. Indeed, it is not 100% clear whether the EPO as it currently stands is compliant with EU law.”

Here’s another comment of interest:

I would like to address a number of inaccuracies in (implied) statements in your comment from 7 December.

Firstly, it is the Member States that are bound by the Biotech Directive. The role of the courts is to interpret that legislation, ie to determine the meaning of rules that bind the Member States (and other individuals / entities towards which those rules are directed).

Secondly, only the CJEU is able to provide a binding interpretation of the Biotech Directive. Whilst the views of the Commission and of the Member States may be of interest, they are meaningless if they do not align with the CJEU’s interpretation of that Directive.

Thirdly, there has already been national litigation (in the Netherlands) on relevant claims. Contrary to what you asserted would be the inevitable result, those claims were held by the Dutch court not to be excluded from patentability.

Finally, as has already been pointed out, Opinion 1/09 closes the door to the EPO becoming an EU institution. Indeed, it is not 100% clear whether the EPO as it currently stands is compliant with EU law. In this respect, a positive aspect of the Board of Appeal’s decision is that it avoided an outcome that would have been a blatant example of non-compliance with EU law (specifically, with Article 267 TFEU, which is essential to preserving the autonomy and supremacy of EU law).

If the Biotech Directive does not matter and the EPC does not matter either, what does that make the EPO? An outlaw organisation? An organism? If it’s an organism, maybe people can apply for a patent on it.

“There is a large uncertainty regarding patenting of plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of essentially biological processes in Europe,” Valea AB’s Joanna Applequist and Karolina Wiktorson wrote earlier this week. Over at Mondaq, J A Kemp (promoter of antibody patents) seemed rather happy to see this. “We understand that, at an oral hearing held on 5 December 2018 in relation to case T1063/18 concerning an application entitled “New pepper plants and fruits with improved nutritional value”, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04 held that Rule 28(2) EPC introduced in July 2017 is in conflict with Article 53(b) EPC. Once confirmed, this will have important implications for EPO practice regarding inventions in the field of plant (and animal) breeding as in principle the Rule can no longer stand or be used to reject patent applications if it does not conform to the Article it is supposed to implement,” J A Kemp’s Andrew Bentham wrote.

Patent propaganda site Managing IP chose a headline that says “Plants patentable in Europe”. How misleading. It’s not actually over yet. Moreover, as we explained some days ago, the EPO is simply enraging farmers, who have already protested such moves. The ramifications remain to be seen, but for a patent office that just strives to increase so-called ‘production’ this may seem (artifiically, on the surface) like a positive development. At what cost?

Patents on Abstract Things and on Life (or Patents Which Threaten Lives) Merely Threaten the Very Legitimacy of Patent Offices, Including EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Limits are necessary

Low maximum speed

Summary: Patent Hubris and maximalism pose a threat or a major risk to the very system that they claim to be championing; by reducing the barrier to entry (i.e. introducing low-quality or socially detrimental patents) they merely embolden ardent critics who demand patent systems as a whole be abolished; the EPO is nowadays a leading example of it

Disguising/framing bogus, invalid software patents as “AI” isn’t so hard anymore. António Campinos, who has no grasp of the concept (he’s not a scientist but a former banker), thinks of the term like it’s pixie dust that miraculously makes everything “innovative”.

As IPPro Magazine put it yesterday: “According to Khan, the US has seen the most AI-related patents granted, but it is the European Patent Office (EPO) in which he sees some difficulty in terms of filing.

“They don’t even use the term “AI” in its classic/traditional sense; they just call almost any ‘clever’ algorithm or computer “AI”.”“He described the EPO’s take on the excluded subject matter in its guidelines relation to AI inventions as “easy to overcome” but warned that the inventive step aspect will be the opposite of that, likening it to pole-vaulting.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also started to adopt this buzzword more recently, quite likely in pursuit of tricks by which to overcome (at least at the Office) 35 U.S.C. § 101 (SCOTUS). They don’t even use the term “AI” in its classic/traditional sense; they just call almost any ‘clever’ algorithm or computer “AI”. This is what happens when nontechnical people are put in charge of leadership roles. Law firms run the asylum.

IP Kat‘s Neil Wilkof has just written about how Singapore deals with trademark maximalists while lawyers who produce nothing pocket lots of money.

“…letting such patents persist simply delegitimises the Office in the public eye…”IP Watch‘s article from yesterday (“Singapore IP Office Grants First Accelerated Patent Under New FinTech Initiative”), relating directly to what we wrote about yesterday, speaks about Singapore accelerating the granting process for some bogus/abstract patents and uses the buzzword “FinTech” to justify that. In their own words: “This accelerated patent application-to-grant process comes at no additional cost and is open to any FinTech enterprises from anywhere in the world who file through IPOS.” The European Patent Office (EPO) has a similar program, notably PACE although PPH and Early Certainty also relate to so-called ‘speed’ (shortcuts rather). It’s to do with backlogs really (the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) obsesses over it) and the EPO doesn’t seem to care much about 9,000+ appeals in the pipeline, addressing for the most part erroneous or controversial grants, not rejections. Some of these patents have many lives at stake. There are some notable examples of these, e.g. as covered by a propaganda site for patents on nature and life, Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, as recently as yesterday:

Six organisations have appealed against the European Patent Office’s (EPO) decision to uphold a patent for a key hepatitis C drug.

The appeal, which concerns Gilead Sciences’ patent for sofosbuvir, was filed on Wednesday, December 5, by Médecins du Monde (MdM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), AIDES (France), Access to Medicines Ireland, Praksis (Greece) and Salud por Derecho (Spain).

According to a statement released by MSF, the EPO should revoke Gilead’s patent (EU number 2,604,620) for sofosbuvir because “it does not meet the requirements to be a patentable invention from a legal or scientific perspective”.

We wrote about it several times last week. As we put it some days ago, letting such patents persist simply delegitimises the Office in the public eye; we’ll say more about this in the next post.

12.10.18

Links 10/12/2018: Linux 4.20 RC6 and Git 2.20

Posted in Site News at 3:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Can We Bring FOSS to the Virtual World?

    Will the free and open-source revolution end when our most personal computing happens inside the walled gardens of proprietary AI VR, AR, MR, ML and XR companies? I ask, because that’s the plan.

    [...]

    Buying all this is the cost of entry for chefs working in the kitchen, serving apps and experiences to customers paying to play inside Magic Leap’s walled garden: a market Magic Leaps hopes will be massive, given an investment sum that now totals close to $2 billion.

    The experience it created for me, thanks to the work of one early developer, was with a school of digital fish swimming virtually in my physical world. Think of a hologram without a screen. I could walk through them, reach out and make them scatter, and otherwise interact with them. It was a nice demo, but far from anything I might crave.

    But I wondered, given Magic Leap’s secretive and far-advanced tech, if it could eventually make me crave things. I ask because immersive doesn’t cover what this tech does. A better adjective might be invasive.

  • Open source will be the next big thing for the channel

    With cloud vendors developing more industry-specific solutions, channel partners must also hone in on vertical industry knowledge to capitalise on these markets.

    Flexibility will also be a key selling point which open source solutions provide: enterprises are seeking a hybrid-cloud approach to eliminate vendor lock-in, which means they’re likely to benefit from working with open source channel partners.

    With the rapid development and maturity that open source solutions provide, a shift toward higher adoptions rates in cloud workloads on Linux will become the new norm.

  • AI & data science: Open source makes NSE smart and secure

    National Stock Exchange of India (NSE which used V-SAT to transmit data securely in 1993, had shifted to Red Hat open source later. In the last few years it has been strengthening that partnership further with the integration of cloud infrastructure in its data systems to not simply improve data security, but also to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science in its systems. The implementation of cloud-based AI platform enables NSE to clock a daily turnover of Rs 3,00,000 crore with 1.2 billion daily transactions. It is the largest stock exchange in India in terms of market volume and market share.
    Says Yatrik R Vin, CFO, NSE India, “There are certain cases on which we use open source’s capabilities extensively. They are risk management at client and investor level, cost reductions and making our systems talk to the public without manual intervention.” He reminisces that during the financial crisis of 2008, not a single rupee was affected, because of the risk management capabilities of the eight-sigma level open source core systems that were in use at NSE India.

  • List of Twitters of Free Software Projects and Communities
  • OpenSMTPD proc filters & fc-rDNS

    I have committed full proc filtering support today, allowing a standalone filter to perform all kind of filtering on every single phase of an SMTP session.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • TenFourFox FPR11 available

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 11 final is now available for testing (downloads, hashes, release notes). Issue 525 has stuck, so that’s being shipped and we’ll watch for site or add-on compatibility fallout (though if you’re reporting a site or add-on that doesn’t work with FPR11, or for that matter any release, please verify that it still worked with prior versions: particularly for websites, it’s more likely the site changed than we did). There are no other changes other than bringing security fixes up to date. Assuming no problems, it will go live tomorrow evening as usual.

  • LibreOffice

  • Public Services/Government

    • New Czech law makes ICT neutrality a right

      A law being prepared by the Czech Republic on eGovernment services (‘Právo na Digitální Služby’ or ‘Right to Digital Service’) will establish technological neutrality for companies and citizens. This means they may not be forced to use any particular software because of technology choices made by public services, Ondřej Profant, Chairman of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on eGovernment, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.

  • Programming/Development

    • Git v2.20.0

      The latest feature release Git v2.20.0 is now available at the usual places. It is comprised of 962 non-merge commits since v2.19.0 (this is by far the largest release in v2.x.x series), contributed by 83 people, 26 of which are new faces.

    • Git 2.20 Brings Many Fixes, Updates To Windows Port

      Junio Hamano has released Git 2.20 as the newest version of this widely-used distributed revision control system.

      Git 2.20 is another incremental update to this widely used tool by developers. Some of the many changes to Git 2.20 includes:

      - The Git clone process will better warn users when cloning to a case-insensitive file-system where there are files in that repository that only differ with their cases.

    • Parallel Programming: December 2018 Update

      This release features Makefile-automated running of litmus tests (both with herd and litmus tools), catch-ups with recent Linux-kernel changes, a great many consistent-style changes (including a new style-guide appendix), improved code cross-referencing, and a great many proofreading changes, all courtesy of Akira Yokosawa. SeongJae Park, Imre Palik, Junchang Wang, and Nicholas Krause also contributed much-appreciated improvements and fixes. This release also features numerous epigraphs, modernization of sample code, many random updates, and larger updates to the memory-ordering chapter, with much help from my LKMM partners in crime, whose names are now enshrined in the LKMM section of the Linux-kernel MAINTAINERS file.

    • Lets put the game instruction online instead

      In the previous article we have successfully created an about page which contains both game instruction as well as game credit, however it is better to put the game instruction into it’s own page to make our game looks more professional. In this article we are going to create an online game manual which will open up once the player has clicked on the manual button on the main game page.

    • qpropgen 0.1.1

      Continuing on this release month idea started last week, here is a release of another project. Today is the first release of qpropgen, a tool to generate QML-friendly QObject-based C++ classes from class definition files

    • PyBites Twitter Digest – Issue 38, 2018
    • Create PDF files from templates with Python and Google Scripts
    • Dockerizing a Python Django Web Application
    • Django Authentication — Login, Logout and Password Change/Reset
    • Fedora 29 : Python 3 and Jupyter notebook.

    • C Programming Language – Introduction

      This tutorial is the first part of a C programming language course on Linux. C is a procedural programming language that was designed by American computer scientist Dennis Ritchie. Please note that we’ll be using Linux for all our examples and explanation. Specifically, we’ll be using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.

    • DSF 2019 Board Election Results

      I’m pleased to announce the winners of our 2019 DSF Board of Directors election.

      [...]

      This year we had 17 great candidates and while not everyone can get elected each year I hope they all consider running again in the 2020 election.

      Another item of note with this election is that our Board is now comprised of two thirds women, which is a first for the DSF.

    • coloured shell prompt
    • Create multiple threads to delete multiple files with python

Leftovers

  • Electron and the Decline of Native Apps
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • [Older] In a nutshell: technology and progress in health IT

      On an average day, the computer adds a minimum of 10 minutes of work per patient seen. We have electronic health records to comply with the massive number of Federal mandates requiring it and to avoid the financial penalties for not complying. The Feds offered each hospital an 11 million dollar incentive for putting in these systems which made their decision to computerize far simpler.

    • Big Tobacco Won’t Take Menthol Ban Lying Down

      On November 15, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to ban menthol cigarettes in a move that agency officials described as part of an aggressive new campaign against certain tobacco products. The plans have been welcomed by campaign groups who see mint-flavored smokes as a key means of hooking young people, particularly people of color. But given that certain manufacturers, like Altria Group, make as much as 20 percent of their profits from menthol cigarettes, the agency can expect a fierce battle. The industry will fight hard – and dirty – in its attempts to wriggle free of regulation.

      The menthol ban is just one of a package of proposals designed to protect teens from tobacco. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb – a cancer survivor – also plans to curb the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and flavored cigars. Yet, there’s no doubt which is the most significant of the proposals; the FDA has been planning a crackdown on menthol for years and has already secured a ban on several other flavors, thanks to the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which expanded the agency’s ability to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products. If the agency manages to outlaw menthol smokes as well, it will have struck a decisive blow against what Gottlieb describes as “one of the most common and pernicious routes” toward heavy smoking.

    • Doctors Who Facilitate Torture Must Be Held to Account

      To prevent further stains on the medical profession, the names of those involved in torture and executions need to be made public.
      Physicians hold a special position in U.S. society. They are given a place of honor in return for the expectation that they will use their knowledge and skills in the public interest and adhere to a clear set of ethical standards.

      Under pressure from the government to misuse their expertise, though, some doctors have been willing to rationalize cooperation in unethical behavior. In recent years, nowhere has such ethical deviation been so starkly on display as in the case of the participation of medical professionals in the CIA torture program. The recent release of a CIA report, secured through an ACLU lawsuit, details how doctors willingly and even proudly became complicit in the CIA’s torture program.

      The warped rationalizations the CIA doctors used to justify their participation reflect a blatantly unprofessional eagerness to violate medical ethics when encouraged by a government agenda. Once they began participating in interrogations — which is clearly prohibited by American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines — CIA medical professionals went to absurd lengths to deny the reality of the abuses and physical and psychological harms they were witnessing and effectively presiding over.

      At one point, CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to one prisoner “from his standing sleep deprivation.” The CIA doctors also claimed that when a different prisoner was forced into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. The descent into complicity with torture was so deep that they lost sight of the clear ethical breach in helping to modulate relative levels of pain infliction.

      Torture isn’t the only recent example of unethical physician complicity in U.S. human rights violations. Throughout the last century, and into the current one, physicians have participated in all methods of executions, most recently through lethal injection, in violation of professional ethical guidelines. In a number of states that execute prisoners by lethal injection, physicians have continued to consult on lethal dosages, examine veins, start intravenous lines, witness executions, and pronounce death.

    • ‘Victory’ for Women as Supreme Court Rejects Case Challenging Medicaid Funds for Planned Parenthood

      In a development hailed as “victory,” the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case that sought to prevent Medicaid patients from accessing key healthcare services from Planned Parenthood.

      By rejecting (pdf) the appeals from Kansas and Louisiana, the court leaves in place lower court rulings that bar the states from blocking Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid healthcare provider option to access services including contraception, wellness exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

      In the 6-3 decision, it was Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch who dissented, saying the high court should have taken up the cases. Notably, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the liberal justices in refusing to hear the challenges.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • This turbulent monk: Did the CIA kill vocal war critic Thomas Merton?

      Fifty years ago next Monday, Thomas Merton was found dead in his room near Bangkok, where he had been the main speaker at an international monastic conference.

      This most vocal critic of war was repatriated to the US on a military plane with the bodies of American soldiers killed in Vietnam. At the time, he was the best-known Catholic monk in the world and the news of his death at 53 was reported on the front page of the New York Times, beside that of the great German theologian, Karl Barth.

      It was 27 years exactly to the day since he had entered, at age 27, the Trappist monastery of Gethsemani, Kentucky, and this was the first time he had been allowed to travel abroad since then. His Asian Journal, including his encounters with the Dalai Lama, was to be published posthumously.

      In his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (Elected Silence in the English edition), he relates his religious conversion was a best seller when it was published in 1948, translated into several languages and is still in print. Merton published more than 70 books, essays, poems and wrote thousands of letters. From his monastery and then his hermitage, he corresponded with Rosemary Radford Ruether, Boris Pasternak, DT Suzuki and countless others.

      [...]

      However, the cause of death given by the Thai police was a heart attack, and there was no autopsy. The presence of a bleeding wound at the back of Merton’s head was not investigated. Was Thomas Merton murdered and was there a cover-up?
      In 1997, Jim Douglass, a friend of Merton had already publicly raised the issue. In 2016, theologian Matthew Fox, who believes that Merton had been assassinated by one of the many CIA agents active in Thailand, reported that one of them had actually told him so.

    • We Bear Responsibility for the Conditions in Honduras Causing Its People to Flee

      The question is how much of the turmoil we own—and how we’re going to make good on our moral debts.

    • Oil tycoon, CIA chief, President: George H.W. Bush was the epitome of American empire

      The late US President George H.W. Bush, a luminary of America’s most powerful family, was the personification of a nation addicted to oil, obsessed with secrecy and war, and self-assured of its exceptional qualities.
      When considering the life and times of George Herbert Walker Bush, one is forced to enter into a well-guarded mansion that is steeped in so many accumulated layers of wealth, power and secrecy that just scratching the surface requires a pickaxe and dynamite. For here we are dealing with no ordinary politician, but rather the scion of a dynastic clan who had a profound hand in shaping America into the country it is today.

      George H.W. Bush was not necessarily predestined for a life of politics in the same way that career politicians, like John F. Kennedy, for example, or Bill Clinton were. Conquering a chunk of the global monopoly board took priority in the Bush household; political power came – like an after-dinner mint – more as a complement to the wealth obtained, and perhaps as a way to acquire more.

    • Let’s Talk About George HW Bush’s Role in Iran-Contra

      Hagiographies of the late president neglect his role in a secret war in Nicaragua and illegal weapons sales to Iran for the release of hostages.

    • How The CIA Used Brain Surgery To Make Six Remote Control Dogs

      Newly released files from “behavior modification,” or mind control, projects conducted as part of the infamous Project MKUltra reveal the CIA experimented in more than controlling humans with psychotropic drugs, electrical shocks and radio waves—they also created field operational, remote-controlled dogs.

      The documents were provided under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by John Greenewald, founder of The Black Vault, a site specializing in declassified government records. In one declassified letter (released as file C00021825) a redacted individual writes to a doctor (whose name has also been redacted) with advice about launching a laboratory for experiments in animal mind control. The writer of the letter is already an expert in the field, whose earlier work had culminated with the creation of six remote control dogs, which could be made to run, turn and stop.

    • How George H.W. Bush Rode a Fake National Security Scandal to the Top of the CIA

      On December 15, 1975, a Senate committee opened hearings on whether George H.W. Bush should be confirmed as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: A Practical Proposal

      In late November 2018, Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned public intellectual, remarked that “humanity faces two imminent existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear war.”

      Curiously, although a widespread environmental movement has developed to save the planet from accelerating climate change, no counterpart has emerged to take on the rising danger of nuclear disaster. Indeed, this danger―exemplified by the collapse of arms control and disarmament agreements, vast nuclear “modernization” programs by the United States and other nuclear powers, and reckless threats of nuclear war―has stirred remarkably little public protest and even less public debate during the recent U.S. midterm elections.

      Of course, there are peace and disarmament organizations that challenge the nuclear menace. But they are fairly small and pursue their own, separate anti-nuclear campaigns. Such campaigns―ranging from cutting funding for a new nuclear weapon, to opposing the Trump administration’s destruction of yet another disarmament treaty, to condemning its threats of nuclear war―are certainly praiseworthy. But they have not galvanized a massive public uprising against the overarching danger of nuclear annihilation.

      In these circumstances, what is missing is a strategy that peace organizations and activists can rally around to rouse the public from its torpor and shift the agenda of the nuclear powers from nuclear confrontation to a nuclear weapons-free world.

      The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, launched decades ago in another time of nuclear crisis, suggests one possible strategy. Developed at the end of the 1970s by defense analyst Randy Forsberg, the Freeze (as it became known) focused on a rather simple, straightforward goal: a Soviet-American agreement to stop the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.

      As Forsberg predicted, this proposal to halt the nuclear arms race had great popular appeal (with polls showing U.S. public support at 72 percent) and sparked an enormous grassroots campaign. The Reagan administration, horrified by this resistance to its plans for a nuclear buildup and victory in a nuclear war, fought ferociously against it. But to no avail. The Freeze triumphed in virtually every state and local referendum on the ballot, captured the official support of the Democratic Party, and sailed through the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority.

    • The Disasters of War

      Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church is located in the city of Kingston. Kingston, one of the hubs of New York’s Hudson Valley, has received a good deal of attention these last few years, as New York City continues–at an ever-growing rate–to function as a domain of the wealthy. Holy Cross/Santa Cruz, though, sits amid the large, ungentrified swath of Kingston unlikely to attract the attention of the New York Times or expatriate Brooklynites.

      The church’s hybrid name reflects its bilingual English-Spanish congregation. The divisions are purely linguistic. It is, Father Frank Alagna stresses, emphatically one community.

      Holy Cross/Santa Cruz is part of a sanctuary parish; Kingston itself—in no small part because of Father Alagna’s efforts–is a sanctuary city. The Trump administration’s bluster over the State of California’s sanctuary policies—besides playing on some of the populace’s natural antipathy toward California—is also a useful distraction. In reality, sanctuary cities and entities are widespread and geographically diverse, a good deal of them located in the so-called heartland: Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota.

      Father Alagna is a firm, yet soft-spoken presence. It is instructive, he notes, to consider the various meanings of the word sanctuary itself: a sacred space, a safe haven. Sanctuaries can exist within one’s heart and exist in the wider world. Holy Cross/Santa Cruz has applied the meaning of the word both as a spiritual manifestation and as an impetus for straight-out activism.

      [...]

      These refugees from Central America need shelter, food. They need pro bono legal representation. There are mandatory meetings with ICE that require transportation. Refugee parents can be snatched up a moment’s notice with no provisions whatsoever for their children, leaving them suddenly abandoned. It is important for the refugees to know their legal rights. ICE, as deadly as it is, does operate under legal strictures. They cannot, for example, enter a dwelling without a federal warrant.

      American racism is supple and easily adaptable. The Latino population is a visible part of the American fabric, yet amid this current orgy of hatred and fear, this same populace has been transformed into invasive hordes, ready to seize jobs, spread disease, sow wanton violence. And that, Father Alagna reflects, is inevitable when a convenient enemy is needed: The invisible are made visible.

      The endless analogies that render Donald Trump akin to a foreign despot—Hitler, Mussolini, Putin—are ultimately a cop-out; as if the administration’s destructive rampage is so exceptional and unprecedented that it simply must have come from outside, foreign sources. It is just the opposite: The ravaging of Central America has been an all-American legacy. The current fear-mongering, xenophobia, the outright sadism directed at children—all it needs no inspiration from abroad. It is ours as a country.

    • Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia

      All over Europe, the First World War had brought about a potentially revolutionary situation as early as 1917. In countries where the authorities continued to represent the traditional elite, exactly as had been the case in 1914, they aimed to prevent the realization of this potential by means of repression, concessions, or both. But in the case of Russia, the revolution not only broke out but succeeded, and the Bolsheviks began work on the construction of the world’s very first socialist society. It was an experiment for which the elites of the other countries felt no sympathy whatsoever; to the contrary, they fervently hoped that this project would soon end in a dismal fiasco. (It was also a revolutionary experiment that would disappoint numerous sympathizers because the socialist Utopia failed to spring whole, Athena-like, from the brow of the Russian revolutionary Zeus.)

      In elitist circles in London, Paris, and elsewhere, they were convinced of the ineluctability of the failure of the Bolsheviks’ bold experiment but, just to be sure, it was decided to send troops to Russia to support the “white” counterrevolutionaries against the Bolshevik “reds” in a conflict that was to morph into a great, long, and bloody civil war. A first wave of allied troops arrived in Russia in April 1918, when British and Japanese soldiers disembarked in Vladivostok. They established contact with the “whites,” who were already involved in a full-blown war against the Bolsheviks. In total, the British alone would send 40,000 men to Russia. In that same spring of 1918, Churchill, then minister of war, also sent an expeditionary corps to Murmansk, in the north of Russia, in order to support the troops of the “white” General Kolchak, in the hope that this might help to replace the Bolshevik rulers with a government friendly to Britain. Other countries sent smaller contingents of soldiers, including France, the United States (15,000 men), Japan, Italy, Romania, Serbia, and Greece. In some cases, the allied troops became involved in fighting against the Germans and Ottomans on Russia’s frontiers, but it was clear that they had not come for that purpose, but rather to overthrow the Bolshevik regime and to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in its crib,” as Churchill so delicately put it. The British, in particular, also hoped that their presence might make it possible to pocket some attractive bits and pieces of territory of a Russian state that seemed to be falling apart, much like the Ottoman Empire. This explains why a British unit marched from Mesopotamia to the shores of the Caspian Sea, namely to the oil-rich regions around Baku, capital of modern Azerbaijan. Like the Great War itself, the allied intervention in Russia aimed both to fight the revolution and to achieve imperialist objectives.

    • Rebranding Bundy

      Recent efforts to burnish the image of members of the Bundy Public Land Grab clan bear close watching. A flurry of Bundy-friendly articles and videos commenced in early November. This began with a fawning piece in the Idaho Statesman featuring Ammon Bundy “a sunlight kind of guy” at his apple orchard in Emmett Idaho. The article ran in papers across the region. The piece appeared just after Ryan Bundy was not elected Governor of Nevada, having garnered a whopping one percent of the vote.

      [...]

      Bundy should know about fear-based policies. He and his gang of militants and paranoid followers inflicted a great deal of fear when they seized Malheur Refuge and militants lurked around Burns. Not to mention the fear felt by federal workers on other remote Refuges or public land areas across the country — as the standoff dragged on and on, with the Feds failing to cut the power, failing to cordon off the Refuge and letting the situation devolve into a media circus, replete with lavish photo ops and videos of “patriot” gunslingers.The Bundy gang and Militia at Malheur intimidated the federal agencies, local officials, members of the community, and even hikers on the Refuge. They snuck around and spied on people and vehicles.While saintly Ammon was not photographed in public wearing a gun, his acolytes and the militia thugs that gravitated to Refuge were armed to the teeth.

      It’s clear that Bundy’s vision for the public lands he wants to take from the public is defense with the use of guns and fear. Henchman Lavoy Finicum promised range vigilante protection to public lands cattle ranchers who renounced federal grazing permits and let their cows roam a la Cliven during a strange “ceremony” held by Bundy at the Refuge to celebrate a New Mexico rancher renouncing his grazing permit.

    • Is Kushner Covering for Bin Salman Murder Charge so Israel can Usurp Palestinian West Bank?

      Kushner famously made a relationship with Bin Salman when he was still third in line to the throne, in spring of 2017, and may have tried to pull strings for his friend so as to slip him into the position of crown prince in summer of 2017. Kushner has stood with Bin Salman through a whole series of crimes, including extorting $100 bn from some 200 fellow princes and his Yemen war that has resulted in starving 85,000 Yemeni children to death. And now the advice to “weather the storm” of being caught red-handed murdering Khashoggi.

    • Tell Your Representative and Senators to Create a GAO Investigation Before Another Base Is Built in Okinawa

      Okinawa suffers under the burden of major U.S. military bases. The people of Okinawa and their elected representatives do not want another one built. Nor is it in the interest of the people of the United States.

    • Public Pressure Could Halt US Support of Yemen War

      US tax dollars are supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, which has already claimed the lives of some 85,000 children, and 12 million more people are likely on the brink of starvation. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times, “the starvation does not seem to be an accidental byproduct of war, but rather a weapon in it.”

      The United States has long been a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia, and both the Obama and Trump administrations have provided considerable military support to the Saudi war in Yemen.

      But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has finally spurred both Democrats and Republicans to take steps to end US military involvement in Yemen.

      On November 28, the Senate voted 63-to-37 to advance a resolution that would direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen. However, S. J. Res. 54 carves out an exception for continued US-supported military measures against “al Qaeda or associated forces” that could be twisted to rationalize nearly any military assistance Donald Trump provides to Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Details emerge on HK biz partner of CIA mole recruited by Beijing

      Documents recently declassified by the United Kingdom National Archives could help unravel the mystery behind how Barry Cheung Kam-lun, the colonial-era Hong Kong business partner of an alleged CIA mole, was locked up, interrogated and eventually recruited by Chinese agents.

      Jerry Lee Chun-shing, a Hong Kong resident who spent 13 years working in the field for the US Central Intelligence Agency, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after he touched down at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport at the beginning of the year.

    • CIA employees called for “abolishing FOIA” as one of Agency’s goals for 1984

      During a four-hour team-building exercise, staff frankly discussed what the Agency should – and shouldn’t – be doing on the world stage

    • Politico Cites Anonymous ‘Ex-CIA Agent’ in Report Manafort-Assange Story Was Russia Disinformation

      As the Guardian’s scoop alleging Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange three times in the Ecuadoran embassy in London appeared to fall apart, Politico published a story that suggested the reporters involved were pranked by someone who wanted to discredit their work on Russia collusion.

      The piece was written by Alex Finley, which, according to Politico,” is the pen name of a former CIA officer and author of “Victor in the Rubble,” a satire of the CIA and the war on terror.”

      If it was true that Manafort, who briefly served as President Trump’s campaign manager, visited Assange, “the ramifications are immense,” Finley wrote.

      “It means the guy running Trump’s campaign met directly with the head of the organization that served as a tool of Russia’s intelligence services, distributing stolen Democratic emails in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election. It could be the proverbial smoking gun that shows Trump’s campaign knew it was receiving help from Russian intelligence services and perhaps even aided the operation.”

      Reporters Luke Harding and Dan Collyns relied entirely on anonymous sources. They also said they saw an internal document from Ecuador’s intelligence service that lists “Paul Manaford” as a frequent visitor to the embassy.

    • WikiLeaks skewers Guardian writer for zany theory that RT is, wait for it… reporting news

      A Guardian writer failed to impress WikiLeaks after furnishing damning evidence that RT has run stories on Julian Assange, Nigel Farage, and even Russia’s special forces. Do you know what this means? Neither do we.
      After decrying a short RT video about Russia’s special forces, Carole Cadwalladr shared a major revelation with her 220,000 Twitter followers on Sunday: RT covers news stories and current events.

      “You know who else RT boosts? Julian Assange & Seamus Milne. But given the reaction yesterday I thought I’d put that in a separate tweet. I’m somehow to blame for pointing out facts. Huge apologies but Milne’s support for Putin has made him a Russian propaganda tool,” she wrote, misspelling the name of fellow Guardian contributor and communications director for Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘These False Solutions Are a Joke’: Trump’s Pro-Coal Panel at COP24 Shut Down With Laughter by Climate Campaigners

      U.S. President Donald Trump’s representatives at the U.N. climate talks in Poland were openly laughed at on Monday.

      Disrupting the Trump administration’s attempt to promote planet-destroying fossil fuel production during a side panel at the COP24 climate talks in Poland, hundreds of indigenous and youth climate leaders captured the international community’s collective disdain for U.S. President Donald Trump’s subservience to Big Oil by laughing loudly at U.S. envoys as they attempted to speak, chanting “Keep it in the ground,” and taking over the panel to demand bold and just solutions to the global climate crisis.

      “These false solutions are a joke,” declared one demonstrator after the derisive laughter subsided, “but the impact on our frontline communities are not. We hold the solutions and we know that we must keep it in the ground.”

    • #NoMoreExcuses: Mass Action on Capitol Hill to Demand Dems Back Green New Deal Instead of Fossil Fuel Interests

      The protesters are expected to call on Democrats to reject the influence of carbon-emitting industries, from which the party received more than $5 million in 2018.

      “Politicians are giving bogus excuses for why they can’t support the Select Committee on a Green New Deal,” the group wrote in their call for attendees at Monday’s action. “They have told us us they haven’t read the resolution yet, that they support a Green New Deal but not this committee, that they admire our passion, but that we’re young and naive and impatient…They’re hoping our movement is just a flash in the pan and that they can wait us out.

      “That’s why now is the time to go bigger than ever. Between now and their final day on December 13th, Congress will be setting their agenda for 2019. That means we have just days to make sure a Green New Deal is front and center on the House’s agenda.”

      Varshini Prakash, founder of the Sunrise Movement, rallied more than 800 demonstrators Sunday night at the pre-lobbying training.

    • Thousands Protest at U.N. Climate Summit in Coal-Heavy Poland, Facing Riot Police & Intimidation

      This week Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have blocked language “welcoming” October’s landmark IPCC climate report that warned of the catastrophic effects of a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which global crises could unfold at a rapid pace. The four countries rejected using the word “welcome,” insisting that members instead “note” the findings of the widely cited U.N. report. We begin our coverage with voices of some of the thousands of climate activists from around the world who marched in Katowice on Saturday, calling for world leaders to do more to keep rising greenhouse gas emissions in check. We also speak with a member of the European Parliament who confronted undercover Polish officials who were monitoring the protest.

    • 2018 will show record carbon emissions

      For the second year running, the world will have a doubtful achievement to claim by 31 December: record carbon emissions.

      Even before the close of 2018, scientists behind the biggest accounting effort on the planet, the Global Carbon Budget, warn that emissions from coal, oil and gas will have dumped a record 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (a way of comparing the emissions from various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential) into the atmosphere by the end of this month.

      This is 2.7% more than last year, which also showed an increase. Human destruction of the world’s forests will add another four billion tonnes in the same 12 months.

      The news comes as 190 nations negotiate in Katowice in Poland to work out how to meet the targets they set in 2015 in Paris, to contain global warming to no more than 2°C by 2100, and if possible no more than 1.5°C.

    • Alberta tarsands production cuts here to stay: Indigenous-led movement will make sure of it

      An alliance of Indigenous Nations from across Canada and the U.S., now numbering 150 Nations, warned back in 2016 when the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was first launched, that all attempts to further increase production of the tarsands, whether by pipeline, rail or marine tankers, would be blocked.

      An entire Indigenous-led movement of people of all ages and backgrounds has been standing up to these tarsands pipelines and enforcing the ban, including by starving the tarsands of its financial backers, sometimes by even going to jail and putting their bodies on the line. Heroes, all of them.

      Industry chose to ignore these warnings and continued to increase production, with plans for much more. They are now butting up against current pipeline capacity, adding to the already existing price differential that heavy tarsands oil always suffers from as a result of increased refinement costs and its distance from refineries.

      These production cuts are exactly what are needed and what this movement has been fighting for — to limit expansion of the Alberta tarsands.

      And for those saying this will be a temporary problem that will soon be solved when Enbridge’s Line 3 comes on line next year, don’t count on it — the resistance to that tarsands pipeline is massive and growing. Enbridge is truly in for a repeat of its Northern Gateway experience.

    • Shark Fishing Tournaments Devalue Ocean Wildlife and Harm Conservation

      Just over three years ago, I was clinging to a rock in 20 meters of water, trying to stop the current from pulling me out to sea. I peered out into the gloom of the Pacific. Suddenly, three big dark shapes came into view, moving in a jerky, yet somehow smooth and majestic manner. I looked directly into the left eyes of hammerhead sharks as they swam past, maybe 10 meters from me. I could see the gill slits, the brown skin. But most of all, what struck me was just how big these animals are — far from the biggest sharks in the seas, but incredibly powerfully built and solid. These are truly magnificent creatures.

      These animals (by which I mean any large shark, not just hammerheads) are at the top of the marine food chain. They are important keystone predators that can help structure marine ecosystems. Their role as predators can even help with carbon dynamics, keeping carbon locked up in marine sediments, or by controlling the amount of respiring biomass in our seas.

    • Carbon emissions will reach 37 billion tonnes in 2018, a record high

      Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise more than 2% (range 1.8% to 3.7%) in 2018, taking global fossil CO₂ emissions to a new record high of 37.1 billion tonnes.

      The strong growth is the second consecutive year of increasing emissions since the 2014-16 period when emissions stabilised, further slowing progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement that require a peak in greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. Strong growth in emissions from the use of coal, oil and natural gas suggests CO₂ emissions are likely to increase further in 2019.

      [...]

      These analyses are part of the new annual assessment of the Global Carbon Project (GCP), published today in three separate papers. The GCP brings together scientists who use climate and industrial data from around the world to develop the most comprehensive picture of the Earth’s sources and sinks of greenhouse gases.

    • Better land use could slash US emissions

      US scientists have found a new way to cut or offset 22% of the greenhouse gas emissions from American factory chimneys, car exhausts and power stations: better land use.

      Their answer is to leave it to nature. What they identify as 21 natural climate solutions – better use of croplands, the restoration of forests and tidal wetlands, slowing the felling of timber and the containment of urban sprawl – could help limit global warming, slow climate change and reduce sea level rise for the nation that has over the last century emitted more greenhouse gas than any other country.

      The most effective single action in a study launched by the US Nature Conservancy and 21 other institutions, and published in the journal Science Advances, would be to step up reforestation: this alone could absorb the emissions of 65 million passenger cars.

      “One of America’s greatest assets is its land. Through changes in management, along with protecting and restoring natural lands, we demonstrated we could reduce carbon pollution and filter water, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and have better soil health to grow our food — all at the same time,” said Joseph Fargione, director of science for the Nature Conservancy, who led the study.

      [...]

      That more efficient use of land is a net benefit is not news: researchers have repeatedly argued that world food security is consistent with forest restoration, and that forests left untouched are of greater overall economic value than cleared land, and that considered changes to farming practices could both deliver more food and leave farmers better off.

      But, ironically, efforts to promote natural climate solutions in the US get only 0.8% of public and private climate finance, even though these could provide 37% of the climate mitigation needed by 2030. The scientists argue that if the US is to commit to the Paris Accord of 2015, to contain global average warming to 2°C or less above the levels for most of human history, then natural climate solutions make a promising start.

    • COP24: climate protesters must get radical and challenge economic growth

      At the COP24 conference in Poland, countries are aiming to finalise the implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. The task has extra gravity in the wake of the recent IPCC report declaring that we have just 12 years to take the action needed to limit global warming to that infamous 1.5ᵒC target.

      Although the conference itself is open to selected state representatives only, many see the week as an opportunity to influence and define the climate action agenda for the coming year, with protests planned outside the conference halls.

      A crucial role of environmental activists is to shift the public discourse around climate change and to put pressure on state representatives to act boldly. COP24 offers a rare platform on which to drive a step change in the position of governments on climate change.

      However, many environmental movements in Europe are not offering the critical analysis and radical narratives needed to achieve a halt to climate change.

    • ‘We Cannot Accept an Unjust Energy Transition’: Future of Coal Communities Becomes Crucial Issue at Climate Talks

      For the first time, the future of coal workers and communities across the world has become one of the most pressing issues of the global climate negotiations — infusing a sense of social reality within what is otherwise a very technical and political process.

      “We have been waiting for this for 30 years,” said Brian Kohler sustainability director for IndustriALL, a union representing 50 million workers across 140 countries.

      In the corridors of the UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, Kohler is “delighted” that the topic has found its way high on this year’s agenda. It couldn’t have come soon enough.

      One of the first to have coined the term “just transition” in the 1990s, Kohler is well aware of challenges facing workers and communities relying on fossil fuels extraction for their livelihoods and the necessity to ensure the energy transition will leave no-one behind.

      Scientists from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned that the world has 12 years to take “rapid and transformative measures” and reduce emissions by 45 percent to remain below 1.5 degrees of warming and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    • US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait Launch ‘Ludicrous’ Effort to ‘Sabotage’ Support for Key UN Climate Study

      Most world leaders gathered in Poland to discuss how to meet the goals of the Paris agreement seemed eager to heed the warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on what the world could look like if the global temperature rises to 1.5°C versus 2°C (2.7°F versus 3.6°F)—which has elicited demands for “rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented” reforms to avert climate catastrophe.

      The four-nation coalition of oil-exporting nations, however, wasn’t having it—and aimed to make it easier for governments to ignore such calls for urgent action to address the climate crisis by fighting against a motion to “welcome” the study. Instead, they suggested, it should merely be “noted.”

      “The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report,” the U.S. State Department said. “As we have made clear in the IPCC and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report.”

      Last year, President Donald Trump revealed his intention to withdraw from the Paris agreement, provoking immediate condemnation across the United States and the rest of the world. Within a few months of that announcement, all other countries had signed on to the accord, leaving the U.S. as the sole nation opposed to it.

      Efforts by the U.S. and others on Saturday to block global support for the IPCC report raised immediate concern and frustration among climate experts.

    • ‘Shame on You’: Campaigners Disrupt US Fossil Fuel Event Attended by Climate Science Deniers

      Campaigners disrupted a US event promoting “greener and cleaner” fossil fuel energy at the UN climate talks, calling it “a farce” that had no place within the global climate negotiations process.

      Minutes after the start of the event on the fringe of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, dozens of youth activists, indigenous campaigners and community leaders burst out laughing and stood up in front of the panel chanting “keep it in the ground”.

      A large banner with the “keep it in the ground” was deployed in a way to hide the panel from the audience.

    • Warning of Solar Geoengineering’s Dangers, Group Recommends a Global Ban

      A Harvard research team recently announced plans to perform early tests to shoot sunlight-reflecting particles into the high atmosphere to slow or reverse global warming.

      These research efforts, which could take shape as soon as the first half of 2019, fall under the banner of a geoengineering technology known as solar radiation management, which is sometimes called “sun dimming.”

      However, less than two weeks after the announcement, the climate science and policy institute Climate Analytics took aim at these ambitions in a new briefing titled ”Why geoengineering is not a solution to the climate problem,” which goes as far as recommending a global ban on solar geoengineering.

      The group’s briefing warns about the dangers of proceeding with solar radiation management (SRM) in particular.

      The basic idea behind SRM is to release particles into the Earth’s stratosphere, the atmospheric layer approximately 6–30 miles above the surface, where they would then reflect some of the sun’s light (and heat) away from Earth, resulting in atmospheric cooling.

  • Finance

    • Richard Wolff: There Are No Blueprints for Revolution

      Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. In this interview, Wolff discusses how the revolutions that overthrew feudalism laid the foundations for our current crisis of capitalism, why historical models of socialism put into practice failed, and what lessons we can learn from them in creating a new socialism.

    • Chicago Task Force Will Take on Ticket and Debt Collection Reform

      The city of Chicago on Thursday took a potentially big step toward reducing the harmful impact of its ticketing and debt collection practices on low-income and minority motorists, launching a task force that will examine issues ranging from disparities in enforcement to punishments for people who don’t pay their tickets.

      The task force, called the Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative, was created by City Clerk Anna Valencia and will bring together officials from police, finance and other key city departments, as well as more than a half-dozen aldermen, community organizations and independent researchers.

      The task force was prompted by reporting over the past year from ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ on the disproportionately heavy effects of ticketing on low-income and black communities. The reporting, combined with growing advocacy from community groups, has fueled an urgency for reform on the issue ahead of city elections in February.

    • Top FTC official is so such a corporate shill that he has conflicts of interest for 100 companies, including Equifax and Facebook

      Andrew Smith is Trump’s chief of the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau, in charge of investigating companies that abuse Americans — but he can’t, because he has previously provided services for over 100 of America’s largest companies, including Facebook, a whack of payday lenders, Amazon, American Airlines, Amex, BoA, Capital One, Citigroup, John Deere, Equifax, Expedia, Experian, Glaxosmithkline, Goldman Sachs, Jpmorgan, Linkedin, Microsoft, Paypal, Redbubble, Twitter, Sotheby’s, Transunion, Uber, Verizon, Visa, Disney and Wells Fargo.

    • The FTC’s top consumer protection official can’t go after Facebook — or 100 other companies

      Andrew Smith, who heads the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, would be in charge of handling investigations into some of the country’s largest companies and any consumer protection violations that may occur. But due to his conflicts of interest, Smith is barred from participating in any investigations involving the companies he previously provided legal services for.

    • Jared Kushner’s close relationship with Saudi officials is reportedly the result of a 2-year influence mission

      The Times, citing former officials, text messages, and emails, reported that Kushner and the crown prince have been in close contact for nearly two years, despite efforts from the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, to rein in one-on-one communications with foreign leaders.

    • The Wooing of Jared Kushner: How the Saudis Got a Friend in the White House

      Given Mr. Kushner’s political inexperience, the private exchanges could make him susceptible to Saudi manipulation, said three former senior American officials. In an effort to tighten practices at the White House, a new chief of staff tried to reimpose longstanding procedures stipulating that National Security Council staff members should participate in all calls with foreign leaders.

    • US-Saudi relationship enters uncharted territory

      “The Saudis have had public relations problems in Washington for many, many years,” he said. “I think that the Khashoggi murder in a sense crystallized some of these issues for people.”

    • Swept Up in France’s Yellow Vest Protests

      I’ve never been tear gassed before. The smell is similar to fireworks and the effect is explosive—and effective. I immediately wanted to get as far away as I could from the noxious source of burning eyes and throat.

      I was in Paris when France’s “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) movement shut down the center of the city.

      There were thousands of demonstrators, all wearing the bright yellow safety vests drivers are required by law to have in their cars.

      They had come from all over the country. The Paris demonstration was the latest escalation in a leaderless movement organized by activists through social media.

      The movement originated out of resentment over a hike in the price of diesel gas announced by President Emmanuel Macron as part of his efforts to address climate change. The price of gas in France is already the equivalent of $6.74 a gallon. Rural families dependent on vehicles would be stretched even further with the gas tax hike.

      But this is no American-style Taxed Enough Already (TEA) party protest.

      “These protests are not a backlash against the presence of the French state in the economy,” said Cole Stangler, a labor journalist who reports from Paris. “Many yellow vests are just asking that it act more fairly, infuriated by a government that asks them to give up more income each month at the same time as it grants tax cuts to the super-rich.”

    • More Than a Thousand Arrested as Yellow Vests Protests Over Economic Frustration Rage on Across France

      Some 1,220 people were arrested in France on Saturday as more than a hundred thousand took to the streets—leading to a lockdown and armored vehicles pouring into Paris—as part of the “Yellow Vests” or “Gilets Jaunes” movement that initially came as a response to French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise taxes on gasoline and diesel, which critics warn would primarily impact the working- and middle-class.

      The movement’s name comes from many supporters wearing the yellow high-visibility vests that all drivers in France are required to keep in their vehicles. Although Macron’s centrist administration announced last week that it was suspending fuel and electricity hikes for six months, outrage over growing inequality across the country has continued to produce massive protests.

    • Philadelphia Just Passed the Strongest Fair Scheduling Law in the Nation

      Philadelphia, the poorest big city in the country, just enacted the most sweeping bill yet to give low-wage workers some control over their schedules.

      The city’s new law, which passed the city council on Thursday, will require businesses with more than 250 employees and more than 30 locations worldwide to provide employees their schedules at least 10 days in advance. If any changes are made to their schedules after that, employers will owe employees more money. Employers will also be required to offer more hours as they become available to existing employees who want them rather than hiring new people, and they’ll be banned from retaliating against those who either request or decline more hours.

      The law is poised to have a huge impact: A recent survey conducted by UC Berkeley found that among food and retail sector workers in Philadelphia, 62 percent receive their schedules less than two weeks ahead of time and two-thirds work irregular or variable schedules. Almost half usually work 30 hours or less each week even though less than 15 percent have a second job to supplement their incomes.

      “It seems that employers are being less and less cognizant of their workers’ needs and home lives,” noted Nadia Hewka, an employment lawyer with Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, which advocated for the bill. “This would just put a little bit of balance back into that equation.”

    • Macron to break silence, address French nation amid protests

      Pressure mounted on French President Emmanuel Macron to announce concrete measures to calm protests marked by violence when he addresses the nation Monday evening, and breaks a long silence widely seen as aggravating a crisis that has shaken the government and the whole country.
      The president will consult in the morning with an array of national and local officials as he tries to get a handle on the ballooning and radicalizing protest movement triggered by anger at his policies, and a growing sense that they favor the rich.
      Macron will speak from the presidential Elysee Palace at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT), an Elysee official said. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.
      Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said earlier on LCI TV station he was “sure (Macron) will know how to find the path to the hearts of the French, speak to their hearts.” But, he added, a “magic wand” won’t solve all the problems of the protesters, known as “yellow vests” for the fluorescent safety vests they often wear.

    • French Working-Class Protesters Demand Higher Standard of Living

      Nearly 1,000 people are in police custody and at least 71 have been injured after protests that turned violent in France on Saturday. The grassroots protesters, called Gilets Jaunes—“Yellow Vests”—have expressed frustration with the high cost of living in France and the pro-business policies of centrist President Emmanuel Macron, called by some “the president of the rich.”

      Macron has proposed increasing taxes on diesel and gas, and although the government has since acquiesced and scrapped the proposal, many working-class people considered that demand a only starting point. The approximately 125,000 people wearing yellow vests who took to the streets Saturday in ongoing protests were joined by about 89,000 police officers, some of whom used tear gas on the crowds. Single mothers, factory workers, delivery workers, secretaries and other workers joined to protest tax cuts for the wealthy and a minimum wage that doesn’t cover basic expenses.

      “The Gilets Jaunes that you see in the streets, they’re mainly middle-class, and they’re being bled dry financially,” said Jacques, a technical college teacher and Gilets Jaunes organizer. “The wealth gap is getting wider, and we’ve reached a point where there are the very rich and the very poor—and more and more people are slipping into poverty.”

      “Macron’s first move in office was to slash the wealth tax for the mega-rich while cutting money from poor people’s housing benefits,” said Céline, a classroom assistant for children with special needs. “That is a serious injustice.”

    • Joe Kennedy and the Precarious Promise of “Moral Capitalism”

      We are a nation that was founded in opposition to hereditary rule. The founders rejected the notion of a king and embraced the principle that there were to be no royal families who generation after generation governed on the assumption of divine right.

      In recent decades, we have made two notable exceptions to this democratic disdain of dynasties. And no, the Kardashians don’t count.

      True, members of these two American dynastic families didn’t officially inherit office like kings and queens. They were elected, and to their credit, usually have embraced the concept of public service—albeit often in the tradition of a patrician noblesse oblige, which can translate as making lofty decrees from a pedestal while letting other “lesser” people do the dirty work.

      And like so many crowned heads, money has been involved. Lots of it, and much of it ill gotten, the profits of war, resource depletion, and the exploitation of humankind’s pleasures and sins. One of the sons of privilege joked after a primary victory that his father sent a telegram: “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”

      This past few days we’ve been reminded of one of the two families with the death of ex-President George Herbert Walker Bush: blue-blooded son of a U.S. senator; father of one son who served as president and governor of Texas, another who served as governor of Florida and unsuccessfully ran for the White House; and grandfather of the Texas land commissioner—which may not sound like a big deal, but if you live there, is.

    • The Inequality to Be Suffered by Our Children

      The fortunate ones will not be suffering. In the past eight years, the richest 5% of Americans have increased their wealth by $30 trillion — almost a third of total U.S. wealth — while the poorest 50% have seen their average wealth drop from $11,500 to $9,500. There is ample evidence for a nation soon to be made even more unequal by the transfer of wealth from rich baby boomers to their children and grandchildren, who will have done little if anything to earn it. The middle class will be further crippled by the ongoing growth in inequality. Unless progressive policies are demanded by American voters, most of our children and grandchildren will suffer from the continuing expansion of a Great-Depression-like wealth gap that already “dwarfs” the rest of the developed world.

    • Low-Income People Pay When Government Tech Contracts Sour

      Earlier this year, the tech company Novo Dia Group announced it would not continue as a vendor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, due to a switch in federal contractors. What seemed a run-of-the-mill business decision threw a very real wrench into the availability of locally-grown foods for low-income Americans.

      The problem was that Novo Dia held the only keys to a USDA program dedicated to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program processing software and equipment for 1,700 farmers’ markets nationwide. Without Novo Dia providing this service, markets would have no way to accept SNAP — a disruption that would cost farmers income and SNAP recipients food.

      If you’ve ever attempted to switch your cell phone provider but keep your actual device, you might be able to relate: Farmers’ markets had perfectly functional and expensive equipment that simply would not work with any other SNAP processing software. It’s the government equivalent of trying to keep your iPhone when you move from Verizon to AT&T.

      This episode raised a lot of questions about the government’s relationship with tech companies tasked with administering public programs: How does it choose who to hire? How does it hold those companies accountable? And how do those decisions affect the daily lives of low-income Americans who rely on being able to access their benefits?

      The answers are vitally important: Governments are increasingly relying on new technologies to sort applications, manage caseloads, and distribute benefits. How such technology is contracted, developed, and deployed will have real impacts on millions of low-income Americans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • After weekend with Bernie, Niki Ashton talks Progressive International: ‘Our movement is a global movement. It must be.’

      The time to act is now. No longer can progressives afford to work only in silos.

      That’s why I joined Jane Sanders, David Driscoll, Renata Avila, Yanis Varoufakis and many others in launching Progressive International, a call for a grassroots movement for global social, environmental and economic justice.

      This call came at The Sanders Institute Gathering in Vermont last week, which brought together progressive leaders, activists, and movement builders from communities across the globe. I was on the panel with Sen. Bernie Sanders that preceded the call to create Progressive International.

    • Paul Ryan Was Always More Political Hack Than Policy Genius

      Paul Ryan’s farewell tour is going about as well as you might imagine. The retiring speaker of the House, who made a career out of promoting his aw-shucks humility, has presided over the revealing of not one but three painted portraits of himself. In less-controlled settings, his interviews with media outlets have, rather than provide a victory lap, only served to highlight the emptiness of Ryan’s words and the failures of his time in office. Speaking of those empty words, Ryan was also set to leave us with a formal farewell address at the Library of Congress earlier this week ― until George H.W. Bush’s funeral threw off the plans. It was yet another reminder that history has rarely been on Ryan’s side.

      Not surprisingly, that’s not Ryan’s own assessment of his time in public life. In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Ryan blithely proclaimed that “history is going to be very good to this majority” ― the same majority that had just suffered the worst Republican losses since Watergate. Like so many of Ryan’s supposed grand ideas, the comment was little more than mere grandstanding. And it betrayed what has always been at the heart of his rise to power and his fall: a plain disconnection from the reality around him.

      Given the breathless media coverage Ryan enjoyed throughout his career, it’s perhaps remarkable how thoroughly both pundits and partisans are now ragging on him. Criticism from places like Salon and Vanity Fair was predictable, but conservative voices have also joined in, such as the libertarian outlet Reason, which pronounced Ryan an “abject failure,” and the conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, who provided a scathing review of his tenure. “Good riddance, Paul Ryan,” a headline in The Week happily announced.

    • Top 8 Ways John Kelly was an Embarrassment as WH Chief of Staff

      Trump announced Saturday that his chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave at the end of the month. It has been reported that the two men are not speaking. Kelly was often seen as a force for stability in the Trump administration, but as I warned when he first came in, he shared many of Trump’s crackpot far rightwing ideas and therefore was not in fact a source of stability for the country.

    • Project Troy: How Scientists Helped Refine Cold War Psychological Warfare

      This was a new kind of conflict requiring new kinds of weapons: psychological weapons. The question of psychological warfare preoccupied a small but influential group of foreign-policy officials during President Harry S. Truman’s second term. By the time that Truman left office in January 1953, the United States had laid the legal and institutional foundations for overt propaganda campaigns as well as covert action. During that period of experimentation leading up to the Eisenhower presidency, almost anything U.S. strategists could dream up, short of overthrowing foreign governments (that would come later), was up for discussion. Among other things, the Marshall Plan allotted $13 billion to rebuild Western Europe, Voice of America transmitted jazz and news to listeners in 46 languages in more than a hundred countries, and the CIA sent tens of thousands of balloons filled with anti-Communist pamphlets into China.

    • Progressive Activists Are Winning in Red States

      The tireless organizing of progressives in red states this fall did not just deliver one-time wins for progressive policies in areas controlled by Republican governments — it also established an infrastructure that could pave the way for progressive triumphs in the future.

      The numerous progressive policy victories declared this November — including many in states where Republicans were victorious on election night — were a result of dogged campaigns and a variety of strategies.

      Ballot minimum wages passed in Arkansas and Missouri. Voters expanded Medicaid in Idaho, Utah and Nebraska. Utah legalized medical marijuana. Voters in Charlotte passed what one community organizer called “the largest housing bond in the history of Charlotte.” In Austin, a $250 million housing bond was approved. Nashville approved a community oversight board for police misconduct cases. In Texas’s Harris County, 19 Black women running on criminal justice platforms were elected to various benches and a socialist became a misdemeanor court judge.

      All of these wins were made possible by an infrastructure that has been built by progressives over the course of many years. While election coverage tends to simply tabulate wins and losses, the backstory of these victories is the most crucial component. It’s this groundwork that can potentially deliver more wins to these regions, both inside and outside of the ballot box.

    • Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already

      American politicians can’t seem to make themselves wait until 2019 to start acting like it’s 2020.

      Former vice president Joe Biden wants us to know that he’s “the most qualified person in the country to be president.”

      Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick “is calling close allies and informing them he is not running for president in 2020.” The senior US Senator from his state, Elizabeth Warren, clearly wants to run but can barely walk at the moment after shooting herself in the foot with a DNA test.

      Outgoing Ohio governor John Kasich is still flirting with a doomed GOP primary challenge or an equally doomed third party run. The senior Senator from HIS state, Sherrod Brown, “doesn’t know” whether or not he’s the best candidate. Pretty much everyone else knows he isn’t. If they even know his name, that is (they don’t).

      Can you hear the voice of the late John Spencer as Leo McGarry on The West Wing, whispering in your ear? “I’m tired of it! Year, after year, after year of having to choose between the lesser of who cares?”

      Yes, the next presidential election will almost certainly be as nasty as the last one. It will also almost certainly prove even less consequential than the 2018 midterm, which was only “the most important election of your lifetime” if you happen to have been born on or after November 9, 2016.

    • Undocumented Citizen

      When Jose Antonio Vargas was sixteen years old, he discovered that his green card was a fake. Unbeknownst to the grandparents with whom he was living in Mountain View, California, the young Filipino immigrant took himself to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license, only to be told by the clerk that his card was fraudulent: “This is fake. Don’t come back here again.”

      Vargas, who had been sent to the U.S. by his mother at the age of 12 (with the misplaced hope that she’d be able to follow him) was stunned and disoriented. He soon learned that the “uncle” who accompanied him on the flight from Manila was a smuggler hired by his grandfather, and he found himself as a teenager questioning all his relationships and his capacity for trust. Yet he persevered as one of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., succeeding in school and in college, and ultimately finding his way as a journalist, all the while engaging in what he called the common moves of undocumented people: “lying, passing, and hiding.”

      Recently Vargas came out with a new book, Dear America: Notes from an Undocumented Citizen, and in it he bears witness to the “homelessness” that he and others experience: not a traditional kind of homelessness, “but the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves in.” Vargas argues that if the politics of immigration are ever to change, the “culture in which immigrants are seen” has to change, and to this end he has dedicated his writing, his documentary-making, and his public appearances to storytelling that can help change the image of immigrants and the understanding of immigration in American life.

    • A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity

      For 30+ years I taught a senior seminar course that I’d designed and titled The Politics of Personal Identity (or POPI). Limited to 12 students during their final college semester, it was a capstone course that endeavored to make sense of their liberal arts experience. Over the term we examined identity from every possible angle and their final assignment, announced the first day of class, was a 40-minute oral presentation titled “Who Am I? What Do I Believe? Why Do I Believe it?” This was followed by an extensive Q & A from the other members. The ground rules were that nothing revealed in the presentations would be disclosed beyond the classroom.

      In part, we relied upon McGill University professor Charles Taylor’s work to set our frame of reference of what it means to be a self, a human agent, a person. For Taylor, one’s identity is defined by knowing where one stands. That is, what are the commitments which provide the horizons upon which I base my actions in life, upon which I’m willing take a stand. In Taylor’s words and put counterfactually, “… if they were to lose this commitment or orientation they would be at sea, as it were; they wouldn’t know anymore, for an important range of questions, what the significance of things was for them.” If such a situation were to arise we would call it “an identity crisis,” a disorienting, radical uncertainly of where they stand. Put another way, to know who are is to know where you stand with regard to certain basic moral questions.

      Taylor reminds us that people we judge as shallow also have a sense of what’s most important but for whatever reasons it’s not well thought out or simply given by the prevailing culture. People considered to have depth or character have moved beyond this or are struggling to know what they believe is the “good” or what issues truly have meaning for them. Taylor again: we are authentic selves not because we possess livers and hearts but because we can answer the question “Who Am I?” How are my most critical defining relations lived out? What kind of life is worth living? Does my life amount to something? Where is my allegiance? How did I get where I am today and where is this quest heading?

    • Top EU Court Rules UK Can Change Mind Over Brexit

      The European Union’s top court ruled Monday that Britain can change its mind over Brexit, boosting the hopes of people who want to stay in the EU that the process can be reversed.

      The European Court of Justice ruled that when an EU member country has notified its intent to leave, “that member state is free to revoke unilaterally that notification.”

      Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, and invoked Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty in March 2017, triggering a two-year exit process.

    • Green Party says European Court of Justice ruling ‘lights way out of Brexit chaos’

      The Green Party of England and Wales and Scottish Green Party welcome the news this morning that the European Court of Justice ruling has confirmed the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

      Ross Greer, Green Member of Scottish Parliament and one of the pursuers of the action to the ECJ said:

      “This is a huge victory for the UK, achieved despite the Conservative government’s attempts to prevent it and limit their own options. We now have legal certainty that the UK is free to change its mind and stop the process of leaving the EU. We can stay in and enjoy not just the significant benefits of membership but the unique benefits of the UK’s advantageous membership and all of the opt-outs which come with it.

      “That is a choice for us alone to make and does not require the approval of any other EU state and it is a choice the people should be free to make via a referendum. It is clear that we don’t have to choose between becoming poorer with May’s deal or much poorer very quickly with No-Deal, there is another way. It’s time to let the public take back control of the Brexit process.”

    • Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism

      The UK has long been divided by class, region and race, but these divisions have been masked by political and economic success. This has meant the English, as the dominant nation in the UK, are not good at coping with a sense of failure and a loss of self-confidence.

      The current focus is on parliamentary turmoil and the acceptance or rejection of Theresa May’s muted version of Brexit but, whatever happens in the coming weeks, there will be no resolution of the overall crisis. On the contrary, the divisions exacerbated by Brexit will only get deeper and more toxic, dominating the national agenda to the exclusion of everything else.

      The nature of English nationalism – deeply ingrained but so self-confident its norms were assumed by most English people to be part of the natural order of things – is changing. George Bernard Shaw said “a healthy nation is as unconscious of its nationality as a healthy man is of his bones”. Smaller nations like the Irish and the Poles, with a history of defeat and occupation, have grim experience of having to nurse back to health the fractured bones of their nation but for the English worrying about their national identity and the future status is a new and unnerving experience.

    • Democrats Raise Prospect of Impeachment, Jail for Trump

      Top House Democrats on Sunday raised the prospect of impeachment or almost-certain prison time for President Donald Trump if it’s proved that he directed illegal hush-money payments to women, adding to the legal pressure on the president over the Russia investigation and other scandals.

      “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the House intelligence committee. “The bigger pardon question may come down the road as the next president has to determine whether to pardon Donald Trump.”

      Rep. Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, described the details in prosecutors’ filings Friday in the case of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, as evidence that Trump was “at the center of a massive fraud.”

    • Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond

      The November 2018 election resulted in small but important victories for the American people and the progressive movement in the United States. Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives and flipped seven governorships. In the Deep Red South, Beto O’Rourke came close to beating the reactionary incumbent Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, and progressive African American candidates Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum just missed being elected as the governors of Georgia and Florida.

      Understanding the election victories in the context of the overall distribution of power – political, economic, and social – in this country is critical to developing a progressive path towards the 2020 election and beyond.

      [...]

      The Republicans’ Senate victories were primarily corrective realignments rather than actual shifts in power. The Democratic Senators who were defeated – Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, and Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota – were never progressive and wore the Democratic label incongruously in their conservative states. Their defeats actually pushed the center of the Democratic Party a bit to the left. The Senate elections in 2020 will provide greater opportunities for Democratic victories, if only because in 2020 there will be 21 seats now controlled by Republicans and only 12 by Democrats on the ballot, almost a complete reverse of this year’s numbers.

      By design the Senate will continue to be an obstacle to progressive political power in the U.S. The decision of the Founders to favor the interests of the less populated, agrarian, slave-holding states by awarding two Senate seats to each state means that 40 million Californians have the same representation as 580,000 citizens of Wyoming. Democratic candidates for the Senate received 46.7 million votes this year (40.3 million if California, where both candidates were Democrats, is excluded) compared to just 33.8 million for Republicans.

    • Sorry, Say Legal Experts, Creating Shell Company During 2016 Campaign for Secret Payments to Hide Extramarital Affairs Not ‘Simple Private Transaction’

      Legal experts and prosecutors are pushing back against the claim President Donald Trump made early Monday morning when he said his secret payments to silence women claiming extramarital sexual affairs with him were nothing more than a “simple private transaction.”

      Trump was referring to the recent court filings involving his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and the revelations that Cohen, at the order of the president, created payment schemes to get both porn actor Stormy Daniels and former playboy model Karen McDougal to be quiet about the affairs they claim to have had with Trump while he was married to First Lady Melania Trump. Trump has denied the affairs, but previously pretended not to know anything about the payments.

    • News From the Far Side of Nowhere

      All in all, check off these first two presidential years of his as a bravura performance, which shouldn’t really surprise any of us. What was he, after all, but a whiz of a performer long before he hit the White House? And what are we — the media and the rest of us — but (whether we like it or not, whether we care to be or not) his apprentices?

      Now, for a little breaking news of another sort! Unbelievably enough, despite all evidence to the contrary, there’s still an actual world out there somewhere, even if Donald Trump’s shambling 72-year-old figure has thrown so much of it into shadow. I’m talking about a world — or parts of it, anyway — that doesn’t test well in focus groups and isn’t guaranteed, like this American president, to keep eyes eternally (or even faintly) glued to screens, a world that, in the age of Donald Trump, goes surprisingly unnoted and unnoticed.

      So consider the rest of this piece the most minimalist partial rundown on, in particular, an American imperial world of war and preparations for the same, that is, but shouldn’t be, in the shadows; that shouldn’t be, but often is dealt with as if it existed on the far side of nowhere.

    • 8 Reasons That John Kelly Will Not Be Missed

      Trump announced Saturday that his chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave at the end of the month. It has been reported that the two men are not speaking. Kelly was often seen as a force for stability in the Trump administration, but as I warned when he first came in, he shared many of Trump’s crackpot far right-wing ideas and therefore was not in fact a source of stability for the country.

      1. Kelly thought that we are under siege:

      “We are under attack from failed states, cyber-terrorists, vicious smugglers, and sadistic radicals. And we are under attack every single day. The threats are relentless.”

      As journalist Michael Cohen wrote in response at the Boston Globe, “Cyber-terrorists have never killed an American citizen, no failed state threatens America and more Americans are killed by lightning strikes than sadistic radicals.”

      2. Kelly believed that construction on Trump’s border wall would begin by summer of 2017, and seemed to think that if it had, it would have been a good thing.

      3. Nor is the wall needed or wanted by a majority of Americans. Kelly was almost delusional about U.S. immigration enforcement: “Nothing’s been done in the past eight years to to enforce the border rules and regulations, not to mention many of the immigration laws inside of the United States.”

      Fact: The Obama administration deported at least as many people as the Bush administration had, if you use the same definition for deportations in both administrations. By sheer reported numbers, Obama deported some 2.5 million people during his eight years while Bush deported 2 million. They probably actually deported about the same number. Kelly’s bizarre notion that the laws were not implemented since 2009 is flat wrong.

    • If There’s “No Smocking Gun,” Why Is Trump So Terrified?

      The honorific changes hands with the speed of the news cycle, but for the time being, the title of “Smartest Person In DC” belongs to a 36-year-old Republican operative from Georgia named Nick Ayers. Currently serving as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Ayers’s name was all over the news this weekend after Donald Trump announced the at-long-last departure of his own chief of staff, John Kelly.

      Ayers was a shoo-in to replace Kelly, most everyone agreed. Those who considered him a good fit for the spot pointed to his youth and vigor — Ayers looks a fair bit like the cherubic mass-murderer from the second half of “Breaking Bad” — and his deep connections with the Freedom Caucus wing of Congress. Both would serve him well in the storms to come, but for one problem: Turns out he is actually too smart to take the job.

      Ayers took a long look at what was a supremely bad weekend for the White House and said, “Check please.” On Sunday afternoon, he sent his official regrets at turning down the C-o-S position with a tweet: “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. #Georgia”

      Translation: “Thank you but nope nope nope nope I’ll be over there doing MAGA things but nope nope nope no way no how. #nope”

    • Has Emmanuel Macron Lost the People for Good?

      French President Emmanuel Macron will be speaking to his nation at last Monday, after increasingly violent, radicalized protests against his leadership have shaken the country and scarred its beloved capital. His long silence has aggravated that anger and many protesters are hoping only to hear one thing from Macron: “I quit.”

      That’s a highly unlikely prospect.

      Instead Macron is expected to announce measures to reduce taxes and boost purchasing power for France’s working classes who feel his presidency has favored the rich. He’s being forced to act after four weeks of “yellow vest” protests that started in France’s struggling provinces and morphed into surging riots in Paris, scaring tourists and foreign investors alike.

      The 40-year-old leader met Monday in his presidential palace with local and national politicians, unions and business leaders to hear their concerns — but with no representatives of the scattered, leaderless protest movement.

      On Monday evening, Macron will give a national televised address, his first public words in more than a week. Some fed-up demonstrators have already promised new demonstrations this Saturday, regardless of what the president says.

      Participants at Monday’s meeting said the president didn’t leak his plans but seemed to grasp the gravity of the yellow vest crisis.

    • Marcy Wheeler: Mueller Probe Could Lead to Indictment of the Trump Organization

      Federal prosecutors have accused President Trump of committing a federal crime by directing illegal hush money to two women during the presidential election. The accusation was revealed Friday in filings made public by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, including a damning sentencing memo for Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who has admitted to paying adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the campaign in order to prevent them from speaking to the media about their alleged affairs with Trump. The sentencing memo was made public along with two new sentencing memos from special counsel Robert Mueller: one for Cohen and another for Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort. “We keep talking about whether you can indict a sitting president,” says independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, editor of EmptyWheel.net. “There’s still a debate about that, but, really critically, you can indict a corporation. You can indict Trump Organization.”

    • With an Impeachable Trump and Pence, Are You Ready for President Pelosi?

      So, now that we know that Donald Trump and Mike Pence reached the White House through at least two specific and separate criminal conspiracies, what do we do about it?

      Can they be removed from office? Can the election be done over? Can the Trump/Pence administration’s actions over the past two years be reversed, particularly the appointments of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and all the damage to our federal agencies?

      According to federal court filings last week from the Southern District of New York, and from the Special Counsel’s office, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen criminally conspired to hide from the American people the fact that Trump had sexual relations immediately after the birth of his son Baron with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and that his affair with McDougal lasted about a year.

      Had Republican voters known about those affairs long before Trump gained the momentum he did during the period of the cover-up, Trump wouldn’t have become the GOP’s nominee and would now be back to playing the roles of a faux billionaire and a reality TV star.

      Similarly, those same court filings tell us that even after Trump won the GOP’s nomination for president, he continued to negotiate with the Russian government to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Presumably construction would begin right after he lost the election of 2016, which is fully what he expected: he hadn’t even bothered to write an acceptance speech.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Jewish Voice for Peace Targets CNN Over Dr. Marc Lamont Hill Firing in Sunday Paper

      Dr. Hill is accused of antisemitism by over-zealous organizations who falsely conflate visible support for equal rights and justice for Palestinians with antisemitism. A growing trend of Jewish progressives are calling for greater debate around Israel. By firing Dr. Hill, CNN is promoting a cynical and dishonest use of the term “anti-Semite.”

    • Will European Parliament oppose Authoritarian Censorship?

      On the 12 December, the European Parliament will vote on the “Report on findings and recommendations of the Special Committee on Terrorism”. If adopted, this text would not be legally binding but would recommend the adoption of the measures included in the Anti-terrorism Censorship Regulation: outsourcing censorship to Internet Giants and bypassing national judges (read our last analysis).

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Australian Government Passes Law Forcing Tech Companies To Break Encryption

      An actual software developer, Alfie John, has put together a splendid Twitter thread pointing out the flaws in the government’s assumptions about software development. Since the compelled participants are forbidden from discussing surveillance court orders with anyone (which would include coworkers, supervisors, the general public, etc.), these requested alterations would have to be implemented in secret. The problem is coding changes go through a number of hands before they go live. Either everyone involved would need to be sworn to secrecy (which also means being threatened with jail time) or the process falls apart. Changes ordered by a court could be rejected by those higher up on the chain. Worse, the planned encryption hole could see the compelled coder being viewed as a data thief or foreign operative or whatever.

      Law enforcement is going to have to make everyone involved in the product/device complicit and covered under the same prison threat for this to work. The more people its exposed to, the higher the chance of leakage. And if the code will break other code — or the request simply can’t be met due to any number of concerns — the government make ask the court to hold the company and its personnel in contempt for their failure to achieve the impossible.

      To make matters worse, the company targeted with a compelled access request may be monitored for leaks before and after the request is submitted, putting employees under surveillance simply because of their profession.

      In some cases, the only weakness that can be introduced will be systemic, which will run contrary to the law. How will the government handle this inevitable eventuality? Will it respect the law or will it simply redefine the term to codify its unlawful actions?

    • Goodbye FastMail: Aussie government succeeds in undermining trust in Australian tech companies

      I’ve been with multiple email service providers over the years, and have always used my own domain name so that I don’t get locked into any particular email provider. I believe this is important to maintain control over your own digital life and also crucial to be able to root up and move to another provider when there is reason to leave one provider for another. Whether that be for market forces like price, innovation, service policy changes, or as in this case: a change in service trustworthiness ushered in by the introduction of a new law in the country the company operates in.

      Long story short: The Australian government don’t believe anyone should be able to keep any secrets from them in any sphere so they’ve voted in a incredible dangerous law that seeks to undermine security and privacy protections on the web. The Telecommunications Assistance and Access Bill (TAAB or AssAccess) require technology companies like FastMail, Google, Apple, Cisco to provide Australian law enforcement and security agencies with access to all communications without any judicial oversight, transparency, or reason. The only restrictions offered to protect people’s privacy is the vague terms “reasonable and proportionate.”

    • Former GCHQ head warns of Facebook ‘threat to democracy’

      The former head of UK intelligence agency GCHQ, Robert Hannigan, has warned that Facebook could become a threat to democracy if it is not subjected to stricter regulation, reports BBC News.

      Hannigan told the BBC Radio 4′s ‘Today’ programme that Facebook was more interested in exploiting users’ data for profit than protecting their privacy. He said that it was an international business and made most of their money from advertising, warning that it cannot reform itself and needs outside regulation.

    • Facebook Plans to Repurchase $9 Billion More of Its Shares

      Facebook said in a regulatory filing that its board had previously authorized share repurchases of up to $15 billion as part of a program started in 2017. The $9 billion buy back announced on Friday is in addition to those prior authorizations, the company said.

    • Baby steps

      Five years ago, when I decided to devote myself to tackling the problem of surveillance capitalism, it was clear what we needed: convenient and beautiful ethical everyday things that provide seamless experiences1 on fully free-as-in-freedom stacks.

      This is as true today as it was then and it will remain so. The only way to compete with unethical products built by organisations that have control over hardware + software + services is to create ethical organisations that have control over hardware + software + services and thus have at least the possibility to craft competitive experiences. We remove our eyes from this goal at our peril.

    • UK Intelligence Agencies Are Planning a Major Increase in ‘Large-Scale Data Hacking’

      Intelligence agencies in the UK are preparing to “significantly increase their use of large-scale data hacking,” the Guardian reported on Saturday, in a move that is already alarming privacy advocates.

      According to the Guardian, UK intelligence officials plan to increase their use of the “bulk equipment interference (EI) regime”—the process by which the Government Communications Headquarters, the UK’s top signals intelligence and cybersecurity agency, collects bulk data off foreign communications networks—because they say targeted collection is no longer enough.

    • Bikini app maker draws another disgruntled developer to its Facebook fight

      However, Six4Three’s recent court filings show that its lawyers are also involved in a second lawsuit brought by a different company—one that promoted breast cancer awareness, among other apps—that levies very similar allegations against Facebook.

      This new case, Styleform IT v. Facebook, which was filed last month in San Francisco County Superior Court, makes sweeping claims that for years Facebook engaged in “fraudulent and anti-competitive schemes designed and effectuated by Defendant Facebook Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, with the intention of deliberately misleading tens of thousands of software companies.”

    • Facebook kept granting private data to high-profile advertisers long after it said it stopped

      Collins summarized the emails that were seized in a preface, stating: “Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data. It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.” The existence of a “whitelist” suggests that the company was not serious about protecting user data nor honoring the privacy agreements it claimed to have put in place at the time.

    • Facebook Used People’s Data to Favor Certain Partners and Punish Rivals, Documents Show

      The documents show how Facebook executives treated data as the company’s most valuable resource and often wielded it to gain a strategic advantage. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were intimately involved in decisions aimed at benefiting the social network above all else and keeping users as engaged as possible on the site, according to emails that were part of the document trove.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Arrest of Huawei CFO a dangerous precedent and threat to global trade

      COMMENT: The arrest of the CFO of Huawei Technologies Meng Wanzhou in Canada for the alleged violation of the company trading with Iran in contravention of US sanctions on that country has heightened already shaky trade relations between China and the US. It also threatens relations between China and the wider West.

    • Will Trump ever turn on Saudi Arabia? Pressure mounts for U.S. to prosecute Khashoggi’s killers

      Qahtani, with 1.36 million followers of his Saudq1978 Twitter feed, served as an ideological enforcer of MBS’s message in Middle Eastern media and was harshly critical of Khashoggi. The CIA believes Qahtani supervised the 15-member hit team drawn from Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency and other security forces.

      The Saudi public prosecutor has arrested 18 Saudis in connection with Khashoggi’s death—but Qahtani is not one of them. A prosecutor in Argentina is looking into the case as a possible war crime. Yet, aside from the CIA, the Trump administration insists the intellectual author of the crime cannot be identified.

    • The Central European University is moving to Vienna

      Following an 18-month legal war of attrition between the Central European University (CEU), founded by the philanthropist George Soros, and his arch-enemy, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, CEU has thrown in the towel. On December 3rd the university said it will relocate its American-accredited programmes, the bulk of its operation, from Budapest to Vienna from September 2019.

    • The CIA killed my father. What did they do with his body?
    • Why the Spectre of Truth Serums Haunts CIA Interrogations

      During the Cold War, the CIA conducted human behavior experiments using truth serums alongside LSD for interrogation purposes. However, in the Congressional enquiries held on the subject in 1977, CIA officials stated, “No such magic brew as the popular notion of truth serum exists.”

      The truth serum thus became a staple for Hollywood fantasies such as Meet the Fockers, where an ex-CIA agent drugs his son-in-law for possible infidelity. And yet, when I interviewed forensic psychologists in 2013 in Mumbai, Bangalore and Gandhinagar for my book manuscript titled Truth Machines: Policing, Violence, and Scientific Interrogations in India, they invariably insisted that truth serums are being used in the US.

      [...]

      The Office of Medical Services report notes a very explicit discussion and exploration for 2-3 months in 2002 on whether Versed, a more recent sedative, could be utilised for interrogations. The Project Medication (as it was termed) was apparently shelved in early 2003. The OMS report mentions that the use of the drug depended on two potential legal obstacles: prohibition against medical experimentation on prisoners, and a ban on interrogational use of “mind altering drugs” or those which “profoundly altered the senses.”

      Although authorisation was never formally requested, some scholars did acknowledge the legality of the technique. Alan Dershowitz famously wrote that there would be little difference between the act of injecting a liquid into a person without consent (in truth serum) and withdrawing blood for testing (for alcohol). At the core of such debates was whether the US Federal Torture Statute passed in 1994 would prohibit the truth serums since mind-altering drugs are specifically mentioned in the statute. The debate relied on whether the impact of the drug will lead to prolonged mental harm or not or whether there is specific intent to create such prolonged harm.

    • Truth about CIA’s illegal MKUltra mind-control experiments

      One document details how the CIA planned to drug “criminals awaiting trial held in a prison hospital ward” in a bid to develop “improved techniques in drug interrogation”.

    • Hypnosis, truth drugs and remote-operated dogs: Declassified papers on CIA’s ‘mind control’ research

      A renowned government secret hunter has published new documents detailing the CIA’s Cold War “behavioral modification” experiments (ranging from the bizarre to the stomach-churning), released under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The documents were published by “The Black Vault”, a site which has published enough government documents on the paranormal, UFOs and government mind control experiments to provide material for a dozen new seasons of The X-Files. While the site might sound like a fringe web-community indulging in paranoid cliches, it is also the largest repository of its kind aside from the US government with over 2,000,000 pages of information. The 800 pages of classified information published in November had been withheld from previously released documents that were made public through FOIA requests in 2004 and 2016.

      The newest documents, if verified, showcase some unprecedented disturbing outcomes of the CIA’s attempts to develop mind control techniques and truth serums as a part of its “MKultra” project, which the agency admitted to having secretly run until 1973. The releases include documents on a “successful” effort to create 6 dogs that could be “operated” to complete basic commands by remote control in the late 1960s. There are even diagrams of the surgical implants that employed “Electrical Stimulation of the Brain” to create controlled responses.

    • Spy watchdog completes probe into CIA rendition

      New Zealand’s spy agency watchdog has completed an inquiry into whether New Zealand was involved in the American CIA’s rendition programme.

      [...]

      The “enhanced interrogation” programme involved questioning al Qaeda and other captives around the world. The CIA used secret flights, detention and torture against terrorism suspects and others.

      “This inquiry has required considerable resources, not least identifying and evaluating the agencies’ relevant activities and records over the period 2001 to 2009,” Ms Gwyn said in the her office’s annual report.

    • MFIA Clinic Files Lawsuit Against CIA

      Acting for two investigative journalists, the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has sued the Central Intelligence Agency for silencing the top FBI interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. The lawsuit alleges a CIA effort to mislead the American public about the effectiveness of torture.

      The lawsuit was filed on December 3, 2018, in federal court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Raymond Bonner and Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney. Bonner and Gibney are collaborating on a documentary about the CIA’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” after 9/11. The film focuses on the use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to waterboarding at least 83 times after being secretly detained as a suspected member of al-Qaeda.

    • William Barr Is Out of Step on Criminal Justice Reform

      President Donald Trump announced Friday his plan to nominate William Barr as the next attorney general. Barr previously held the same role from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush. If confirmed by the Senate, Barr would replace Matthew Whitaker, who was appointed by Trump as acting attorney general after Jeff Sessions resigned last month under pressure from the White House.

      [...]

      Barr’s previous stint as attorney general also included troubling positions on criminal justice issues. During his tenure in the Bush administration, Barr helped devise federal policies that furthered mass incarceration and the war on drugs. Notably, in 1992, he published a book by the Department of Justice called The Case for More Incarceration, which argued that the country was “incarcerating too few criminals.” After serving as attorney general, Barr led efforts in Virginia to abolish parole in the state, build more prisons, and increase prison sentences by as much as 700 percent.

      To be sure, that was an era when tough criminal justice policies attracted support across the political spectrum. But Barr’s more recent record suggests, that unlike many in his party, his thinking hasn’t changed significantly since then, even as the failure of mass incarceration has become too glaring to ignore.

    • North Carolina’s Election Fiasco Is About Voter Suppression, Not Voter Fraud

      North Carolina voting issues are in the spotlight once again, thanks to swirling questions around the use of absentee ballots in the 9th Congressional district.

      Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously not to certify the 9th District’s U.S. House race — in which Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by a slim margin — because of irregularities in the district’s absentee ballots.

      In particular, fewer ballots were returned in the 9th District than in the rest of the state. In addition, out of the 9th District ballots that were returned, there was a higher rate of ballots that were spoiled — and thus uncounted — than in other districts, the Brennan Center’s analysis confirms. To top it off, these discrepancies appear to have disproportionately affected low-income communities.

      At least three voters in the 9th District have provided affidavits stating that individuals came door-to-door to collect mailed ballots, according to reports in the New York Times. These unknown visitors allegedly told the voters that they would deliver their ballots. One voter, Datesha Montgomery, reported that she voted only for school board members and sheriff, but the woman who collected her ballot said that “she would finish it herself.” This is illegal under North Carolina law. If voters are getting help with the ballot delivery, it can only be from certain direct family members (unless one of the special rules for nursing home residents is applicable).

    • Karen Kwiatkowski Delivers Speech After Receiving 17th Annual Sam Adams Award

      Ed Snowden, Sam Adams awardee in 2013, noted that we tend to ignore some degree of evil in our daily life, but, as Ed put it, “We also have a breaking point and when people find that, they act.” As did Karen. As did 16 of Karen’s predecessors honored with this award.

      With all the gloom and doom enveloping us, we tend to wonder whether people with the conscience and courage of Ed or Karen still exist in and outside our national security establishment. Our country is in dire need of new patriots of this kind.

      Meanwhile, we call to mind the courageous example not only of Karen and Ed, but also of Coleen Rowley and Elizabeth Gun, our first two awardees, who took great risks in trying to head off the attack on Iraq. And we again honor Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange who is now isolated in what the U.N. has called “arbitrary detention,” for exposing the war crimes resulting from that war.

    • Europe’s History With Refugees Has Something to Tell the U.S.

      Not long ago, the world watched heartbreaking images of fleeing refugees, not unlike those now emerging from the southern U.S. border.

      Within months, beginning in 2015, more than 1 million migrants and asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, and Africa had crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe—some escaping war and violence, some seeking work—and their numbers overwhelmed the continent.

      And now, as thousands of Central American refugees from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala continue to surge toward the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s worth noting important similarities to how European countries responded to its migrant crisis, the impact of which is still being felt there.

      “It really is kind of a search for survival, economic survival, political survival,” says Dr. Kathie Friedman, associate professor at University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

      Like the Central Americans coming to the U.S. border, those arriving on Europe’s doorstep also did so en masse. Some experts hesitate to call it the “new normal.”

    • How the More Than Me Charity Gamed the Internet and Hollywood to Win a Million Dollars

      It was the breakthrough moment for More Than Me. On Dec. 7, 2012, Katie Meyler’s tiny New Jersey-based charity defeated 24 other nonprofits to win $1 million at the Chase American Giving Awards, a weeklong competition for Facebook votes that culminated in a star-studded, nationally televised event.

      Most of the competing nonprofits dwarfed MTM in experience, exposure and cashflow. Some had annual revenue over $3 million; Meyler’s charity had $300,000. The previous year’s winner had over a million Facebook followers. Even now, after years of accolades, MTM has only 30,000.

      But More Than Me’s mission — educating girls in Liberia and saving them from sexual exploitation — had seemingly resonated with the voting public. That night, Meyler told the audience about a 12-year-old girl named Abigail, who she said was a child prostitute who dreamed of going to school. Meyler said a grassroots movement of passionate supporters had made it happen:

      “Thousands of you wrote I Am Abigail on your face, on your arms, even on your pets,” Meyler said. “You pushed your dad to email his network, and he smiled as he did. You stood in front of hundreds of people in lecture halls, and you spoke for Abigail; you were shaking, but that did not stop you…”

      The victory propelled Meyler and her charity to a new level of funding and prominence, and enabled her to launch an all-girl school in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

      This October, ProPublica published an investigation, in collaboration with Time magazine, revealing how MTM had missed opportunities to prevent prominent employee Macintosh Johnson from raping girls in the charity’s care. After the story, the charity issued an apology and Meyler stepped down pending the outcome of investigations by the Liberian government, the charity’s board of directors and its Liberian advisory board. Protestors marched in Monrovia, board members resigned and a major donor suspended funds, citing the organization’s lack of honesty.

    • New York Police Union Says More Reporting On Stops/Frisks Will Hurt The NYPD’s Effectiveness

      The NYPD has been ordered to document its stops numerous times since the 2013 decision. And it has continued to fail to do so. Officers blame a lack of instruction and/or clarity from upper management. Upper management blames multiple court orders and outside oversight for its inability to deliver clear instructions. And the PBA blames the whole mess on officers being forced to engage in Constitutional policing, which apparently is the opposite of “proactive” policing.

      What the PBA is agitating for is the return to halcyon days of stop-and-frisk when NYPD officers performed hundreds of thousands of stops a year, a majority of them targeting the city’s minorities. Constitutional policing would trim hundreds of man hours from the production of mandated reports, but the PBA wants nothing to do with keeping officers on patrol, rather than tied up doing internal bookkeeping for the DA’s office.

    • The Strange Case Of The Guardian & Brasil

      The Guardian is of course the closest thing that the UK has to a mainstream progressive newspaper, and it had, until relatively recently, a rich history of quality investigative reporting. In the 1970s its coverage of Latin America, with writers the calibre of Richard Gott, was responsible for fixing stories like that of Chile’s in the public consciousness, and with that fuelling solidarity movements for the region’s oppressed peoples, suffering under sub-fascist imperial rule. It continues to host important and talented writers, and publish valuable material, particularly in its comment is free section.

      But in 2018 The Guardian is in trouble, financially and editorially. A far cry from the 1970s, it just published a sycophantic eulogy to former US President George HW Bush, whose own CIA oversaw the horrors of Operation Condor.

      To get a sense of the mindset now running the Guardian, contrast that of Bush Senior with its sour, dismissive obituary of lifetime champion of human rights, long serving Cabinet Minister and Labour MP Tony Benn, who wrote of the newspaper in 2008: “The Guardian represents a whole batch of journalists, from moderate right to moderate left – i.e. centre journalists – who, broadly speaking, like the status quo. They like the two-party system, with no real change. They’re quite happy to live under the aegis of the Americans and NATO. They are just the Establishment. It is a society that suits them well.”

      Earlier in 2018 The Guardian faced criticism for running propagandist advertisements for the Saudi Arabian regime, and is now facing questions over an apparently false article claiming that Trump ally Paul Manafort had visited Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The story was quickly debunked, and the paper is now refusing to answer questions as to how they came to publish such claims without evidence. No other media outlet corroborated the report.

    • The Heresy of White Christianity

      There are, as Cornel West has pointed out, only two African-Americans who rose from dirt-poor poverty to the highest levels of American intellectual life—the writer Richard Wright and the radical theologian James H. Cone.

      Cone, who died in April, grew up in segregated Bearden, Ark., the impoverished son of a woodcutter who had only a sixth-grade education. With an almost superhuman will, Cone clawed his way up from the Arkansas cotton fields to implode theological studies in the United States with his withering critique of the white supremacy and racism inherent within the white, liberal Christian church. His brilliance—he was a Greek scholar and wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Swiss theologian Karl Barth—enabled him to “turn the white man’s theology against him and make it speak for the liberation of black people.” God’s revelation in America, he understood, “was found among poor black people.” Privileged white Christianity and its theology were “heresy.” He was, until the end of his life, possessed by what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr called “sublime madness.” His insights, he writes, “came to me as if revealed by the spirits of my ancestors long dead but now coming alive to haunt and torment the descendants of the whites who had killed them.”

      “When it became clear to me that Jesus was not biologically white and that white scholars actually lied by not telling people who he really was, I stopped trusting anything they said,” he writes in his posthumous memoir, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody: The Making of a Black Theologian,” published in October.

      “White supremacy is America’s original sin and liberation is the Bible’s central message,” he writes in his book. “Any theology in America that fails to engage white supremacy and God’s liberation of black people from that evil is not Christian theology but a theology of the Antichrist.”

    • Greens: “The Stansted 15 are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office.”

      “The treatment of the Stansted 15 is unprecedented and is wrong. From the trumped up charges they faced to the verdicts handed down. The principled action the Stansted 15 took exposed the brutality of these secretive charter flights, and a number of people set to be removed from the UK on that plane have been able to stay in the UK safely as a result of their principled actions. The Stansted 15 are human rights defenders – the real criminals are the Home Office.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • AT&T Finds Yet Another Way To Nickel-And-Dime Its Broadband, TV Customers

      You’ll recall AT&T just got done jacking up streaming TV prices on the heels of its massive merger with Time Warner, just like deal critics had warned. AT&T then quickly doubled an already bogus “administrative fee” on the company’s wireless customers, alone netting AT&T an additional estimated $800 million per year. AT&T’s now hinting it will raise streaming prices even higher (AT&T’s version of competition). This is of course on top of existing TV and broadband rate hikes, usage caps, hidden fees, and other soaring consumer costs.

      Most of this is occurring for two reasons. One, AT&T’s desperately trying to bounce back from the utterly massive debt load it incurred from the one-two punch of the DirecTV and Time Warner mergers. As is usually the case, the one paying for our mindless merger mania is usually… you. Two, because AT&T and other telecom and media giants have been on a tear effectively neutering all federal oversight of their efforts, there’s nobody really in power interested in doing much about it. The above example makes it pretty clear why AT&T and Ajit Pai have also tried to neuter state consumer protection authority.

    • Dark Days are Waiting the Open Internet

      There’s no argument that the Internet is one of the backbones of the modern world today. Yet, it seems that we are heading toward the end of the open Internet on the long run; An Internet that respects the user privacy & security, and protects him both from censorship and tracking seems to be long gone. The future is yet to become darker with corporations gaining more power.

      If you are someone interested in online privacy and security, then you need to understand all these dynamics together, as many independent forces each doing their best to serve their own interests rather than a linear set of factors happening at specific points in time. Just like you try to understand history as social, economic, political, religious and scientific factors, you should try to understand how the dynamics are working today to sum in total to destroy the open Internet.

      There’s no secret Illuminati-supported foundation to destroy the Internet, it’s just the combination of governments, spy agencies, and giant corporations putting their hands on it each by its own. We are going to see why this is the case.

  • DRM

    • [Old] Apple can delete purchased movies from your library without telling you

      “You may be able to redownload previously acquired Content (‘Redownload’) to your devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID (‘Associated Devices’),” says the TOS, but also, “Content may not be available for Redownload if that Content is no longer offered on our Services.” For reasons that are easy to guess, Apple has never widely advertised that, by deleting locally stored content, users are actually rolling the dice as to whether they will ever be able to get it back.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Germany: Synchronmotor, Federal Court of Justice of Germany, X ZR 51/06, 29 May 2018

      The FCJ confirmed that inventive step is to be acknowledged if the feature(s) distinguishing the claimed invention from the starting point for the assessment of inventive step are not directly and unambiguously derivable or at least rendered obvious by the prior art.

    • Trump and China: Going with Patent Holders Against Workers

      While most of us don’t have access to the inner workings of the Trump administration to know exactly what is going on with its negotiations with China, given the public accounts and statements, it seems workers have clearly lost. Trump seems to have made the concerns of companies like Boeing, who want more help maintaining their control over technology, his top priority. The impact of an under-valued Chinese currency, which has led to a large U.S. trade deficit, seems to have been dropped from discussion.

      The disappearance of currency “manipulation” from the discussion is more than a bit ironic, since Trump made this a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. He ran around the country complaining that China was a world class currency manipulator. He pledged that he would declare China a currency manipulator on Day One of his administration and apply corresponding trade sanctions.

      We’re getting close to Day 700 and there is still no declaration on China’s currency practices. Furthermore, the topic has been virtually dropped from public discussions.

    • Trade: It’s Still About Class, Not Country

      While Donald Trump keeps taking wild shots in his trade wars with China and other countries, the media have been cheering him on in at least one aspect of his campaign. All the elite types agree that “we” have an interest in clamping down on China’s alleged theft of our intellectual property. While some “we” might share that interest, most of the country does not.

      Just to be clear on the agenda here, the alleged theft takes three forms. The first is what passes for actual theft. It is when a Chinese company, possibly with help from the Chinese government, literally takes technology from a US company. This can happen, for example, if they infiltrate its internal computer system.

      While this is undeniably a bad practice, it is not unique to Chinese companies. In fact, many US companies also engage in such practices. Uber famously agreed to pay Waymo $245 million for stealing some of its software for self-driving cars. It would be hard to know if China’s companies are more guilty in this area than anyone else, but we can agree it is a bad practice that should be stopped.

    • Trademarks

      • Whole visible surface or predominant colour? Cadbury’s plays spot the series mark

        Frustratingly for Cadbury’s the issue arises because Cadbury’s followed guidance from the registrar in 1997 and amended their 1995 mark from a description which read “the mark consists of the colour purple” to the above longer form and more confusing wording. This change was made at the express suggestion of the registrar (Cadbury’s application had been to amend the description to “the mark consists of the colour purple as shown applied to the packaging or labelling of goods covered by the registration”.

        The reason for this application to change the mark was the impact of the decision in Société des Produits Nestlé SA v Cadbury UK Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1174 (“Cadbury 1″) – see the IPKat post here. This case considered whether the description together with the mark defined a sign within the meaning of section 1(1) TMA (it did not). As a result of the Court of Appeal decision, Cadbury’s had to revisit its earlier 1995 mark which had the same description and consequently was vulnerable to an invalidity attack. A small ray of hope was glimpsed in the Court of Appeal’s analysis and it concluded that it might be possible to remove the “predominant colour” wording from the description, and leave only the “whole surface” wording. If this had been possible, it might have been possible to overcome the Cadbury 1 objection.

    • Copyrights

      • Bizarre Blocking Order Targets ‘Pirate’ Domains Before They’re Registered

        Last week an Indian court issued one of the broadest site-blocking injunctions to date. To prevent the film “2.0″ from being pirated by the masses, the Madras High Court ordered local ISPs to preemptively block 12,564 domain names. TorrentFreak can now reveal that this order only targets 16 websites and that most of the listed domains are not even registered.

      • Huge Torrent Tracker Calls it Quits After 12 Years, Citing Article 13

        Leechers Paradise, one of the world’s longest-standing and most important BitTorrent trackers, has shut down for good. Launched 12 years ago, the site was recently coordinating the transfers of 132 million peers but now, with the EU’s Article 13 legislation looming, its operator says its time to close before the platform is rendered illegal.

      • Take-Two Sues GTA Online Cheat Maker, Demands $150,000 Compensation

        Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-Two Interactive have been targeting GTA Online cheat makers for a while now. After an intense legal battle with the creator of the OpenIV modding tool last year, the GTA V developers have set their sights on the person behind the GTA Online cheat tool called “Elusive”. As reported by TorrentFreak, Take-Two has sued the alleged creator of Elusive on the basis of copyright infringement, and requests $150,000 in damages.

        The past two years have seen a surge in the amount of copyright infringement lawsuits from large companies, like Nintendo and Take-Two. Jhonny Perez, the creator of the ‘Elusive’, was sued earlier this year in August for developing and distributing the GTA Online cheating software.

      • GTA V’s Take-Two Wants $150,000 in Damages From Cheat Maker

        Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive has filed a motion for default judgment against the alleged creator of the “Elusive” GTA V cheat. The company estimates that the cheat has caused severe harm, and requests $150,000 compensation, the maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement.

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