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12.05.18

Links 5/12/2018: Epic Games Store, CrossOver 18.1.0, Important Kubernetes Patch

Posted in News Roundup at 2:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Surface Book 2 afflicted by mystery Blue Screen Of Death errors

      If you’re running a Surface Book 2, you might want to hold off on the latest cumulative update that is making some in the line quite poorly and their owners quite irate.

      The problem was first reported on Reddit, as users huddled around the virtual campfire to sing songs and exchange tales of Surface Book 2 woe.

      Blue Screens of Death (BSOD) first began occurring shortly after the update, KB4467682, was dropped on 27 November. This update is for users of the 1803 build of Windows 10 (also known as the April 2018 Update) and contains a veritable smorgasbord of fixes as well as few known issues relating to the seek bar in Windows Media Player and some .NET problems.

  • Server

    • 3 implications of serverless

      If you strip away all of the modern conveniences and features that make up your internet experience today, what you’re left with is the client-server model. This distributed network was what the internet was built on in the beginning, and that part hasn’t changed. You could say, it is still serving us well.

      So, when people talk about serverless, what does it mean? Well, it doesn’t mean servers are GONE. Of course not: That “client-server model” is still the backbone of how things are getting done.

    • Understanding resource limits in OpenShift Container Platform

      As an OpenShift Container platform operator, managing resources on nodes is one of the most important tasks. Setting LimitRange and Quota are the right way to limit resources. Many blog posts cover the Quota and LimitRange from the OpenShift Container Platform perspective, but they do not explain the relationship between those objects in Kubernetes and control groups (cgroups) in the Linux kernel. Since I haven’t seen this covered elsewhere, I decided I’d get into the connection with particular attention to the CPU/memory limit.

    • Kubernetes 1.13 Improves Cloud-Native Storage Features

      Kubernetes 1.13 was released on Dec. 3, providing users of the popular open-source cloud-native platform with new features to make it easier to manage, deploy and operate containers in production.

      Among the features that are now generally available in Kubernetes 1.13 is the kubeadm administration tool for configuring services. The Container Storage Interface is another new generally available feature, providing a stable abstraction layer for different third-party storage plug-ins. Additionally, with Kubernetes 1.13, CoreDNS is now the default DNS (Domain Name Server) technology, replacing KubeDNS.

    • Production-Ready Kubernetes Cluster Creation with kubeadm

      kubeadm is a tool that enables Kubernetes administrators to quickly and easily bootstrap minimum viable clusters that are fully compliant with Certified Kubernetes guidelines. It’s been under active development by SIG Cluster Lifecycle since 2016 and we’re excited to announce that it has now graduated from beta to stable and generally available (GA)!

      This GA release of kubeadm is an important event in the progression of the Kubernetes ecosystem, bringing stability to an area where stability is paramount.

      The goal of kubeadm is to provide a foundational implementation for Kubernetes cluster setup and administration. kubeadm ships with best-practice defaults but can also be customized to support other ecosystem requirements or vendor-specific approaches. kubeadm is designed to be easy to integrate into larger deployment systems and tools.

    • Docker Looks to Improve Container Development With Enterprise Desktop

      Docker CEO Steve Singh kicked off DockerCon Europe 2018 here with a bold statement: Companies need to transform, or risk becoming irrelevant.

      According to Singh, Docker is a key tool for enabling organizations to transform their businesses. To date for enterprises, the core Docker Enterprise Platform has been largely focused on operations and deployment, with the community Docker Desktop project available for developers to build applications. That’s now changing with the announcement at DockerCon Europe of the new Docker Desktop Enterprise, adding new commercially supported developer capabilities to help corporate developers fully benefit from Docker.

      “Our commitment is to provide a development experience that makes it easy to build applications with one platform, upon which you can build, ship and run any application on any infrastructure,” Singh said.

    • Why Docker Swarm Remains Important

      Docker Swarm remains a core element of Docker Inc’s plans and that’s not going to change anytime soon. That’s the strong message coming from Docker CEO Steve Singh, during a briefing with press and analysts at the Dockercon Europe 2018 event here.

      A year ago, in October 2017 at the last Dockercon Europe event, Docker announced that it would be support the erstwhile rival Kubernetes container orchestration system. At the time, Docker’s management committed to continuing to support Swarm and now a year later, they are still on that same path. Docker has been developing its own Swarm system since December 2014.

      “We have many clients that continue to run Docker Swarm in production,” Singh said. “Swarm continues to be a very well adopted container orchestration tool, in large part, honestly because it’s ridiculously simple to use.”

    • Seattle’s Upbound introduces Crossplane, an open-source project to help companies manage applications across multiple public clouds

      Eventually Crossplane could help users automate deployment practices such as specifying which cloud provider — and which region inside that cloud provider’s network — should run a given application depending on how and where it is used. If it works as designed, this could make it much easier to manage a multicloud environment, which is an undertaking most companies do for strategic rather than practical reasons at the moment.

    • IBM and Red Hat want to become the leader in global hybrid and multicloud market

      When the news hit on October 29, 2018, that IBM had acquired Red Hat Inc., in a $34 billion deal, it stunned the technology world. And with good reason, as Red Hat’s merging with IBM was the biggest software acquisition ever achieved. But outside all of the hype, what will this actually mean for Red Hat going forward? To put it simply: global growth and worldwide leadership.

      “It puts us several years ahead of where we have been — or where we would have been, frankly — and ultimately … our intent is that with IBM, we’ll become the leading hybrid and multicloud provider in the world,” said Mike Ferris (pictured), vice president of technical business development and business architecture at Red Hat.

    • Quickly try Red Hat Process Automation Manager in your cloud

      t’s been some time since I last talked with you about putting JBoss BPM Suite (now called Red Hat Process Automation Manager) into your cloud, and with the new release, it’s time to talk AppDev in the cloud again.

      It’s time to update the story and see how to put Red Hat Process Automation Manager in your cloud so you are set up with a standard configuration to start your first business rules project.

    • Red Hat leads the charge into remote site and edge computing with open source hyperconverged infrastructure

      Initially aimed at remote office/branch office (ROBO) deployment, more Red Hat customers have been looking for infrastructure solutions at the edge. In industries like energy, retail, banking, telecommunications, and the public sector, many organizations rely on business-critical applications that must be deployed with limited space, budgetary constraints, and a growing scarcity of specialized IT staff.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Shell in a Handbasket | LINUX Unplugged 278

      We chat with a developer who’s gotten Linux running on iOS devices, do a deep dive into Clear Linux, and discuss Xubuntu ending 32bit support.

      Plus why Android in the cloud, and a bunch of community news.

      Special Guests: Alan Pope, Martin Wimpress, and Theodore Dubois.

    • LHS Episode #262: RigPi Deep Dive

      Welcome to Episode 262 of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, we have a special guest, Howard Nurse, W6HN, a longtime amateur radio operator and open-source enthusiast. He has developed the RigPi Station Server, a Raspberry Pi-based hardware and software rig control and operation solution that will be manufactured and sold by MFJ Enterprises.

  • Kernel Space

    • It’s Looking Like The EXT4 Corruption Issue On Linux 4.19 Is Caused By BLK-MQ

      The saga about EXT4 file-system corruption on Linux 4.19 kernels that has increased in recent weeks might soon be drawing a close… This data corruption bug though is looking like it doesn’t originate from within the EXT4 code at all.

      While it’s still not 100% settled, it’s looking like the EXT4 corruption issues on Linux 4.19 are actually due to a problem within the multi-queue block code “blk-mq” for this current stable series. It’s also looking like other file-systems could be/are affected, just that EXT4 is the most common file-system and thus the most reports. That’s the latest belief for those anxious for details that haven’t been tracking this problem closely.

    • Golly! Linux Code Patched to Replace F-Bombs in Comments With ‘Hugs’

      A Linux developer has released a kernel patch that edits comments to replace uses of the F-word with “hugs.”

      The patches, released Friday by Jarkko Sakkinen, who works at Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), are designed to put the Linux kernel in compliance with the Linux Foundation ‘s recently enacted Code of Conduct. The code bans, among other things, “abusive, offensive or degrading language.”

    • Linux Foundation

      • Hyperledger Releases ‘Ursa’ As An Open Source Blockchain Toolbox Library For Crypto Developers

        Blockchain organization Hyperledger created a stir in the crypto developer community earlier today by launching a platform called Ursa. Ursa is a modular, shared cryptographic library that will make life easier for blockchain developers.

        Ursa, which is written mostly in Rust, will introduce modularization and an API to the crypto community while also supporting Hyperledger’s most popular languages. The tool is expected to reduce duplicate development and speed up blockchain development while improving efficiency within the open source development community.

      • Linux Plumbers Conference: Conference Videos now Posted

        Videos of Plumbers content now posted. You can either see them in our Youtube channel or by visiting the detailed timetable and clicking on the video link in the presentation materials section of any given talk or discussion. The Microconferences are recorded as one long video block, but clicking on the Video link of a particular discussion topic will take you to the time index in that file where the chosen discussion begins.

      • ONAP Releases Casablanca, Enhances Deployment Capabilities Across Open Source Networking Stack

        LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open networking projects, today announced continued progress to ease deployments across the open source networking stack. New platform releases from ONAP (Casablanca) and OPNFV (Gambia) bring additional support for cross-stack deployments across new and existing use cases such as 5G and Cross-Carrier VPN (CCVPN), as well as enhancements to cloud-native VPN. Additionally, the organization’s compliance and verification program recently announced its expansion into virtual network functions (VNF) testing and is now recruiting Beta participants. VNF testing will help ease deployment pains and improve VNF quality and interoperability across real-world deployments.
        “New and enhanced deployments of our platforms are popping up every day across the globe, and with tighter cross-community integration and an expanded compliance and verification program, we are well-positioned to facilitate innovative industry progress,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, networking, the Linux Foundation. “The latest releases of ONAP and OPNFV usher in a new era for LFN as the community continues to foster an expanding commercial ecosystem.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Nvidia Surprise: PhysX Is Now An Open Source Technology
      • Nvidia open sources its PhysX physics simulation engine
      • Nvidia open-source PhysX to help AI and robotics research
      • Announcing PhysX SDK 4.0, an open-source physics engine
      • V3D Driver Fixes Glaring Performance Bug, VC4 Working Towards Proper GPU Reset

        Within the VC4 driver space, Anholt started writing a driver for the power management block that should be able to work more reliably and better for GPU reset handling than the current code they are using between the raspberrypi-power driver and the Raspberry Pi firmware.

        On the V3D driver front for the next-gen VideoCore hardware, most notably is a fix for a 3ms wait that was happening on the CPU with every new job submission for the GPU. That’s a significant wait for every job submission and with the kernel fix in place, throughput has improved by four and ten times. “Now I know why my fancy new hardware felt so slow!,” Eric noted without revealing the details of this new hardware.

      • Intel Vulkan Driver Gets Patches For New KHR_shader_float16_int8 Functionality

        Yesterday saw the release of Vulkan 1.1.95 that introduced the new VK_KHR_shader_float18_int8 extension for supporting 16-bit floating-point types and 8-bit integer types within shader code for arithmetic operations, compared to earlier extensions limiting these data types to load/store operations. NVIDIA released a same-day driver update for the new 1.1.95 extensions while now Intel’s “ANV” open-source Vulkan code is the second Linux driver seeing this support (or first if just looking at the open-source drivers).

      • Linux 4.19.7 Getting Revised STIBP Code, Important PCIe Fix For Radeon GPUs

        Greg Kroah-Hartman today published the initial patch series of work he intends to use as forming the Linux 4.19.7 point release in the coming days. With Linux 4.19.7 there are some important fixes.

      • Mesa Developers Move Closer To Dropping Autotools Build System In Favor Of Meson

        Mesa developers have been discussing on and off in recent months about dropping their Autotools build system support considering there is also the SCons build support, Android build system support, and most notably is the increasingly mature Meson build system coverage.

        Particularly with more Mesa packagers/users moving to the Meson build system for its speedier build times with Ninja, developers have been wanting to get rid of GNU Autotools for having one less build system to maintain.

      • VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8 on Anvil

        The last time I talked about my driver work was to announce the implementation of the shaderInt16 feature for the Anvil Vulkan driver back in May, and since then I have been working on VK_KHR_shader_float16_int8, a new Vulkan extension recently announced by the Khronos group, for which I have just posted initial patches in mesa-dev supporting Broadwell and later Intel platforms.

        As you probably guessed by the name, this extension enables Vulkan to consume SPIR-V shaders that use of Float16 and Int8 types in arithmetic operations, extending the functionality included with VK_KHR_16bit_storage and VK_KHR_8bit_storage, which was limited to load/store operations. In theory, applications that do not need the range and precision of regular 32-bit floating point and integers, can use these new types to improve performance by increasing ALU throughput and reducing register pressure, which in some platforms can also lead to improved parallelism.

        In the case of the Intel platforms initial testing done by Intel suggests that better ALU throughput is expected when issuing half-float instructions. Lower register pressure is also expected, at least for SIMD16 fragment and compute shaders, where we can pack all 16-channels worth of half-float data into a single GPU register, which could significantly improve performance for shaders that would otherwise need to spill registers to memory.

      • Intel Posts Final Batch Of Graphics Driver Feature Changes Ahead Of Linux 4.21

        With the time for new Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver feature material to enter DRM-Next for the Linux 4.21 kernel cycle quickly coming to a close, the Intel Open-Source Technology Center crew has sent in a final feature pull of material for this next kernel development cycle.

        As the DRM-Next feature cutoff happens a few weeks prior to the end of the current kernel cycle, in the days ahead will mark that point for Linux 4.21 with 4.20 marching along for debut around Christmas. The open-source Intel developers have already sent in a few feature updates in the past few weeks to DRM-Next while today was their final expected batch for 4.21.

      • NVIDIA Video Codec SDK 9.0 Bringing Big Improvements For Turing GPUs

        NVIDIA has quietly outed the key features they will be introducing with their upcoming Video Codec SDK 9.0 release.

        The NVIDIA Video Codec SDK for Linux users is the company’s successor to VDPAU and offers both video encode and decode APIs while being unified across both Windows and Linux. The Video Codec SDK consists of the NVENCODE “NVENC” and NVDECODE “NVDEC” APIs with a variety of formats supported from older MPEG-2 up through H.265 and VP9 at a variety of bit depths and color formats.

      • AMDVLK Radeon Vulkan Driver Adds Transform Feedback, ~10% Vega Performance Boost

        AMD’s Vulkan driver developers have done their first fresh code drop of the AMDVLK open-source Vulkan driver code in two weeks and it’s a big push.

        Highlights of the AMDVLK update pushed out this morning for those using this official Radeon Vulkan driver alternative to Mesa RADV includes:

        - Their Vulkan transform feedback support appears in order. This is most notably useful for Wine/Proton Steam Play gamers with DXVK for mapping Direct3D to Vulkan. The Vulkan transform feedback support is necessary for handling Direct3D Stream-Out functionality. The RADV driver had already enabled this transform feedback support.

    • Benchmarks

      • Linux 4.20 I/O Scheduler Benchmarks On NVMe SSD Storage

        Complementing the recent Linux 4.19 I/O scheduler benchmarks using SATA 3.0 SSD storage, here are some benchmarks when using the current Linux 4.20 development kernel and also using faster NVMe solid-state storage for benchmarking. Most Linux distributions default to no I/O scheduler in the case of NVMe SSDs, but for your viewing pleasure today is a look at the performance against MQ Deadline, Kyber, and BFQ.

        This round of Linux I/O scheduler benchmarking on 4.20 Git was done using an AMD Threadripper 2990WX workstation with a Samsung 970 EVO 500GB NVMe SSD. None, MQ-Deadline, Kyber, BFQ, and BFQ low_latency were the I/O scheduling options tested for this comparison. An EXT4 file-system was used for the root partition with the default mount options.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Necuno is a New Open Source Smartphone Running KDE

        It’s been more than two years since Ubuntu’s dream of creating a Linux smartphone was shattered. But it hasn’t discouraged others from trying their own hands on a Linux-based smartphone.

        Librem 5, the privacy-focused Linux-based smartphone, should be arriving in 2019. Even Pine64 is aiming for a budget Linux smartphone.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux for the Gemini PDA

      Being basically a pimped up cell phone requires a convergence of Linux (glibc) and Android (bionic) to drive the hardware not yet natively supported by GNU/Linux. We are using components from the Halium project to achieve that.

      Bringing GNU/Linux to the Gemini PDA, or any other mobile platform, is in the very early stages and some of it still needs a bit of work, such as data and voice support, GPS, power management, etc. There is currently one known issue with the Gemini having occasional issues when shutting down. The community is currently working on it.

      Overall, it’s a very stable experience thanks to the hard work of the Sailfish and Gemian communities, in particular TheKit and adam_b, who brought Gemian to the Gemini PDA and helped a lot with this project.

    • New Releases

      • Proxmox VE 5.3 is available

        since almost half a year we have been constantly improving Proxmox VE and adding new features. Today, we are proud to announce the final release of the new Version 5.3.

        [...]

        Here are the highlights of the new version 5.3:

        Based on Debian 9.6 and Linux Kernel 4.15
        You can create CephFS and the Metadata servers (MDS) in the GUI
        Improved disk management: add ZFS raid volumes, LVM, and LVMthin pools
        ZFS over iSCSI storage plug-in can access LIO target in the Linux kernel
        LXC: nesting is enabled for containers – you can use LXC or LXD inside a container
        PCI passthrough and vGPUs via GUI
        Countless bugfixes
        and much more…

      • VyOS 1.2.0-rc10 is available for download

        We have a bunch of issues that need testing. Please tell us if the following features work for you, or help us figure out a reproducing procedure! We need to make sure they are resolved before we make a stable 1.2.0 release, but we are either unable to reproduce them because they are hardware-specific and we don’t have required hardware anywhere; or we cannot reproduce them using the provided procedure, which may mean either that the procedure is incomplete, or that the bug is already fixed.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Fedora

      • Flatpaks in Fedora – now live

        I’m pleased to announce that we now have full initial support for Flatpak creation in Fedora infrastructure: Flatpaks can be built as containers, pushed to testing and stable via Bodhi, and installed by users from registry.fedoraproject.org through the command line, GNOME Software, or KDE Discover.

        The goal of this work has been to enable creating Flatpaks from Fedora packages on Fedora infrastructure – this will expand the set of Flatpaks that are available to all Flatpak users, provide a runtime that gets updates as bugs and security fixes appear in Fedora, and provide Fedora users, especially on Fedora Silverblue, with an out-of-the-box set of Flatpak applications enabled by default.

      • Máirín Duffy: Fedora Design Team Meeting, 4 Nollaig 2018
    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • What is open leadership?

    Leadership works differently at Red Hat. In our open organization, people don’t just receive the status of “leader” when appointed to a position or given a title. Instead, leaders earn their leadership positions when they adopt a certain combination of behaviors and mindsets.

  • Monex Platform Now Available in Private Beta Launch: Built on Open-Source Blockchain

    Monax, a digital legal infrastructure platform built on an open-source, universal blockchain, has introduced the private beta launch of the Monax Platform, the latest in its line of smart contract products. The Monax Platform is a collaborative workspace for businesses, legal and tech professionals, with market-ready smart contract templates available for individual or commercial use.

  • 2019 telecoms forecast: the year of 5G and open source

    2019 is shaping up to be a massive year for telco companies. In the final few months of 2018, countless 5G projects have launched and several new uses cases in cloud computing and IoT have come to light, driving demand for high capacity and low latency connectivity.

    As a result of the monetisation challenges, there has been a distinct move away from just providing faster network speeds to consumers, and towards enabling a whole host of new technologies on mobile networks. To achieve this, an increasing number of telecoms operators are functioning like software companies.

  • AI in 2019: 8 trends to watch

    “Today, more leading-edge software development occurs inside open source communities than ever before, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for proprietary projects to keep up with the rapid pace of development that open source offers,” says Ibrahim Haddad, director of research at The Linux Foundation, which includes the LF Deep Learning Foundation. “AI is no different and is becoming dominated by open source software that brings together multiple collaborators and organizations.”

    In particular, Haddad expects more cutting-edge technology companies and early adopters to open source their internal AI work to catalyze the next waves of development, not unlike how Google spun Kubernetes out from an internal system to an open source project.

    “We foresee more companies open sourcing their internal AI stacks in order to build communities around those projects,” Haddad says. “This will enable companies and communities to harmonize across a set of critical projects that together will create a comprehensive open source stack in the AI, machine learning, and deep learning space. Large companies that were the first to take their AI efforts open source are already seeing early mover advantages, and we expect this to increase.”

  • The 8 biggest open source milestones in 2018

    Open source continues to climb the charts of popularity and usability. Every year that goes by marks newer and greater milestones for open source, and 2018 was no stranger to such events. The open source community enjoyed plenty of highs and suffered its share of lows.

  • Events

    • Guten Tag Sindelfingen!

      This week, Collaborans will be taking part, and speaking, in this year’s ESE Kongress, “the only German-language convention with an exclusive and extensive focus on the manifold issues and challenges with respect to the development of device and system software for industrial applications, automotive engineering, automation, drives, measurement systems, communication systems as well as consumer electronics and medical devices.”‘

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Report: LibreOffice Bug Hunting Session in Taiwan

      LibreOffice’s worldwide community is active in many parts of the project – in development, localisation, documentation, design, marketing and more. There’s also the Quality Assurance (QA) community, which focuses on identifying and fixing bugs. At a recent event in Taiwan, a Bug Hunting Session took place to check bug reports, as Franklin Weng explains…

    • SmartArt improvements in LibreOffice, part 2

      I recently dived into the SmartArt support of LibreOffice, which is the component responsible for displaying complex diagrams from PPTX. I focused especially on the case when only document model and the layout constraints are given, not a pre-rendered result.

      First, thanks to our partner SUSE for working with Collabora to make this possible.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Register today for LibrePlanet 2019!

      The free software community spans the entire world, with supporters in nearly every corner of the globe, busily coding, tinkering, and spreading the word about the growing importance of controlling our computing. The Internet provides us with many great tools to share the latest news and advances, but ultimately, there’s nothing quite like meeting in person at the LibrePlanet conference! At LibrePlanet, you can meet other developers, activists, policy experts, students, and more, to make connections and help us strategize the future of free software.

    • Introducing Lei Zhao, intern with the FSF tech team

      I first became aware of free software in the sense of freedom at the age of 19. I encountered free software even earlier, but it took some time to appreciate the free/libre aspect of free software.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

  • Programming/Development

    • Removing Duplicate PATH Entries, Part II: the Rise of Perl

      With apologies to Arnold and the Terminator franchise for the title, let’s look one more time at removing duplicates from the PATH variable. This take on doing it was prompted by a comment from a reader named Shaun on the previous post that asked “if you’re willing to use a non-bash solution (AWK) to solve the problem, why not use Perl?” Shaun was kind enough to provide a Perl version of the code, which was good, since I’d have been hard-pressed to come up with one. It’s a short piece of code, shorter than the AWK version, so it seemed like it ought to be fairly easy to pick it apart. In the end, I’m not sure I’d call it easy, but it was interesting, and I thought other non-Perl programmers might find it interesting too.

    • converts all pngs in a folder to webp, quality can be choosed as a argument
    • This Week In Servo 120
    • Tower of Hanoi program in Higher-Order Perl book, ported to Python

      I was reading the book Higher Order Perl (Wikipedia entry). It is by Mark Jason Dominus, a well-known figure in the Perl community. I’ve only read a bit of it so far, but it already looks very good. There are also many reviews of it, all of which say that it is a good book, including one by Damian Conway, another well-known Perl figure.

      Early in the book, in chapter 1 – Recursion and Callbacks, there is a nice example program showing how to solve the Tower of Hanoi problem. I had come across the problem earlier, but had not seen a Perl solution before. It’s not really any different from the same kind of solution written in other languages, except for some points related to Perl’s syntax and semantics, such as the use of local (Perl’s my) vs. global variables, specifically with regard to a recursive function, which is what Mark uses for Hanoi.

    • 55: When 100% test coverage just isn’t enough – Mahmoud Hashemi

      What happens when 100% test code coverage just isn’t enough.
      In this episode, we talk with Mahmoud Hashemi about glom, a very cool project in itself, but a project that needs more coverage than 100%.
      This problem affects lots of projects that use higher level programming constructs, like domain specific languages (DSLs), sub languages mini languages, compilers, and db query languages.

    • Create the custom made thread class for the python application project
    • Seaborn Library for Data Visualization in Python: Part 1

      In the previous article, we looked at how Python’s Matplotlib library can be used for data visualization. In this article we will look at Seaborn which is another extremely useful library for data visualization in Python. The Seaborn library is built on top of Matplotlib and offers many advanced data visualization capabilities.

      Though, the Seaborn library can be used to draw a variety of charts such as matrix plots, grid plots, regression plots etc., in this article we will see how the Seaborn library can be used to draw distributional and categorial plots. In the next part of the article, we will see how to draw regression plots, matrix plots, and grid plots.

    • Create enemy missiles within the Enemy object

      In this article we are going to edit a few game’s classes that we have created earlier, our main objective here is to detach the enemy missiles from the enemy missile manager, which means instead of putting all the enemy missiles under a single missile list inside the enemy missile manager as we have done previously, we are going to create a separate missile list and a separate missile pool…

    • Django TemplateView Example — URLs, GET and as_view

      Django Templates are used to create HTML interfaces that get rendered with a Django view.

    • Write drunk, test automated: documentation quality assurance – Sven Strack

      Before you start testing your documentation, you’ll need some insight. Start with getting an overview of your documentation. Who is committing to it? Which parts are there? Which parts of the documentation are updated most often? Are the committers native speakers yes/no? Which part of the documentation has the most bug reports. So: gather statistics.

      Also: try to figure out who reads your documentation. Where do they come from? What are the search terms they use to find your documentation in google? You can use these statistics to focus your development effort.

      Important: planning. If your documentation in English, plan beforehand if you want it to be in UK or US English. Define style guides. If you have automatic checks, define standards beforehand: do you want a check to fail on line length yes/no? Spelling errors? Etc. How long is the test allowed to take?

    • Python 101: Episode #36 – Creating Modules and Packages

      In this screencast, we will learn the basics of how to create our own module or package.

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #345 (Dec. 4, 2018)
    • Python Education Summit – in its 7th year in 2019

      Teachers, educators, and Pythonistas: come and share your projects, experiences, and tools of the trade in teaching coding and Python to your students. The Annual Python Education Summit is held at PyCon 2019, taking place on Thursday, May 2nd. Our call for proposals is open until January 3rd AoE, and we want to hear from you!

    • Using Pip in a Conda Environment

      Unfortunately, issues can arise when conda and pip are used together to create an environment, especially when the tools are used back-to-back multiple times, establishing a state that can be hard to reproduce. Most of these issues stem from that fact that conda, like other package managers, has limited abilities to control packages it did not install. Running conda after pip has the potential to overwrite and potentially break packages installed via pip. Similarly, pip may upgrade or remove a package which a conda-installed package requires. In some cases these breakages are cosmetic, where a few files are present that should have been removed, but in other cases the environment may evolve into an unusable state.

    • Type erasure and reification

      In this post I’d like to discuss the concepts of type erasure and reification in programming languages. I don’t intend to dive very deeply into the specific rules of any particular language; rather, the post is going to present several simple examples in multiple languages, hoping to provide enough intuition and background for a more serious study, if necessary. As you’ll see, the actual concepts are very simple and familiar. Deeper details of specific languages pertain more to the idiosyncrasies of those languages’ semantics and implementations.

      Important note: in C++ there is a programming pattern called type erasure, which is quite distinct from what I’m trying to describe here [1]. I’ll be using C++ examples here, but that’s to demonstrate how the original concepts apply in C++. The programming pattern will be covered in a separate post.

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Agrarian Crisis: Father of Green Revolution in India Rejects GM Crops as Farmers Demand Justice in Delhi

      Genetically modified (GM) cotton in India is a failure. India should reject GM mustard. And like the Green Revolution, GM agriculture poses risks and is unsustainable. Regulatory bodies are dogged by incompetency and conflicts of interest. GM crops should therefore be banned.

      You may have heard much of this before. But what is different this time is that the claims come from distinguished scientist P.C. Kesaven and his colleague M.S. Swaminathan, renowned agricultural scientist and geneticist and widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution in India.

      [...]

      In the paper, it is argued that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be need based. In more than 99% of cases, the authors argue that time-honoured conventional breeding is sufficient. In other words, GM is not needed.

      Turning to the Green Revolution, the authors say it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts. Some have argued that a more ‘systems-based’ approach to agriculture would mark a move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking and would properly address concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution.

      In fact, Kesaven and Swaminathan note that a sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’ based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’ would guarantee equitable food security by ensuring access of rural communities to food.

      There is a severe agrarian crisis in India and the publication of their paper (25 November) was very timely. It came just three days before tens of thousands of farmers from all over India gathered in Delhi to march to parliament to present their grievances and demands for justice to the Indian government.

    • Study Finds Arthritis Drug Enbrel Overpatented, Overpriced in US

      Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK) released a new study yesterday showing that the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel has been overpatented by drugmaker Amgen, which has filed a total of 57 patents on the drug in the United States. Together, these patents were said to delay market competition by 39 years, rather than the standard 20 years for one patent. The study found that this market exclusivity for Enbrel resulted in US$ 8 billion dollars in sales in 2017 alone.

    • The Biggest Moments Of 2018 In The Fight For Universal Health Care

      Even in the face of a fiercely conservative administration, universal health care took center stage in 2018 with the potential to dramatically improve the lives of more Americans than any other social program in our nation’s history. A publicly financed but privately delivered single-payer program, more popularly known as Medicare for All, remains the best option for ensuring that every American has access to quality health care.

      Twenty-eight million Americans will remain uninsured, without access to primary care that could prevent costly and life-threatening diseases, as long as the United States does not have a single-payer health care system.

      People fortunate enough to have insurance will continue to face prohibitively expensive co-pays, premiums, and deductibles that limit access to care. Medical expenses will also remain a leading cause of bankruptcy.

      While their stories indicate a health system that remains in the service of profits over patients, there were moments during 2018 that offer hope in the fight for universal health care.

      According to a Reuters–Ipsos poll, an overwhelming majority of Americans—70 percent—now favor a single-payer health system.

  • Security

    • Quora Hacked: Data Of 100 Million Users Stolen

      n an official blog post, Quora announced that on Friday it found that user data of about 100 million users was compromised. Some unauthorised third-party gained access to the company’s systems.

    • Quora Security Update

      We recently discovered that some user data was compromised as a result of unauthorized access to one of our systems by a malicious third party. We are working rapidly to investigate the situation further and take the appropriate steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

      We also want to be as transparent as possible without compromising our security systems or the steps we’re taking, and in this post we’ll share what happened, what information was involved, what we’re doing, and what you can do.

      We’re very sorry for any concern or inconvenience this may cause.

    • What OpenShift Online customers should know about the recent Kubernetes bugs

      On December 3rd, 2018, the Kubernetes Product Security team released information about a vulnerability in kubernetes. This issue is assigned CVE-2018-1002105 and given a security impact of Critical by Red Hat Product Security. Red Hat OpenShift is built upon kubernetes and as such these bugs were also present in Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat OpenShift Online and Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated.

    • The Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw: Innovation still needs IT security expertise

      IT security matters at every level of the enterprise technology stack, from the foundation of the infrastructure up through to the mission-critical applications and services exposed to end users. This need persists regardless of whether a technology is commoditized or at the leading edge – in short, IT security always matters.

      For open source software that is often pushing innovations used by modern organizations, such as Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies, this balance between innovation and security and stability is a significant part of the value a Red Hat subscription can offer. Security flaws can occur in any piece of software (or beyond software, as 2018 has taught us well). When they do, Red Hat is committed to delivering as quickly as it can both patches to customers and fixes to upstream open source projects.

    • Understanding the critical Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw in OpenShift 3
    • Kubernetes Alert: Security Flaw Could Enable Remote Hacking
    • On demand webcast: DevOps and security – you don’t have to play open source whack-a mole
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • [Intruders] breach Quora.com and steal password data for 100 million users

      Compromised information includes cryptographically protected passwords, full names, email addresses, data imported from linked networks, and a variety of non-public content and actions, including direct messages, answer requests and downvotes. The breached data also included public content and actions, such as questions, answers, comments, and upvotes. In a post published late Monday afternoon, Quora officials said they discovered the unauthorized access on Friday. They have since hired a digital forensics and security firm to investigate and have also reported the breach to law enforcement officials.

    • Quora says [intruders] stole [sic] up to 100 million users’ data

      Quora said it discovered last week that [intruders] broke into its systems and were able to make off with data on up to 100 million users. That data could have included a user’s name, email address, and an encrypted version of their password. If a user imported data from another social network, like their contacts or demographic information, that could have been taken too.

    • Canonical publishes auto-apply vulnerability patch for Kubernetes
    • Critical Kubernetes privilege escalation disclosed

      A critical flaw in the Kubernetes container orchestration system has been announced. It will allow any user to compromise a Kubernetes cluster by way of exploiting any aggregated API server that is deployed for it. This affects all Kubernetes versions 1.0 to 1.12, but is only fixed in the supported versions (in 1.10.11, 1.11.5, and 1.12.3)

    • Kubernetes vulnerability impacting Red Hat OpenShift
    • Kubernetes security vulnerability may delay version upgrades
    • First major Kubernetes security flaw allows hackers to infiltrate backend servers
    • Critical Kubernetes flaw allows any user to access administrative controls
    • Researchers Find Major Kubernetes Flaw
    • ​Kubernetes’ first major security hole discovered

      Kubernetes has become the most popular cloud container orchestration system by far, so it was only a matter of time until its first major security hole was discovered. And the bug, CVE-2018-1002105, aka the Kubernetes privilege escalation flaw, is a doozy. It’s a CVSS 9.8 critical security hole.

      With a specially crafted network request, any user can establish a connection through the Kubernetes application programming interface (API) server to a backend server. Once established, an attacker can send arbitrary requests over the network connection directly to that backend. Adding insult to injury, these requests are authenticated with the Kubernetes API server’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) credentials.

    • Bypass of Disabled System Functions

      The disable_functions directive in the php.ini configuration file allows you to disable certain PHP functions. One of the suggested hardening practices is to disable functions such as system, exec, shell_exec, passthru, by using the disable_functions directive to prevent an attacker from executing system commands. However, a user named Twoster in the Russian Antichat forum announced a new bypass method to this security mechanism. In this blog post, we discuss the technical details of the bypass.

    • How to Use a Bitcoin Paper Wallet to Keep Your Crypto Safe

      As a crypto investor, it’s paramount that you understand the different ways to keep your Bitcoin safe. While most of the media attention focuses on hardware and software wallet solutions, there is another effective way to store your Satoshis: a Bitcoin paper wallet.

      This form of crypto storage is used by some of the biggest Bitcoin investors in the world. The Winklevoss Twins, the world’s first Bitcoin billionaires, reportedly keep their crypto in cold storage on paper wallets. The paper wallets are cut into pieces and stored in different bank safety deposit boxes throughout the country.

      [...]

      Restart your computer and boot your PC from your flash drive using the Ubuntu operating system. To do this, you will need to press F1 or F12 during your PC’s startup. A pop-up screen will emerge showing you your boot options. Choose the option that represents your flash drive. Allow Ubuntu to load on your PC.

    • Event-Stream Backdoor Doesn’t Mean Open-Source Community Failing at Security [Ed: Free software catches such issues fast; proprietary software doesn't (or does so late, then covers it all up).]

      News last week that event-stream, the popular open-source code library managed by NPM, had been compromised by a hacker (or hackers) looking to steal Bitcoin led some to question the underlying security of the open-source components that they are using in their software.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Congressional Noose may Tighten around Saudi Crown Prince as Haspel Testifies
    • Private WhatsApp messages show Jamal Khashoggi feared Saudi crown prince’s hunger for power

      Mr Abdelaziz told CNN he believes his phone was [cracked] by Saudi authorities a few months before Mr Khashoggi was brutally killed inside the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on October 2.

    • Jamal Khashoggi’s private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killing

      In more than 400 WhatsApp messages sent to a fellow Saudi exile in the year before he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Khashoggi describes bin Salman — often referred to as MBS — as a “beast,” a “pac-man” who would devour all in his path, even his supporters.

      CNN has been granted exclusive access to the correspondence between Khashoggi and Montreal-based activist Omar Abdulaziz. The messages shared by Abdulaziz, which include voice recordings, photos and videos, paint a picture of a man deeply troubled by what he regarded as the petulance of his kingdom’s powerful young prince.

    • Seeing Yemen from Jeju Island

      Several days ago, I joined an unusual skype call originated by young South Korean founders of “The Hope School.” Located on Jeju Island, the school aims to build a supportive community between island residents and newly arrived Yemenis who seek asylum in South Korea.

      Jeju, a visa-free port, has been an entry point for close to 500 Yemenis who have traveled nearly 5000 miles in search of safety. Traumatized by consistent bombing, threats of imprisonment and torture, and the horrors of starvation, recent migrants to South Korea, including children, yearn for refuge.

      Like many thousands of others who’ve fled Yemen, they miss their families, their neighborhoods, and the future they once might have imagined. But returning to Yemen now would be awfully dangerous for them.

    • The Long, Brutal US War on Children in the Middle East

      On November 28, sixty-three US Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct US Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi last month. Just before the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called current objections to US relations with Saudi Arabia “Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.”

      The “caterwaul” on Capitol Hill reflects years of determined effort by grassroots groups to end US involvement in war on Yemen, fed by mounting international outrage at the last three years of war that have caused the deaths of an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under age 5.

      When children waste away to literally nothing while 14 million people endure conflict-driven famine, a hue and cry — yes, a caterwaul — most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

      How might we understand what it would mean in the United States for 14 million people in our country to starve? You would have to combine the populations of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and imagine these cities empty of all but the painfully and slowly dying, to get a glimpse into the suffering in Yemen, where one of every two persons faces starvation.

    • How Poppy Bush’s Brother, “Uncle Bucky,” Made a Killing Off the Iraq Wars

      Back in 1991, shortly after the depleted uranium-flaked dust had settled some from the first Gulf War, there was a minor tempest in the press over influence peddling by members of the Presiden George H. W. Bush’s family, including his son Neil and his brother Prescott, Jr. Both Neil and Prescott, neither of whom had proven to be exceptionally talented businessmen, had made millions by flagrantly trading on their relationship to the president.

      Seeking to distinguish himself from his more predatory relatives, William Henry Trotter Bush, the younger brother of Bush Sr. and an investment banker in St. Louis, gave an interview to disclaim any profiteering on his own part. Indeed, he sounded downright grumpy, as if his older brother hadn’t done enough to steer juicy government deals his way. “Being the brother of George Bush isn’t a financial windfall by any stretch of the imagination,” huffed William H.T. Bush.

      Well, perhaps being the brother of the president didn’t generate as much business as he hoped, but having the good fortune to be the uncle of the president certainly appears to have padded the pockets of the man endearingly known to George W. Bush as “Uncle Bucky.”

    • George H.W. Bush Empowered Atrocity Abroad and Fascists at Home

      The television spent the entire weekend reminding me that George Herbert Walker Bush loved his country, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his dog, the city of Houston, the town of Kennebunkport, baseball, football, golf and so very much else besides.

      Our 41st US president, the talking heads assured me, was a veritable ocean of love. The newspaper folks did their part to paint this picture, as well; stealing a leaf from Jesus of Nazareth over the weekend, Bush Sr. died and rose again on the warm updraft of early 1990s B-roll footage and gushing headlines from all corners of the country.

      This legion of whitewashers was at pains to commend Bush Sr.’s decency, fairness and honor before, during and after the commercial breaks. In the age of Trump, the power-loving media clearly relished the opportunity to say good things about a president again. It was a fused loop: Bush Sr. is dead; he was nice; lather, rinse, repeat.

      The hagiography festival made a particularly grand to-do about the fact that George H.W. Bush was president when the Cold War ended. What the glowing obituaries obscured, however, was that Bush Sr. was a Cold Warrior of the first order, actively involved in a number of genuine atrocities that spanned the globe.

      Most of Bush Sr.’s biography has been well documented for good and ill, but his time at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seldom discussed in this hemisphere. He spent only a year in that job, but it was one of the bloodiest years South America has ever known. Fifteen years later, he personally, if inadvertently, opened the door for the proto-fascist takeover of his own party. Those two tales, combined with some other dark chapters of Bush Sr.’s life, frame a career in power and politics that did damage most everywhere it went.

    • Man charged with felony for pulling gun on Somali teens at Eden Prairie McDonald’s

      Prosecutors on Monday charged a man with a felony for allegedly pulling a gun on a group of young Somalis inside a McDonald’s last month in Eden Prairie.

      The Hennepin County attorney’s charged Lloyd Edward Johnson, 55, of Eden Prairie with felony terroristic threats and carrying a pistol without a permit, a gross misdemeanor.

    • Republicans After Briefing With CIA Chief: Yeah, Saudi Crown Prince Definitely Had Jamal Khashoggi Killed

      Reasonable observers and analysts concluded weeks ago that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome killing of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.

      Though it took them far longer than most, a small group of Republicans finally fell in line with this widespread consensus after a secretive briefing by CIA chief Gina Haspel on Tuesday, admitting that all the available evidence suggests MBS orchestrated the murder that has sparked international outrage and brought America’s longstanding military relationship with the brutal kingdom under sharp scrutiny.

      “There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters after the behind-closed-doors briefing. “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.”

      Graham went on to say he will not support U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia until all who are responsible for Khashoggi’s murder are “brought to justice.”

      As Common Dreams reported, the Senate last week advanced Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi kingdom’s assault on Yemen. Graham voted in favor of the resolution.

    • The Dirty Secrets of George Bush

      The Vice President’s illegal operations

    • ‘Take Out Their Families’: Trump Fulfills Criminal Campaign Promise as Hundreds Die in Latest US-Led Syria Strikes

      While campaigning for president in late 2015, Donald Trump promised a bloody escalation of the US-led war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, vowing to “bomb the shit out of” IS militants and “take out their families.” Targeting terrorists’ wives, children and other relatives is a war crime under international law, but Trump doubled down on his promise and since taking office has presided over a dramatic increase in civilian deaths in six of the seven countries subjected to America’s open-ended war against terrorism. This increase has been most acute in Iraq and, most recently, in Syria, where hundreds of innocent civilians have died in US-led air strikes in recent months.

      Although US and coalition forces are not deliberately targeting civilians, many — if not most — of those killed in the latest strikes have been women and children. According to local and international media and human rights monitor groups, at least 271 and possibly more than twice as many civilians have been killed in nearly 900 US-confirmed air strikes in Deir Ezzor province in October and November. The vast majority of these raids have been carried out by American warplanes; British, French, Dutch and other coalition members have also participated.

      The UK-based monitor group Airwars and local and international media outlets report many victims of these recent bombings have been wives, children and other relatives of IS fighters. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 32 IS family members, including 12 women and 13 children, died in a November 11 strike on Al Shaafa, while an attack on Al Kashma that same day killed at least 35 civilians, mostly women and children, according to Step News Agency and other outlets. Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) and local media reported that a November 15 attack on Al Boubardan killed 18 members of a single family, including 14 children and three women.

    • Hard Truths and the ‘Indispensable Nation’

      It was about a year ago that United Nation’s special rapporteur, Philip Alston, issued a report on the dire state of the American republic. It revealed that upwards of 40 million Americans live in poverty.

    • How Middle East Dictators Bring Their Western Allies Down

      Middle East dictators, we like to believe, live in heaven. They have palaces, servants, vast and wealthy families, millions of obedient people and loyal armies who constantly express their love for their leader, not to mention huge secret police forces to ensure they don’t forget this, and masses of weapons to defend themselves, supplied, usually, by us.

      These tyrants – autocrats or “strongmen” if they happen to be our allies – exist, we suppose, in a kind of nirvana. Their lawns, like their people, are well-manicured, their roses clipped, their rivers unsullied, their patriotism unchallenged. They wish to be eternal.

      But this is our Hollywood version of the Middle East. Having not suffered our own dictators for a generation, we suffer from mirages the moment we step into the sand. Real dictators in the Middle East don’t behave or think like this. It is power and the risks of power and the love of ownership that obsesses them. The possession of untold wealth or an entire nation, and their own form of patriotism – and the challenges they have to face to sustain this way of life: that is the attraction.

    • Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: U.S. Owes Reparations to Panama over Bush’s Invasion

      Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Washington to pay reparations to Panama over George H.W. Bush’s illegal invasion there in 1989. We speak with international human rights attorney José Luis Morín, who has been working since 1990 to secure reparations for Panama. He is a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and chairperson of the Latin American and Latina/o Studies Department.

    • I Will Not Speak Kindly of the Dead. Bush Was Detestable.

      We’re supposed to speak kindly of the dead. And we’re supposed to bury our dead presidents with the type of fanfare and reverence that the colonial forebearers of this nation’s white settlers reserved for royalty. Today, as we prepare to bury the nation’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, the American press corps is carrying on this tradition, eulogizing him primarily by celebrating his polite demeanor and his successful self-representation of civility. Yes, the 41st president presented as a nicer person than the 45th, or his son, the 43rd. But for the people whose countries or lives were destroyed by his violent actions, he’ll always be a monster. Sanitizing his story amounts to historical revisionism. Below are just eight of the many reasons why, beneath the civility, George H.W. Bush was a detestable president.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Manafort tried to make deal with Ecuador to hand over Julian Assange: report

      Paul Manafort attempted to broker a deal in 2017 for Ecuador to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to U.S. authorities in exchange for debt relief from the U.S. government, the New York Times reported Monday night. Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, met at least twice with Ecuador’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno, in May 2017, the Times reported. Manafort had reportedly traveled to Ecuador in hopes of brokering a deal for China to invest in the South American country’s power system, angling for a large commission. While there, sources told the Times that Manafort suggested he could help negotiate a deal for Assange, who Ecuador reportedly wanted out of their London embassy. The talks fell apart soon after, once Robert Mueller was named special counsel and it was apparent that Manafort was one of his targets. The Times said there was no indication that Trump or other administration officials were briefed by Manafort on the negotiations, but noted the incident highlighted Manafort’s role as an international influence broker hoping to cash in on his ties with Trump. Last week, The Guardian reported Manafort met with Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2013, 2015 and 2016, though the Times said there is no evidence that Manafort’s talks with Ecuador were motivated by WikiLeaks’ role in Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Justice Department is reportedly confident it will soon be able to prosecute Assange, who has been secretly indicted, according to a report last month. Manafort, who was convicted of financial crimes in August, reportedly violated his plea deal by lying to the Mueller investigation, and faces significant prison time.

    • Manafort Tried to Strike Deal With Ecuador on China, Julian Assange: NYT
    • Manafort tried to broker deal over Assange’s handover to US

      Manafort “listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the purpose of the meeting”, said Maloni.

      Manafort will tentatively face sentencing on March 5, a federal judge ruled last week.

      The ruling came days after Mueller accused Manafort of repeatedly lying to federal investigators, breaching his plea deal he signed in September.

      He is currently in jail in Alexandria, Virginia.

    • Manafort Tried to Negotiate Handover of Assange to US in 2017 – Reports

      During his visit to Quito, Manafort and Lenin Moreno, who is now the Ecuadorian president, discussed a deal in which the former could arrange certain financial concessions to Ecuador in exchange for the handover of Assange to the United States, the newspaper reported on Monday.

      The news outlet alleged that the potential deal was off after Rober Mueller was appointed special counsel to probe Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, with Manafort being subject to investigation.

    • Former ‘Guardian’ Editor On Snowden, WikiLeaks And Remaking Journalism

      In Breaking News, Alan Rusbridger reflects on the blockbuster stories he helped publish over the course of his 20-year tenure running the British newspaper…

    • Lawyers seeking access to sealed Julian Assange case argue DOJ lacks justification for secrecy

      Attorneys seeking details about the U.S. government’s investigation into WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange argued Monday that the Department of Justice lacks justification for continuing to keep its case completely sealed.

      Lawyers for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization representing journalists’ interests, raised the claim throughout a 12-page memorandum filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, where the group initiated legal proceedings last month seeking access to sealed documents related to the Justice Department’s pending prosecution of the Australian-born WikiLeaks boss.

      “The Reporters Committee does not dispute that, in some cases, prior to an arrest the Government may have a compelling interest that justifies temporary sealing of court records subject to the First Amendment right of access,” attorney Caitlin Vogus wrote in the memo. “But such interests are not present prior to an arrest in all cases, and the Government cannot justify wholesale sealing of the Assange Prosecution, specifically, based on nothing more than the fact that Assange is not in U.S. custody.”

    • The Guardian offered a bombshell story about Paul Manafort. It still hasn’t detonated.

      After a week of questions about its reporting of Manafort-Assange meetings, the newspaper stands by its disputed story.

    • Paul Manafort ‘offered to help Ecuador negotiate handover of Julian Assange to the U.S.’

      Paul Manafort met in May 2017 with the President of Ecuador and offered to arrange Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States in exchange for Ecuador receiving debt relief, it has been reported.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Companies blocked from using West Coast ports to export fossil fuels keep seeking workarounds

      A year after Washington state denied key permits for a coal-export terminal in the port city of Longview, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would proceed with its review – essentially ignoring the state’s decision.

      This dispute pits federal authorities against local and state governments. It’s also part of a larger and long-running battle over fossil fuel shipments to foreign countries that stretches up the entire American West Coast.

      We are sociologists who have studied how people respond to news about plans for big energy facilities in their communities. With President Donald Trump pushing hard for more fossil fuel production and exports, we believe it could get significantly harder for local communities to have a say in these important decisions.

    • An Ecosocialist Path to Limiting Global Temperature Rise to 1.5°C

      The much-awaited report from the U.N.’s top climate science panel describes the enormous gap between where we are and where we need to be to prevent dangerous levels of global warming. The 2015 Paris climate accord committed industrial nations to reduce their emissions sufficiently to keep global temperatures within a 2°C rise over pre-industrial levels. In the final accord, highly vulnerable island nations and faith communities represented at the UN pressed the authors to include the 1.5°C limit as an aspirational target in the final draft of the accord with 2°C as the backup target.

      Soaring GHG emissions over the past five years, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, ice-cap retreats, intensified storms, summer forest fires reaching even above the Arctic circle, and die-offs of the world’s coral reefs have all raised concerns about what even a little bit more warming would bring. Parts of the planet including the Arctic and many inland areas, have already warmed beyond 1.5°C. California is on fire most of the year. The worst hurricanes are twice as severe (more precipitation, slower passage, greater wind speeds) as they used to be. This is just a short start. Climate breakdown occurring much more quickly than expected is one reason why climate scientists now think that the goal just five years ago of limiting warming to 2°C “increasingly seems disastrous in this context.”[2] The Paris pledges were never sufficient even to keep warming below 3°C let alone 2°C. Few of the signatories have even managed to meet the low bars they set for themselves and he world’s largest countries including China, the U.S., and Canada have us on track to a 4-5°C warming. As CO2 concentrations continue growing, preventing runaway warming is going to require ever deeper, truly draconian cuts in emissions, which will mean greater economic disruption. IPCC estimates already show us needing to achieve a near vertical drop in emissions in the early 2020s. Every day we delay getting off of fossil fuels increases the probability that we won’t be able to save ourselves.

    • ‘We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,’ 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. ‘We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming’

      Striking her mark at the COP24 climate talks taking place this week and next in Poland, fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden issued a stern rebuke on behalf of the world’s youth climate movement to the adult diplomats, executives, and elected leaders gathered by telling them she was not there asking for help or demanding they comply with demands but to let them know that new political realities and a renewable energy transformation are coming whether they like it or not.

    • Paris Agreement Fight Could Push US Out Permanently, Warn Top Obama Officials

      A deal in Poland that draws a hard line between developed and developing countries may be unacceptable to future administrations — Democratic or Republican.

      UN climate talks this fortnight could determine whether a post-Trump U.S. president would rejoin the Paris Agreement, according to two former top Obama officials.

      At discussions in Katowice, Poland, almost 200 countries will try to agree the Paris Agreement “rulebook.” That should lay out how countries will enact the accord, for example how they report their efforts to fight climate change. But as talks began on Sunday, thousands of points of disagreement remained.
      Todd Stern and Sue Biniaz, the lead climate envoy and lawyer in Barack Obama’s state department and key scribes and agents of the 2015 Paris deal, spoke to Climate Home News.

      Biniaz said: “Some countries, and I’m not exactly sure exactly who’s in this camp, are, I would say ignoring the language of the Paris Agreement and basically saying there should be two different sets of guidelines: one for developed countries and one for developing countries. I would say that that’s just completely inconsistent with what was agreed in Paris.”

  • Finance

    • Student Debtors Are the Working Poor and Must Organize as Such

      “Debt is to capitalism, that which hell is to Christianity,” economist Yanis Varoufakis recently said. “Debt might be unpleasant, but absolutely essential for capitalism.” If so, then in our capitalist society, the hell of student debts makes borrowers the sacrificial lamb that appeases the deities of capital.

      Forty-four million people owe over $1.5 trillion in student debt that is primarily held by the US Department of Education. Tens of millions are struggling to pay back a government that acts increasingly like a predatory vulture fund feeding off the misery of debtors’ perpetual poverty. Debts spiral out of control quickly when one is disadvantaged or can’t find a good-paying job, or when the creditors themselves employ the classic, corrupt tactics of parasitic pawnbrokers. The path to student loan distress is not that difficult: Not only have wages stagnated, but already intolerable wealth inequality grew during the global financial crisis to critical proportions. The Brookings Institute, after measuring representative samples of borrowers in loan distress, estimates that 40 percent of debtors who entered school in 2004 may default by 2023. Research by The Washington Center for Equitable Growth shows that “student loans are a burden for all earners,” including higher income earners. The Center’s national map of student debt shows significant delinquency rates among borrowers, especially in areas plagued by racial inequality and lower median incomes.

    • Across the Troubles in Northern Ireland: the Borders Are In Men’s Minds

      This is the last in a series of five articles about Northern Ireland on the eve of Brexit, which threatens to put a “hard border” between the six counties of the North and the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union. This is part V.

    • ‘The G-20 Is Death,’ and Other Lessons in Global Capitalism

      You will hear a demonstration in Buenos Aires before you see it, its bass drum throbbing deep and regular like a heartbeat.

      On Friday, amidst the 13th annual G-20 summit, the echo reverberated several blocks—a testament not to the size of the crowd, which probably numbered in the low thousands, but the emptiness of the city in which it traveled. The subway system had been shut down for the day, entire blocks of the microcentro had been barricaded with reinforced steel and officers from the Argentine Federal Police sporting shotguns and bulletproof vests seemed to outnumber the pedestrians. Calle Florida, typically overflowing with shoppers, street artists and arbolitos offering to purchase dollars for pesos, had been all but abandoned.

      Closer to Avenida 9 de Julio, a wide avenue that bifurcates the city and features its most recognizable monument, El Obelisco de Buenos Aires, members of the Prefectura Naval Argentina strapped on their gear and prepared their automatic weapons, while the occasional helicopter whirred overhead. In front of a human wall of riot police, an officer casually explained to a small coterie of photographers and foreign tourists where they could cross.

    • Why Do Our Schools Seem Broke?

      Early this year, teachers in “red” states such as West Virginia and Oklahoma walked off the job to protest declining pay and insufficient classroom resources. Shoppers at office supply stores often run into teachers with carts full of classroom supplies that their school districts say they can’t afford. Last winter, Baltimore City had to close many of its schools for lack of heat, and again near the end of the year, for lack of air conditioning.

      In September, a TIME magazine cover captured the nation attention; one said: “ I have a master’s degree, 16 years of experience, work two extra jobs and donate blood plasma to pay the bills. I’m a teacher in America.”

      When confronted with these issues, state and local leaders commonly throw up their hands and proclaim: “There’s no money!”

      In a just-published report that I co-authored, Good Jobs First examines the annual financial reports of nearly half of the nation’s 13,500 school districts. We found that subsidies handed out to corporations cost school districts more than $1.8 billion last year.

    • ‘We Are All Here Together’: Demanding Charter Network Use Vast Resources for Better Pay, First of Its Kind Teacher Strike in Chicago

      Days after learning that their charter school network’s refusal to give cost-of-living raises comes amid a cash windfall for the organization, about 550 teachers and staff members from Chicago’s Acero Charter Schools went on strike Tuesday, forming picket lines and demanding fair wages and resources in the country’s first charter school walkout.

      Classes were canceled for the network’s 15 schools after contract negotiations, led by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), stalled just after midnight. Acero’s teachers are demanding cost-of-living wages for paraprofessionals, reduced class sizes, and more special education teachers to support the network’s 7,500 students.

      Teachers and supporters held signs reading “I’d rather be teaching but this is important” and “On strike for a fair contract” in both English and Spanish, in picket lines outside their schools.

    • ‘We Are In a State of Insurrection’: Deep Inequality and Macron’s Dedication to Elites Fuel Yellow Vest Uprising in France

      After more than two weeks of protests over high fuel prices and intensifying inequality across France under centrist President Emmanuel Macron, the French government announced Tuesday that it would suspend planned price hikes for gas and electricity—but the demands of the so-called “Yellow Vest” protesters have become more broad, and more broadly embraced, as the demonstrations have swelled in size and energy.

      The price increases for the utilities will be suspended for six months, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, but leaders of the demonstrations in which hundreds of thousands have donned yellow safety vests were dismissive of the gesture.

      “It’s a first step, but we will not settle for a crumb,” Benjamin Chaucy, one of the leaders of the protest, told Al Jazeera. “The French don’t want crumbs, they want a baguette.”

    • France is reportedly freezing a divisive fuel tax after days of violent protest from Yellow Vest movement that killed 3

      French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will reportedly freeze a controversial tax hike on Tuesday which sparked deadly riots across Paris, and protests nationwide.

      Philippe will enforce a “moratorium” for several months, French media outlet Le Monde reported, potentially bringing a temporary calm to violence caused by the Yellow Vest movement across the country’s capital.

      He met legislators at the National Assembly on Monday in Paris to outline his proposal, with the report saying he will announce the tax freeze publicly at midday local time.

      The concession gives way to the movement, known in French as “Des Gilets Jaunes,” who orchestrated their third consecutive protest in Paris on Saturday.

    • The Tragic Migration of Africans to Europe Started Thirty Years Ago, Just When Neoliberalism Started to Bite

      In Africa, the neoliberal turn didn’t just mean a change of policy. It meant a change of life -if not the end of life. Whatever independence Africa won in the 20th century was brutally sabotaged by neoliberalism. If the implementation of the neoliberal agenda in Europe and America was bad, the execution of it in Africa was a monstrous crime against humanity. Extremely vulnerable African states – only years old – were thrown into the sea of global capital, without a life belt.

      The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) were the architects of this crime. Taking advantage of the unsustainable debt Africa accumulated in the 1970s (the infamous third world debt trap – high oil prices and low interest rates), these Washington D.C. organizations pounced on the disadvantaged continent in the 1980s. Whether by design or accident, it was the worst possible time for weak nations to seek help from global capitalism. The neoliberal belief in free markets had just won over the Anglo-American world. The counterrevolution was just beginning.

    • Greens welcome ECJ advisor opinion that UK can stop Article 50 without EU approval

      The Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Greens have welcomed the opinion of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, which indicates that the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50.

      The opinion comes as Westminster debates the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, and is expected to be confirmed by the full ECJ in January, following legal action brought to the ECJ by a group of Scottish politicians including Ross Greer MSP.

      Ross Greer, Green Member of Scottish Parliament and one of the pursuers of the action to the ECJ, said:

    • Trump Takes on General Motors (And Guess Who Wins?)

      Donald Trump’s “America first” economic nationalism is finally crashing into the reality of America’s shareholder-first global capitalism.

      [...]

      Trump is (or is trying to appear) furious, tweeting up a storm of threats against GM, including taking away its federal subsidies.

      In reality, GM gets very few direct subsidies. Prior to the tax cut, the biggest gift GM got from the government was a bailout in 2009 of more than $50 billion.

      But neither last year’s tax cut nor the 2009 bailout required GM to create or preserve jobs in America. Both government handouts simply assumed that, as former GM CEO Charles Erwin “Engine” Wilson put it when he was nominated as secretary of defense by Dwight Eisenhower in 1953, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.”

      Yet much has changed since 1953. Then, GM was the largest employer in America and had only a few operations around the rest of the world. Now, GM is a global corporation that makes and sells just about everywhere.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • What It Means That Hillary Clinton Might Run for President in 2020

      Twenty-five years ago—when I wrote a book titled “False Hope: The Politics of Illusion in the Clinton Era”—I didn’t expect that the Democratic Party would still be mired in Clintonism two and a half decades later. But such approaches to politics continue to haunt the party and the country.

      The last two Democratic presidencies largely involved talking progressive while serving Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. The obvious differences in personalities and behavior of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama diverted attention from their underlying political similarities. In office, both men rarely fought for progressive principles—and routinely undermined them.

      Clinton, for example, brought the country NAFTA, welfare “reform” that was an assault on low-income women and families, telecommunications “reform” that turned far more airwaves over to media conglomerates, repeal of Glass-Steagall regulation of banks that led to the 2007-8 financial meltdown, and huge increases in mass incarceration.

      “What scares me the most is Hillary’s smug certainty of her own virtue as she has become greedy and how typical that is of so many chic liberals who seem unaware of their own greed. They don’t really face the complicity of what’s happened to the world, how selfish we’ve become and the horrible damage of screwing the workers and causing this resentment that the Republicans found a way of tapping into.”
      —Charles Peters, Washington Monthly

    • Trump Jr. Invested in a Hydroponic Lettuce Company Whose Chair Was Seeking Trump Administration Funds — “Trump, Inc.” Podcast Extra

      Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, took a stake last year in a startup whose co-chairman is a major Trump campaign fundraiser who has sought financial support from the federal government for his other business interests, according to records obtained by ProPublica.

      The fundraiser, Texas money manager Gentry Beach, and Trump Jr. attended college together, are godfather to one of each other’s sons and have collaborated on investments — and on the Trump presidential campaign. Since Trump’s election, Beach has attempted to obtain federal assistance for projects in Asia, the Caribbean and South America, and he has met or corresponded with top officials in the National Security Council, Interior Department and Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

      Beach and others at the startup, Eden Green Technology, have touted their connections to the first family to impress partners, suppliers and others, according to five current and former business associates. Richard Venn, an early backer of Eden Green, recalls the company’s founder mentioning “interest from the Trump family.” Another associate said Beach bragged about his ties to the Trumps in a business meeting.

      The investment is one of just a handful of known business ventures pursued by Trump Jr. since his father moved into the White House almost two years ago. In addition to being a top campaign surrogate and public booster, Trump Jr. serves as an executive vice president of his father’s company and one of just two trustees of the trust holding the president’s assets.

    • Imperialist in Chief: A Critical History of George H. W. Bush’s War on Iraq

      The U.S. media haven’t been shy about lionizing the late President George H. W. Bush in their reflections on his life and legacy. This behavior is hardly surprising; we saw the same worship of the late Republican Senator John McCain via the erasure of any discussion of U.S. war crimes and genocidal violence in Vietnam, in favor of the predictable “war hero” narrative.

      On CNN, Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars celebrates the “sheer humility” and “decency” of the elder President Bush, while the Washington Post emphasizes his “steady hand” at the Cold War’s end, at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The New York Timesfawns over Bush as a “restrained and seasoned leader,” while celebrating the 1991 U.S. assault on Iraq. “If Mr. Bush’s term helped close out one era abroad [the Cold War], it opened another. In January 1991, he assembled a global coalition to eject Iraqi invaders from Kuwait, sending hundreds of thousands of troops in a triumphant military campaign that to many helped purge the ghosts of Vietnam.”

    • Gassing Migrants

      The Trump administration and its apologists are quick to point out that Barack Obama was as willing as Donald Trump himself to tear-gas desperate people trying to protect themselves by crossing America’s southern border. So he was, though many will refuse to believe it. Let’s not forget, after all, that Obama, like Trump, was willing to bomb men, women, and children in more than half a dozen Muslim countries. Those drones weren’t and aren’t dropping tear-gas canisters.

      But that raises interesting questions: if every horrible thing that Trump has done so far was also done by Obama, why do Trump and his fans hate the former White House occupant so much? And why do so many Trump opponents love Obama? The Trumpsters ought to praise Obama, who set records for deporting people and prosecuting whistle-blowers under the espionage law.

      Of course, the fact that the then-deferential media establishment downplayed Obama’s brutality and rights violations hardly makes what Trump is doing acceptable. So yeah, Trump is not the first monster to occupy the White House, not by a long shot. That doesn’t mean he’s any less the monster; he could be more so by some amount. I suppose Trump could say that at least he’s gassing intact families instead of separating parents from their kids before doing the disgusting deed.

    • Wisconsin’s GOP Scheme to Keep Scott Walker as Zombie Governor

      Imagine if a governor lost in November but then got his cronies in the legislature to pursue a bill he could sign in his final days in office stripping away his successor’s powers and essentially keeping him in charge.

      That’s basically what’s happening in Wisconsin.

      The current Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature introduced a slew of legislation on Friday in a rare lame-duck session aimed at curbing the powers of incoming Democratic governor Tony Evers as well as the newly elected attorney general, Josh Kaul. Many of these proposals would shift decision-making from gubernatorial control to Wisconsin’s legislature, now firmly in Republican hands.

      For example, currently the governor appoints six of the eleven members of the Group Insurance Board, which oversees state health benefits. One of the proposed power-grabbing laws would add four members to the board, all selected by the legislature, and require all six of the governor’s appointees to be subject to Senate confirmation.

      Another board, Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), is the focus of an even more egregious theft of the new governor’s powers. Currently, the governor appoints half of the board and the legislature appoints the other half. But under the proposed scheme, the legislature will appoint ten members and the governor eight, giving the legislature effective control of this scandal-wracked body, which Evers has pledged to dissolve. In addition, instead of the governor appointing the head of WEDC, under the new configuration, this task would fall to a the legislature-controlled board.

      And the attorney general? Now that the office is about to be led by a Democrat, the Republicans don’t want him to do much, either. The legislature seeks to prevent Kaul him from following through on an issue he campaigned on and pull out of a lawsuit led by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans want new authority to hire lawyers and decide what legal causes to join, at taxpayer expense.

    • ‘This Is a Coup’: Protests Engulf Wisconsin Capitol as Outgoing Scott Walker and GOP Move to Cripple Democratic Power

      “This isn’t a bill. This is a coup,” Randy Bryce—aka the “Iron Stache”—said before Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance, which deliberated and ultimately voted along party lines to advance the Republican plan, which seeks to transfer many of Evers’ crucial executive powers to the GOP-dominated legislature. A final vote on the plan is expected as early as Tuesday.

      Apparently lacking the courage to speak on behalf of their legislation—or fearing the immense grassroots backlash—the bill’s Republican sponsors didn’t bother to show up to the lame-duck hearing.

      Unlike some of their representatives, thousands of Wisconsinites braved the freezing weather and turned out in force, crowding the inside of the capitol building with chants of “Respect our vote!” and rallying outside to denounce the Republicans’ last-ditch power grab.

      “They are terrified that democracy is returning to Wisconsin,” The Nation’s John Nichols, a Wisconsin native, declared in a speech from the steps of the capitol building. “They are terrified that 2018 is not the end of anything, but only the beginning.”

    • “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take responsibility”

      Earlier today, the naturalist Sir David Attenborough addressed the UN climate conference in Poland, saying: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change.”

      “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” he added. The world famous TV presenter continued: “The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now”.

      And nowhere have those voices been louder in the last few days than from the young from Canada to Australia and Sweden.

      Last Friday, thousands of children missed school as part of the ‘Strike 4 Climate Action‘, which organised marches in every city in Australia. The idea started with two fourteen year olds, Milou Albrect and Harriet O’Shea Carre, from the state of Victoria. Harriet said: “The climate change emergency is something we have been thinking about for a long time.”

    • “AMLO Stands Alone in the Hemisphere”: Mexico’s President Takes Office with Ambitious Leftist Agenda

      Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was sworn in this weekend amid fanfare as tens of thousands gathered in the capital to celebrate the country’s first leftist president in decades. In his inaugural speech, AMLO addressed security and vowed to end corruption and impunity. We speak with Greg Grandin, prize-winning author and professor of Latin American history at New York University. He says, “The crisis on the border that has been prompted by the Trump administration, but also has deep structural roots, will play out with this hope that AMLO represents. The Latin American left has been defeated everywhere else. AMLO is isolated. Brazil, Colombia, Argentina — these are all major countries that are ruled by right-wing governments.”

    • Sheryl Sandberg Needs to Log Off

      Last week, Laura Loomer, a minor right-wing internet celebrity, chained herself to the front door of Twitter’s Manhattan offices. But her handcuffs only attached to one of the double doors, allowing Twitter employees to simply pass through the other. They ducked past her with the look of embarrassed nausea that well-to-do urbanites reserve for the homeless and megaphone preachers of the gospel.

      People began livestreaming. Loomer, who had just been banned from Twitter for some stupidly racist provocations (and, likely also, a history of promoting false-flag conspiracies about mass shootings, among other rhetorical offenses), did have a megaphone, as well as several foam-core posters of–what else–her own tweets, which she’d mounted in the transom window above the door. Some security or maintenance workers appeared with a ladder and took them down. “You banned my Twitter, and now you’re actually trying to steal my tweets in real life!” she called through the megaphone. A bemused worker seemed to consider it for a moment, then leaned the poster against the wall beside her and headed back inside.

      Two hours later, the police freed her with a bolt-cutter. She’d gotten cold, and she’d lost the key.

    • How We Found Donald Trump Jr.’s Secret Investment in a Fundraiser’s Business

      Donald Trump Jr. and Gentry Beach, a Dallas-based investor and college friend of Trump Jr., have done business together before, despite past claims by both men that their relationship is strictly personal.

      But a new story by ProPublica reveals that Trump became a shareholder last year in Beach’s hydroponic lettuce company, while Beach was seeking government support for his other business interests. Emails obtained by ProPublica via the Freedom of Information Act show that since President Donald Trump’s election, Beach sought backing for energy projects in the Dominican Republic and India. Officials say he never officially applied for government financing.

      Here’s how ProPublica uncovered a paper trail revealing Trump Jr.’s investment in the vertical hydroponic lettuce farm now selling packaged greens in Walmarts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

    • Tomgram: Ben Fountain, “Very Close to a Complete Victory”

      The midterms were bearing down on us like a runaway train with Donald Trump in the driver’s seat and the throttle wide open, the Presidential Special hell-bent for the bottom. “Go Trump Go!” tweeted David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as if the president needed anyone’s encouragement. There had been no slacking after pipe bombs were sent to a number of his critics; nor after two black people were killed in Kentucky by a white man who, minutes before, had tried to enter a predominantly black church; nor after 11 worshippers in Pittsburgh were murdered at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue by a man who’d expressed special loathing for HIAS, a Jewish refugee resettlement and advocacy organization. “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” Robert Bowers posted on his Gab account hours before the massacre. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

      Trump, relentless Trump, went right on raging about “invasions,” left-wing “mobs,” globalists, MS-13, and “caravan after caravan [of] illegal immigrants” invited in by Democrats to murder Americans, vote illegally, and mooch off our health care system. “Hate speech leads to hate crimes,” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers told the president in Pittsburgh several days after the murders. The FBI had previously reported a large spike in hate crimes over the previous two years, and the Anti-Defamation League noted a 60% rise in anti-Semitic incidents from 2016 to 2017. Then there was this, reported in the New York Times on the day before the election: “Advisers to the president said his foes take his campaign rally language too literally; as outrageous as it might seem, it is more entertainment, intended to generate a crowd reaction.” And Trump himself, when asked why he wasn’t campaigning on the strong economy, responded: “Sometimes it’s not as exciting to talk about the economy.”

      Not as exciting as, say, hate and xenophobia. And so one was led to wonder: Do countries have souls — with all the moral consequence implied by the concept of soul? If the answer is yes, then it follows that the collective soul can be corrupted and damned just as surely as that of a flesh-and-blood human being. In this election, as in all others, grave matters of policy were at stake, but we sensed something even bigger on the line in 2018 — nothing less than whether the country was past redeeming.

    • New clues link $1 million Trump inauguration mystery money to secretive “dark money” network

      Notorious “dark money” conduit Wellspring Committee gave $14.8 million to the primary spender on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and paid $919,900 to the mysterious LLC that made a $1 million donation to President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, according to a new tax return obtained Nov. 27 by the Center for Responsive Politics.

      Wellspring has acted as a conduit for large contributions from secretive donors since it was set up, effectively laundering multi-million dollar donations with no substantive disclosure or accountability.

      Despite operating behind the scenes with a name unknown to most of the American public, Wellspring is at the crux of Ann and Neil Corkery’s network of politically active dark money groups, funneling millions from anonymous financiers to political causes they don’t want their names attached to — and doing ostensibly little else.

      Wellspring has continued to be the chief financier of the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), with a $14,814,998 contribution last year.

    • Iraqis Remember George H.W. Bush: A Gentleman When It Came To Bombing Us

      With the United States mourning the death of former President George Herbert Walker Bush, several Iraqis from families that were bombed during the Persian Gulf War expressed their condolences and paid tribute to him.

      “Bush knew how to raise the morale of U.S. military forces by unleashing tons of radioactive bombs, which would poison generations of my family,” said Sama. “Khalil was born with his kidney on his face, but we kept him alive as long as we could for the sake of the ‘New World Order.’”

      Nasim shared fond memories of the savage form of dysentery he contracted during the war. “I was young. I had a whole future of U.S. military occupation to look forward to in my life, and you could taste the uranium as it crept into the water supply.” He paused. “Ah, those were the days.”

    • Scott Walker and Wisconsin GOP Claim Protests Overblown, But Just Read the Full Details of Their Plan to Dismantle Democracy

      As Wisconsin Republicans and outgoing Gov. Scott Walker bend over backwards to downplay the scope of their plan to strip crucial authority from Democratic governor-elect Tony Evers, the details of the GOP’s batch of bills—which the state legislature is expected to vote on as early as Tuesday night—show that Wisconsinites are entirely justified in calling the plan an outrageous attack on democracy… and even a full-blown “coup.”

      “People are outraged. I’m not sure where that’s coming from right now,” said Wisconsin’s Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who apparently expects the public to believe that he has no idea why thousands of his angry constituents braved the freezing weather Monday night to protest the GOP plan.

      Walker—who has vowed to sign the legislation if it reaches his desk—feigned similar confusion, telling reporters, “For all the talk about reining in power, it really doesn’t.”

      Demonstrations against the Republican plan continued on Tuesday, as outraged Wisconsinites heckled Walker with boos and chants of “Respect our vote!” as he spoke at a tree-lighting ceremony inside the capitol building.

    • House Democrats Could Refuse to Seat North Carolina Republican

      On election night, the race appeared settled. Republican Mark Harris eked out a 905-vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready to be the next representative of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Then, the North Carolina Board of Elections declined to certify the results, citing irregularities with absentee ballots. Specifically, there was an unusually high rate of such ballots that were unreturned in two counties that, according to an analysis from The Charlotte News and Observer, were “disproportionately associated with minority voters.”

      State election officials are now investigating whether a political operative Harris had hired illegally collected ballots so they would not be returned.

      Even if Harris is certified by North Carolina, Democrats could decline to seat him when they become the majority in the House in January, according to current Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

    • Lame Duck Power Grabs in The Midwest

      Voters should have the final say in our democracy. But right now, Republicans in charge of legislatures in several Midwestern states are trying to rig the system — because they didn’t like the election results. Make no mistake, the blatant power grabs by these legislatures in the lame duck sessions are an effort to ignore the will of everyday voters. We cannot sit quietly by and let them get away with it

      In Wisconsin, Republicans legislators are ramping up an effort to limit the power of incoming Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, before Republican Gov. Scott Walker leaves office. Ironically, both Evers and Kaul won the statewide popular vote in the 2018 election, however Republicans running for the State Assembly lost the statewide popular but won 63% of the seats in the chamber due to partisan gerrymandering. One of the proposals in the GOP’s plan is to allow the legislature to sidestep the new Democratic attorney general and hire their own private attorneys, paid by taxpayers, to represent the state legislature in cases dealing with gerrymandering, voter ID, the Affordable Care Act, and other issues.

      If the power grabs by Wisconsin Republicans against the popularly elected incoming statewide Democrats weren’t enough, there is also a plan by Wisconsin GOP leadership to make cuts to early voting in order to limit turnout in future elections.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • No News Is Bad News for Hungary

      The autocrat Viktor Orban has taken control of much of the country’s media.

      [...]

      Obviously, it wasn’t philanthropy. The owners are pro-government oligarchs and allies of Mr. Orban. Some of them have been buying up independent media outlets in recent years and turning them into pro-government mouthpieces. It’s not hard to presume that the business owners were happy to do Mr. Orban and his party, Fidesz, a little favor, especially since their news outlets depended on government advertising and were making little money.

      What Mr. Orban has managed to create is a media juggernaut that closely resembles Communist propaganda machines of old. The consolidation, if that’s the word, still needs to be approved by regulatory authorities, but they’re led by officials appointed by Mr. Orban. So is the Constitutional Court, should anybody consider challenging the transfers in the courts.

    • Tumblr Will Delete All ‘Adult Content’ From Its Platform

      Popular micro-blogging site Tumblr, in order to make itself a ‘better and positive’ platform, will now ban all adult content.

      The new step will be implemented, starting December 17 which will lead to the deletion of all the adult content from the platform irrespective of the users’ age. Additionally, Tumblr encourages users to flag his or her adult content and the existing ones will be put in private mode.


    • The Utter Failure Of FOSTA: More Lives At Risk… And Sex Ads Have Increased, Not Decreased

      Once again, as we predicted, FOSTA — a law ostensibly passed to stop sex trafficking — has been a total disaster. Passed based on totally inaccurate moral panics, it has resulted in online censorship and highly questionable lawsuits. But, worst of all, despite all the rhetoric about how it was necessary to save the lives of young girls, it has actually put them at much greater risk, and increased the amount of sex trafficking, while decreasing the ability of police to track down and arrest actual traffickers.

      As this was all becoming clear a few months back, the legislators who pushed FOSTA tried to completely rewrite history to claim it was a success. Chief among them was the original sponsor of FOSTA, Rep. Ann Wagner, who announced that FOSTA was responsible for “shutting down nearly 90% of the online sex trafficking business and ads.” This was wrong on multiple levels. That number was based on the shutdown of Backpage, which happened before FOSTA was law and had nothing to do with FOSTA. Even worse, an investigation into that 90% number by the Washington Post showed that even it was not true. At that time, the research showed that, while there was a brief plunge in sex ads after Backpage was seized (again, separate from FOSTA), the volume was coming back up to about the same level.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Lawsuit: Boston PD’s ‘Gang Database’ Says People Who Wear Nikes And Have Been Beat Up By Gang Members Are ‘Gang Associates’

      The Chinese government uses a number of measures to keep tabs on citizens. One is what’s known as a “citizen score” — a compilation of all the good/bad habits the government can track that determines whether a person should be viewed as a contributor to society or someone the government should take out of circulation.

      We do the same thing here in the US. Credit scores determine who gets to live where and what vehicle they can own. It also can affect employment opportunities. This version of a “citizen score” is compiled by private parties who have access to information Americans are given no choice in relinquishing.

      But the government also uses point-based systems to determine what kind of citizen you are: one of the good OK guys or possible a menace II to society. The ACLU is currently suing the Boston Police Department over its ad hoc “citizen score.” The BPD adds and subtracts points to add and (possibly?) subtract people from its “gang database.” Things citizens actively do — and even things they passively don’t — can put them on this watchlist.

    • Just How Corrupt is the American Soul?

      In an oped piece published in Al Jazeeera on 15 November 2018, the Columbia University professor Hamid Dabashi challenges the widespread assumption that “the American soul is something quintessentially good and even noble.” He goes on to point out that most of those who hold this view also believe that President Donald Trump and his policies and practices cannot possibly be representative of real American values.

      Dabashi’s position is that both of these idealistic beliefs are nothing but ahistorical delusions. “We may, in fact, be hard pressed to find a single moment in American history when hateful racism, sexism, militarism, and xenophobia have not been entirely definitive to this American soul.” In addition, “those who view President Donald Trump as unrepresentative of American values are wrong.” In Dabashi’s view this president’s policies and practices are indeed who we are.

      It is the liberals who Dabashi is particularly upset with for it is they who, in his view, have reinforced the facade of national goodness and held at bay, or perhaps simply ignored, any critical examination of this self-glorifying image. For instance, Dabashi notes that, while campaigning against Trump in the lead-up to the recent mid-term elections, Barack Obama asserted that “we [the U.S.] helped spread a commitment to certain values and principles like the rule of law and human rights and democracy and the notion of the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.”

    • On the Persistence of German War Guilt

      For most people, the historical fact of German/Nazi war crimes is uncontroversial. At the same time, for at least three generations of Germans, the question of their war guilt has been an integral part of the social-psychological reconstruction and re-presentation of their society. The sense that “we are guilty and we must pay” is a serious mental phenomenon that haunts many Germans to this day.

      Holocaust deniers aside, no one is calling for the historical absolution or forgiveness of the Nazis.

      However, is it legitimate to ask that if ones great-grandfather was a mass murderer in what way should that fact effect the great-grandchild?

      Should a distant descendant feel a severe sense of guilt for the crimes of a heinous ancestor?

      Unless you believe in the assigning of collective guilt through time the answer should unequivocally be no.

    • The Effects of the Muslim Ban One Year Later

      We’ve had one year of the Muslim ban. Congress must ensure it’s the last.
      Exactly one year ago today, the Supreme Court allowed the full implementation of Trump’s Muslim ban. It would be months still before it heard oral arguments in Hawaii v. Trump and issued its ruling on June 26, allowing the ban to remain in place. But on Dec. 4, 2017, America began to ban millions of Muslims from the United States, even if they have family members, jobs, academic spots, or other compelling connections here, and even if they would otherwise be fully entitled to receive a visa to come here.

      This day goes down in the history books, not only as an enormous failure to live up to our values of religious and racial equality, but for the real impact that the ban has on people’s lives. Take Anahita, who never got to say goodbye to her father in Iran before he passed away and did not even get to mourn with her family. Or Nisrin, who was detained during the chaotic implementation of the first Muslim ban simply because of her Sudanese citizenship, although she has lived in the United States for 25 years. Let’s also not forget the numerous students afraid to return home to visit their families because their visas may not be reissued. Or the families now traveling thousands of miles and spending thousands of dollars to simply be able to hug someone they love at a library on the border of Canada and the United States.

      Though there is a waiver process, the numbers have been sparse. In the first three months, the government issued just two waivers. As of June, the number of waivers grew to around 570 — a mere two percent of visa applications. Most recently, State Department claimed to have “cleared” 1,836 applicants for waivers as of September, but it remains unknown whether those individuals have actually been granted waivers. Many advocacy groups and members of Congress have requested updated numbers about waiver issuances, but the government has yet to fulfill those requests.

    • Tennessee Legislators Can’t Stand Up To Cops; Keep Federal Loophole Open For Nashville Law Enforcement

      Earlier this year, the Tennessee legislature passed some very minimal asset forfeiture reforms. The bill, signed into law in May, does nothing more than require periodic reporting on use of forfeiture funds and the occasional audit.

      What it doesn’t do is require convictions. It also doesn’t close the federal loophole, which allows Tennessee law enforcement to bypass state laws if they feel they’re too restrictive. Given that state law doesn’t really do anything to curb forfeiture abuse, the federal adoption lifeline isn’t used quite as often in Tennessee as it is by law enforcement agencies in others states with laws that are actually worth a damn.

    • Florida’s Amendment 4 Pushes Back On Tradition Of Social Death For People With Convictions

      On November 6, voters in Florida passed a ballot measure that extends the franchise to some people with a felony conviction. Amendment 4 restores voting rights for people with a felony conviction on their record after they complete their sentence, including all terms of probation or parole and the payment of fees and restitution.

      Amendment 4 does not allow for the franchise of people convicted of murder or rape. Even with this restriction, this is a watershed moment for the activists who worked tirelessly to bring about this victory, but you wouldn’t know that formerly incarcerated and incarcerated people led this fight because this has been erased in much of the reporting.

      No other country in the world denies as many people in absolute or proportional terms the right to vote because of felony convictions. According to the Sentencing Project, the problem of felony disenfranchisement means that in the United States, 6.1 million people are not able to vote because of a felony conviction.

      Felony disenfranchisement contradicts notions of fairness and democracy that Americans claim to value, but the numbers tell the story. This is a story that is rooted in a vision of an America that has always clung to its White Supremacist origins. Universal suffrage was not a goal of the men that “founded” this country. For many years, the right to vote had been restricted to white landed males. This changed in 1861 with the elimination of the property qualification, which expanded voting rights to people that had been previously excluded.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ‘What Is the FCC Hiding?’ As Net Neutrality Deadline Looms, Agency Refuses FOIA Requests for Crucial Records

      Just days before the Dec. 10 deadline for the House to pass a resolution to restore net neutrality protections, the Republican-controlled FCC on Monday rejected Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the New York Times and Buzzfeed for server logs and other records pertaining to the millions of fake comments that flooded the agency’s system as it moved to repeal net neutrality last year.

      [...]

      By denying records requests from the Times and Buzzfeed, Rosenworcel argued that the FCC—headed by former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai—appears to be “trying to prevent anyone from looking too closely at the mess it made of net neutrality. It is hiding what it knows about the fraud in our record and it is preventing an honest account of its many problems from seeing the light of day.”

      A spokesperson for the Times told Gizmodo that the paper is planning to challenge the FCC’s decision in court.

    • “What is the FCC hiding?” Pai still won’t release net neutrality server logs

      The Federal Communications Commission has once again refused a New York Times request for records that the Times believes might shed light on Russian interference in the net neutrality repeal proceeding.

      The Times made a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in June 2017 for FCC server logs and sued the FCC in September of this year over the agency’s ongoing refusal to release the records. The court case is still pending, but the Times had also appealed directly to the FCC to reverse its FoIA decision. The FCC denied that appeal in a decision released today.

    • UK ISPs Demand Ad Watchdog Crack Down On ‘Fake Fiber’ Broadband

      A few years back, we noted how a growing number of US broadband providers (particularly telcos) were trying to obscure their network upgrade failures. How? By only partially upgrading their networks then over-stating their customers actual access to real fiber broadband. AT&T, for example, likes to upgrade only a few developments in a city then breathlessly declare the entire city served with fiber. AT&T and other telcos often only upgrade part of the path to the users’ home (fiber to the local node, aka FTTN) instead of running fiber to the home.

      It’s well in line with the problem we’ve seen in both the UK and US with ISP’s advertising “up to” broadband speeds (usually an indicator you won’t get the actual speed advertised. Needless to say, this collectively creates a lot of confusion among customers who often don’t know if fiber is actually available, or if they’re being sold either empty promises, or some inferior version of marginally upgraded DSL that isn’t fiber (usually made most obvious by pathetic upstream speeds).

      In the United States regulators couldn’t care less about this. Both parties have long turned a blind eye to such creative marketing, in much the same way we’ve turned a blind eye to the fact our terrible broadband maps routinely over-state broadband availability over all. Apathy to this kind of creative marketing is also common in the UK, where the Advertising Standards Authority recently declared it was no big deal if a broadband provider wants to sell inferior broadband service (with speeds much slower than real fiber) as “fiber” broadband.

    • Wireless Carriers Won’t Comment On 5G’s Most Important Question: How Much Will It Cost?

      We’ve noted a few times that while fifth-generation wireless (5G) will certainly improve the speed, reliability, and latency of existing networks, it’s being pretty painfully overhyped by hardware vendors and cellular carriers. Telecom industry marketing folks spend countless hours insisting that the smart cities and smart cars of tomorrow are only possible with 5G, the sort of claims countless online outlets will repeat utterly unquestioningly. More often than not these claims are based on nothing close to reality (like this one claiming 5G will somehow result in four day work weeks).

      While 5G will result in faster, more resilient networks, it doesn’t magically somehow unleash additional innovation for tech that already largely works on existing 4G networks (smart cars, smarter cities). And while carriers have begun testing and hyping various incarnations of 5G, actually getting a 5G-capable phone is likely years away as companies hammer out battery life issues (Apple isn’t releasing a 5G iPhone until 2020, or potentially later). It will also take the better part of the next decade for carriers to broadly upgrade their networks, regardless of what they officially promise.

      While most media articles on 5G are little more than blind stenography of wireless marketing claims, Sean Hollister at The Verge did a good job last week breaking down 5G’s promises, laying down the real-world impact and deployment schedules. More importantly, he narrows in on what’s probably the most important question for 5G carriers don’t want to answer: how much will 5G cost?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • WHO Director Tedros Gives Thoughts On Access To Medicines, Gene Editing, Ebola

      World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Dr Tedros) met with United Nations journalists today, in what he said would become a regular end-of-the-year meeting with the press. He gave an update on the ongoing Ebola outbreak and his views on the recent human gene editing by a Chinese researcher, and on the use of gene drive organisms to fight malaria. He also provided his views on access to affordable and safe medicines.

    • FTC seeking to “redress and prevent recurrence of Qualcomm’s conduct” through antitrust injunction

      The FTC and Qualcomm once intended to settle the antitrust litigation pending before Judge Lucy H. Koh in the Northern District of California by November 14, but we’re now just one month and one day away from the trial date and no agreement has been reached. But there’s been tremendous progress in the form of Judge Koh’s recent summary judgment order on Qualcomm’s obligation to extend standard-essential patent (SEP) licenses to rival chipset makers such as Intel.

    • USPTO Director Issues Notice on New Authentication System for EFS-Web and Private PAIR [Ed: Trying to distract from very serious technical failings?]

      Last month, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu issued a notice on the “Authentication Changes for Registered Users of EFS-Web and Private PAIR.” Although most of the information provided in the Director’s notice had been previously provided by the Office earlier this year (see “USPTO Moving to New Authentication System for EFS-Web and Private PAIR”), the notice served as a reminder about the new authentication system as the Office prepares to phase out the use of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) certificates (which have been used by the Office since 2006), perhaps as early as December 31, 2018 (the Director’s notice states that “[u]se of PKI certificates may no longer be available after December 31, 2018″).

    • Warner-Lambert v Actavis: Supreme Court Considers Medical Use Claims

      The de novo discovery of effective and safe pharmaceuticals is a challenging process, and many new drugs do not ultimately show sufficient efficacy against their target disease to secure regulatory approval. For this reason, there is an extensive and growing list of drugs which have shown an acceptable safety profile in human trials, but which have failed late stage clinical trials, and which are therefore no longer under development.

      Increasingly, unmet medical needs are being met by “repurposing” of such old medicines for new diseases. Generally, much less investment is needed for clinical investigation of the activity of such an old medicine against a new disease than would be required to develop a wholly new drug to treat the disease at issue. Nevertheless, considerable resources are still required to carry out the necessary clinical trials to assess whether or not known drugs have activity against new target diseases.

    • How Important is Helsinn?

      In honor of the oral argument in Helsinn today, I thought I would blog about a study that questions its importance. For those unaware, the question the Supreme Court is considering is whether the AIA’s new listing of prior art in 35 U.S.C. §102(a)(1): “the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public…” changed the law.

      Since forever, on sale meant any offer or actual sale, regardless of who knew about it. Some have argued that the addition of “or otherwise available to the public” means that only offers that are publicly accessible count as prior art. I think this is wrong, and signed on to an amicus brief saying so. We’ll see what the Court says. Note that non-public does not mean “secret.” True secret activity is often considered non-prior art, but the courts have defined “public” to mean “not-secret.” The question is whether that should change to be “publicly accessible.”

      [...]

      With respect to non-public sales, they estimate that a maximum of 14% of anticipation and 2% of obviousness invalidations were based on plausibly non-public sales. Because there are many more obviousness cases than anticipation cases, this averages to 4.25% of all invalidations. They note that with a different rule, some of these might have been converted to “public” sales upon more attention paid to providing such evidence.

      A related question is whether the inventor’s actions can invalidate, or whether the AIA overruled Metallizing Engineering, which held that an inventor’s secret use can invalidate, even if a third-party’s secret use does not. The study found that the plaintiff’s actions were relevant in 27% of anticipation invalidations and 13% of obviousness invalidations. Furthermore, they found that most of the secret activity was associated with either the plaintiff or defendant–this makes sense, as they have access to such secret information.

    • Of Brownies and Other Nutty Desserts: Supreme court considers whether the “on sale” bar is limited to public sales

      The oral argument in Helsinn Healthcare v. Teva Pharmaceuticals had a little bit of everything. First, the Court extensively aired the statutory interpretation question whether the phrase “otherwise available to the public” in the America Invents Act (AIA) expanded or contracted the universe of prior art or perhaps did a bit of both. More to the point of the question presented, the advocates argued extensively over whether the statutory revision modified the meaning of “on sale.” Second, the Justices explored weighty issues of patent policy, such as the role of Section 102 in preventing withdrawal of inventions from the public domain and effective extensions of patent term through pre-patent secret commercial exploitation. Third, undergirding these points were debates on the notion of “congressional ratification” and the role of various facets of legislative history in statutory interpretation—and even what an ordinary consumer would understand “on sale” to mean. As one would expect, there was no shortage of creative hypotheticals, one of which generated an extensive discussion of the meaning of “brownie.” All in all, the Court repeatedly praised the advocates for excellent briefing, and the Chief Justice promised that the Court will issue an excellent opinion—another thing to look forward to in 2019!

      [..]

      Justice Gorsuch asked whether, assuming “on sale” is at all ambiguous, the PTO is entitled to some deference to its interpretation, which excludes secret prior art. The respondent countered that, as a plain language matter, that interpretation is just not persuasive. He then maintained that there is no dispute that the transaction at issue in Helsinn was a sale, and that the industry would so understand it. Indeed, he noted that most drugs are sold to distributors, and rule that such a transaction is not a sale will be unduly lenient to the pharmaceutical industry. Justice Kagan then finally brought up the point of third-party secret sales (the fact that Section 102 is party-neutral always seemed important to me), and Mr. Jay responded that they are patent barring. This is correct—the holding in Caveney supports this point. But the implication of this law for the “inventor forfeiture” view was unfortunately not further explored.

    • Copyrights

      • Promoting Education Rights In South African Copyright Reform

        Eve Gray and Desmond Oriakhogba write: The publishing industry is making a mad dash to defeat South Africa’s adoption of a fair use rights in Parliament on Wednesday. Their latest effort includes an alarmist petition being circulated among authors. It is interesting to note that, while one of the most persistent and loud complaints in these protests has been that the drafting of the new legislation was badly handled, our perception, along with a number of experienced observers in the process, has been that the level of discussion and debate; the degree of participation and engagement of government representatives; and the consensus on the needs to be addressed, was of a higher standard and the debate much better informed than in previous such attempts at reform over the past decades. It should also be noted that, while it is true that international publishers might have much to lose in the new law, local publishers, authors and students have much to gain. It is time to lower the heat and concentrate on the facts and context of what is before Parliament. s

      • Defending Fair Use In South Africa

        On Wednesday the South African National Assembly vote on the Copyright Amendment Bill, which includes a new “fair use” right. Learned professors at the University of Stellenbosch have taken to calling the bill “shambolic”, and “an abomination.” It is certainly time for a little light to go with the heat.

      • ECtHR rules that prohibiting linking to defamatory content might be freedom of expression violation: what implications (if any) for copyright?

        Can linking to protected content be considered an infringement of IP rights, at certain conditions? As far as copyright is concerned, this is a question that – further to the decisions of the Court of Justice of the European (CJEU) in cases like Svensson [Katposts here] and GS Media [Katposts here] – has a response in the affirmative in the EU.

        But is it possible that envisaging liability for acts of linking might be a violation of the link provider’s own human rights, notably freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR)?

      • Latest On EU Copyright Directive: No One’s Happy With Article 13, So Maybe Let’s Drop It?

        Over the last few weeks, the so-called trilogue negotiations between the EU Council, the EU Commission and the EU Parliament on the EU Copyright Directive have continued, and it appears to have created quite a mess. As you’ll recall, because the Council, the Commission, and the Parliament all passed somewhat different versions of the Directive, they now have to go through this process to come up with a version that they all agree on — and based on some of the proposals and discussions that have come out, it’s been a total mess. And specifically on Article 13 — the provision that will mandate upload filters — the current situation is an total mess.

        Seriously, it’s so bad that basically no one wants it any more. And, yes, that includes some of the copyright extremists from the legacy copyright industries. Over the weekend, a group of entertainment organizations — including the MPAA’s international branch, the MPA, the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA) and the notoriously aggressive copyright litigant, the Premier League, all got together to send a letter complaining about Article 13 and the direction it’s gone in. Hilariously, they’re not complaining that it’s over-aggressive — rather they’re whining that Article 13 might actually have been made fairer as the negotiations have gone on. Specifically, they’re upset that there are now safe harbors proposed for platforms to help them avoid liability.

      • DuckDuckGo Removes ‘Pirate’ Site Bangs to Avoid Liability

        The privacy centered search engine DuckDuckGo has cleaned up its bangs database. In the process, the company also removed several search shortcuts for ‘pirate’ sites, to avoid potential liability issues. The removed bangs include those of the popular torrent sites The Pirate Bay and 1337x, as well other resources such as Sci-Hub and OpenSubtitles.

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