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12.07.18

The European Patent Organisation is Like a Private Club and Roland Grossenbacher is Back in It

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Roland Grossenbacher cartoon
Roland Grossenbacher's dissent

Summary: In the absence of Benoît Battistelli quality control at the EPO is still not effective; patents are being granted like the sole goal is to increase so-called ‘production’ (or profit), appeals are being subjected to threats from Office management, and external courts (courts that assess patents outside the jurisdiction of the Office/Organisation) are being targeted with a long-sought replacement like the Unified Patent Court, or UPC (Unitary Patent)

TODAY’S European Patent Office (EPO) is the same place it was half a year ago, except António Campinos (Battistelli’s choice) is in charge and his ‘boss’ (also Battistelli’s ‘boss’) will soon be his assistant instead. It’s just about as backwards as it sounds and it’s hardly surprising that patent quality continues to decline. The Office now openly promotes software patents in Europe, knowing that not even judges associated with the Organisation will dare stop this (and they work to replace outside judges too, at least hoping to with the UPC).

Some readers have been in touch with us regarding the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC) and the Boards of Appeal of the EPO (BoA). Some important things happened this week and notable among them are aspects we shall cover below as concisely as possible (due to lack of time mostly).

The EPO is expectedly not covering any of the important news. As a decoy from corruption, for instance, the EPO tweeted almost nothing yesterday except: “It was an immense honour to receive the Corporate Art Award® 2018 for international cultural initiatives at the ceremony held within the European Parliament. Thank you!”

We mentioned this puff piece yesterday and its likely intended (albeit subconscious) purpose. Battistelli used to do that quite a lot. We don’t wish to dwell on it; neither should examiners. Also retweeted by the EPO yesterday was this UK-IPO tweet about a CIPA-centric event in London, scheduled for next week. To quote: “We are teaming up with @EPOorg to deliver an online services workshop, making online filing easier to understand. Join us on 13 or 14 Dec at @TheCIPA in #London.”

CIPA is the most prominent lobby of Team UPC and there’s no sign of the UPC ever materialising (another false rumour about decision by year’s end). Citing an interview from September with Kevin Mooney (Team UPC), never mind the court's refutation shortly after that (it responded to an inquiry from JUVE), Team UPC quoted out of the blue: “On DE [German] #UPC constitutional complaint: “The delay of 18 months in reaching a decision is quite astonishing for an English lawyer.” – Kevin Mooney in JUVE Patent interview. https://www.juve-patent.com/news-and-stories/legal-commentary/im-a-pragmatist-there-will-be-a-upc-agreement/ …

They’re just complaining about courts (a constitutional court even!) while trying to push a kangaroo court for patents. Their disdain for justice, law, democracy and even constitutions is rather revealing. All they care about is money in the form of legal bills. Shall they ever get their way, any thought will be patentable and taxed; the courts will not even assess merit of patents and instead act like rubber-stamping tax authorities.

Perhaps timed strategically for the BoA, Doctors Without Borders issued a statement that we wrote about yesterday. “Doctors Without Borders and five organizations have appealed the European Patent Office’s decision upholding Gilead Sciences Inc.’s patent for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, the international nonprofit announced on Wednesday,” Tiffany Hu wrote. On the same day Neha Bakshi and some other blockchain-centric sites relayed the EPO’s latest propaganda for software patents (event about blockchains). “This criterion came into existence on the basis of case law associating the computer implementing inventions,” they said. In the United States, 35 U.S.C. § 101 would invalidate such patents; in Europe the EPC would do the job, but only if it exits the Office and reaches truly independent courts. As happened before…

We must express our sheer disappointment if not disdain for IP Kat (nowadays connected to CIPA and Team UPC). As recently as yesterday it was publishing puff pieces for the EPO’s management (to help the promotion of software patents). That was rather revealing from Frantzeska Papadopoulou, whose blog colleague Rose Hughes wrote that “IPKat ha[d] received breaking news that the Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) yesterday decided that recently amended Rule 28(2) EPC is in conflict with Art. 53(b) EPC as interpreted by the Enlarged Board of Appeal in G 2/12 (Broccoli/Tomato II). Further, according to the Art. 164(2) EPC the Articles prevail, thus rending the R. 28 amendment void.”

A correction was needed. “One correction,” the sole comment said. “Solynta filed observations in support of Syngenta’s position that the rule was incorrect, as did multiple other parties.”

We wrote about this yesterday. We were not exactly surprised to see a Board of Appeal ruling the way EPO management, i.e. patent maximalists, would want. These people lack independence and Campinos has done absolutely nothing to correct this. He doesn’t care. It’s not even on the agenda.

Adam Lacy and Thorsten Bausch have meanwhile written about the patent procedures, taking note of the fact that Roland Grossenbacher now speaks on behalf of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BoAC).

“I thought Roland Grossenbacher had at long last retired, and am therefore to see him donning a new hat,” one comment pointed out. Battistelli's chinchilla is also in the BoAC.

Here’s what Lacy and Bausch (Hoffmann Eitle) wrote yesterday:

As European patent professionals are all too aware, the Boards of Appeal of the EPO (BOA) have a huge amount of power, particularly over the rights of patentees. In EPO opposition proceedings, the BOA have the final say on whether to revoke a patent across all of the EPC contracting states. This does not apply to parties opposing European patents at the EPO, who live to fight another day in the form of national invalidity proceedings if they fail to persuade the BOA to revoke a patent.

In this light, it is with some concern that we attended the User consultation conference on the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA) held by the EPO in Munich yesterday, where the latest draft RPBA was up for discussion.

The conference was opened by Roland Grossenbacher on behalf of the Boards of Appeal Committee (BOAC) and Carl Josefsson, President of the BOA. Justice Colin Birss did a brilliant job to moderate the conference and manage the sometimes critical contributions from the audience, not shying away from sharing his own experiences as a UK judge and former barrister with the audience. Markus Müller gave an excellent presentation on case management aspects under the new RPBA, before it was Mike Harrison’s turn to explain the procedural hardships provided in the new rules to an audience that was not always amused by them. He recognised that he had drawn the short straw with this assignment and valiantly defended the current draft.

It seems to us that the main purpose of the new RPBA is to make proceedings more efficient and thus help the BOA clear their significant backlog. We are sceptical though whether the new RPBA will actually achieve this aim and we are concerned that the main legacy of this draft will likely be that the EPO system will be skewed even more in the favour of opponents, contrary to the principle of “equally fair treatment” for parties to the appeal set out in G 9/91. Thus, while we welcome many of the new rules of procedure and stand behind their general principles and ideas, we would like to consider a few Articles in more detail in the following where we have concerns from a patentee’s perspective.

This “significant backlog” is a subject we covered here before; the last thing EPO management wants is an effective and efficient BoA that serves to highlight sharp decline in patent quality. As one comment then points out (about Auxiliary Requests):

The natural response of patentees to the proposed changes will be to file more Auxiliary Requests, in order that there are sufficient Requests on file at 1st instance to address every possible (win/lose) permutation for all of the objections raised by the opponents, irrespective of the apparent strength of each of those objections. Even with only a small number of objections under each heading, this could give rise to an alarming number of permutations, especially if any of those objections can be addressed in a number of different ways.

Whilst this would be an understandable response on the part of patentees, it will place an increasingly impossible (and expensive) burden on opponents, especially if – as is entirely predictable – it results in huge numbers of ARs being filed at the stage of final written submissions (ie after the patentee is in receipt of the OD’s preliminary opinion). It will also make it increasingly difficult for oral proceedings to be completed in the allotted time frame without depriving parties the opportunity of a fair hearing with regard to each ground of objection for each admissible request.

It therefore stands to reason that there is absolutely no point limiting the patentee’s ability to amend his case at the appeal stage unless and until there is robust case management at 1st instance. The Boards of Appeal may well be independent but that does not mean that they should be free to introduce rules that, by turning a blind eye to structural defects in the 1st instance procedure, systematically deprive parties of their right to be heard.

And more on Auxiliary Requests from a familiar person (who used to comment in IP Kat until they became aggressive with censorship and self-censorship):

As to the sure fire prediction of an obscene proliferation of Auxiliary Requests, early on in the opposition proceedings, one recalls that the more than likely consequence of an unimaginative amendment of the Rules intended to improve speed and efficiency is to render the proceedings more complex, lengthy and inefficient. Recall, for example, the misconceived and misbegotten rule changes to cap the length of time in which the filing of a divisional is permitted, the resulting ridicule and abuse, and the swift setting aside of those rule changes. The Law of Unintended Consequences is all-pervasive.

I suppose an EPO fee to be paid on each and every Auxiliary Request (or after the first fifteen Requests) would require an Intergovernmental Conference to implement. But it might curb the worst excesses of AR proliferation. Consider how Americans, otherwise willing to stump up large amounts of money, baulk at giving the EPO any claims fees at all. Sometimes, it is best to approach public policy objectives obliquely rather than explicitly. By a nudge rather than a prohibition.

Bloggers, one more thing to think about, when whingeing that these new Rules are anti-patentee.

Might this not be the “hidden agenda” behind the rule changes? We live in times where a lot of influential people see each and every patent as an unwanted restraint of trade, so that the sheer numbers of issued patents has to cropped down to a minimum, regardless what inventors have against that public policy objective. Get rid of all “trivial” patents at all costs, they demand. Uphold only those where the contribution to the art is, from the outset, the application as filed on the priority date, self-evident, substantial and clear.

If so, those pushing for implementation of the rule changes will be delighted with this assessment by members of the Hoffmann Eitle firm.

We don’t suppose that the BoA is going away; after all, the UPC/A is pretty much dead and it’s not getting anywhere. But in the absence or lack of such ‘rubber-stamping authority’ (fast track for injunctions, raids and penalties) the EPO’s management is at least hoping to undermine other form of patent quality control. Who will suffer? Europe.

Links 7/12/2018: GNU Guix, GuixSD 0.16.0, GCC 7.4, PHP 7.3.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • “The power of Kubernetes & OpenShift lies not only in the capabilities but also in the broad ecosystem of products”

      Last month, Red Hat announced the general availability of OpenShift Container Platform 3.11 – an important release because it incorporates the first wave of technology from the CoreOS acquisition. We talked to Diane Mueller, Red Hat’s director of Community Development for OpenShift about the importance of this release, their plan to continue innovating both in and around Kubernetes and Operators & more.

    • Exploring Stretch Clusters for Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated

      Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated has evolved as an effective way to consume OpenShift as a managed service in the public cloud. As we continue to collect feedback from customers, partners, and internal users, we’re excited to be able to present some substantial improvements to the offering, effective this month. I want to focus mainly on the new options available for new OpenShift Dedicated clusters, along with new features that are now available for all OpenShift Dedicated deployments.

    • Reasons to Scale Horizontally

      Scaling vertically is also known as “scaling up”, whereas horizontal scaling is known as “scaling out.” So vertical scaling is adding more resources to a single node in a system, and horizontal scaling is the process of adding more nodes to a system.

    • Kubernetes how you want it: How enhancements to Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated can lower barriers to container adoption in the public cloud

      There’s no shortage of data pointing to the growth of Linux container and cloud-native applications. According to a recent survey from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), many of the Kubernetes deployments underpinning these workloads are taking place in public clouds. While Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform provides the industry’s most comprehensive enterprise Kubernetes platform for on-premise and hybrid cloud containerized workloads, we also enable organizations to consume OpenShift-as-a-service with Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated.

      Today, we’re adding enhancements to Red Hat OpenShift Dedicated, from instance types to updated pricing and new models allowing for OpenShift Dedicated to be deployed on customer’s cloud subscriptions. This is designed to provide more flexibility to customers and help make it easier for them to deploy containerized applications on enterprise Kubernetes in the public cloud.

    • Unfurling StarlingX: OpenStack’s distributed cloud for the edge

      Inspired by mumuration – the majestic self-organising, self-directed movement of flocks of starling birds – StarlingX backs itself as the open source software solution for the edge. The Stack spoke to two key pillars of the project – Wind River and Intel – to understand why they are pushing the edge open source

      The stage was set for StarlingX when Intel announced it was selling off Wind River in May this year. Not long after the pair announced they would be contributing code from Wind River’s Titanium cloud product to the OpenStack Foundation. StarlingX v1 arrived a few months later: a fully integrated software stack that provides edge cloud infrastructure using OpenStack, with Kubernetes support expected in time for the next update in March 2019.

    • Why Service Providers Should Invest in OpenStack Cloud

      451 Research notes in its report, “OpenStack: Enabler of Digital Transformation—How Service Providers Can Benefit,” that public cloud providers may not be suitable for every scenario. Customers could be concerned about recurring license or usage costs, data protection or regulatory requirements, or security issues—all of which limit the use of public cloud and proprietary technology models.

    • Scylla Summit 2018 write-up

      The ScyllaDB guys of course couldn’t avoid the Kubernetes frenzy so Moreno Garcia gave a lot of feedback and tips on how to operate Scylla on docker with minimal performance degradation.

      Kubernetes has been designed for stateless applications, not stateful ones and Docker does some automatic magic that have rather big performance hits on Scylla. You will basically have to play with affinities to dedicate one Scylla instance to run on one server with a “retain” reclaim policy.

      Remember that the official Scylla docker image runs with dev-mode enabled by default which turns off all performance checks on start. So start by disabling that and look at all the tips and literature that Moreno has put online!

    • How Docker Engine Works to Enable Containers
    • Open Outlook: Partner Ecosystem

      Last October leading up to our 2018 North America Partner conference, I shared with you the journey we are on to transform our partner experience. But that journey is more than the destination alone, how we got to where we are is just as important. I want to take this time to reflect on the last year and look into the future and where we can go with our partners. If I had to boil it down into a few themes for our partner ecosystem it would be hybrid cloud, the midmarket and verticals opportunity, and digital transformation.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E39 – The Thirty-Nine Steps

      This week we’ve been flashing devices and getting a new display. We discuss Huawei developing its own mobile OS, Steam Link coming to the Raspberry Pi, Epic Games laucnhing their own digital store and we round up the community news.

      It’s Season 11 Episode 39 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

    • Destination Linux EP99 – ASCII And You Shall Receive

      On this episode of Destination Linux, we discuss some distro news with VyOS & Fedora. We have great follow up regarding the kernel performance killer news we discussed last week. Some very big updates are coming from great software projects like Blender & Kodi. Later in the show, we check out some of Zeb’s favourite type of games! We also talk about the Plasma Mobile related news from Necuno Solutions. All that and much more including our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks!

    • At Your Serverless

      e still servers—the basics of the internet aren’t changing. But what can developers accomplish when someone else handles the servers?

      Serverless computing makes it easy for beginners to deploy applications and makes work more efficient for the pros. Andrea Passwater shares how convenient it can be to abstract away (or remove from view) the infrastructure components of development. But as with any convenience, going serverless has tradeoffs. Rodric Rabbah explains that going serverless can mean giving up control of your deployment and restricts your ability to respond to problems—which is why he helped create Apache OpenWhisk, an open source serverless environment framework. And Himanshu Pant considers when to use serverless services.

      Serverless computing should be about developer empowerment. But we have to stay curious about the big picture—even as we simplify our toolbox.

  • Kernel Space

    • On Linus’ Return to Kernel Development

      On October 23, 2018, Linus Torvalds came out of his self-imposed isolation, pulling a lot of patches from the git trees of various developers. It was his first appearance on the Linux Kernel Mailing List since September 16, 2018, when he announced he would take a break from kernel development to address his sometimes harsh behavior toward developers. On the 23rd, he announced his return, which I cover here after summarizing some of his pull activities.

      For most of his pulls, he just replied with an email that said, “pulled”. But in one of them, he noticed that Ingo Molnar had some issues with his email, in particular that Ingo’s mail client used the iso-8859-1 character set instead of the more usual UTF-8. Linus said, “using iso-8859-1 instead of utf-8 in this day and age is just all kinds of odd. It looks like it was all fine, but if Mutt has an option to just send as utf-8, I encourage everybody to just use that and try to just have utf-8 everywhere. We’ve had too many silly issues when people mix locales etc and some point in the chain gets it wrong.”

    • Another Linux 4.20 Performance Regression Has Now Been Addressed (THP)

      The bumpy Linux 4.19~4.20 road continues but at least another performance regression is now crossed off.

      Google’s David Rientjes has landed a patch in mainline Linux 4.20 Git as of yesterday that restores node-locale hugepage allocations. Changes to Transparent Huge-Pages, which THP itself was designed to improve performance and make it easier to utilize huge-pages, had caused a performance regression to be introduced back during the 4.20 merge window.

    • Revised High Resolution Scroll Wheel Support For Logitech/Microsoft Mice On Linux

      Originally slated for the current Linux 4.20 kernel cycle was high-resolution scroll wheel support for Logitech mice. Just a short time after merging, the support was reverted as it ended up breaking support for some existing devices. Fortunately, the revised implementation is progressing and perhaps will be ready for Linux 4.21.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Facebook, Google, and Uber Join Open Source Compliance Project OpenChain

        Facebook, Google, and Uber today all joined the OpenChain project. The project, which is hosted by The Linux Foundation, is working toward a standard for open source compliance in the supply chain.

        As open source implementation becomes increasingly prevalent in enterprises, it can be challenging to meet compliance requirements and to deploy the software throughout the supply chain. According to Shane Coughlan, program manager at OpenChain, this is important for a number of reasons. “The core one is to ensure a company is meeting its obligations under a license and has the right to distribute code,” he said. “Failure to do this can result in product delays, brand damage, and legal risk.”

        The project was formed in 2015 to create an overarching standard for monitoring and developing compliance programs for open source. The OpenChain community is comprised of a number of organizations located across Asia, Europe, and North America. This includes Arm, Cisco, Comcast, Qualcomm, Adobe, Toshiba, and GitHub, among others.

      • Linux Foundation’s OpenChain project welcomes Google, Facebook and Uber

        The Linux Foundation’s OpenChain project helps companies find ways to comply with open-source licensing requirements. Today at the Open Compliance Summit in Yokohama, Japan, it announced Google, Facebook and Uber have joined the project as platinum members.

        As platinum members, the three companies become part of the governing board. Shane Coughlan, OpenChain general manager, says as the project has matured, this a logical point for three large technology companies to come on board.

        “Facebook, Google and Uber are perfect new additions for this point, as we move towards becoming a formal industry standard and scaling very significantly across multiple markets. In particular, we are making sure that we can clearly communicate the advantages of OpenChain, and we can clearly show that diversity and the knowledge of our board, as well,” Coughlan told TechCrunch.

      • OpenChain Project Gains Facebook, Google and Uber as Platinum Members

        The OpenChain Project, which builds trust in open source by making open source license compliance simpler and more consistent, announced today at Open Compliance Summit that Facebook, Google and Uber have joined as platinum members. The only standard for open source compliance in the supply chain, OpenChain provides a specification as well as overarching processes, policies and training that companies need to be successful.

        Every day companies consume billions of lines of open source software through their supply chains as they build exciting new products and services. One key challenge as code flows between companies is ensuring the relevant license requirements are met in a timely and effective manner. Many organizations seek to address similar compliance issues in a similar manner, providing an excellent opportunity for consolidation and harmonization.

        The OpenChain Project provides companies with a consistent way to address these challenges. At the heart of the project is a specification, an overarching standard for how companies of all sizes, whether in physical products, in the cloud or internally, can deal with open source compliance.

        Running some of the largest data centers, platforms and cloud infrastructure in the world, Facebook, Google and Uber use a considerable amount of open source software in their businesses and are joining the OpenChain project to proactively manage open source across their supply chains.

      • The Linux Foundation and Coursera Launch New Specialization for Open Source, Linux and Git

        The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, announced today that enrollment for a new 4-course specialization, Open Source Software Development, Linux and Git is now open. Offered through the world’s largest online platform for higher education, Coursera, students will attain the skills and knowledge needed to work comfortably and productively in open source development communities; have a good understanding of the Linux environment, as well as methods and tools required to successfully use it; and know how to use Git, the distributed version control system. This is the first time The Linux Foundation and Coursera have partnered to provide training opportunities.

        Developed by the Linux Foundation’s Director of Training, Jerry Cooperstein, The Open Source Software Development, Linux and Git specialization is a remote learning program designed to give students a strong foundation of skills for working in open source development communities. It is designed for experienced computer users and developers who are looking to enter the world of open source development.

      • Cloud Foundry, Cloud Native, and Entering a Multi-Platform World with Abby Kearns

        When asked what she meant by multi-platform in the context of cloud, Kearns explained, “Multi-platform means that enterprises would want a variety of platforms for a variety of application workloads. There’s never going to be one technology that solves everything. It’s not going to be Cloud Foundry or Kubernetes; it’s going to be a mix. At the end of the day, enterprises are broad and complex. They have evolving needs. They want a mix of technologies that complement each other.”

        However, multi-platform brings its own set of challenges. “Technology is the easy part, my big worry is people getting caught up in the hype of something new and then they want to have it. Then they want to have the next shiny thing,” she said.

        When you get caught up in that hype cycle, you lose focus on what you need to do. Enterprises need to be aware of this and must ask themselves what do their business need to do? What are the outcomes they expect? How do they leverage technology to achieve that?

        “I think taking a step back and asking ourselves what are we really trying to solve,” she said. “I think just for me, sometimes it is — take a breath, pause and think, okay, where, where are we going and why?”

      • 2019 Predictions About Artificial Intelligence That Will Make Your Head Spin

        First, Ibrahim Haddad, Director of Research at The Linux Foundation says that there are two key areas to watch.

        “2019 is going to be the year of open source AI,” predicts Haddad. “We’re already seeing companies begin to open source their internal AI projects and stacks, and I expect to see this accelerate in the coming year.” He says that the reason for such a move is that it increases innovation, enables faster time-to-market and lower costs. “The cost of building a platform is high, and organizations are realizing the real value is in the models, training data and applications. We’re going to see harmonization around a set of critical projects creating a comprehensive open source stack for AI, machine learning and deep learning.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • It Looks Like We Won’t See An Open-Source NVIDIA Vulkan Driver This Year (Nouveau)

        While at the start of the year Nouveau developers expressed their hope to create a basic open-source NVIDIA Vulkan driver this calendar year, it doesn’t look like it’s panning out.

        There is work certainly progressing in that direction thanks to Red Hat’s Karol Herbst and others working on SPIR-V/compute support for Nouveau, which is the fundamental IR also needed by Vulkan. In fact, back in August Karol Herbst did publish some early bits of a Nouveau Vulkan driver, but there hasn’t been any direct public activity to report on since that point.

      • The Radeon RX 590 Is Finally Running Strong On Linux

        It took the better part of a month since the debut of the latest Polaris hardware refresh, but with the latest AMDGPU kernel driver patch posted today, the AMD Radeon RX 590 now appears to be in great shape with the open-source Radeon graphics driver stack for Linux.

        A few days ago I wrote about a few kernel patches and new firmware binaries for getting the Radeon RX 590 working on Linux. That was the case only to find that under 3D load, there were GPU hangs. With a new patch posted today, those hangs under load are corrected.

      • A Final Batch Of DRM-Misc-Next Updates Before Linux 4.21

        With time winding down before the release of Linux 4.20 and the opening of the Linux 4.21 merge window, a final drm-misc-next pull request was submitted this week for staging in DRM-Next ahead of the 4.21 kernel cycle.

        In general there is already a lot of new features piling up for Linux 4.21 and this latest DRM-Misc-Next pull request has some more items worth mentioning.

      • The Intel Linux Discrete GPU Driver Updated — For Their Two Decade Old i740

        While we are all super anxious to learn more about the Intel discrete graphics card offerings planned for their initial debut in 2020, in representing the beauty of open-source, there was an open-source Linux display driver update on Thursday for their “original” discrete card: the Intel740.

        Yesterday marked the xf86-video-i740 1.4.0 driver release, the open-source X.Org driver that supports the original Intel 740 display hardware as Intel’s only released discrete graphics chip up to this point. That was two decades ago, but in showing the possibilities by open-source software, there’s this new display driver release.

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Linux Gaming Benchmarks

        While we have delivered many Linux benchmarks the past number of weeks from the GeForce RTX 2070 and GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, up until recently we didn’t have access to the RTX 2080 that is the card positioned between those two current consumer Turing graphics cards. In kicking off our RTX 2080 Linux benchmarking, here is a look at the Linux gaming performance compared to an assortment of AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards tested on Ubuntu Linux while in the days ahead will be the OpenCL/CUDA tests and more.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Zafiro Icon – A New Set Of Flat Icon Theme Pack With Light Colors For Linux Desktops

      Zafiro icons is minimalist icons created with the flat-desing technique, utilizing washed out colors and always accompanied by white.

      This icon set looks good and awesome.

      It’s a new set of flat icon pack and it’s not based on any other product.

      I felt it’s similar to Paper Icon and you can get that by navigation to the corresponding link.

      Since it’s new set of icon and the developer is requesting us to report for any missing application related icons and not for other categories.

      If any one fork this icon pack then the developer would feel that his work got recognized.

      This icons are compatible with most of the Linux desktop environments such as Gnome, Unity, Cinnamon, Mate, Lxde, Xfce and others.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Cutelyst 2.6.0 released! Now on VCPKG and buildroot

        Cutelyst, a Qt Web Framework has upped to 2.6.0. This release if full of important bug fixes and is the best version when targeting Windows OS so far. It reached 5 years old, 440 stars on GitHub and since the last release has had many users asking questions, reporting issues and making pull requests.

        Until now Windows support was a thing I mostly trusted Appveyor compiling and running tests fine, but this changed a bit in this release, I got a freelance job where some terminals would be editing images to be printed on T-Shirts, then they sent their art to a central server which receives and print, so, after I finished the QtQuick application and managed to convince them of running the terminals on KDE/Plasma as it was basically a kiosk full screen application I went on writing the server part.

        Using Cutelyst on the server was a perfect match, the process was a Qt Widgets application, that, when linked to Cutelyst::WSGI could start listening all on the same process without issues, every terminal were connected via websockets protocol, which was just awesome, whenever I changed a terminal config I could see it changing instantly on the terminal, QWebSocketServer class could indeed do the same, but, to create the T-Shirt Art Fonts and Pictures needed to be “installed” on the terminal. Now with HTTP capabilities I simply exported all those folders and the whenever I sent a new JSON with config to the terminals, it contained the URLs of all these files which where updated in a blink.

      • www.kde.org

        It’s not uncommon to come across some dusty corner of KDE which hasn’t been touched in ages and has only half implemented features. One of the joys of KDE is being able to plunge in and fix any such problem areas. But it’s quite a surprise when a high profile area of KDE ends up unmaintained. www.kde.org is one such area and it was getting embarrassing. February 2016 we had a sprint where a new theme was rolled out on the main pages making the website look fresh and act responsively on mobiles but since then, for various failures of management, nothing has happened. So while the neon build servers were down for shuffling to a new machine I looked into why Plasma release announcements were updated but not Frameworks or Applications announcments. I’d automated Plasma announcements a while ago but it turns out the other announcements are still done manually, so I updated those and poked the people involved. Then of course I got stuck looking at all the other pages which hadn’t been ported to the new theme. On review there were not actually too many of them, if you ignore the announcements, the website is not very large.

        Many of the pages could be just forwarded to more recent equivalents such as getting the history page (last update in 2003) to point to timeline.kde.org or the presentation slides page (last update for KDE 4 release) to point to a more up to date wiki page.

        Others are worth reviving such as KDE screenshots page, press contacts, support page. The contents could still do with some pondering on what is useful but while they exist we shouldn’t pretend they don’t so I updated those and added back links to them.

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Tumbleweed Rolls with Package Updates of Git, Virtualbox, OpenSSH

        openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed had a total of five snapshots this week and is preparing for an update to the KDE Plasma 5.14.4 packages in forthcoming snapshots.

        The five Tumbleweed snapshots this week brought the 5.19.5 Linux Kernel, which was the only package updated in the 20181130 snapshot. The kernel-source 4.19.5 package added a force option for the pciserial device for x86 architecture and fixed HiperSockets sniffer for s390 architecture.

        The most recently released snapshot, 20181204, had more than a dozen packages updated. GNOME’s application for manage their Flickr image hosting accounts, frogr 1.5, fixed issues with the content and installation of the AppData file and moved the functionality menu. GNOME’s goffice had a version bump to 0.10.44. Various rubygem packages were updated and the most significant change was of the packages was that rubygem-pry 0.12.2 dropped support for Rubinius. Both python-boto3 1.9.57 and python-botocore 1.12.57 had multiple application programming interface (API) changes. The obs-service-set_version 0.5.11 package needed “python suff” and now allow running tests with python3.

        The first snapshot to arrive in December was snapshot 20181203. Among the package changes were an update to checkmedia 4.1, which fixed digest calculation in tagmedia, GNOME’s framework for media discovery grilo 0.3.7, and distributed compiler icecream 1.2, which made load calculations better and also cleaned up the general code. A python-docutils build dependency was added with cifs-utils 6.8 and elfutils 0.175 fixed three Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures issues. Major changes came with the man 2.8.4 package. One of the changes relies on decompressors reading from their standard input rather than redundantly passing them the input file on their command line; this works better with downstream AppArmor confinement of decompressors. Virtualbox 5.2.22 fixed a regression in the Core Audio backend causing a hang when returning from host sleep when processing input buffers and webkit2gtk3 2.22.4 fixed serval crashes and rendering issues and Fix a crash when using graphics library Cairo versions between 1.15 and 1.16.0.

      • Google, Facebook and Uber Join the OpenChain Project, ownCloud’s 2nd-Gen End-to-End Encryption for ownCloud Enterprise Now Available, Tuxedo Computers Announces Infinity Book Pro 13 Coming Soon, Five openSUSE Tumbleweed Snapshots and PHP 7.3 Released

        openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed had five snapshots this week, and it’s preparing for an update to the KDE Plasma 5.14.4 packages in upcoming snapshots. Package updates include kernel 4.19.5, GNOME’s Flickr app, VirtualBox 5.2.22, an update to Firefox 63.0.3 and more.

    • Fedora

      • Play with NFC HAT I

        The other day I got an NFC HAT for SBC to play with. And I started to play with it on my Raspberry Pi last week.

        Things did not go smoothly, which is expected. But some part of it still goes beyond my expection.

        So what’s it? It’s a NFC development board based on NXP PN7150. You can buy it from taobao. It’s header is compatible with Raspberry Pi, and minimal modification to use with Salted Fish Pi. As I already have Raspberry Pi 1/2/3, I simply plug it onto Raspberry Pi 2 running with Fedora.

      • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs 2018/10
      • Fedora rawhide – fixed bugs 2018/09
      • Fedora 29 : Shotcut video editor.
    • Debian Family

      • My Free Software Activities in November 2018

        Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you’re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical and Dell EMC provide certified, production-ready Kubernetes solution

            Dell EMC and Canonical today announced the continued evolution of their long-standing partnership to bring a tested and validated container orchestration solution to market through a reference architecture framework that helps organisations quickly and confidently implement Kubernetes technologies into production.

            The partnership brings to market a reliable solution founded upon Dell’s 14th generation of PowerEdge servers and ethernet switches, Canonical’s Charmed Kubernetes, and leveraging Software Defined Storage (Ceph).

          • Canonical launches MicroK8s – deploy Kubernetes in seconds

            Canonical has released MicroK8s – a fast and efficient upstream Kubernetes delivered as a single snap package that installs on 42 flavours of Linux. With a small disk and memory footprint, MicroK8s provides an efficient way to get started with Kubernetes, whether on the desktop, the server, an edge cloud, or IoT device.

          • Canonical widens Kubernetes support with kubeadm

            Canonical is pleased to announce commercial support for Kubernetes clusters deployed using kubeadm. Companies using kubeadm to deploy Kubernetes in production, development or multi-stage environments, can immediately benefit from enterprise support through Ubuntu Advantage for Kubernetes on a per-node basis. Support for official Debian packages released by the CNCF and used with kubeadm is also included.

            For both new and experienced users of Kubernetes, kubeadm offers the ability to get Kubernetes running in any Linux environment. Using kubeadm allows for fine-grained exploration of Kubernetes capabilities, and it allows developers and operators to have better visibility into the low-level mechanics of setting up Kubernetes. These capabilities make kubeadm a great option for those who need in-depth operational experience and offers immediate engagement with the Kubernetes operator community.

          • Canonical and Supermicro collaborate to advance enterprises’ Kubernetes adoption

            Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, and Supermicro, a global leader in enterprise computing, storage, networking and green technologies, today announce a joint offering helping enterprises to accelerate the design and deployment of their Kubernetes stack through an optimised, pre-certified solution.

          • How to harness big data for maximum business value

            Despite most businesses understanding the power and competitive advantage they could gain from harnessing their big data more effectively and leveraging it more efficiently, it’s not an easy goal to achieve.

            That’s why we’ve partnered with Spicule to co-present, ‘How to harness big data for maximum business value’, a webinar dealing with the challenges of gathering and processing data.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 19.1 betas released in anticipation for full release this month

              The Linux Mint project has finally released the beta builds of Linux Mint 19.1 in preparation forthe final release which is due by Christmas. The betas are available in three flavours, Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. The team has already published many of the new improvements in previous blog posts but now they’ve also announced a new feature which will allow you to clean up old kernels which is handy as the boot sector was getting filled easily in Linux Mint 19.

              With Linux Mint 19, a change was made that will suggest users install the kernel updates along with other patches, which wasn’t the case before. Over time the new kernels would get installed and old kernels would stick around unless you went into the kernels manager in the Update Manager and removed them manually, one at a time. This caused users to get warnings that their boot sector was nearly full. Now, there is a “Remove old kernels” button in the kernel manager which will let you select old kernels that you want to remove and delete them. The new manager also lets you know the status of a kernel, for example, if it is unsupported, superseded, or supported, and how long for.

            • Ubuntu-based Linux Mint 19.1 ‘Tessa’ Beta now available with Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce

              Windows 10 is getting worse every day. I used to call it a dumpster fire, but now I think it has devolved into an overturned “Porta-Potty” following all-day tailgating at an NFL stadium. Just recently, we learned that Microsoft is causing blue screens of death on its own Surface Book 2 hardware due to a bad update. Problematic updates are just par for the course for Windows 10 these days — a crap (pun intended) shoot.

              If you are tired of living in constant fear that your computer will break due to a faulty Windows update, it is time to finally evolve and switch to a Linux-based operating system. There are countless great choices from which to choose, but for many, Linux Mint is computing nirvana. It is stable, fast, and looks great. Regardless of which desktop environment you choose — Cinnamon, MATE, or Xfce — you will be treated to a great user experience. Today, the upcoming Linux Mint 19.1 (named “Tessa”) achieves Beta status.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa” Xfce – BETA Release

              Linux Mint 19.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa” MATE – BETA Release

              Linux Mint 19.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa” Cinnamon – BETA Release

              Linux Mint 19.1 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2023. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.

            • Linux Distro Spotlight: What I Love About Ubuntu Budgie

              recently received a custom-built Linux PC to evaluate from Tuxedo Computers (you can catch me live-tweeting some impressions and results on Twitter, or stay tuned here for a full review). This small form factor rig came with Ubuntu Budgie pre-installed*, and it’s been my first opportunity to spend a serious chunk of time with this official Ubuntu flavor.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Is open source wealth distribution fair?

    If wealth is the abundance of valuable possessions, open source has a wealth of software. While no one “owns” open source, some are better than others at converting this communal wealth to personal wealth.

    Many open source project maintainers who produce free open source software do not have a model for deriving income from the assets they have created. However, companies that use open source software to enhance their products and services convert this valuable asset into income.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO announces Release Five, 5G ready

    ETSI announced the availability of OSM Release Five, which is an advancement towards 5G network deployments and their orchestration by telecom operators. In Release Five, OSM extends its orchestration functionalities beyond virtual domains, expanding them across transport networks, as well as physical and hybrid network elements. OSM Release Five embraced a new micro-service architecture to facilitate the integration of an impressive number of new features, making Release Five suited for 5G scenarios, distributed and Edge deployments, and any kind of Network as a Service (NaaS) offer.

  • Despite risks and side effects: “Open source will become even more important in the future” [Ed: Synopsys are anti-FOSS; here they are promoting the “risk” talking point; they hired all the Black Duck staff after a Microsoft marketing man had founded this anti-GPL firm.]
  • Docker CEO Steve Singh on the firm’s drive to enterprise and the future of open source

    Which problems lie in the future, and what are customers starting to say now that Docker might have to further address in the future? Singh explains that there is a growing tendency for companies to want to share their applications, whether they’re legacy or brand new, with other businesses. Taking those apps out of their environments, containerising them and then making them shareable is somewhere Docker could increasingly fit in.

    “If there’s a great piece of technology that moves money from location A to location B you might ask yourself, well, why do I have to rewrite that piece of technology? Why can’t I share that technology if somebody else has written a fantastic service for funds transfer?

  • Comcast’s Howald: Open source is key to service providers’ future

    Low latency services and applications, the constant need for more bandwidth, IoT, and augmented reality and virtual reality services are not just dim possibilities for service providers, they’re constant drumbeats that are getting louder.

    Speaking in a keynote session Wednesday morning at ONF Connect, Comcast’s Rob Howald, vice president of access architecture, said it’s no longer business as usual for carriers.

    Service providers need to do things differently to meet the onslaught of challenges, but they also need to provide a better customer experience while also not having an impact on the current services, Howald said.

  • Comcast Leads Trellis, an Open Source Data Center Switching Fabric

    At the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Connect event this week, Ron Howald, VP of network architecture at Comcast, copped to the fact that Google forced service providers such as Comcast to find ways to deliver faster internet speeds. “Google had quite a bit to do with setting the bar when they started with Google Fiber,” said Howald.

  • Brahma Wallet Officially Released Version 1.0: Open Source, Efficient and User Friendly

    The general version of Brahma Wallet was officially released on December 1st, 2018. It can be adapted to Android 5.0 or above mobile phones. This is another product of Brahma OS besides the Brahma Image. It also demonstrates that Brahma OS is building the underlying platform of high-performance block chain. At the same time, Brahma OS is building and perfecting the ecological system of Brahma OS decentralized operating system which was seamlessly docked with digital asset management.

  • Open Source Compliance Projects Unite Under New ACT Group

    As open source software releases and customer adoption continue to increase, many companies underestimate what’s involved with going open source. It’s not only a matter of volunteering for the encouraged, but optional, upstream contributions to FOSS projects, but also complying with the legal requirements of open source licenses. Software increasingly includes a diverse assortment of open source code with a variety of licenses, as well as a mix of proprietary code. Sorting it all out to can be a major hassle, but the alternative is potential legal action and damaged relations with the open source community.

    The Linux Foundation has just launched an Automated Compliance Tooling (ACT) project to help companies comply with open source licensing requirements. The new group consolidates its existing FOSSology and Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) projects and adds two new projects: Endocode’s QMSTR for integrating open source compliance toolchain within build systems and VMware’s Tern, an inspection tool for identifying open source components within containers.

  • The Road Ahead for Open Source

    Linux and the open source business model are far different today than many of the early developers might have hoped. Neither can claim a rags-to-riches story. Rather, their growth cycles have been a series of hit-or-miss milestones.

    The Linux desktop has yet to find a home on the majority of consumer and enterprise computers. However, Linux-powered technology has long ruled the Internet and conquered the cloud and Internet of Things deployments. Both Linux and free open source licensing have dominated in other ways.

  • Wipro, Alfresco Expand Partnership to Offer Open Source Based Digital Transformation Capabilities
  • Wipro expands global partnership with open source software provider Alfresco
  • Crypto Giant Bitmain Open Sources KYC Software Tool ‘Coconut’
  • Crypto Giant Bitmain Open Sources KYC Software Tool ‘Coconut’
  • Open source: a slow rise to the top

    Is the debate over? Are we no longer fighting over open source versus propriety software?

    Thomas Lee, CEO, Wingu: If we look inside our customer base, we are seeing widespread adoption of open source technology. But I think it’s also clear that propriety is not going away. I’ve seen a company recently take out all its open source software in favour of propriety. Clearly, the debate isn’t going away.

    Wilhelm Strydom, relationship manager, Obsidian Systems: Is there room for proprietary stuff? Clearly there is if you look at the success of the most propriety vendors out there, in terms of not only software, but hardware as well.

    But if you talk back-end, what happens behind that interface, I don’t think there’s much of a battle going on. The battle has mostly been won by open source. This can be seen in some of the propriety guys adopting open source principals. In this respect, open source has clearly been the winner.

  • ETSI Open Source MANO announces release FIVE, 5G ready

    ETSI is excited to announce the availability of OSM Release FIVE. This new Release is a huge step towards 5G network deployments and their end-to-end orchestration by telecom operators. In Release FIVE, OSM extends its orchestration capabilities beyond virtual domains, expanding them across transport networks; as well as physical and hybrid network elements.

    [...]

    Thus, among a large number of new features, the OSM Release FIVE stands out by bringing complete support of 5G Network Slices; dynamic creation of inter-datacentre connections across heterogeneous Wide Area Networks (WAN), extended support of Service Function Chaining (SFC); policy-based closed loop control, extended monitoring capabilities, including VNF metrics collection; and support of physical and hybrid network functions, (PNFs and HNFs respectively).

    In addition, Release FIVE includes significant enhancements in terms of user experience, such as a brand new GUI-based Composer for network functions and services, an improved dashboard for logs, metrics and alarms, and much faster start-up and responsiveness.

  • FOSSID Establishes First Independent Mirror of World’s Largest Source Code Archive

    FOSSID and Software Heritage today announced that they have signed an agreement to establish the first independent mirror of the largest source code archive in the world.

  • Events

    • OpenShift Commons Gathering Preview – Your Personal Prelude to Kubecon/Seattle

      Over 100+ companies will be in attending next week’s OpenShift Commons Gathering which is co-located with KubeCon and CloudNativeCon in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center. The OpenShift Commons Gathering brings together experts from all over the world to discuss real implementations of container technologies, best practices for cloud native infrastructure and the upstream projects that make up the OpenShift ecosystem.

  • Web Browsers

    • With Plans to Switch to Chromium, Could Microsoft Edge Come to Linux?

      Microsoft’s love affair with open-source is showing no signs of a slow down, with the company announcing plans to rebuild its Edge web browser with Chromium.

      Edge is the default web browser on Windows 10, and helps power the “universal windows apps” experience.

    • Microsoft is building Edge on top of Chromium (open source version of Google Chrome

      It is official now. Microsoft is throwing away old code base of Edge browser and making next version of Edge browser on top of Chromium. The open source project behind Google Chrome is known as Chromium. Microsoft is building a Chromium browser to replace Edge on Windows 10 on both x86 and ARM-based systems.

    • Microsoft Edge: Making the web better through more open source collaboration [Ed: This is Microsoft. Whose browser was always proprietary. Whose abuses on the WWW are well documented. Yeah, lecture us now on "open source collaboration" (not freedom).]
    • Microsoft’s Edge browser moving to Chromium
    • Microsoft Confirms Edge will use Chromium Rendering Engine, Launches Insider Program
    • Goodbye, EdgeHTML

      Microsoft is officially giving up on an independent shared platform for the internet. By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google.

      This may sound melodramatic, but it’s not. The “browser engines” — Chromium from Google and Gecko Quantum from Mozilla — are “inside baseball” pieces of software that actually determine a great deal of what each of us can do online. They determine core capabilities such as which content we as consumers can see, how secure we are when we watch content, and how much control we have over what websites and services can do to us. Microsoft’s decision gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us.

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome 71 now rolling out for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating system

        Google has announced its newly-released Chrome 71, the latest version of its web browser, is now rolling out for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems (OS), which aims to keep deceptive websites off.

        The latest version of Google’s browser was in the works over the past few months and has just left the beta programme.

        “The Chrome team is delighted to announce the promotion of Chrome 71 to the stable channel for Windows, Mac and Linux.” This will roll out over the coming days/weeks.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Future Releases Blog: Firefox Coming to the Windows 10 on Qualcomm Snapdragon Devices Ecosystem

        At Mozilla, we’ve been building browsers for 20 years and we’ve learned a thing or two over those decades. One of the most important lessons is putting people at the center of the web experience. We pioneered user-centric features like tabbed browsing, automatic pop-up blocking, integrated web search, and browser extensions for the ultimate in personalization. All of these innovations support real users’ needs first, putting business demands in the back seat.

        Mozilla is uniquely positioned to build browsers that act as the user’s agent on the web and not simply as the top of an advertising funnel. Our mission not only allows us to put privacy and security at the forefront of our product strategy, it demands that we do so. You can see examples of this with Firefox’s Facebook Container extension, Firefox Monitor, and its private by design browser data syncing features. This will become even more apparent in upcoming releases of Firefox that will block certain cross-site and third-party tracking by default while delivering a fast, personal, and highly mobile experience.

  • Databases

    • Multi-model databases are more juicy

      It sounds like a brand of orange juice… and its community edition is written in C++, but actually ArangoDB is a native multi-model database.

      ArangoDB Community Edition is available under open-source license… but news this week focuses on the release of core version 3.4 as a transactional database for developers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 11.2 Released With Modern Web Interface, Improved Jails

      A new release of the FreeBSD+ZFS-based network attached storage operating system, FreeNAS, is now available for this platform developed by iXsystems.

      FreeNAS 11.2 brings a new and modern web interface developed using Angular+Javascript, Iocage replaces Warden for the jails and plug-in management, various new and improved plug-ins, new cloud integration options, improved VM management, various file-system enhancements thanks to using the latest OpenZFS, mobile and theming supports, and various other improvements.

    • FreeNAS 11.2 has ARRIVED!

      FreeNAS 11.2-RELEASE introduces a ton of new features, including a major revamp of the web interface, support for self-encrypting drives, and new, backwards-compatible REST and WebSocket APIs. This update also introduces iocage for improved Plugins and Jails management and simplified Plugin development. Our favorite updates are detailed below, and a full list of changes is available in the Release Notes.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guix and GuixSD 0.16.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the new release of GNU Guix and GuixSD, version 0.16.0! This release is (hopefully!) the last one before 1.0—we have been closing most key items for 1.0 over the last few months.

      The release comes with GuixSD ISO-9660 installation images, a virtual machine image of GuixSD, and with tarballs to install the package manager on top of your GNU/Linux distro, either from source or from binaries. Guix users can update by running guix pull.

    • GNU Guix/GuixSD 0.16 Released With Nearly 5K Commits

      A new release of the Guix transactional package manager and the GuixSD system distribution is now available.

      The Guix package manager has picked up support for various new sub-commands and a variety of minor enhancements.

    • GNU Guix & GuixSD 0.16.0 released

      We are pleased to announce the release of GNU Guix & GuixSD 0.16.0,
      representing 4,515 commits by 95 people over 5 months.

      This is hopefully the last release before 1.0.

      • About

      GNU Guix is a transactional package manager for the GNU system.
      The Guix System Distribution, GuixSD, is an advanced distribution
      of the GNU system.

      In addition to standard package management features, Guix supports
      transactional upgrades and roll-backs, unprivileged package
      management, and per-user profiles. GuixSD offers a declarative
      approach to operating system configuration management and is highly
      hackable. Guix uses low-level mechanisms from the Nix package
      manager, except that packages are defined as native Guile modules,
      using extensions to the Scheme language.

      GuixSD uses the Linux-Libre kernel and the GNU Shepherd init system.
      It can be used on an i686, x86_64, armv7, or aarch64 machine.

      It is also possible to use Guix on top of an already installed
      GNU/Linux system, including on armv7, aarch64, and mips64el.

      https://www.gnu.org/software/guix/

    • Free Software Foundation Endorses Arch-based Hyperbola GNU/Linux

      The Free Software Foundation today came out with an endorsement of Hyperbola GNU/Linux to the organization’s small list of recommended Linux distributions.

      Hyperbola is a Linux distribution based upon Arch Linux but with using the Linux-libre kernel and other changes to ensure no non-free software and focused on long-term stability.

    • FSF adds Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre to list of endorsed GNU/Linux distributions

      The FSF’s list showcases GNU/Linux operating system distributions whose developers have made a commitment to follow its Guidelines for Free System Distributions. Each one includes and endorses exclusively free “as in freedom” software.

      After a thorough vetting process, the FSF concluded that Hyperbola, a long-term support simplicity-focused distribution based on Arch GNU/Linux, meets these criteria.

      “In a world where proprietary operating systems continually up the ante in terms of the abuse they heap on their users, adding another distribution to the list of fully free systems is a welcome development. Hyperbola represents another safe home for users looking for complete control over their own computing,” said John Sullivan, FSF’s executive director.

      “Hyperbola is a fully free distribution based on Arch snapshots and Debian development without nonfree software, documentation, or any type of support for the installation or execution of nonfree software. Unlike Arch, which is a rolling release distribution, Hyperbola is a long-term one focused on stability and security inspired from Debian and Devuan,” said André Silva, Hyperbola co-founder and developer.

    • GCC 7 Release Series

      The GNU project and the GCC developers are pleased to announce the release of GCC 7.4.

      This release is a bug-fix release, containing fixes for regressions in GCC 7.3 relative to previous releases of GCC.

    • GCC 7.4 Released With 100+ Bug Fixes

      For those still on the GCC7 stable series rather than the current GCC8 series that soon will be succeeded by GCC9, GCC 7.4 is available today.

      With GCC 7.4 being the first GCC7 update since v7.3 from this past January, there are a lot of regression/bug fixes. In fact, GNU Compiler Collection developers report that more than 100 bugs have been fixed in this latest stable point release.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Ground Breaking Decision In Open Source Software: The Versata Software Case

      An Open Source Software is a type of software with a source code which can be modified, enhanced and inspected by ANYONE. Source code is that part of a particular software program which empowers a person to alter how the software works or improve it by adding features or fixing parts that do not work properly. Differing from closed software, whereby only the person/organization that created the software has the capacity to alter it, OSS is preferred more and is a better option for the users than the former, granting them more freedom in relation to the software. Some prime examples of OSS are the Apache HTTP Server, the e-commerce platform osCommerce, internet browsers Mozilla Firefox and Chromium. Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn all release OSS so developers can share knowledge, create solutions, and contribute to stable and functional products. There are certain landmark cases in the field of open source software that hold paramount importance in deciding the future of the same as well as opening legal floodgates in its respect, one of which has been discussed at length below.

      [...]

      The decisions arrived at these cases are important in a number of ways, primarily because it confirmed the working of the GPLv2 structure. Mark Radcliffe, a licensing expert and partner at law firm DLA Piper has rightly exclaimed that “The days of open source software free lunches are rapidly coming to an end, and that means enterprises that fail to stick to the terms of open source licenses can expect to be sued.”

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • A call for open research computation

      The next step is likely to be what’s now dubbed open research computation: publication of the software originally used to obtain and process scientific data, and to derive the output quoted in a paper. Validity and reproducibility of results are pivotal in the quest to converge on a universal truth (i.e. the scientific method), and represent an important driving force behind the movement toward open science.

  • Programming/Development

    • Create the third level for this pygame project

      In this article we are going to create the third level for our pygame project after we have created the previous two levels, the reason I create the third game level in this chapter is because this level is different from the second level which is only using the same enemy class to generate different type of enemy ship. In this chapter we are going to create a new enemy class which will act…

    • Python Pandas Groupby Tutorial
    • Everything you need to know about tree data structures

      When you first learn to code, it’s common to learn arrays as the “main data structure.”

    • Introducing Zato public API services

      Most users start to interact with Zato via its web-based admin console. This works very well and is a great way to get started with the platform.

      In terms of automation, the next natural step is to employ enmasse which lets one move data across environments using YAML import/export files.

      The third way is to use the API services – anything that can be done in web-admin or enmasse is also available via dedicated API services. Indeed, both web-admin and enmasse are clients of the same services that users can put to work in their own integration needs.

      The public API is built around a REST endpoint that accepts and produces JSON. Moreover, a purpose-built Python client can access all the services whereas an OpenAPI-based specification lets one generate clients in any language or framework that supports this popular format.

    • 6 steps to optimize software delivery with value stream mapping

      Do your efforts to improve software development fall short due to confusion and too much debate? Does your organization have a clear picture of what is achievable, and are you sure you’re moving in the right direction? Can you determine how much business value you’ve delivered so far? Are the bottlenecks in your process known? Do you know how to optimize your current process?

      If you are looking for a tool that will help you answer these questions, consider integrating value stream mapping and lean concepts into the way you deliver software.

    • Delete duplicate file with python program
    • Qt 5.12 LTS Released

      I’m really happy to announce that we will now fully support Qt for Python, making all of the Qt APIs available to Python developers. The tech preview is currently available for you to test, while the official release will follow shortly after Qt 5.12. Qt for Python originates from the PySide project that we have been hosting on qt-project.org for many years. Qt for Python supports most of Qt’s C++ APIs and makes them accessible to Python programmers. In short: Python developers now can also create complex graphical applications and user interfaces. You can find more details in the Qt for Python blog posts.

    • Qt 5.12 Released With Many Improvements, Joined By Qt Creator 4.8

      The Qt Company began shipping Qt 5.12 this morning as their latest long-term support version of the Qt5 tool-kit while also shipping Qt Creator 4.8 as their C++ focused integrated development environment.

      Qt 5.12 LTS is packing an updated Qt WebEngine, ECMAScript 7 support for QML, Qt 3D performance improvements, OpenGL ES 3.1 support in Qt 3D, Qt Wayland support for new protocols, full support for Qt Remote Objects, full support for the Qt WebGL Streaming Plugin, full support for Qt for Python, the second technology preview of Qt for WebAssembly, and tons of other enhancements. There’s pretty much something for everyone in this release.

    • PHP 7.3.0 Release Announcement

      The PHP development team announces the immediate availability of PHP 7.3.0. This release marks the third feature update to the PHP 7 series.

    • PHP 7.3.0 Released With Improved Performance, Foreign Function Interface

      PHP 7.3 is out today as the first big update in a year to the PHP7 programming language.

      PHP 7.3 introduces the Foreign Function Interface (FFI) to access functions/variables/structures from C within PHP, a platform independent function for accessing the system’s network interface information, an is_countable() function was added, WebP is now supported within the GD image create from string, updated SQLite integration, and a range of other improvements.

    • Remi Collet: PHP version 7.3.0 is released!

      RC6 was GOLD, so version 7.3.0 GA is just released, at planed date.

      A great thanks to all developers who have contributed to this new major and long awaiting version of PHP and thanks to all testers of the RC versions who have allowed us to deliver a good quality version.

      RPM are available in the remi-php72 repository for Fedora ≥ 27 and Enterprise Linux ≥ 6 (RHEL, CentOS) and as Software Collection in the remi-safe repository.

    • Rust 2018 is here… but what is it?

      This post was written in collaboration with the Rust Team (the “we” in this article). You can also read their announcement (coming soon) on their blog.

      Starting today, the Rust 2018 edition is in its first release. With this edition, we’ve focused on productivity… on making Rust developers as productive as they can be.

    • PyCon 2019 proposal submission deadline is fast approaching!

      The busy holiday season is upon us and before you know it the new year will be here. January 3rd AoE is the deadline to submit proposals. We’ve added a draft feature to proposals so you can begin your proposal submission now and come back to make final edits before the January 3rd deadline.

    • Dataquest: An Intro to Deep Learning in Python

      Deep learning is a type of machine learning that’s growing at an almost frightening pace. Nearly every projection has the deep learning industry expanding massively over the next decade. This market research report, for example, expects deep learning to grow 71x in the US and more than that globally over the next ten years. There’s never been a better time than now to get started.

    • Oliver Bestwalter for tox webinar next week

      Python has long distinguished itself with a culture of testing. In the last decade, two libraries have combined to give powerful testing in isolation — pytest and tox. The latter combines easily with pytest to give you a clean environment across test runs, including across multiple versions of Python.

      tox certainly counts as one of those things lots of PyCharm customers know they should know, but don’t yet know. To make it easy to break the ice we’ve invited Oliver Bestwalter to introduce tox in a PyCharm webinar. Oliver is the maintainer of tox and advocate for release automation in projects.

    • PyCharm 2018.3.1 Released with Various Bug Fixes

      PyCharm IDE released version 2018.3.1 one day ago with various bug fixes. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 16.04 and higher.

    • Intake for Cataloging Spark
    • 6 Lessons from Learning to Code
    • Auto incrementing IDs for MongoDB

Leftovers

  • 3 reasons blockchain will live up to its hype in healthcare

    Blockchain has emerged as one of the most promising technologies to address the fragmentation and inefficiencies that plague current healthcare delivery systems. Its distributed, real-time architecture promises faster processing and settlement of claims, lower transaction costs, easier management, and stronger security for electronic health records (EHRs), and improved patient outcomes.

  • IBM sells software portfolio including Notes and Domino to HCL for $1.8b

    The Indian giant has claimed it is picking up products that are in large growing areas, but they also include Notes.

  • Science

    • How much data in the world by 2025?

      Well, if my math is correct, and it could possibly be flawed, we can extrapolate the following:

      163 Zetabytes could hold 7.7 quadrillion clips (more than 7 with 15 zeroes)
      With an average length of 4.2 minutes that equals over 543 trillion hours of video.That is around 62 billion years of YouTube watching.

    • How The Iconic 1968 Earthrise Photo Changed Our Relationship To The Planet

      1968 was a crazy year, its events moving at a horrific pace. The Tet Offensive. The My Lai Massacre. Bobby Kennedy announcing the news that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. Riots across urban America and outside the Democratic National Convention. The human drama seemed out of control in a way it hasn’t in the years since ― till now, of course.

      Which is why it’s both heartening and sad to think of the event that brought 1968 to a close and opened a new set of possibilities. Apollo 8 was orbiting the moon, its astronauts busy photographing landing zones for future missions. On the fourth orbit, Commander Frank Borman needed a navigational fix and decided to roll the craft away from the moon, tilting its windows toward the horizon. The shift gave him a sudden view of the Earth rising.

      “Oh, my God,” he said. “Here’s the Earth coming up.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • With Power to Kneecap Bold Demand, Incoming Democratic Tax Committee Chair Says Medicare for All ‘Not Realistic’

      “Neal will have near total control over what tax-related policies come to the House floor, including legislation that would create a Medicare for All healthcare system,” noted investigative reporter Eoin Higgins in a piece for Sludge on Wednesday. “Having Neal at the helm of the committee, rather than a more progressive member, makes it much less likely that the House of Representatives will vote on universal healthcare measures.”

      As Higgins documents, Neal—who has served as the top Ways and Means Democrat since 2016—has received more insurance industry cash throughout his career than any other member of the incoming Congress, including Republicans.

      This fact may help explain his recent attacks on supporters of Medicare for All, who he recently called on to be more “calm” in their pursuit of bold solutions to America’s deadly healthcare status quo.

      “I think that there is an approach that is a little more incremental in nature,” Neal said of his position on Medicare for All during an interview in August. “I understand aspiration… but the idea that overnight you’re going to take 20 percent of the American economy and transform it is not realistic.”

    • Life at Trump Speed

      I took my first hit of speed in 1970 during my freshman year in college. That little white pill — Dexedrine — was a revelation. It made whatever I was doing absolutely fascinating. Amphetamine sharpened my focus and banished all appetites except a hunger for knowledge. I spent that entire night writing 35 pages of hand-scrawled notes about a 35-page article by the philosopher Ludwig Feurbach, thereby convincing the professor who would become my advisor and mentor that I was absolutely fascinating.

      Speed was definitely not a respectable drug in those days. I bought mine from a seedy hippie who hung out on the edge of campus with some of my edgier friends. My college was probably one of the few in the country whose infirmary actually prescribed Dexedrine for its students, presumably to keep us from buying it from guys like him.

      Nowadays, respectable doctors all over the country prescribe speed for people with ADHD, under brands like Adderall and Ritalin. It does for them what it did for me — makes whatever they’re doing fascinating, allowing them to focus for many hours at a time. My students now don’t have to buy it on the street. They can cadge (or buy) it from friends with prescriptions. I sometimes wonder whether they think they have a choice about this, or whether it’s considered almost a dereliction of duty to write their papers without a chemical assist.

    • ‘Peak Amazon’ as Robot Sets Off Bear Spray, Sending 24 Fulfillment Center Workers to Hospital

      All told, 54 Amazon employees received medical attention because of the incident, according to multiple reports, which follow global strikes and demands from workers, advocates, and even lawmakers such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the company—which is run by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos—to improve workplace conditions, including warehouse safety.

      “Amazon’s automated robots put humans in life-threatening danger,” declared Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

      “This is another outrageous example of the company putting profits over the health and safety of their workers, and we cannot stand for this,” he added, emphasizing that as one of the world’s biggest companies, Amazon “cannot continue to be let off the hook for putting hard working people’s lives at risk.”

    • Chemicals on our food: When “safe” may not really be safe

      Weed killers in wheat crackers and cereals, insecticides in apple juice and a mix of multiple pesticides in spinach, string beans and other veggies – all are part of the daily diets of many Americans. For decades, federal officials have declared tiny traces of these contaminants to be safe. But a new wave of scientific scrutiny is challenging those assertions.

      Though many consumers might not be aware of it, every year, government scientists document how hundreds of chemicals used by farmers on their fields and crops leave residues in widely consumed foods. More than 75 percent of fruits and more than 50 percent of vegetables sampled carried pesticides residues in the latest sampling reported by the Food and Drug Administration. Even residues of the tightly restricted bug-killing chemical DDT are found in food, along with a range of other pesticides known by scientists to be linked to a range of illnesses and disease. The pesticide endosulfan, banned worldwide because of evidence that it can cause neurological and reproductive problems, was also found in food samples, the FDA report said.

    • Living Apart, Coming Undone

      THE STENCH FROM Abraham Clemente’s apartment in Flatbush, Brooklyn, this summer was overwhelming. Maggot-infested scrambled eggs were strewn across the floor; a cantaloupe was so spoiled, it seemed to be melting. Feces were ground into the carpet.

      Clemente, 69 and schizophrenic, kept the shower and sink running for the “oxygen.” He blamed a kitchen fire on a doll nailed to a cabinet. He believed he could crush and smoke his antipsychotic medication to achieve its intended effect.

    • Transparency Of Patent Status Key For Health Actors: Databases Presented At WIPO

      Information on the status of patents can be key for medicines procurement agencies seeking to know if they can source cheaper generic products. Several databases providing free information on patent status were presented yesterday at the World Intellectual Property Organization. The World Health Organization, also invited, hailed the efforts, but warned against listing follow-on patents, which could confuse procurement professionals. And a prominent molecular biologist, chief executive of a patents-and-scholarly database, called for breaking silos to advance innovation.

    • Helsinn Argument Recap: Did the AIA Change the Meaning of Patent Law’s “On Sale” Bar?

      As Michael previewed this morning, the Supreme Court heard argument today in Helsinn v. Teva, which is focused on the post-America Invents Act § 102(a)(1) bar on patents if “the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public” before the relevant critical date. The Federal Circuit held that Helsinn’s patents were invalid because Helsinn had sold the claimed invention to a distributor more than one year before filing for a patent, but Helsinn (supported by the United States as amicus) argues that the “on sale” bar is triggered only by sales that make the invention “available to the public” under a broad reading of “public.”

      During argument, none of the Justices seemed inclined to favor Helsinn’s attempt to argue that “on sale” clearly means on sale to everybody—Justice Kavanaugh said “it’s pretty hard to say something that has been sold was not on sale,” and Chief Justice Robert’s noted that Helsinn’s interpretation “might not be consistent with the actual meaning of the world ‘sale’” because “if something’s on sale, it doesn’t have to be on sale to everybody.” Nor did they jump at the government’s argument that “on sale” means a product can be purchased by its ultimate consumers—Justice Sotomayor said: “This definition of ‘on sale,’ to be frank with you, I’ve looked at the history cited in the briefs, I looked at the cases, I don’t find it anywhere.”

      Helsinn’s better statutory argument is that the meaning of “on sale” is modified by “or otherwise available to the public” to require that the sale be publicly available. Indeed, for a reader with no background in patent law, this might seem like the most natural reading of the statute. Justice Alito said that “the most serious argument” against the Federal Circuit’s position is “the fairly plain meaning of the new statutory language,” and that he “find[s] it very difficult to get over the idea that this means that all of the things that went before are public.” And Justice Gorsuch suggested, at least for hypothetical purposes, that “the introduction of the ‘otherwise’ clause introduced some ambiguity about what ‘on sale’ means now.” But if there was more support to reverse the Federal Circuit, it was not apparent from the argument.

    • Don’t Let the Trump Administration Corporatize Medicare

      The Trump administration is engaged in a massive deception about Medicare Advantage plans, those commercial insurance plans that contract with the government to offer Medicare benefits. These plans are offered as an alternative to traditional Medicare, the public plan administered by the government.

      For far too long, politicians and corporations have marketed these commercial plans to unwary older adults and people with disabilities as a “new and improved” Medicare. That’s deceptive. Unlike traditional Medicare, these plans strip their members of the right to choose their own doctors and hospitals. Their cumbersome rules often lead to arbitrary delays and denials of care, and they can leave members with enormous unexpected costs.

      Buyers, beware. The Trump administration, much like the Medicare Advantage corporations themselves, is pushing these commercial plans on people without mentioning these risks and costs. But, they can’t be honest about Medicare Advantage. If they were, they would have to admit that these plans—like commercial health insurance in general—typically come up short on key metrics such as affordability, access, choice, efficiency, and accountability.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • 100,000 Windows Users In China Hit By New Ransomware Strain [Ed: Windows from Microsoft has back doors for the NSA and crackers too get access to these. They should have gone with GNU/Linux instead.]

      A ransomware that encrypts personal files and then demands 110 yuan (~$16) in ransom has affected over 100,000 Windows PC in China.

      The hackers are distributing rigged apps, disguised as social media apps, on different forums and local websites to infect the users. Many reports claim that one of such app goes by the name “Account Operation V3.1” — a Chinese app that help users manage multiple QQ accounts (a popular Chinese instant messaging service).

    • Adobe Addresses Critical Vulnerability CVE-2018-15982 in Flash Player as Report of an Exploit Makes Rounds
    • New Adobe Flash Zero-Day Exploit Found Hidden Inside MS Office Docs

      Cybersecurity researchers have discovered a new zero-day vulnerability in Adobe Flash Player that hackers are actively exploiting in the wild as part of a targeted campaign appears to be attacking a Russian state health care institution.

      The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2018-15982, is a use-after-free flaw resides in Flash Player that, if exploited successfully, allows an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the targeted computer and eventually gain full control over the system.

    • Kubernetes hit by major security flaw
    • Why do small sites get hacked?

      High traffic volume helps boost earnings on partner programs by redirecting visitors to other sites, gets more views of unauthorized advertisements and attracts more clicks on rogue links. But that is not the only way hackers make money.

      Unprotected sites with low traffic volume are equally attractive to hackers. It is the way they are used that differs from how hackers monetize more popular websites. Any normal site, with an audience of as little as 30 visitors a day, can still be threatened by hacking and infection.

    • (Website) size is not important

      A common fallacy says that big, popular web sites are more likely to be the targets of hacking. After all, they have the biggest customer databases and the most amount of traffic. To a hacker, more traffic means more money. Right?

      Not quite. In Greg Zemskov’s latest blog post, he explains why small sites are just as attractive to hackers as big ones, what the hackers do with such sites, and what small site owners and administrators can do to avoid becoming victims.

    • ESET discovers 21 new Linux malware families [Ed: Catalin Cimpanu misrepresents what ESET actually wrote. Go to the source, not those flame-baiters of CBS.]
    • Top 5 New Open Source Vulnerabilities in November 2018 [Ed: Microsoft friends are so eager to make FOSS look dangerous, like quite major a risk]
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Yemenis Seek Asylum on Island That Resists US Militarization
    • GOP lawmaker defends Trump’s Khashoggi response: ‘Journalists disappear all over the country’

      Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN after the briefing with Haspel that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “ordered, monitored, the killing” of Khashoggi.

    • There are 42 exotic weapons in ‘Destiny 2′ right now — and we’ve ranked them all from best to worst

      We’ve compiled the complete list of exotic weapons you can obtain in “Destiny 2,” and ranked them based on utility for various “Destiny 2″ activities.

    • Saudi Prince ‘Complicit’ in Khashoggi’s Murder, Senators Say After C.I.A. Briefing

      The clear and unusually biting assessment put Republican senators at odds with the White House, which has steadfastly refused to cast blame on Saudi Arabia’s leadership for the grisly death of Mr. Khashoggi, an American resident and Washington Post columnist. His killing prompted international outrage over the kingdom’s heavy-handed tactics and renewed attention to the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

    • Yemen: 85,000. Dead. Kids.

      In Yemen, a place where things couldn’t get worse, things have gotten worse.

      85,000 children under the age of five may have died during the war in Yemen, according to the international charitable group Save the Children. This figure was arrived at using data gathered by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Save the Children’s November 20 press release states that the children died from “extreme hunger and disease.” Saudi Arabia’s naval blockade of Yemen’s port of Hodeidah is a huge factor in Yemen’s catastrophic food shortage.

      Haven’t we already read this story? It has been only a month since the New York Times ran a series of photos of Yemen’s dead and dying. The lead photo is of a 7-year-old Yemeni girl, Amal Hussain, in a state of advanced starvation. Amal has dieds ince the photo appeared.

      The images of dead, starving, and mutilated Yemenis are so horrific that the Times took the unprecedented step of explaining why it was running the photos. The reason: because the world needs to see what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, assisted by the US, are doing to Yemen.

    • Nominee for US Ambassador to Yemen is No Friend of the Yemeni People

      While the press has closely followed the Senate efforts to stop US support for the Saudi war in Yemen in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, a December 4 Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting introducing Donald Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Yemen slipped under the radar.

      Christopher Henzel is presently the Charge d’Affairs, or acting Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A career Foreign Service officer, he has been the acting Ambassador since the departure of the Obama administration’s appointee in January 2017. He is now Trump’s pick to become the highest US diplomat to the wartorn nation of Yemen, but his initial appearance before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not go very well. Watch video here.

    • At Sports University, We Support Our Troops

      We have a national obsession in the United States with sports. Sports and sports talk are on 24/7. According to Marketwatch, Americans spent $100 billion on sports last year, half of it on attending games. You can watch sports every night and all day on weekends. You can tune in to sports talk shows on NESN and listen to sports talk radio. We spend on average about an hour a day consuming sports. You can also bet on sports. How much we bet is hard to track because a lot of it is illegal, but it is certainly in the billions. This obsession with sports applies to women as well as men, but it is males who are most obsessed and not surprisingly that means that men know a lot about sports. In fact, as sociologist Deborah Tanner found, men love to report information about sports to each other. This reporting may or may not be competitive and involve one-upmanship, but in any case, men have virtual libraries of information about sports that they’ve compiled. If there were SAT exams in sports, men would ace them.

      Unfortunately, this sports knowledge often appears to take the place of knowledge of the world beyond sports. So American men might be more likely to be able to list the starting lineup of a local team than they are to be able to list the nine members of the Supreme Court or who their state representatives are. They can tell you how many men are on the roster of their favorite team, but they don’t know how many people live in the United States, never mind how many whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians and undocumented immigrants live in the country.

      In addition, professional sports have embraced the military which is kind of an odd marriage that allows both sports teams and fans to express their patriotism. The whole notion of thanking the military developed as a backlash to the shameful treatment of our returning soldiers during the Vietnam War when we publicly criticized and blamed soldiers for the sins of our politicians. Since then, Americans have become more openly supportive of the military yet at the same time, we are not really engaged in our foreign policy and few of us know what the military is doing in Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or Syria.

    • Fortunate Son: How Neil Bush Succeeded in Business Without Really Trying

      His mother still called him Neilsie. He refers to his dad, the former president, as Gampy. Neil Bush may be the black sheep of the Bush family, but his relatives have never let him down. Whenever he’s been mired in financial, legal or marital imbroglios, someone in the Bush family entourage has always reached out a helping hand and often that hand has slipped Neil a fat check.

      Neil Bush, the fourth child of George and Barbara, was long thought to be the rising star of the family. He had the looks, the convivial demeanor, middle-of-the-road politics and, despite suffering from a severe case of dyslexia that made him the laughing stock of St. Albans (the stuffy DC prep school that groomed Al Gore) the brainpower. At least he seemed brighter than Jeb or George Jr. And, most important of all, he was the favorite son of Barbara Bush, the Agrippina of American politics.

      All those lofty political aspirations came to a fatal crash in the fall of 1988, at the precise moment his father was poised to ascend to the presidency, when the Silverado Savings and Loan went belly up with Neil in the driver’s seat.

      In these days of multi-billion dollar financial crimes by the likes of Enron, Tyco and WorldCom, the failure of a relatively small Colorado thrift may not seem like much. But Silverado came to symbolize the entire savings and loan debacle, which ended up costing the government more than $150 billion in bail out money. Many of these companies exploited the newly deregulated financial markets to lavish unsecured loans to company insiders or political favorites and rewarded company officers and directors with ostentatious salaries and benefits. When the thrifts collapsed, the directors and executives walked away unscathed, while small investors and account-holders were left out in the cold. Appropriately, the looting of the savings and loans hit Texas harder than most other states.

      At the time, Neil Bush claimed that he was being made a political scapegoat for Silverado’s troubles. He said he was only a bit player in the S&L with no real decision making power, a mere figurehead and little more. Of course, there was some truth to this. But Neil Bush was not an entirely passive director. Indeed, he used his position as director to steer unsecured loans to his business partners, including at least one project, a scheme to drill for oil in Argentina, in which he had a direct financial stake.

    • It’s Good to Argue About Dead Presidents
      [George H.W. Bush Doesn't Deserve a Hagiography]

      For a moment, obituaries favored the late President George H. W. Bush with the banal pleasantries usually afforded to deceased presidents. Well-wishers from both sides of the aisle hailed Bush’s patriotism, service, decency, and other traits we think we want leaders to have.
      Then came the counter-narratives: Bush’s inaction during the AIDS crisis. The generation of war in Iraq he started. His acceleration of the war on drugs and his race-baiting Willie Horton ad. His groping of women. Surely we should have reservations about celebrating such a legacy, many countered.
      Now, I’m partial to the latter view — more in that in a moment. But what concerns me more is the third phase in this emerging ritual: the righteous insistence that death is no time to examine a public figure’s life’s work. They’re dead. Be nice.
      Or worse: The centrist plea, typified by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, that “a mix of appreciations and censorious assessments is in order.” Even if you had loved ones die during the AIDS crisis, or a family member die in Iraq, Bruni thinks it’s “possible, even imperative, to acknowledge and celebrate” the late leader’s “valor galore.”
      Bruni calls this “nuance.” I call it the opposite.
      This being 2018, I get it. Politics feels exhaustingly nasty. Even many lefties crave a conservative foil to the crasser occupants of today’s White House. Folks in the center may just want a break from the yelling.
      Team, I feel you. But look a little harder.

    • How Would Mother Jones Eulogize George H.W. Bush?

      In a windswept miners union cemetery north of Mount Olive, Illinois, stands a large monument, marking the burial site of Mary Harris Jones. Mother Jones, as she was popularly known, was a legendary labor activist from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She devoted herself to the cause of workers, from coal mines to garment mills, railing against abusive working conditions, against child labor, against poverty. Once, when rallying a group of unionized coal miners in West Virginia, she said, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!” As this week’s national day of mourning concludes in the United States with the funeral of George H.W. Bush, the country’s 41st president, Mother Jones’ words are worth remembering.

      Bush’s family, friends, all five living presidents — his son, George W. Bush; Jimmy Carter; Bill Clinton; Barack Obama; and President Donald Trump — gathered at the National Cathedral to honor him.

      Commentators recalled Bush’s escape from a burning bomber in World War II, parachuting into the Pacific Ocean. In obvious contrast to President Donald Trump, Bush was remembered as an old-style Republican, patrician and civil, able to reach across the aisle. He resigned from the National Rifle Association when the gun group railed against federal agents, and was praised for signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

      Ignored was Bush’s role in violent U.S. interventions, from the 1989 invasion of Panama, which Bush ordered, killing an estimated 3,000 civilians, to the 1991 invasion of Iraq, also on his orders, which killed thousands of Iraqis. Just this week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on the U.S. to pay reparations to the victims of the Panama invasion. As CIA director in 1976, Bush supported some of the most violent right-wing dictatorships in Latin America, including the junta in Argentina and dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • ‘Green is Great’: Coal, Oil, and Greenwash at the UN Climate Talks

      We were told to meet by the glowing jellyfish. Pascoe Sabido was holding it aloft, its plastic tentacles tangling, as journalists and campaigners closed in around him. A campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory, he had promised us a “Toxic Tour” of COP24, a chance to see the influence of energy companies lurking behind the green veneer of the countries gathered here to tackle climate change.

      Except, in some cases, the veneer was wearing thin – or, in Poland’s case – had rubbed off entirely. The tour began next to the logos of the conference’s sponsors projected onto the wall. It’s currently advertising LOTOS Oil, a Polish company that operates mainly in Norway. Other sponsors include JSW, a coal company, and PZU, the largest insurer of the Polish coal industry.

      Overt fossil fuel branding was too subtle an approach for the Polish hosts of this meeting, however. We walk on to the pavilion of the city of Katowice. It has been constructed from chunks of coal stacked in metal crates. Not quite believing, I rub my finger against one of the blocks. My fingertip comes away black.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Winter 2018

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth. There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between December 2018 and February 2019. We also publish annual high tide flooding reports that present a broad outlook of what to expect for a given year in terms of high tide flooding, as well as a summary of high tide flooding events for the previous calendar year.

    • ‘Off the Charts’: New Study Shows Greenland Ice Sheet Likely Hasn’t Melted This Fast for More Than 7,000 Years

      Given that melting ice is significantly fueling sea-level rise, Trusel concluded: “How much Greenland melts matters. It matters to everyone living near a coastline. Climate change is not a thing of the future. It’s here now. It’s clear.”

      Trusel’s team of international researchers analyzed ice cores extracted from Greenland, a massive island wedged between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. A primary takeaway from the study, Trusel said in a statement, is the speed of melting, especially over the past 25 years.

      “It’s not just increasing, it’s accelerating,” he explained. “That’s a key concern for the future.”

    • ‘Worst Possible Choice’: Pressure Mounts on Schumer to Keep Pro-Coal Joe Manchin From Powerful Energy Post

      While pressuring Democratic leaders to form a new congressional committee with a mandate to pass a Green New Deal, climate action groups and progressives lawmakers including Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are also raising deep concerns over the corporate-friendly Democrat who’s expected to serve as the party’s top member on the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee—a gift to the fossil fuel industry which has long buttressed his political career.

      As ranking member of the committee, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) would be in the position to reject nominees for positions in the Interior and Energy Departments and stop the panel from approving attempts to waive environmental laws concerning logging as well as energy industries—a responsibility Ocasio-Cortez says Manchin is unlikely to fulfill given his ties to Big Coal.

    • Warnings of Doom, Amid a Smokescreen of Denial and Distraction

      The Trump administration predictably tried to bury the dire warnings contained in the fourth National Climate Assessment by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving, when many people would be distracted by the mass consumption frenzy known as Black Friday. It didn’t work, of course, since the findings were nothing short of warnings of doom if humanity doesn’t radically reduce the production of greenhouse gases caused primarily by burning fossil fuels.

      Equally predictable was the response from the Climate Denier-in-Chief that he simply “didn’t believe” the findings. The rays of hope are that, thanks to the Mueller investigation, indictments and convictions, as well as the recent election that erased the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Donald Trump’s “reign of error” on the environment is coming to an end — and not a minute too soon for our nation and the planet.

      Considering that the congressionally mandated Climate Assessment was put together by more than 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies, there are plenty of good reasons to heed its assessments and predictions, summarized right up front in the report as: “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.”

    • Polish Trade Union And Climate Science Denial Group Issue Statement Rejecting Scientific Consensus on Climate Change At COP24

      A Polish trade union has issued a joint statement with a notorious American climate science denial group rejecting the scientific consensus on climate change.

      The statement, signed by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute and the trade union Solidarity was released as UN climate talks took place in Katowice, the centre of Poland’s coal heartland region of Silesia.

      The talks, known as COP24, are widely considered to be the most important climate meeting since the 2015 summit in Paris and will aim to finalise the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement.

      In the statement, the trade union Solidarity and the Heartland Institute express “skepticism of the assertions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the world stands at the edge of a climate catastrophe”.

      In October, the IPCC released a report saying the world had 12 years to reduce its emissions by 45 percent and take “transformative and unprecedented” measures to hold global warming to 1.5C. Beyond that threshold, it warned of serious impacts including a virtual wipe-out of coral reefs.

    • Dangerous CO2 Spurt: How the Rich Countries are Failing to Curb Climate Emergency

      Carbon Dioxide emissions were up again this year, after a hiatus during which people wondered if the world had gotten a handle on greenhouse gases. It turns out, not so much. A new UN report sounds the alarm.

      The spike in CO2 this year is a bad sign, but actually it is the output of greenhouse gases over the next 12 years which will be decisive. And there, there is more bad news.

    • Don’t Do Anything About Climate Disaster, USA Today Warns Dems

      “Democrats Will Push on Climate Change,” declared the lead story on the front page of the November 27 USA Today. (The online version bore the more verbose headline, “Once Democrats Take Charge of the House, Addressing Climate Change Will Become Top Priority Again.”)

      You might think the story was about the Green New Deal, the nascent environmental and social justice agenda that would include a special congressional committee on climate change, championed by incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and endorsed by at least a dozen co-sponsors.

      You’d be wrong.

      The real point of the 925-word story, by Gannett Washington reporter Ledyard King, was conveyed in the print edition’s subhead: “Policies Could Carry Risk for Leaders of New House.”

      Featuring a classic “balance as bias” reporting frame, the piece alternated between dire, scientifically validated descriptions of climate change risks and President Trump’s dismissal of them, and between illustrations of Democratic clout and predictions of the futility of their cause.

    • ‘Dirty, Dying, and Dangerous’ Fossil Fuel Industry Only Winner as Trump’s Coal Bailout Architect Confirmed to FERC

      The Senate’s narrow approval of fossil fuel-defender Bernard McNamee for a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday provoked anger and dismay from climate action groups, which have demanded the Trump administration listen to scientists and the American people and end its efforts to prop up “dirty, dying, and dangerous” energy industries.

      McNamee was confirmed in a 50-49 vote along party lines, after green campaigners successfully pressured Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) to vote against the nomination. Read the full roll call here.

    • As Study Ties ‘Great Dying’ of 252 Million Years Ago to Current Climate Crisis, Experts Say Still Time for ‘Different Path’

      The study adds to a growing body of research on alarming declines in biodiversity, offering a glimpse of what could come of the planet’s inhabitants if global warming is allowed to continue unabated. The Great Dying, at the end of the Permian Period, wiped out 96 percent of all marine species and 70 percent of terrestrial species.

      “The ultimate, driving change that led to the mass extinction is the same driving change that humans are doing today, which is injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” Justin Penn, a University of Washington doctoral student in oceanography and the study’s lead author, told the Seattle Times.

      “The study tells us what’s at the end of the road if we let climate [change] keep going,” warned Curtis Deutsch, Penn’s co-author and PhD adviser, as the latest projections show emissions hitting record-breaking levels this year. “The further we go, the more species we’re likely to lose… That’s frightening. The loss of species is irreversible.”

    • Kochs Fund Study to Kill Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Via Same Group That Defended Tobacco Industry

      Unsurprisingly, to an industry-funded study mill that infamously produced a key report defending the tobacco industry that was deployed by Philip Morris in the 1990s, and which has since published studies commissioned by the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, the coal industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
      As Congress debates whether to extend, end, or leave alone the federal EV tax credit, a study critical of the incentive has been making the rounds in conservative media outlets and Koch-affiliated free market advocacy groups.

      The study, conducted and published by NERA (National Economic Research Associates) Economic Consulting, was commissioned by Flint Hills Resources, a refinery group and fuels marketing company that also happens to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.

  • Finance

    • Uber Is Sweating NYC’s New Rideshare Minimum Wage

      And so give it did. In an unprecedented move, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) approved new rules this week to raise the the minimum hourly wage for app-based drivers to $17.22 after expenses. The goal was to pay drivers a living wage in a costly city, but also to curb the rapid growth of rideshare cars on the road. “TLC anticipates [the new rules] will represent a raise to 96 percent of the 80,000 drivers who work for Uber, Lyft, Via, and Gett/Juno,” the commission said in a statement.

      The majority of Uber, Lyft, and Juno drivers have been consistently making less than minimum wage, as a New School report found. And a minimum wage floor would mean an estimated $10,000 raise per driver. The new rules also got rid of an extra fee for shared car rides, which could encourage more group trips.

    • Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche

      In the short term, though, that’s not what most big players care about—and the major social change blockchain has brought about so far is that a small number of people have become very rich indeed. As blockchain skeptic David Gerard writes, “the cryptocurrency field is replete with scams and scammers. The technology is used as an excuse to make outlandish near-magical claims. When phrases like ‘a whole new form of money’ or ‘the old rules don’t apply any more’ start going around, people get gullible and the ethically-challenged get creative.”

    • The Nasty Rich

      Are rich people really nastier than poor people? That’s what Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner set out to discover a few years back.

      [...]

      In another study, P&K looked at empathy. One way to measure this is via activation of the vagus nerve, which runs from the brain through the face and thorax to the abdomen and responds to emotional inputs. Electrodes were placed on the chests of a group of rich students and a group of poor students, who were then exposed to pictures of starving children. The vagus nerves of the poor students became hyperactive, whereas those of the rich students hardly responded at all. In other words, they felt almost no empathy, which is also the major trait of sociopathy: “an almost complete lack of conscience, remorse, guilt or shame; manipulative, deceitful, egocentric.”

      Who’s nasty now?

    • Demand an End to the Taxation of Social Security Benefits

      Social Security, the retirement program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Democrats in Congress in 1936 as a cornerstone of the New Deal programs that were put in place to help Americans struggling with the Great Depression, has been under attack by Republicans ever since it began.

      In the early 1980s, they finally got their first chance to really take a whack at it. It was the first term of the administration of Ronald Reagan and thanks to medical advances that were allowing people to live much longer and to the Medicare and Medicaid programs or the mid 1960s that made those advances available to most Americans for the first time — the elderly, the disabled and the poor — the retirement program was under stress and heading towards being unable to meet its benefit payment obligations with just the payroll taxes being paid into the system by current workers and their employers.

      If that sounds familiar, it should. Once again, this time because of even further improvements in longevity, combined with a declining US birthrate and the fact that since 2007 Baby Boomers, that wave of new Americans born after the end of WWII and through 1964, have been reaching retirement age and have begun receiving their Social Security benefits, the Social Security system is heading towards a financial crisis. It’s not bankruptcy as Republican scaremongers claim, but if nothing is done to bolster funding for the system, as of 2034 surplus funds deliberately built up in advance to finance Baby Boomer benefits will be exhausted, and the payroll taxes paid into the system by then-current workers and their employers will only be enough to fund 78% of promised benefits to those eligible for benefits at that time.

    • Chicago Task Force Will Take on Ticket and Debt Collection Reform

      The city of Chicago on Thursday took a potentially big step toward reducing the harmful impact of its ticketing and debt collection practices on low-income and minority motorists, launching a task force that will examine issues ranging from disparities in enforcement to punishments for people who don’t pay their tickets.

      The task force, called the Chicago Fines, Fees & Access Collaborative, was created by City Clerk Anna Valencia and will bring together officials from police, finance and other key city departments, as well as more than a half-dozen aldermen, community organizations and independent researchers.

      The task force was prompted by reporting over the past year from ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ on the disproportionately heavy effects of ticketing on low-income and black communities. The reporting, combined with growing advocacy from community groups, has fueled an urgency for reform on the issue ahead of city elections in February.

    • ‘Lobbyists Are Here. Goldman Sachs Is Here. Where’s Labor? Activists?’ Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez Pull Back Curtain on Corporate-Sponsored Freshman Orientation

      Pulling back the curtain on the ostensibly “bipartisan” orientation for newly elected members of Congress at Harvard’s Kennedy School in Boston, Reps.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) informed the public through live social media updates on Thursday that—contrary to the ideologically neutral advertising—the private conference featured a heavy dose of speeches by corporate CEOs and completely shut out organized labor and members of the progressive community.

      “Our ‘bipartisan’ congressional orientation is co-hosted by a corporate lobbyist group,” Ocasio-Cortez noted, likely referring to the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute, which is co-sponsoring the event. “Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn’t told to us in advance. Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where’s labor? Activists? Frontline community leaders?”

    • New Legislation Would Clamp Down On Social Security Field Office Closing

      Closing Social Security field offices can cause undue hardship for claimants, yet the Social Security Administration (SSA) has shuttered 67 of them since 2010. Seniors advocates have recently intensified their efforts to push back against field office closures. Those efforts may finally gain some teeth with the introduction of a bill by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisc.). Her ‘Maintain Access to Vital Social Security Services Act of 2018’ (H.R. 7160) would make it harder for the SSA to summarily close field offices.

      Congresswoman Moore represents a district that includes the city of Milwaukee, where SSA closed a field office serving poor and mostly Hispanic residents last Spring – forcing them to seek assistance at an alternate location that’s hard to reach by public transportation.

      SSA closed other field offices in urban areas earlier this year, including one in Arlington, VA (just outside the Nation’s Capital), and another in the city of Baltimore. A Social Security office in urban Chicago was closed in 2017. In all three locations, elderly and disabled Social Security claimants have been forced to travel longer distances to obtain in-person service.

    • Workers Are Fighting Retail Robber Barons – and Winning

      small group of Walmart workers recently publicly confronted Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress who is probably the world’s richest woman. Earlier this year, Walmart increased the starting wage for store associates to $11 an hour, but competitors Amazon and Target agreed to $15, which is still not enough to make ends meet in many parts of the United States. Would Walmart follow their lead?

      Walton attempted to deflect the question, saying, “That’s not my job.” The workers pressed Walton for an answer, pointing to Walmart CEO Greg Foran, who thanked the Walton family for their role in past pay increases during a meeting with investors in October. That sent a flustered Walton into a hasty retreat.

      Foran also told investors that, in some areas of the country, $11 is still “the right amount to pay” a starting Walmart associate. Organization United for Respect (OUR), a nonprofit group that advocates for better wages and conditions at Walmart, used MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to take Foran to task.

      In every state in the country, a Walmart associate working full time (which Walmart defines as 34 hours per week) at $11 does not make enough money to cover the basic costs of living for an individual, not to mention a family, according to the group’s analysis. Walmart did not respond to a request for comment.

    • In Los Angeles, the Poor People’s Campaign Makes a Powerful Case for Housing as a Human Right

      When Silvia Hernandez first immigrated to California over two decades ago, she worked tirelessly to support her family. After holding jobs in sweatshops, factories, and housekeeping, she pursued a cosmetology license and began doing hair professionally. She was well aware that the “place where I was coming from and my skin color” meant she “had to work harder than other people if I wanted to make money.

      But when she became sick and was unable to work, the life she’d built fell apart. Following an eviction, she applied for “all the housing programs available” and sought out medical care, but “the system didn’t give me any other choices but to go to Skid Row,” the 50-square-block area of downtown Los Angeles that is home to several thousand unhoused people. There, she heard similar stories from numerous other women–mostly Black and Latina–and realized she “couldn’t stay as a witness anymore without doing something.” Today, Silvia directs her energy toward advocating on behalf of the Skid Row community “to make our struggles visible, to fight for our rights, and to win.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Giuliani can’t figure out how URLs work, blames Twitter for liberal bias

      Rudy Giuliani, who briefly advised Donald Trump on cybersecurity before taking a role as his personal attorney, doesn’t understand how domain names work. And that lack of understanding led him to invent a ludicrous conspiracy theory about Twitter.`

    • Time Is Running Out to Avert a Government Shutdown
    • After Years of Fearmongering Mythical Threat of Voter Fraud, GOP ‘Silence Now Deafening’ as Real Election Fraud Exposed in North Carolina

      Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics voted unanimously against certifying Republican Mark Harris’ narrow win over Democrat Dan McCready, with one member of the board vaguely citing “unfortunate activities” that may have distorted the final results.

      Reporting and witness testimony in the days since the board vote has detailed “a slew of evidence” indicating that GOP operatives carried out a large ballot-harvesting effort, in which thousands of absentee ballots may have been collected and destroyed in an attempt to swing the election in the Republican Party’s favor.

      As USA Today notes, “A large majority of those unreturned ballots belonged to African-Americans and Native American voters.”

      “There is now overwhelming evidence that Republicans in NC-09 paid people to collect mail-in ballots which were never sent in,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. “Not enough people are talking about this clear case of election fraud. A new election must be held immediately.”

    • Americans Endorsed Voting Rights in 2018, but Some State Lawmakers Want to Sabotage These Victories

      The 2018 election ushered in a wave of voting rights victories. Voters in Florida, Michigan, Maryland, and Nevada all made it easier to register and vote, showing that voters reject voter suppression efforts and bogus “voter fraud” myths. But politicians in several states are now trying to undercut these hard-fought wins.

      Last month, Michigan voters passed a voter modernization package, Proposal 3, by a massive 67-33 percent margin. Proposal 3, championed by the Promote the Vote MI coalition and backed by the ACLU of Michigan, helped expand access to the ballot by enacting no-excuse absentee voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day voter registration for the two-week period prior to an election, including Election Day.

      But some state lawmakers in Michigan want to undermine the voters’ clear choice during the lame duck session. There, politicians are trying to pass legislation restricting access to same-day voter registration in the final 14 days prior to an election before a voting-rights supporter is sworn in as governor.

      They are not alone, as lawmakers in Wisconsin want to curtail the early voting period in their state and reduce the powers of newly elected state officials, and North Carolina legislators are using the lame duck session to add new barriers to the ballot box. In November, Florida voters approved a state constitutional amendment to restore voting eligibility to people with prior felony convictions with nearly two-thirds of the vote. But politicians are trying to slow-walk issuing guidance to county election supervisors on registering people with prior felony convictions to vote.

    • Wisconsin Republicans Continue the GOP’s Bid to Destroy Democracy

      The Republican Party has once more demonstrated that it has no respect for democracy and is determined to hold on to power by any means necessary. GOP state lawmakers in Wisconsin this week engaged in a brazen power grab in the form of bills that were introduced, debated and voted on with breathtaking speed in order to cripple the decision-making powers of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Legislators called a special session late last Friday, and then, as protesters marched and rallied outside the state Capitol building, the politicians debated in a closed-door session. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, before the sun rose, senators voted on and passed the bills and Gop members prevailed by a single-vote margin. A few hours later, their counterparts in the Wisconsin House did the same—by a larger margin.

      According to The New York Times, the bills ensure that “[t]here would be a new limit on early voting, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, after an election that saw record-breaking turnout.” Additionally, the Times reported, “[l]awmakers, not the governor, would control the majority of appointments on an economic development board.” The bills also curb the incoming governor’s ability to ban guns from the state Capitol and to protect the Affordable Care Act from legal challenges, among other things.

      Wisconsin’s House speaker, Republican Robin Vos, disingenuously claimed on Twitter on Wednesday that “Democrats have been exaggerating and resorting to hyperbole throughout the debate.” He added sagely, “The vote is about ensuring equal branches of government exist in #Wisconsin especially during this time of divided government.” But a day earlier, Vos let slip his real agenda, saying, “We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in.” It apparently has not occurred to Vos that voters, who live in a democracy, have elected the “very liberal” Evers over incumbent Scott Walker.

    • Democrats Will Ignore Broad Progressive Reforms at Their Peril

      In the wake of an earth rattling mid-term election that brought a change in leadership in the House and seven governor’s offices, debate has picked up again over the political direction of the Democratic Party as it picks itself up off the floor.

      After a decade in which it lost more than 900 federal and state elections, the Wall Street-dominated wing of the Democratic Party continues to insist on adherence to a political path that landed them in wilderness in Washington and most state capitols.

      But, it would be a serious misread of the election results to assume that voters, including those disgusted with the Trump Administration and its acolytes in Congress, will reward Democrats in the next election cycle if they settle for band aid adjustment to the pervasive crisis faced by tens of millions of people abandoned by decades of neoliberal policies pursued by both major parties.

      Staggering income and wealth inequality, millions still handcuffed in low paying jobs, appalling levels of homelessness, poverty and food insecurity, gaping inequities in health care, education, and housing, a climate crisis rapidly spinning out of control, and systemic racism affecting nearly every walk of life, demand real, comprehensive solutions animated by a genuine vision of social change, not business as usual.

    • Senate Intelligence Committee Grilled Steve Bannon About Cambridge Analytica

      Steve Bannon found himself back in the hot seat last month as the former White House adviser answered questions from Senate intelligence committee investigators behind closed doors, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. The sources said investigators asked about Cambridge Analytica, the controversial and now-defunct data firm he co-founded; and Roger Stone, a self-described dirty-trickster and Trump associate.

      The committee has been quietly investigating Russian meddling in the American political system for nearly two years. While partisan acrimony rocked the House intelligence committee’s Russia probe, the Senate’s investigation has proceeded with scant public friction.

      Spokespersons for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and Vice Chairman Mark Warner declined to comment on the record. A lawyer for Bannon declined to comment on the record as well.

      Bannon’s interview indicates investigators remain interested in Cambridge Analytica’s work for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The firm’s staff claimed it used “psychographic profiling” to tailor ads based on people’s personality traits. The firm’s critics said this was bluster, and drew comparisons to failed blood-testing start-up Theranos.

      Cambridge Analytica drew international opprobrium when its work covertly harvesting millions of Facebook users’ personal information was revealed in March. Facebook denounced the company’s tactics, but still suffered enormous public blowback. In May, Cambridge Analytica announced it was closing down.

    • The Progressive Case Against Beto O’Rourke for President

      Anxious Democrats had barely recovered from their post-midterm election-night hangovers before pundits began breathlessly pontificating over the potential field of 2020 presidential candidates. Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost his Texas Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz, but that didn’t stop multiple outlets from pondering whether he could run. He enjoys a national profile, a positive message, even punk rock roots, and lost his race by a mere three points, but some progressives aren’t convinced he’s the one to beat Trump, should the president run in 2020.

      Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig is one of them.

      She writes on Thursday that despite her being from Texas, appreciating O’Rourke’s appeal and having “hoped as much as anyone for Cruz’s defeat,” America doesn’t need another Democrat in the Obama mold. Instead, she argues, “I think the times both call for and allow for a left-populist candidate with uncompromising progressive principles. I don’t see that in O’Rourke.”

    • Why This Progressive Texan Can’t Get Excited About Beto O’Rourke

      In the meantime, though, we have the national election to think about, and when it comes to national politics, O’Rourke is plainly uninspiring. As Zaid Jilani pointed out at Current Affairs, O’Rourke’s congressional voting record signals skepticism about progressive priorities. “While the Democratic base is coalescing around single-payer health care and free college, O’Rourke sponsored neither House bill,” Jilani wrote, “During his time in Congress, he never joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” Instead, O’Rourke is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a centrist caucus with Clintonian views on health care, education and trade.

      Where it comes to Medicare-for-all, O’Rourke has been carefully unclear about his stance: A Politico article from July notes that, at least for a time, he had sworn off using the terms “single payer” or “Medicare for all,” instead using the less-specific, policy-neutral phrase “universal, guaranteed, high-quality health care for all.” His campaign website remains unclear, stating that he aims for achieving universal health-care coverage “whether it be through a single payer system, a dual system, or otherwise.”

      O’Rourke’s other progressive-ish policy positions tend to follow along these lines. While some progressives, rallied by talk of a Green New Deal, have argued for higher taxes on oil and gas company profits, fossil fuel lobbyists to be banned from working in the White House and a whole-economy overhaul slotting Americans into jobs producing carbon-neutral infrastructure, O’Rourke’s statements on energy have been surprisingly thin. He has called the decision between oil and gas and renewable energy sources “a false choice,” and proposes on his campaign website mainly to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, empower the Environmental Protection Agency and enact energy reform.

    • For Once, Donald Trump Sits Down and Shuts Up

      A friend of mine lives in an apartment building adjacent to the commuter rail tracks running in and out of Boston. A few years ago, the city decided to build a new commuter station literally right outside his bedroom window. After the construction crew broke ground, they erected a two-story pile driver and proceeded to ram beams deep into the ground from 5:15 am until around 5:00 pm. The crew was never, ever late, and the sound and vibration of the driver literally rattled the fillings in my friend’s teeth. The construction seemed to last forever. Only in the brief evening silences could he clearly contemplate just how astonishingly awful the noise was.

      I am reminded of my friend’s plight by the sudden absence of Trump noise upon the passing of George H.W. Bush. I don’t believe it, don’t trust it, and wait with permanent wince for it commence again… but for the ongoing moment, the pile-driver president has actually fallen into a respectful silence, leaving us all a breath of blissful stillness in which to contemplate the gruesome noise. You can only hear the ringing in your ears when the banging stops.

      I would have lost a bet had one been available. If the MGM Grand put, “When will Trump’s need for attention cause him to flip out?” on the big board in its main gaming room on Monday morning, I would have confidently put every dime I own on the red felt marked “Tuesday afternoon,” with maybe a few extra chips on “Wednesday morning, early” just to play it safe. Here we are on Thursday, and I’d be broke as a joke if Vegas played my kind of ponies.

      [...]

      George W. Bush is so freaked out by Trump that he has voiced public concern about being the last Republican president, which is perfect W., because Trump is also a Republican. Becoming a painter hasn’t made #43 any brighter, but he has a definite argument. “This guy doesn’t know what it means to be president,” W. said in 2017. (Pssst… Neither did you, George; the nation and the world will be many generations getting out from under the bloodbath calamity of your administration. The fact that the same can be said for Trump, even by the likes of you, only deepens the misery)

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Are women reporters shut out from ‘hard’ beats? Pakistani journalists deliberate

      National Press Club (NPC) Vice President and CFWIJ member Maira Imran spoke about the power dynamics of the stories and beats. It is about time we stopped putting a patriarchal lens on stories. “I think some of the issues that women cover are powerful and very impactful. We need to recognise these stories for their strengths,” she said.

    • A Quarter of Tumblr’s Users Are There to Consume Porn, Data Scientists Estimate

      As you may have already heard, starting on December 17, Tumblr will no longer allow porn on its platform. This will hurt the sex workers and communities of people who enjoyed sharing and consuming NSFW content on the platform. But many people have also suggested it might be the beginning of the end for Tumblr, which, perhaps because it has traditionally catered to adult communities, has largely come to be identified with porn.

    • Tumblr’s Porn-Detecting AI Has One Job—and It’s Bad at It

      What do a patent application drawing for troll socks, a cartoon scorpion wearing a hard hat, and a comic about cat parkour have in common? They were all reportedly flagged by Tumblr this week after the microblogging platform announced that it would no longer allow “adult content.” But so far, Tumblr’s method for detecting posts that violate the new policy, which goes into effect December 17, isn’t working too well, at least not according to many people on Twitter who have shared screenshots of innocent Tumblr posts that were mistakenly marked as NSFW.

    • How Tumblr went from being the most porn-friendly social media site to banning porn

      By January 2010, the Tumblr smut community was established enough to get official endorsement; that month, the site’s staff unveiled an officially sanctioned directory of erotic Tumblrs, which was listed alongside similar directories of Tumblrs devoted to art, fashion, photography, and food.

    • The Vilification of Marc Lamont Hill Is a Violent Ploy

      Only in a warped world would Marc Lamont Hill be forced to defend himself for asserting the rights of Palestinians, a viciously oppressed refugee population, while the perpetrators of colonial violence — the Israeli state and its apologists — claim victimhood.

      Hill, the progressive activist and journalist, was dismissed from his position as a CNN commentator in November after delivering a United Nations speech in which he called for Palestinian liberation “from the river to the sea.” Critics pounced on the phrase, portraying it as an extremist cry for the eradication of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

      That is an absurd contention. As many conscientious figures — including Hill himself — have noted, Hill was not echoing incendiary demands for Israel’s elimination. During the address in question, he simply envisioned the replacement of the current regime, an ethno-nationalist state predicated on the racist subjugation of indigenous Palestinians, with an open, democratic society in which equal rights are enjoyed by all.

      Sponsors of Israeli occupation, however, refuse to tolerate any acknowledgement of Palestinian dignity, especially by an influential Black activist. So, they engineered a scandal, branding Hill an anti-Semite and reinforcing the message that those who challenge Israel’s policies of ethnic cleansing and violation of international law risk public vilification.

    • Amendments to Mauritius’ ICT Act Pose Risks for Freedom of Expression

      Mauritius doesn’t get a whole lot of international attention. The island nation off the southeast coast of Africa, officially the Republic of Mauritius, is a diverse country that is highly ranked for democracy, and economic and political freedom. The Economist’s Intelligence Unit has named the country the only “full democracy” in Africa, and Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report calls it a free country. The country’s Constitution (Art. 12) protects freedom of expression, with exceptions in line with Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      But readers of this blog know that democracies, from France to India and many places in between, often get Internet regulation terribly wrong. Recent amendments to Mauritius’ ICT Act are exemplary of that fact.

      The Information and Communications Technologies Act was created in 2001 and covers a broad array of topics, from fraud to identity theft to tampering with telecommunications infrastructure. The Act also defines as an offense the use of telecommunication equipment to “send, deliver or show a message which is obscene, indecent, abusive, threatening, false or misleading, or is likely to cause distress or anxiety.”

    • European Governments agree to outsource Internet censorship to Google and Facebook

      We have never seen an European Regulation adopted this quickly by European governments (less than 3 months!), despite concerns voiced by some Member States1Member States opposed to the current version of the text include Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Denmark.. Macron has obviously convinced them that, as European elections are getting closer, they could maintain their powers by using the everlasting terrorism pretext. Censorship and mass surveillance of the Internet will be the result.

      The EU Council has just decided, right now and without any serious debate, to carry a Regulation proposal that will force all Internet actors to submit to mass surveillance and automated censorship tools provided by Facebook and Google2In 2017, the European Commission proudly announced it had been « working over the last two years with key internet platforms including under the EU Internet Forum”, mainly Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft since 2015, “to ensure the voluntary removal of online terrorist content”, notably thanks to “the internet industry-led initiative to create a ‘database of hashes’ ensures that once terrorist material is taken down on one platform, it is not uploaded on another platform”.
      Already, “the aim is that internet platforms do more, notably to step up the automated detection of terrorist content, to share related technology and tools with smaller companies, and to make full use of the ‘database of hashes’., while allowing the police to order them to remove within one hour content they consider “terrorist”, without the authorisation of a judge.

    • Technical impossibility at heart of EC’s plan to stop spread of online terrorist content

      With its proposed legislation to proactively monitor customer data online, and so “prevent the dissemination of terrorist content”, the European Commission is targeting the wrong players and asking Europe’s cloud infrastructure companies to do something that is flatly impossible.

      Let me explain why.

      As our name suggests — CISPE stands for Cloud Infrastructure Service Providers in Europe — we provide the basic infrastructure, the underlying foundations, for European businesses and governments to manage their own data and build their own systems and services. Imagine the power cables or water pipes in the ground that provide essential but somewhat workmanlike services to a city and, more importantly, to its many thousands of buildings, businesses, public services and citizens. In the simplest terms, we provide the building blocks for cloud IT.

    • EU Members Push For Private Censorship Of Terrorist Content On The Internet

      Big platform providers and small hosters alike shall be obliged to censor, according to a draft regulation presented by the European Commission in mid-September and accepted by EU member states at their Council meeting today.

    • EFF Goes To Bat For Free Speech, Asks Appeals Court To Uphold Injunction Against California’s Stupid ‘Anti-Ageism’ Law

      Because the state is an idiot, the attorney general of California is appealing the federal court decision permanently preventing the state’s government from enforcing its ultra-stupid “anti-ageism” law. The law — which would do absolutely nothing to prevent movie studios from engaging in biased hiring — targeted the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), preventing it from publishing facts about actors and actresses. This asinine, First Amendment-trampling law was prompted by failed litigation against IMDb by an actress who felt she was losing roles to younger actresses because the site had published her birthdate.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • In the New Fight for Online Privacy and Security, Australia Falls: What Happens Next?

      With indecent speed, and after the barest nod to debate, the Australian Parliament has now passed the Assistance and Access Act, unopposed and unamended. The bill is a cousin to the United Kingdom’s Investigatory Powers Act, passed in 2016. The two laws vary in their details, but both now deliver a panoptic new power to their nation’s governments. Both countries now claim the right to secretly compel tech companies and individual technologists, including network administrators, sysadmins, and open source developers – to re-engineer software and hardware under their control, so that it can be used to spy on their users. Engineers can be penalized for refusing to comply with fines and prison; in Australia, even counseling a technologist to oppose these orders is a crime.

      We don’t know – because it is a state secret – whether the UK has already taken advantage of its powers, but this month we had some strong statements from GCHQ about what they plan to do with them. And because the “Five Eyes” coalition of intelligence-gathering countries have been coordinating this move for some time, we can expect Australia to shortly make the same demands.

      Ian Levy, GCHQ’s Technical Director, recently posted on the Lawfare blog what GCHQ wants tech companies to do. Buried in a post full of justifications (do a search for “crocodile clips” to find the meat of the proposal, or read EFF’s Cindy Cohn’s analysis), Levy explained that GCHQ wants secure messaging services, like WhatsApp, Signal, Wire, and iMessage, to create deceitful user interfaces that hide who private messages are being sent to.

    • New Documents Show That Facebook Has Never Deserved Your Trust

      Another week, another set of reminders that, while Facebook likes to paint itself as an “optimistic” company that’s simply out to help users and connect the world, the reality is very different. This week, those reminders include a collection of newly released documents suggesting that the company adopted a host of features and policies even though it knew those choices would harm users and undermine innovation.

      Yesterday, a member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament published a trove of internal documents from Facebook, obtained as part of a lawsuit by a firm called Six4Three. The emails, memos, and slides shed new light on Facebook’s private behavior before, during, and after the events leading to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

      Here are some key points from the roughly 250 pages of documents.

    • Microsoft and MasterCard in cahoots to create a universal digital identity

      Sounds good in practice, but as we’re fans of Black Mirror here, our imaginations immediately jump to the dark side of tech, whereby Microsoft and MasterCard become a superpower by controlling people’s access to online things by the simple virtue of holding their identity in a vice-like digital grip.

    • Facbook’s Internal Emails Suggest Calls & Text Data Was Collected Without Consent

      There were reports earlier this year that Facebook gathered call and text data from users without user consent. Multiple allegations of abusing Android APIs to harvest call and SMS data made headlines.

      But Facebook said that it was only collecting metadata through Facebook Lite and Messenger — both of which asked users for their permission during setup.

    • Securing The Institutions We Rely On: A Grassroots Case Study

      Grassroots digital rights organizing has many faces, including that of hands-on hardware hacking in an Ivy League institution. Yale Privacy Lab is a member of the Electronic Frontier Alliance, a network of community and student groups advocating for digital rights in local communities. For Yale Privacy Lab, activism means taking the academic principles behind Internet security and privacy out of the classroom and into the real world, one hacking tutorial or digital self-defense workshop at a time.

      Yale Privacy Lab is an initiative of Yale Law School’s Information Society Project—which concerns itself with digital freedom, policy, and regulation—and serves as the project’s practical implementation arm. We interviewed founding member Sean O’Brien and Cyber Fellow and researcher Laurin Weissinger about their work empowering the next generation of digital rights defenders, and offer advice for those wishing to emulate their example.

    • Encryption bill: compromise a result of bullying, claims IA

      The compromise encryption bill drafted by the government and Labor demonstrates just one thing – that bullying pays off, the head of Internet Australia, Dr Paul Brooks, claims.

    • Australia Passes Law Targeting WhatsApp and Signal

      Under new powers to be given to police and intelligence agencies, companies may be required to help decrypt communications on platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal, and even insert code to help capture data.

      The bill had support from both major parties and, late on Thursday, the opposition Labor party said it was withdrawing amendments it had previously demanded. That allowed the upper house to vote in support of the legislation, meaning it becomes law.

    • Politics rules as encryption bill becomes law with no amendments

      The Federal Government’s controversial encryption bill has been passed by Parliament without any amendments due to there being a lack of time for Labor to add any amendments in the Senate.

    • The “Yellow Jackets” Riots In France Are What Happens When Facebook Gets Involved With Local News

      It’s happening right now in France isn’t happening in a vacuum. The Yellow Jackets movement — named for the protesters’ brightly colored safety vests — is a beast born almost entirely from Facebook. And it’s only getting more popular. Recent polls indicate the majority of France now supports the protesters. The Yellow Jackets communicate almost entirely on small, decentralized Facebook pages. They coordinate via memes and viral videos. Whatever gets shared the most becomes part of their platform.

      Due to the way algorithm changes made earlier this year interacted with the fierce devotion in France to local and regional identity, the country is now facing some of the worst riots in many years — and in Paris, the worst in half a century.

    • Secret Facebook documents have just been published by British parliament

      A redacted version of the papers was pushed live on the website of the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, which is investigating Facebook’s privacy standards as part of an inquiry into “disinformation and fake news.”

      Damian Collins, a Conservative politician who is chair of the committee, prefaced the papers with a summary of what he sees as some of the most explosive revelations. These included: [...]

    • Facebook’s UK Document Dump Suggests User Privacy Was Sacrificed for Growth

      The documents, which date back to 2012, provide a rare window into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s thoughts on how to expand his social media juggernaut as users made the transition from desktop to mobile phones. They also suggest a willingness within Facebook to sacrifice user privacy and undercut its competitors to continue driving growth.

      [...]

      The documents were collected by Six4Three’s legal team as part of the discovery process for a lawsuit that alleges Facebook defrauded app developers by luring them with the promise of data, only to later cut them off from that information. [...]

    • Facebook also let dating apps have further access to Graph API back in 2015

      Two hundred fifty pages of previously secret internal documents from Facebook show that the company allowed even more companies to be “whitelisted”—granting them extended access to the company’s permissive v1.0 Graph API back in 2015—than has previously been known.

      In addition, the Wednesday release by a British lawmaker also confirms what Ars previously discovered via a failure to adequately redact public court filings from last year: Facebook once considered charging for access to user data.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Lancet Study Shows Right-Wing Attacks on Refugees and Migrants Based on ‘White Nationalist Propaganda’—Not Facts

      A new study published Thursday in The Lancet, one of the world’s preeminent medical journals, makes clear the increasingly familiar attacks used by right-wingers worldwide to dehumanize migrants and refugees by describing them as disease-infested is a xenophobic slur rooted in racism and hate, not facts or the science of public health.

      The two-year analysis by two dozen experts at universities including Johns Hopkins and Columbia found that international migrants are less likely than people born in their new countries to die of conditions including heart disease, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and others.

      The notion that immigrants like the small group of asylum-seekers who traveled from Central American countries to the U.S.-Mexico border recently are unhealthy and will bring disease into the U.S. “is a false argument that is used to keep migrants out,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Paul Spiegel of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins, told NBC News.

    • FBI Moves to Fix Critical Flaw in Its Crime Reporting System

      The FBI will fast-track a fix to address flaws in its uniform crime report and is expected to change reporting rules to encourage more transparency about the outcomes of investigations by local law enforcement agencies, following a yearlong investigation by Newsy, Reveal from the Center For Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

      The investigation uncovered a major flaw in the FBI’s next generation crime reporting system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The new system does not track cases police classify as “unfounded,” a category for when police say the victim is lying or the reported crime did not occur.

      In our November investigation, we found that the FBI reports zero unfounded cases for thousands of agencies using the new system, although records from those agencies show they classify many cases this way.

      For example, the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia showed no unfounded cases in the FBI crime statistics for 2016. However, internal department records show that Prince William County police classified nearly 40 percent of all rape cases as unfounded that year.

      “You have found something that needs to be corrected,” said Col. Edwin C. Roessler Jr., chairman of the FBI’s NIBRS transition task force, and chief of police in Fairfax County, Virginia. “This is a crisis, an emergency.”

    • Judge in Joe Bryan Case Rejects Defense Pleas for New Trial

      Despite compelling evidence that the forensic testimony used to convict former Texas high school principal Joe Bryan of murder was wrong, a Texas judge today recommended that Bryan’s conviction stand, and that he not be granted a new trial.

      Bryan, now 78 and in poor health, has served 31 years in prison despite lingering questions about who shot his wife, Mickey, in 1985.

      Judge Doug Shaver’s decision stunned Bryan’s attorneys, who had hoped for a different outcome after the seeming collapse of key elements of the prosecution’s case in September, during the final day of hearings over whether Bryan should be granted a new trial.

      In a dramatic moment at the hearing, a defense witness read an affidavit from retired police Detective Robert Thorman, the bloodstain-pattern analyst whose testimony had proved critical in convicting Bryan. In it, Thorman conceded that both his findings and testimony had been rife with errors. “My conclusions were wrong,” he wrote. “Some of the techniques and methodology were incorrect. Therefore, some of my testimony was not correct.”

      Thorman’s remarkable admission gave fresh optimism to Bryan and the scores of former neighbors, family members and even former prison staffers who attended the hearing that he might be granted another chance to prove his innocence. Bryan had been attending a principals’ convention in Austin, 120 miles from his home in Clifton, where Mickey was killed, in the days surrounding the murder. He has always maintained that he was in Austin, asleep in his hotel room, at the time of the crime.

      After the hearing, Bryan’s lawyers and the Bosque County District Attorney submitted written conclusions. Today, Shaver adopted the prosecution’s findings in their entirety – including an argument by Bosque County D.A. Adam Sibley that acknowledged that parts of Thorman’s testimony were incorrect but said it didn’t matter: “Thorman’s testimony was not important to the case.”

      Shaver also adopted Sibley’s position that because Thorman did not specify which of his conclusions were wrong, “the Court is unable to determine whether any of this testimony mattered.”

    • China Demands Canada Release Executive of Tech Giant

      China on Thursday demanded that Canada release an executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei who was arrested in a case that compounds tensions with the U.S. and threatens to complicate trade talks.

      Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Ltd., faces possible extradition to the United States, according to Canadian authorities. The Globe and Mail newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said she is suspected of trying to evade U.S. trade curbs on Iran.

      Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear used by phone and internet companies, has been the target of deepening U.S. security concerns. Under Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, Washington has pressured European countries and other allies to limit use of its technology.

      The U.S. sees Huawei and smaller Chinese tech suppliers as possible fronts for spying and as commercial competitors. The Trump administration says they benefit from improper subsidies and market barriers.

      The timing of the arrest is awkward following the announcement of a U.S.-Chinese cease-fire in a trade war that has its roots in Beijing’s technology policy. Meng was detained in Vancouver on Saturday, the day Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping met in Argentina and announced their deal.

    • Canada arrests top Huawei executive on suspicion of violating Iran sanctions

      It’s an extremely high-profile arrest, the first major break in a probe that has mostly been kept from the public and only after long-harbored suspicions about Huawei have become widespread. Meng happens to be the daughter of Huawei’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer whose connection to the Chinese Communist Party has contributed to the suspicions of US intelligence agencies. Meng also serves as deputy chair on Huawei’s board.

    • Canada arrests Huawei’s global chief financial officer in Vancouver

      “She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday,” Justice Department spokesman Ian McLeod said in a statement to The Globe and Mail on Wednesday. “As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng.”

    • China Outraged at Arrest of Huawei CFO in Canada After U.S. Request

      News of Meng’s arrest provoked strong protest from the Chinese embassy in Canada, which called it a violation of its citizens’ rights while demanding the U.S. and its neighbor “rectify wrongdoings” and free Meng. Her arrest is sure to heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing days after the world’s two largest economies agreed on a truce in their growing trade conflict. Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei, a former army engineer, has won acclaim at home for toppling Apple Inc. in smartphones and turning an electronics reseller into a producer of networking gear with revenue surpassing Boeing Co. He’s regularly named among China’s top executives, and was among 100 business leaders honored for their contributions as the country celebrates the 40th anniversary of opening its economy. His stature at home is roughly comparable to Bill Gates or Michael Dell in the U.S.

    • Huawei CFO arrested in Canada as US seeks extradition

      Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver on Saturday, it emerged on Wednesday night. American prosecutors are seeking to have her moved to the US as it investigates whether the company broke trade sanctions against Iran.

    • Man Shot By Cops Claims Shotspotter Found Phantom ‘Gunshot’ To Justify Officer’s Deadly Force

      A lawsuit originally filed early last year makes some very disturbing allegations about police officers and their relationship with their vendors. New York resident Silvon Simmons was shot three times by Rochester Police Officer Joseph Ferrigno. Simmons was unarmed, but was hit with three of the four bullets fired by Ferrigno as he ran way from the officer.

      Shortly before being shot. Simmons had been engaged in “Minding Your Own Business,” which can apparently be nearly-fatal. Returning from a trip to a convenience store shortly after 9 pm, Officer Ferrigno cut in front of him, hit Simmons with his spotlight, exited his car with his gun drawn, and opened fire when Simmons began running. According to Simmons’ amendment complaint [PDF] filed in August, Ferrigno never stated he was police officer before opening fire. Simmons, blinded by the spotlight, was unsure who was shooting at him. Even if he had known it was cop, he still would have had no idea why he was being stopped, much less shot at.

    • The Tragic Death of Byron Jacobs, Hero of the EGT Longshore Struggle

      Byron Jacobs, a fifth-generation longshoreman, was killed on the job in the Columbia River port of Longview, Washington this summer. At the age of 34, Byron was a courageous young union leader and former secretary-treasurer of Local 21 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Some 200 people came to a vigil in his memory on the docks, and more than 500 attended a memorial service on July 6. Byron Jacobs will be remembered with admiration for the exemplary leading role he played in the monumental struggle in 2011-12 against union-busting at the Export Grain Terminal (EGT) facility being built in Longview. That battle reverberated across the country as longshore workers, men and women, fought tooth and nail with mass actions in a class war like those in the 1930s that built the union movement.

    • Local Oregon Officials and Community Members Weigh in on Repeated Attacks After Pleading Insanity

      Malheur County, Oregon was stunned by terrible violence in recent years. In 2016 a man named Anthony Montwheeler was released from the state hospital, nearly two decades after being found “guilty except for insanity” for kidnapping his ex-wife and child. The Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB) accepted his claim that he had faked his mental illness and therefore could no longer be held in state custody. Less than a month after his release, prosecutors allege, Montwheeler murdered his ex-wife and killed a motorist in a car crash. A judge ruled he was not competent to stand trial for these new charges and ordered him returned to the state hospital for treatment.

      [...]

      At the forum, Enterprise reporter Jayme Fraser presented her findings on some of the ways that these issues intersect to concerned community members and local officials, including Ontario Mayor Ron Verini, Ontario Mayor-Elect Riley Hill, Ontario City Councilors Dan Capron and Norm Crume, Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe and Ontario Police Chief Cal Kunz. Fraser and Zaitz also took questions and listened to ideas for ways to potentially reform the system to better protect public safety while also protecting the rights of people with mental illness.

    • Re-education Camps, Infiltration, Surveillance: China Criticized over Persecution of Uyghur Muslims

      The United Nations and human rights groups have accused China’s government of setting up massive anti-Muslim “re-education” camps in the northwest Xinjiang province to disappear, jail and brainwash Uyghur Muslims. Some estimates put the population in the camps at up to 2 million. After months of denials, China acknowledged their existence in October, saying they are part of efforts to counter extremism. But Uyghurs say it’s a form of collective punishment — and that they live under a high-tech surveillance state designed to eradicate Islam. We speak to Rushan Abbas, a Uyghur-American activist based in Washington, DC. After she spoke out against China’s repression of the Uyghurs earlier this year, her aunt and sister disappeared and have not been heard from since.

    • “The Silence of Others”: New Film Warns Against Spain’s Fascist History Repeating Itself

      A far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion political party in Spain has made gains in regional elections, prompting protests in the streets. Members of Spain’s younger generation are too young to remember the brutal 40-year military dictatorship under General Francisco Franco. But a remarkable new documentary titled “The Silence of Others,” or “El Silencio de Otros,” hopes to remind Spaniards of the country’s fascist past, lest history repeat itself. The film follows several survivors of the Franco regime in their pursuit of justice. We speak with Spanish filmmaker Almudena Carracedo, who, along with Robert Bahar, wrote, produced and directed “The Silence of Others.”

    • Border Agent Indicted for Murder in 4 Texas Deaths

      A U.S. Border Patrol agent who confessed to killing four sex workers told investigators he wanted to “clean up the streets” of his Texas border hometown, a prosecutor said Wednesday while announcing that a grand jury had indicted the man for capital murder.

      Webb County District Attorney Isidro Alaniz said he will seek the death penalty for the September slayings and that evidence presented to the grand jury showed Juan David Ortiz killed the women “in a cold, callous and calculating way.”

      “The scheme in this case, from Ortiz’s own words, was to clean up the streets of Laredo by targeting this community of individuals who he perceived to be disposable, that no one would miss and that he did not give value to,” Alaniz said at a news conference.

    • 81 Migrant Children Separated From Parents Since June

      The Trump administration separated 81 migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since the June executive order that stopped the general practice amid a crackdown on illegal crossings, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

      Despite the order and a federal judge’s later ruling, immigration officials are allowed to separate a child from a parent in certain cases — serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns. Those caveats were in place before the zero-tolerance policy that prompted the earlier separations at the border.

      The government decides whether a child fits into the areas of concern, worrying advocates of the families and immigrant rights groups that are afraid parents are being falsely labeled as criminals.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Telecom’s Top Lobbying Arm Oddly Keeps Undermining The Industry’s Own Claims About Net Neutrality

      The telecom industry (and by proxy Ajit Pai’s) primary justification for killing net neutrality — and FCC authority over ISPs in general — was that sector oversight was stunting network investment. Of course repeated analysis of the data shows that simply isn’t true, but that hasn’t stopped telecom lobbyists and the lawmakers who love them from repeating those claims in the hopes that repetition forges reality.

      And while telecom lobbying organizations like US Telecom continue to cling tight to this false narrative, the “science” they’ve been shoveling out in recent months to try and “prove” these claims leaves a little something to be desired.

      [...]

      As we’ve been noting, said “investment-friendly environment” includes effectively neutering the FCC’s ability to police bad behavior in telecom, then shoveling all remaining responsibility to an FTC that lacks the authority, willpower, or desire to actually police giant ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast (the entire point). Said “investment-friendly environment” also currently involves trying to ban states from protecting broadband consumers from false advertising and fraud.

      Granted, nobody actually reads reports by groups like US Telecom outside of a few execs, consumer groups, and beat reporters, but the “science” they shovel forth does often tend to cement itself into the base layers of more policy conversations than you’d prefer. Still, after the last few months of exceptionally flawed efforts at “science,” perhaps US Telecom should spend less time accidentally emailing us their talking points, and more time pursuing something vaguely resembling intellectual consistency.

    • Ajit Pai buries 2-year-old speed test data in appendix of 762-page report

      Pai’s office ignored questions from Ars about the lack of new data, and his commission never provided documents in response to a public records request we made in August. But now, the FCC has released a draft of two Measuring Broadband America reports, one for 2017 and one for 2018.

      Instead of releasing each annual report individually once per year as the Obama administration did, Pai stuck the 2017 and 2018 reports into the final appendices of a new “Communications Marketplace Report” that essentially consolidates a bunch of reports that were formerly released individually. You can find the 2017 Measuring Broadband America report in Appendix F-1 on page 349 and the 2018 report in Appendix F-2 on page 463.

    • SoftBank Resumes Services after Shutting Down for Five Hours in Japan; O2 Continues to Face Problems Across UK

      United Kingdom and Japan both today suffered massive mobile network outages which left millions of users in the countries without smartphone coverage. Financial Times has reported that O2 network was hit by closure at 5AM local time. At the same time, Japan’s SoftBank also began experiencing problems. Both networks have a large following in the regions with O2 having 32 million users in UK and SoftBank over 30 million subscribers. The network outages are being attributed to issues with Ericsson equipment.

      FT report regarding this outage is based on two sources that have know-how of the situation. According to these sources, it is the equipment from the Swedish manufacturer that has caused the notorious outages. However, this claim has yet to be confirmed from O2, SoftBank and Ericsson. O2 released a statement in which it has only talked about a ‘global software issue’ with one of its international suppliers that is to be blamed for this huge outage. SoftBank on the other hand simply said that it was ‘examining the cause’ of the problem.

    • The TV Sector’s Latest Bad Idea: Ads That Play When You Press Pause

      While that might be true, it’s worth noting that AT&T’s not trialing this technology on its streaming platforms (like DirecTV Now), it’s implementing it on its traditional IPTV and satellite TV services, which usually cost consumers (on average) upwards of $100+ per month. Forcing additional advertising on customers already annoyed by high prices isn’t the path to winning back frustrated customers. Meanwhile, AT&T has no problem raising subscription rates on streaming anyway; the company just got done implementing a streaming price hike before the ink on its last merger was even dry, and is already hinting at another round of hikes.

      When you face real competition (something that’s a little alien to AT&T), you don’t get to choose when you compete on price and features. That’s why some wings of the cable and broadcast sector have finally started actually lowering the ad load in a bid to keep people from switching to streaming alternatives to heading to piracy. And while it’s true the sector needs to innovate around advertising, hitting already frustrated users with even more ads (when they’re probably not even in the room) doesn’t seem like the best path forward.

  • Repair

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Cubs, Nationals Launch Another Trademark Opposition Over A ‘W’ Logo

        Back in 2015, we wrote about a really dumb trademark dispute between a financial services firm and two Major League Baseball teams, the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, over the letter “W.” This insanity went on for years, with the MLB teams claiming there would be some sort of customer confusion in the public between professional baseball teams and a company that provided money management.

        Well, in case you thought that this was insanity of the one-off variety, both baseball clubs are back at it with an opposition for the trademark of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, whose logo is, you guessed it, a “W.”

    • Copyrights

      • Nintendo Attempts To Bottle The Leak Genie With Copyright Strikes

        A cursory review of our posts on Nintendo will reveal a company all too willing to wield intellectual property purely as a way to combat anything it doesn’t like. The gaming giant jealously protects its IP, sure, but it also deploys its lawyers for such purposes as scaring the shit out of ROM sites, silencing YouTubers, shutting down fan-games from its biggest fans, and holding its consoles hostage unless customers agree to updated EULAs. Outside of Nintendo, many groups have tried to use copyright laws and the DMCA to combat leaks about content, or the content itself. This is rarely a good idea, what with the opportunity to use such leaks as free promotional material being an option instead.

        Well, as you may have heard, Nintendo suffered its own high-profile leak recently, with the forthcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate finding its way onto the internet before the game has even been released. As you would expect, Nintendo got its lawyers busy firing off DMCA notices for all kinds of sites that were hosting the actual game that leaked. It also, however, decided to issue copyright strikes on YouTubers who showed any of the games content.

      • Banksy’s Own Video Shredded By YouTube Following Canal+ Copyright Claim (Update)

        While Banksy prefers to operate in the shadows, he does have a YouTube account where he uploads some background info. This is what he did after a stunt at Sotheby’s in October. Today, this video has disappeared. Assuming that it’s not another ‘prank,’ the French media outfit Canal+ is responsible.

      • Kim Dotcom Extradition Battle May Have Years to Run

        Despite fighting legal battles in both the United States and New Zealand, Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues have a long road ahead of them. Speaking in the Wellington Supreme Court today, lawyer for the US David Boldt indicated that the extradition battle may only be “at half-time”.

      • Join us for A Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain

        The public domain is our shared cultural heritage, a near limitless trove of creativity that’s been reused, remixed, and reimagined over centuries to create new works of art and science. The public domain forms the building blocks of culture because these works are not restricted by copyright law. Generally, works come into the public domain when their copyright term expires. But U.S. copyright law has greatly expanded over time, so that now many works don’t enter the public domain for a hundred years or more. Ever since the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, no new works have entered the public domain (well, none due to copyright expiration). But for the first time this January, hundreds of books, films, visual art, sheet music, and plays published in 1923 will be free of intellectual property [sic] restrictions, and anyone can use them for any purpose at all.

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