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12.11.18

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

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Best Lightweight Linux Distros for Older Computers

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

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

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

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

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

    • Peter Hutterer: Understanding HID report descriptors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Server

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

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

    • Open Source’s Evolution in Cloud-Native DevOps

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

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

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

    • Red Hat Satellite 6.4.1 is now generally available

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

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

    • How AWS Lambda Serverless Works

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

    • How Google Is Improving Kubernetes Container Security

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • VMware Climbs on the Istio Train for Kubernetes Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Going Linux #358 · Listener Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

    • 57: What is Data Science? – Vicki Boykis

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

  • Kernel Space

    • Adiantum File-System Encryption Support Ready For Linux 4.21

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

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

    • Linux Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Celebrating K8s crates inflation rate, Linux mates congregate

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

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

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

      • Introducing the Interactive Deep Learning Landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • How CNCF Is Growing the Cloud Landscape at KubeCon

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

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

        [...]

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

    • Graphics Stack

      • V3D Compute, VC4 display, PM

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

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

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

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

      • AMD Files Trademark For Vega II

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

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

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

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

    • Benchmarks

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

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

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

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE4 and Qt4 deprecation in FreeBSD

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

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

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Devs Experiment with a Refreshed GTK & Icon Theme

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

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

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

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family

      • The PCLinuxOS Magazine Graphics Special Edition, Volume 1

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

    • Arch Family

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

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

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

    • Slackware Family

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

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

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 29 Release Party Novi Sad

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

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

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

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

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

      • Derivatives

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

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

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

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

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

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

          • Ubuntu burrows deeper into Kubernetes clouds

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

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

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 556
          • Canonical makes Kubernetes moves

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

          • Canonical announces support for Kubernetes 1.13 on Ubuntu

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

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

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

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

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

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

  • Nvidia Open Sources Physics Engine

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

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

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

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

  • Companies behind on digital transformation get ahead with open leaders

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

  • DAV1D v0.1 AV1 Video Decoder Released

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

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

  • PikcioChain plans for open-source MainNet in roadmap update

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

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

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

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

  • Will Concerns Break Open Source Containers?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Events

    • Red Hat KubeCon Seattle 2018 Events & Demos

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

    • Future Session #10 Open Innovation & Open Design

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

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

      Introduction to Technological Trends

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

    • 40 top Linux and open source conferences in 2019

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

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

  • Web Browsers

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

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

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

    • Chrome

      • Microsoft vs the web

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Latest Firefox Release Available Today

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

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

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

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

      • Firefox 64.0 Released with Enhanced Tab Management

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

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

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

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

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 9 Guts Out The PowerPC SPE Support

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

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

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

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

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

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

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Western Digital Takes A RISC

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

      • The Year 2018 in Open Hardware

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Accelerating 3-D printing

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

  • Programming/Development

    • Python Community Interview With Brian Peterson

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

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

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

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

    • Nick Cameron: Rust in 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • QtCreator CMake for Android plugin

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

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

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

    • Announcing Rust 1.31 and Rust 2018

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

    • A call for Rust 2019 Roadmap blog posts

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

    • Processing CloudEvents with Eclipse Vert.x

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

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

Leftovers

  • Egypt investigates ‘pyramid nude photo shoot’

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

  • Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • How a telescope forum feud ended with prison time

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

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

    • 5 Ways Your Phone Is Secretly Destroying Your Life

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

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

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Just pee in a cup for bladder cancer detection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Under Trump, More People Live Without Health Coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Security

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

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

    • Linux 4.21 Will Better Protect Against Malicious Thunderbolt Devices

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

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

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

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

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

    • Expediting changes to Google+

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

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

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

    • Google+ closure brought forward after more data leaks

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

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

      Google+ has suffered another data leak, and Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of the social network four months earlier than it originally planned. Google+ will now close to consumers in April, rather than August. Additionally, API access to the network will shut down within the next 90 days.

      According to Google, the new vulnerability impacted 52.5 million users, who could have had profile information like their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to developers, even if their account was set to private. Apps could also access profile data that had been shared with a specific user, but was not shared publicly.

    • What’s the most secure operating system?

      Linux has a family of different free versions (known as distributions, or distros) to choose from, based on users’ computer skills. If you’re just getting started, check out Mint or Ubuntu. And because Linux is open-source, users can make copies of modified systems and give them away to friends in need.

    • Choose the Right VPN for Linux in 2019
    • Cryptomining campaign pulls new ‘Linux Rabbit’ malware out of its black hat [Ed: No, it's not ‘Linux Rabbit’ but ‘Weak Password Rabbit’; calling it Linux is rather misleading, distracts from the real problem.]
    • Linux malware: is it so hard to get it right? [Ed: Recognising Catalin Cimpaun for what he really is (and has always been): a clickbaiting troll. For CBS to employ him for ZDNet says a lot about the agenda.]

      Once again, so-called security researchers and tech writers have combined to provide misinformation about trojanised SSH scripts which can be run on a Linux server after said server is compromised through a brute-force attack and root status attained. And they call it Linux malware!
      Security firm ESET and ZDNet writer Catalin Cimpanu have both got it wrong in the past — the latter on numerous occasions as he simply does not seem to understand anything about the Linux security model — but both continue to persist in trying to pursue the topic. ESET has gone in the wrong direction on torrent files and clients too.

      Arguably, there is reason to do so: Linux and malware in the same headline do still serve as some kind of clickbait.

      [...]

      Cimpanu was more descriptive, but again made the same fundamental mistake. Malware can be created for any operating system, but the crucial question is how do you get it onto that system?

      [...]

      Cimpanu’s former employer, Bleeping Computer, was also prone to screw-ups of this nature. Here is the editor of Bleeping Computer, Lawrence Abrams, expounding on ransomware targeting Linux servers.

      But then Bleeping Computer is a relatively small operation. One would have thought that ZDNet, which has tons of resources, would have a little more editorial quality control.

    • Open Source Risk Continues to Challenge Organizations’ Software Security [Ed: Veracode reminds us that it’s nothing more but a propaganda campaign against FOSS, looking to make money in the process (pushing proprietary ‘solutions’). There’s also a Microsoft connection.]
    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Ransomware still dominates the global threat landscape

      Ransomware attacks continues as the main world’s main security threat and the most profitable form of malware, but a new global report indicates that despite “copious” numbers of infections daily there’s emerging signs the threat is no longer growing.

    • Someone messed with Linux.org’s DNS to deface the website’s homepage [Ed: That's not "deface"' but more like redirect and it's not the site's DNS system but something upstream, another company that's at fault]

      SO IMAGINE YOU REALLY LOVE OPEN SOURCE; you’ve poured yourself a glass of claret from a wine box and have settled into a night of perusing Linux.org. You feel a tingle of excitement as you type in the URL – you’re old skool – but that sours to despair as you see a defaced website greet your eyes.

      Yep, it looks like someone managed to get into the Linux.org website’s domain name service (DNS) settings and point the domain to another server that served up a defaced webpage, which depending on when you may have accessed it, greeted visitors with racial slurs, an obscene picture and a protest against the revised Linux kernel developer code of conduct.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Dave Lindorff Explores the Pentagon’s Financial Mysteries

      Long-time investigative reporter Dave Lindorff explores the Pentagon’s financial mysteries, including massive unaccounted-for spending and decades of non-compliance with audit law.

    • This Is What It Looks Like When Imperialism Comes Home

      You have to hand it to him—the man has a way with words and he sure knows how to fire up his base. Early in November, President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters in Montana, and he gushed with pride about his recent deployment of active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. The commander in chief bragged about the job his troops were doing in fending off the “invasion”—that isn’t an invasion at all, of course—from a “caravan” of asylum-seeking Central American migrants who were, at the time, 700 miles away. Regarding recent footage of those troops working on the border, he casually said he “noticed all that beautiful barbed wire going up today. Barbed wire, used properly, can be a beautiful sight.” Beauty, as they say, is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

      Now, at least for the next two months, Mr. Trump remains this soldier’s commander in chief, so I won’t remark on him or his general personality. Still, I was more than a little troubled by this astounding comment. It’s not just that these migrants are empirically not an invading force, generally not “armed,” and certainly not infused with “unknown Middle Easterners” (read: terrorists). And it’s not just that the United States is itself at least partially to blame for the refugee crisis infecting Central America. Nor is it that the sight of tear gas fired at women and children—in scenes reminiscent of the Gaza Strip—is more than a little distressing.

    • Border Patrol Arrests 32 at San Diego Demonstration

      U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers.

      A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.

    • Vladimir Putin Outmaneuvers the U.S. Yet Again

      Don’t look now, but Vladimir Putin has racked up another win in his latest skirmish with the west.

      The victory took place Nov. 25 in the Kerch Strait, the narrow strip of water separating the disputed Crimean Peninsula from the Russian mainland to the east. It occurred when the Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels. As always, the details are in dispute, with the Ukrainians claiming that their boats informed the Russians about their plans to navigate the strait but received no reply and Russia saying the opposite.

      But there’s no doubt as to the result. By briefly closing the strait, Russia has demonstrated that it can restrict access at will to roughly half the Ukrainian coastline that lies within the Sea of Azov, including the economically vital ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk. Although Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko immediately called for Western intervention, it also demonstrated that there is little NATO can do in response.

      While expressing “full support” for Ukraine, the alliance said nothing about Poroshenko’s request that NATO ships force their way through the Kerch Strait in defiance of the blockade. The same goes for Ukraine’s call to Turkey to close off Russian naval access to the Dardanelles, the equally narrow body of water connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s only response was an offer to mediate.

    • The ADA Is Not Bush Sr.’s Legacy. It Belongs to Disability Activists.

      On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Introduced into the United States Congress in 1988, the ADA is widely recognized and commemorated by disabled people as landmark civil rights legislation and as the culmination of decades of grassroots organizing by disabled people and their allies.

      Together, the titles that comprise the ADA are designed to provide equal access to persons with disabilities and to bar discrimination against us in all areas of public life. While not a panacea for the oppression of all disabled people in the United States, the ADA has, for example, transformed many built environments in essential ways that make community living for disabled people more possible. Although often unrecognized, these modifications — such as curb cuts, ramps, closed captioning and audio-visual announcements on transit — benefit non-disabled people as well.

      The death of the former president on World AIDS Day 2018 has inspired a flurry of hagiographies, some penned by disability rights advocates, that feature the passage of the ADA as a prominent part of Bush’s legacy as a “kinder, gentler” leader. These reconfigurations of history, in which Bush is imagined as the engine of the disability rights movement, cast a long shadow on the struggle of disabled people and imperil disabled peoples’ activist movements today.

    • War Over Ukraine?

      Who wants to go to war against Russia in defense of Ukraine over the Kerch Strait, which lies between the Black and Azov seas and between Russia’s Taman Peninsula and Russian-annexed Crimea?

      [...]

      True, in a week or two, we noninterventionists may look as though we overreacted to the Kerch Strait “crisis.” But who knows? Why take a chance? War would be a catastrophe, maybe the biggest the world has ever seen. I’d rather overreact now than regret not having said anything later.

      The U.S. government has no businesses policing relations between Ukraine and Russia. Even if that role were appropriate for some party, the U.S. government would not be the one because it hardly has clean hands in the matter. Since the 1990s after the peaceful fall of the Soviet Union, Democratic and Republican presidents have threatened Russia by moving the anti-Soviet NATO alliance — which at the latest, should have ended with the fall — right up to Russia’s border, contrary to late President George H. W. Bush’s assurances, by incorporating former Soviet allies and republics.

    • AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?

      Amid the George HW Bush imperial death-orgy, the endless saga of Midtown Mussolini’s daily news cycle, the seemingly unprecedented political upsurge in France, and countless other show-stopping news stories, you likely missed three very sad, yet revealing, incidents out of the Sahel region of West-Central Africa.

      First, on November 18th, a massive offensive against a Nigerian military base by a faction of the Boko Haram terror group known as the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) killed upwards of 100 soldiers. The surprise attack came at a time when Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who famously (and repeatedly) has declared victory against Boko Haram and terrorism, has faced a crisis of legitimacy, falling approval ratings, and an impending election in early 2019.

      Just days later, on November 22nd, while most Americans were gathering with family and eating turkey on Thanksgiving, a contingent of about 50 armed militants kidnapped at least 15 girls in Niger, just outside a town in the Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria. While Boko Haram did not officially claim responsibility, many have attributed the action to the terror group, or one of its factions, given their propensity to use kidnappings for propaganda and fundraising.

      And on the very same day, also in Diffa near the Niger-Nigeria border, suspected Boko Haram militants killed seven employees of Foraco, a French well drilling and mining company.

      This spate of deadly, and rather brazen, attacks on civilians along the Niger-Nigeria border paints a troubling picture of the continued instability of the region, and give the lie to the idea that counter-terrorism operations, ongoing for a number of years now, have put Boko Haram and other terror groups on the back foot.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • The Guardian’s WikiLeaks ‘expose’ only revealed its own incompetence

      Does The Guardian’s latest “expose” on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — currently falling apart in real time — represent its greatest fail yet, in its long and tempestuous history with the Prisoner of Knightsbridge?

      Last week, the paper claimed that Assange had held secret meetings with Trump associate Paul Manafort all the way back in 2012. These deep background stories were soon discredited by embassy security officials of the time.

    • James Goodale, ’58: Former General Counsel of the New York Times and Famous First Amendment Lawyer on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

      It’s not a stretch to say that few people are disliked more within media circles than WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Yet with the news that Trump’s Justice Department has filed secret charges against him, the rights of many journalists who despise Assange may also hang in the balance.

      It’s still unclear what charges the Justice Department is bringing against Assange, who has lived under diplomatic protection in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years. But if the secret charges implicate any of WikiLeaks’ publishing activities, it could ironically be just the precedent the Trump administration needs to directly go after journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post.

      With that in mind, I recently spoke to James Goodale — the famed First Amendment lawyer and former general counsel the New York Times, who led the paper’s legal team in the famed Pentagon Papers case — about the dire impact the Justice Department’s move may have on press freedom, regardless of whether people consider Assange himself a “journalist.”

    • Assange now “insecure”

      According to the British government, they would never extradite a person to a country where his life is at risk. “He will spend a few months in jail, after that, freedom,” Moreno said. Assange faces a British arrest warrant over violating bail conditions by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012, but Sweden, which originally sought to question him on sexual abuse allegations, has said it is no longer seeking to extradite him.

    • Truth and Free Speech Are Being Taken Away From Us

      The attack on Julian Assange is the arrow aimed at the heart of the ability to publish the truth.

    • Major players in Trump-Russia drama seek to dismiss DNC suit alleging international conspiracy

      A group of defendants — including the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and a member of President Donald Trump’s family — unleashed a wave of court filings late last week, a deluge of documents totaling more than 150 pages. It amounts to the most comprehensive legal defense yet presented in the Russia probe, seeking to have the Democrats’ case thrown out.

    • Trump Campaign, WikiLeaks Seek To Kill DNC Hacking Suit
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • By Accident of Fate: The Fires in Paradise

      I breathe dead people. The words ran unfettered across the chalkboard of my mind as I drove the curves of Oregon Route 66 back down into Ashland. It had taken nearly a week for the haze to blow north into our valley from the horrific and devastating Camp Fire that was burning three hours south.

      We experienced days and weeks of smoke in our valley this past summer so thick you couldn’t see the street signs. The haze I saw below wasn’t nearly as bad, but I was surprised how I hadn’t really noticed it until I got up out of it for the day. Sort of how it’s not as easy to see the forest when stuck in the trees.

      I chastised myself for the morbid words that flickered unbidden through my brain as I drove. But then I considered the possible truth of them. What are we actually breathing when so much goes up in flames?

    • The Dream of Capturing Coal’s Carbon Emissions Is Dead. Someone Should Tell Trump.

      This week, a Trump official at the U.S. government’s pro-fossil fuel event at the United Nations climate talks made clear that the idea of burying carbon emissions from coal plants is still alive.

      Wells Griffith, an advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), said at the event: “For the U.S. energy policy, it’s not about keeping [fossil fuels] in the ground but about using them cleanly.”

      Griffith added: “Alarmism should not silence realism. This is a forum for fact science-based discussions on climate realities.”

      His conclusions make for great talking points, but they’re far from reality. After more than a decade of failed demonstration projects, a recently rescinded $1.1 billion DOE research program, and the Trump administration’s move to roll back requirements that all new coal plants have “carbon capture and storage” (CCS) capabilities, the promise of so-called “clean coal” technology is dead.

    • As Uprising Spreads Across Globe, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky Among Signers of Open Letter Backing Extinction Rebellion

      After starting in the United Kingdom just months ago with a mere 10 members dedicated to pressuring their elected officials to urgently confront the climate crisis, the Extinction Rebellion has quickly ballooned into a global movement spanning an estimated 35 countries—a testament to the growing disaffection with the deadly climate status quo and hunger for transformative change among the world’s population.

      “In the two months since our first action, we have expanded more than we imagined,” Liam Geary Baulch, a U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion activist, told The Guardian. “We are now planning to change our structure so it can accommodate up to two million people.”

      In a sign of the movement’s rapid spread beyond the streets of London, Extinction Rebellion banners have been seen over the past several days at rallies in Katowice, Poland, the site of the ongoing COP24 climate conference. According to the movement’s principal organizers, the goal is to build up to a massive international day of action next April.

    • As Trump Pushes Planetary Destruction at COP24, Investors Holding $32 Trillion Demand Bold Climate Action

      As a new report reveals (pdf) that asset management behemoth BlackRock is continuing to finance “the destruction of our planet”—and the Trump administration pushes that path at the United Nations climate talks—hundreds of global investors holding $32 trillion in assets called for world leaders to commit to greater action to address the climate crisis.

      “The global shift to clean energy is underway, but much more needs to be done by governments to accelerate the low carbon transition and to improve the resilience of our economy, society, and the financial system to climate risks,” a statement signed by 415 investors declared Monday as the COP24 climate summit was underway.

      The signers, including HSBC Global Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller, and Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System, warned of the potentially catastrophic “ambition gap” between the Paris climate accord goal of limiting warming to below 2˚ Celsius and what countries have committed to doing.

    • As Demand for Urgent Transformation Intensifies, New Study Shows Hotter Planet Making Extreme Weather Deadlier

      Titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective” and published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), the series of new studies identify a total of 15 weather events that took place throughout the world last year that were made significantly more likely by the human-caused climate crisis, such as deadly heatwaves in China and catastrophic flooding from Uruguay to Bangladesh.

      “A warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year,” BAMS editor-in-chief Jeff Rosenfeld said in a statement. “The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate.”

    • ‘We Gonna Rise Up, Rise Up ‘Til It’s Won!’: 140+ Arrested at Pelosi and Hoyer Offices as Youth-Led Protests Demand Green New Deal on Capitol Hill

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      “When the people rise up, the powers come back. They tried to stop us but we keep coming back,” sang the protesters as they occupied Pelosi’s office.

    • “Our Leaders Are Behaving Like Children”: Teen Climate Activist Confronts World Leaders at U.N. Summit

      Democracy Now! is broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Katowice, Poland, this week, where world leaders gathered to negotiate climate solutions were confronted last week by a teenage climate activist who says they are not doing enough to turn back the clock and prevent catastrophic climate change. Fifteen-year-old Greta Thunberg stunned the world last week when she denounced world leaders for inaction and told them: “change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge. And since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” She has made international headlines since launching a school strike against climate change in her home country of Sweden earlier this year. Every Friday, she protests outside the parliament building in Stockholm instead of attending school, and her actions have inspired thousands of students across the globe to do the same. Before we speak with Thunberg in person, we play an excerpt of her speech that went viral. “I like school, and I like learning,” said Greta, who plans to end her strike when Sweden starts cutting carbon emissions by 15 percent a year. “But why should we be studying for a future that soon may be no more? This is more important than school, I think.”

    • Climate Activists Arrested en Masse at Offices of Top Democrats

      Before presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even appeared at her office to hear from young Americans who had traveled from all over the country to urge her to back a Green New Deal, Capitol police arrived Monday and arrested more than 60 of the protesters. As of this writing, at least 143 demonstrators had been arrested as they lobbied in 50 congressional offices.

      More than 1,000 young people and allies flooded the Capitol Hill hallways and offices of Democratic representatives to demand that elected officials listen to their youngest constituents—as well as some of the world’s top scientists—and back the bold proposal to shift the U.S. to a zero-carbon energy system by 2050 in order to save the planet from an irreversible climate catastrophe. Thanks to efforts spearheaded by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, the number of Democratic lawmakers now supporting a Select Committee on a Green New deal has now swelled to 23.

      [...]

      Many also wore T-shirts emblazoned with the following message: “We have a right to good jobs and a livable future,” two key components of the Green New Deal, which would create 10 million jobs in the first decade by putting Americans to work building a green energy infrastructure that would be sustainable for decades and centuries to come—unlike the current coal-, oil-, and gas-reliant system which scientists say will push the warming of the planet past the point of return unless carbon emissions hit net-zero by 2050.

      The halls erupted in cheers when Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the incoming chair of the House Rules Committee, told the group that he would join 22 of his colleagues in backing the creation of a House Select Committee with a mandate to pass a Green New Deal.

    • ‘An Indication of What’s Coming’: Melting at North and South Poles Worse Than Previously Thought

      “The Arctic is an indication of what’s coming to the rest of the globe,” noted Walt Meier, a sea ice expert at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And while the timeline is uncertain, the region appears on-track to experience an ice-free summer.

      “In the Arctic Ocean, a difference of 2 degrees can be huge. If it goes from 31 Fahrenheit to 33 Fahrenheit, you’re going from ice skating to swimming,” Meier told the Post. “Looking down from the North Pole from above, for all intents and purposes, you’re going to see a blue Arctic Ocean.”

      If ice-free summers become the Arctic’s new normal, it would be an “unmitigated disaster,” concluded Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Such conditions, he warned, could add another half-degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) to the already-alarming rates of global temperature rise.

    • Climate Scientist: World’s Richest Must Radically Change Lifestyles to Prevent Global Catastrophe

      The 24th United Nations climate summit comes amid growing warnings about the catastrophic danger climate change poses to the world. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that humanity has only a dozen years to mitigate climate change or face global catastrophe—with severe droughts, floods, sea level rise and extreme heat set to cause mass displacement and poverty. But on Saturday, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait blocked language “welcoming” the landmark IPCC climate report. New studies show global carbon emissions may have risen as much 3.7 percent in 2018, marking the second annual increase in a row. A recent report likened the rising emissions to a “speeding freight train.” We speak with Kevin Anderson, professor in climate change leadership at Uppsala University’s Centre for Environment and Development Studies, and 15-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg about the drastic action needed to fight climate change and the impact of President Trump on climate change activism.

    • Biological Annihilation

      been paying attention to what’s happening to the nonhuman life forms with which we share this planet, you’ve likely heard the term “the Sixth Extinction.” If not, look it up. After all, a superb environmental reporter, Elizabeth Kolbert, has already gotten a Pulitzer Prize for writing a book with that title.

      Whether the sixth mass species extinction of Earth’s history is already (or not quite yet) underway may still be debatable, but it’s clear enough that something’s going on, something that may prove even more devastating than a mass of species extinctions: the full-scale winnowing of vast populations of the planet’s invertebrates, vertebrates, and plants. Think of it, to introduce an even broader term, as a wave of “biological annihilation” that includes possible species extinctions on a mass scale, but also massive species die-offs and various kinds of massacres.

      Someday, such a planetary winnowing may prove to be the most tragic of all the grim stories of human history now playing out on this planet, even if to date it’s gotten far less attention than the dangers of climate change. In the end, it may prove more difficult to mitigate than global warming. Decarbonizing the global economy, however hard, won’t be harder or more improbable than the kind of wholesale restructuring of modern life and institutions that would prevent species annihilation from continuing.

      With that in mind, come along with me on a topsy-turvy journey through the animal and plant kingdoms to learn a bit more about the most consequential global challenge of our time.

    • The Arctic Just Had Its Hottest Five Years on Record, and It’s Only Getting Worse: Report

      Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their Arctic Report Card this week, with the equivalent of failing grades for a critical marker of environmental health.

      The oldest and thickest ice in the region has declined by 95 percent, meaning, as The Washington Post reported Monday, that “the sea at the top of the world has already morphed into a new and very different state, with major implications not only for creatures such as walruses and polar bears but, in the long term, perhaps for the pace of global warming itself.”

      The age of the ice is directly related to its ability to protect the earth. “The younger the ice, the thinner the ice, the easier it is to go away,” Don Perovich, a scientist at Dartmouth who coordinated the sea ice section of the yearly report, told the Post. The thinner, younger ice may be able to regrow more easily, but as the Post notes, that’s not helpful for climate change: “It may not add much stability or permanence to the Arctic sea ice system if it just melts out again the next summer.”

  • Finance

    • Crypto Diehards Say Slump Is `Bump in the Road’ Before Growth
    • Crypto Market Crash Leaving Bankrupt Startups in its Wake

      Many of the companies are suffering because they kept a portion of their funds in digital assets, whether in tokens they sold through initial coin offerings or in Bitcoin and Ether, which served as the preferred means of exchange in the crypto world. As prices collapsed this year by more than 90 percent in some cases, and their so-called digital wallets thinned out, many developers found they couldn’t raise additional funding.

    • Jeff Bezos Earns [sic] More In 30 Seconds Than The Average Worker Makes In A Year

      Helped by the asset-friendly policies of the world’s largest central banks, the wealthiest 1% of the world now owns nearly half the wealth. The 54 billionaires living in the 54 UK alone have an aggregate $160 billion in wealth, equivalent to over 6% of Britain’s GDP. Meanwhile, the average worker earns about $37,000 a year. Virgin CEO Richard Branson earns that amount in roughly 25 minutes.

    • Uber Is Headed for a Crash

      By steamrolling local taxi operations in cities all over the world and cultivating cheerleaders in the business press and among Silicon Valley libertarians, Uber has managed to create an image of inevitability and invincibility. But the company just posted another quarter of jaw-dropping losses — this time over $1 billion, after $4.5 billion of losses in 2017. How much is hype and how much is real?

      [...]

      If Uber were to drive all competitors out of business in a local market and then jack up prices, customers would cut back on use. But more important, since barriers to entry in the taxi business are low, and Uber lowered them further by breaking local regulations, new players would come in under Uber’s new price umbrella. So Uber would have to drop its prices to meet those of these entrants or lose business.

    • Inequality at the Center of Chicago Charter School Strikes

      Chicago teachers are making history again. Educators at Acero Schools have just reached a tentative deal with their employer after staging the first charter school strike in the nation. After nearly a week of walkouts, the teachers will return to the classroom after the charter network agreed to raises, smaller class sizes, and protections for undocumented students.

      The more than 500 educators who walked out last week are members of a charter division of the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, which staged a hugely influential strike in 2012 that hit a national nerve. And, like with the 2012 strike, a whole host of inequality-related issues were brought front and center by the walkout, from school closings to executive pay and immigration.

      Most of the teachers’ demands centered on improving learning conditions in the classroom. Reductions in the 32-student class size, increased special education funding, and more time for lesson planning were just a few of the issues at play. Educators were also pushing for raises — a CTU statement said that Acero was spending $1 million less in program salary costs in 2018 than it did in the previous year.

    • Brexit Deal in Turmoil as May Postpones Parliament Vote

      Facing almost certain defeat, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday postponed a vote in Parliament on her Brexit deal, saying she would go back to European Union leaders to seek changes to the divorce agreement.

      May’s move threw Britain’s Brexit plans into disarray, intensified a domestic political crisis and battered the pound. With EU officials adamant the withdrawal deal was not up for renegotiation, the country does not know on what terms it will leave — and whether May will still be Britain’s leader when it does.

      In an emergency statement to the House of Commons, May accepted that the divorce deal she struck last month with EU leaders was likely to be rejected “by a significant margin” if the vote were held Tuesday as planned.

      May said she would defer the vote so she could seek “assurances” from the EU and bring the deal back to Parliament. She did not set a new date for the vote. The U.K.’s departure is supposed to take place on March 29.

      Opposition lawmakers — and ones from May’s Conservative Party — were incredulous and angry. Some accused her of trampling on parliamentary democracy.

      “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

    • ‘The System Is Shaken’: As Yellow Vests Persist in France, Macron Bends With Minimum Wage Hike and Pension Tax Canceled

      Following four weeks of “Yellow Vest” protests which have erupted into violence at times, French President Emmanuel Macron indicated Monday that his government can no longer ignore the demands of hundreds of thousands of citizens—announcing a minimum wage increase and a cancellation of a tax on retirees, but still refusing to relent on one of his most widely-criticized tax reforms.

      In a pre-recorded televised address, Macron told the country that the minimum wage would be raised by €100, or $113, per month. As part of the “concrete measures” he said must happen to alleviate the suffering of low- and middle-income French households, a planned tax on pensions under €2,000 will be canceled and overtime pay will be tax-free.

      The announcement follows weeks of protests which first began in rural areas but have spread across the country, with Parisian officials calling for a lockdown over the weekend after more than 100,000 protesters poured into the city’s streets. More than 1,200 demonstrators were arrested on Saturday.

    • May Should Admit That Brexit Has Failed

      Facing a historic defeat for her Brexit deal in Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May has, almost unbelievably, managed to make things worse.

      In a speech before the House of Commons on Monday, May postponed a vote on the deal and vowed to reopen talks with the European Union on the most contentious aspect of the whole undertaking, the Irish border. She offered few specifics, little direction, and only the haziest of timelines. To call this the worst of all worlds is only a slight exaggeration.

      It had been clear for weeks that May’s deal — hard fought over months of negotiation — was facing a landslide rejection in the House of Commons. And rightly so: It would stunt Britain’s economy, burden its companies, and infringe its sovereignty, offering essentially no benefits and solving no problems. Everyone hated it.

      Even so, proceeding with the vote had a certain logic. It would have allowed Parliament to reject the deal, and cleared the way for work to begin on alternatives. The country and its voters would have been offered at least the possibility of a way forward. What they got instead was yet more paralysis.

    • How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card

      The Venezuelan government has promoted a Social Benefits Card to facilitate the distribution of goods and services at a time when the country is beset by a pernicious financial blockade that makes it difficult to access food and medicine.

      The sanctions applied against Venezuela by the USA, Canada and European allies are ILLEGAL. They violate the Charter of the UN and the charter of the OAS. But that has not stopped these countries and their corporations – their one desire is to get hold of the country’s oil and gold.

      Instead of implementing “austerity” policies, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela has, on the contrary, used every means possible to mitigate the impact of this blockade on its people. In order to efficiently distribute benefits, it is necessary – as logic and good sense indicates- to have an accurate idea of how many people need what services and how many access them. Hence the social benefit card, or as it is called there El Carnet de la Patria (literally, the ID of the Homeland).

      Any Venezuelan can obtain this card – there are no restrictions of any kind, no one is asked whom they voted for, who they will vote for, what party they belong to, or their opinion of the government. It is a free card to all. It is an instrument to help the public services cater to the people’s needs.

    • How the IRS Was Gutted

      In the summer of 2008, William Pfeil made a startling discovery: Hundreds of foreign companies that operated in the U.S. weren’t paying U.S. taxes, and his employer, the Internal Revenue Service, had no idea. Under U.S. law, companies that do business in the Gulf of Mexico owe the American government a piece of what they make drilling for oil there or helping those that do. But the vast majority of the foreign companies weren’t paying anything, and taxpaying American companies were upset, arguing that it unfairly allowed the foreign rivals to underbid for contracts.

      Pfeil and the IRS started pursuing the non-U.S. entities. Ultimately, he figures he brought in more than $50 million in previously unpaid taxes over the course of about five years. It was an example of how the tax-collecting agency is supposed to work.

      But then Congress began regularly reducing the IRS budget. After 43 years with the agency, Pfeil — who had hoped to reach his 50th anniversary — was angry about the “steady decrease in budget and resources” the agency had seen. He retired in 2013 at 68.

      After Pfeil left, he heard that his program was being shut down. “I don’t blame the IRS,” Pfeil said. “I blame the Congress for not giving us the budget to do the job.”

    • Robert Reich: Trump’s Tax Policy Risks Global Recession

      I needn’t remind you that your Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and the rich by about $150 billion annually. You claimed it would cause companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American jobs. They didn’t. (See General Motors.)

      They spent most of their tax savings buying back their own shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not surprisingly, the boost was temporary. Last week the stock market erased all its gains for 2018, and worse may be in store. The whole American economy is slowing.

      Your tariffs could put us into a recession. The world’s other big economies are slowing, too. In 1930, congressmen Smoot and Hawley championed isolationist tariffs that President Herbert Hoover signed into law. They deepened the Great Depression.

    • Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression

      My views on these matters were first put forward in a blog post titled “Did World War Two End the Great Depression”, written in September, 2011. It cited a Paul Krugman Op-Ed piece written in 2008 and titled “Franklin Delano Obama?”. Krugman made the case that “What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.” With respect to the public works projects mentioned by Al Ronzoni, Krugman described them as “largely offset by other factors, notably a large tax increase, enacted by Herbert Hoover, whose full effects weren’t felt until his successor took office.”

      In Krugman’s view, FDR was someone who “thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans.” Sounds rather like Obama, doesn’t it? In fact, Krugman’s op-ed was a cautionary tale warning Obama, the supposed new FDR, not to be as tightfisted with government-funded recovery programs as occurred during the New Deal unless he wanted to take “big risks with the economy and with his legacy.”

      Well, given the high costs of another world war (after all, those H-Bombs can make a real mess of things), Obama didn’t even create a public works program—the only option open to him. In fact, as I have argued, Obama was inspired more by Herbert Hoover than FDR. As someone who relied heavily on U. of Chicago economists, he was not likely to embark on a new New Deal despite all the advice he got from Paul Krugman, The Nation Magazine, Huffington Post, et al.

      While I found Krugman’s arguments convincing, they lacked the economic data that would “close the deal” on how the Depression ended. In the December 1994 Journal of Economic History, there’s an article by J.R. Vernon titled “World War II Fiscal Policies and the End of the Great Depression” that is the standard against which FDR New Deal nostalgia must be measured. (Vernon’s article can be downloaded from https://www.researchgate.net/.)

      Vernon starts off by presenting statistics that make it abundantly clear that fully half of the recovery from the depths of 1933 were realized in just two years: 1941 and 1942. Using Department of Commerce data, Vernon makes the case that the recovery was 78.7 to 86.7 percent complete by the end of 1941 but only half-complete (40.8 to 46.0) by the end of 1940. when the recovery still had more than halfway to go.

    • The Yellow Vests Rise Up Against the Elites and Neoliberal Austerity

      While Americans have been preoccupied by the nostalgic reminiscence and burial of a former president, French citizens have been engaged in mass civil disobedience enacted by the gilets juanes or “Yellow Vests,” the roadside safety vests French drivers are required to have. This action reflects and exposes social divisions barely recognized and inadequately addressed by both the neoliberal corporate right and the traditional social democratic parties, both in the U.S. and in France.

      To put this dispute into terms American drivers would understand the government of President Emmanuel Macron proposed a hike of 28 cents per gallon for diesel and 17 cents per gallon for gasoline. Though these taxes were the immediate trigger, the context in which this policy was imposed made the difference. In domestic economic policy Macron has been a smoother French version of Donald Trump. The tax on diesel followed a whole series of tax gifts to the most wealthy French citizens and businesses, including elimination or reduction of estate and wealth taxes as well as the replacement of a progressive income tax with a flat tax. These tax policies were a neoliberal dream that had already become a nightmare for working class citizens.

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls Out Congress For Giving Themselves Cheap Healthcare

      Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had some choice words about the U.S. healthcare system after comparing what she’s paying now as a Congresswoman to what she paid as a waitress for her healthcare plan — and she’s on a mission to reform it all.

      Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said during her on-boarding to Congress, she was allowed to pick her insurance plan. In doing so, the disparity of what she used to pay earning far less money became quite clear.

      “As a waitress, I had to pay more than TWICE what I’d pay as a member of Congress,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s frustrating that Congressmembers would deny other people affordability that they themselves enjoy.”

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hightower Hits a Wall

      Not so this week, when Creators editor Maxine Mulvey called Hightower staffer Melody Byrd and told her they wouldn’t be distributing the Nov. 27 column entitled, “Free the free press from Wall Street plunderers.” Byrd says Mulvey told her she liked the column, but that Creators could not risk retaliation from two named “plunderers”: Gatehouse Media and Digital First Media. Together the two mega-corps own some 1,500 newspapers (Gatehouse recently acquired the Austin-American Statesman), many of which use Creators’ material.

      Here’s some of what Hightower wrote about the companies: “They know nothing about journalism and care less, for they’re ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast by slashing the journalistic and production staffs of each paper, voiding all employee benefits (from pensions to free coffee in the breakroom), shriveling the paper’s size and news content, selling the presses and other assets, tripling the price of their inferior product – then declaring bankruptcy, shutting down the paper, and auctioning off the bones before moving on to plunder another town’s paper.” (For background, Hightower cites the Dec. 27, 2017 American Prospect story, “Saving the Free Press from Private Equity.”)

    • Syndicated columnist censored for writing about the risks of hedge funds and billionaires buying papers

      Jim Hightower is a longstanding, respected columnist distributed by Creators Syndicate — but Creators refused to distribute his latest column, “Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers,” which warns about Wall Street vultures like Digital First Media and GateHouse Media buying up newspapers, including the Austin Statesman.

      The Austin Chronicle reports that Creators wouldn’t distribute the column because it feared retribution from the Wall Street firms; Creators managing editor Simone Slykhous told the Chronicle that “We have more than 200 columnists and cartoonists, and our job is to make sure that our actions do not negatively impact them.”

    • The Empress of Facebook: My Befuddling Dinner With Sheryl Sandberg

      The Facebook of 2013 is now a distant memory. As 2018 comes to a close—a “low dishonest” time, as Auden said of the 1930s—that high-flying, hardly working, nap-besotted, righteous Facebook has given way to one known for secrecy and collaboration with disinformation campaigns and computational propaganda. The purpose of these campaigns at Facebook, in the words of the Oxford Internet Institute at Balliol College, is to “hack people.”

      Hacking us. Not connecting us. I deactivated my Facebook account a year and a half ago, and at the same time sold the few shares of Facebook stock I’d bought to be a good sport on the day of the IPO. Sandberg’s credible moral superiority; her pose as a billionaire basic; and her obsession with eucalyptus-scented lifestyle questions had made me wonder, as far back as 2013, about the leadership at Facebook.

      We can’t remind ourselves enough: With 2.27 billion citizens, Facebook is by far the biggest empire the world has ever known. As with the British one—but more so—it’s inconceivable that the sun could ever set on it. Its users spend 950 million hours on it every day. The social, economic, and political lives of 2.27 billion users depends at least in part on Facebook’s policies, practices, and design. The moral responsibility of its leaders is crushing.

    • To Rebuild Trust, Facebook’s Zuckerberg Looked to Microsoft
    • Mark Zuckerberg has reached out to Microsoft president Brad Smith which is bad for Sandberg because… that’s basically her job

      Smith and Sandberg’s roles aren’t exactly the same, with each executive overseeing a slightly different portfolio of responsibilities. But Smith and Sandberg both essentially serve as the No.2 executive, alongside the CEO.

    • Kushner didn’t stop advising Saudi crown prince after Jamal Khashoggi murder

      Kushner’s attitude toward the Saudi crown prince is directly at odds with the stance articulated by United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley in an interview with The Atlantic published last week. Despite her plans to leave the administration, Haley is perceived as being on good terms with President Trump and his inner circle.

    • Full transcript reveals slain journalist Khashoggi’s last words: CNN

      Khashoggi, whose October death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul set off an international diplomatic crisis, protested and gasped for air as he was abducted and killed by a group of Saudi agents, some of whom have been identified as top Saudi government officials, the source told CNN.

    • New York Times: Kushner offered advice to Saudi crown prince after journalist’s death

      Although White House protocol stipulated that National Security Council staff be present on all phone calls with foreign leaders, Kushner and bin Salman continued to chat informally after Khashoggi’s death, the Times reported, citing two former senior American officials and two people briefed by the Saudis.

    • Beto O’Rourke Is Like Obama. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing

      Despite narrowly losing his Senate campaign, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has clearly emerged from the 2018 election cycle as a rising star. In the weeks since Election Day, the spotlight on the Texas congressman has only intensified.

      The race had scarcely been called for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz when the speculation began about what O’Rourke would do next, and it didn’t take long for plenty of Democrats to imagine O’Rourke as a possible presidential contender in 2020. The national media followed closely behind.

      Earlier this month, no less a personality than podcaster, former Obama staffer and liberal tastemaker Dan Pfeiffer published “The Case for Beto O’Rourke.” His argument why O’Rourke should run for president: an ability to inspire enthusiasm among voters; the potential to build a winning national coalition; his au courant approach to fundraising and social media. Or, as one major donor put it more bluntly to Politico: “He’s Barack Obama, but white.”

    • Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn

      A secret UK Government-funded infowars unit based in Scotland sent out social media posts attacking Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

      On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife.

      But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation’s Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists.

      The “think tank” is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming “clusters” of friendly journalists and “key influencers” throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation.

    • Russia linked to hacking of anti-propaganda initiative

      British intelligence officers are investigating a hack into a government-funded programme that counters Russian propaganda, The Times understands.

      The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, has launched an inquiry into digital breaches several weeks ago of the Institute for Statecraft.

      Russian media said last month that the hacker collective Anonymous had obtained documents from the Integrity Initiative — an anti-disinformation programme run by the institute — that proved it was part of a hybrid warfare project to interfere in other countries.

    • Where There’s Smock There’s Covfefe

      Laughter Is the Best Medicine Followed By Impeachment and Jail Time Dept: A terrible no good day for our spectacularly inept, perilously insecure “president” for whom mockery is the ultimate threat. First, his peeps were laughed/shamed off the stage at UN climate talks in Poland, where protesters eviscerated their claims that “unapologetic utilization” of “clean” coal, oil and gas is our future. Then, in his frantic Denial of the Day – on Twitter, of course, the new site for all presidential policy briefings – Trump arguably admitted to two felonies, offered a legal defense widely deemed “beyond unconvincing,” and did it with spelling errors that many commenters argued – and confirmed by asking their kids – fourth graders wouldn’t stoop to. “Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion,” he blathered, going on to huff and puff about “a simple private transaction” and anyway Obama did it (not).

      Cue the quickly trending hashtag Smocking Gun, full of bad sewing puns, digs at Trump’s best words, and reminders the guy who keeps loudly, lamely protesting his innocence has again moved the proverbial goal post from “I didn’t do anything” to “even if I did, so what?” His idiocy, it is universally agreed, “makes a smockery of” our democracy, the presidency and basic literacy: “I always hope that it’s a parody account and it never is…Can I buy a smocking gun without a background check?…Dude what r U smocking???…It was #ScottFree with the #SmockingGun in the #Covfefe room… Smocky the Bear warned us about this. Only you can prevent re-electing dumb ass presidents.” To help us resist, the Washington Post Fact Checker has added a new mendacity rating for Trump, the “Bottomless Pinocchio,” for formerly 3 or 4 star lies repeated at least 20 times. So far, Trump has 14 whoppers that made the list. Meanwhile, even Fox News pundit Judge Andrew Napolitano actually said out loud that Trump may face indictments. Trump, Giuliani et al, he warned, “mock the government at their peril,” smocking gun or no.

    • Can a New Political Party Save America From Itself?

      When it comes to criticizing the Democratic Party, nothing speaks like experience within the belly of the beast. Ralph Nader is living proof. After years of effectively pressuring congressional Democrats to protect consumers and the environment against corporate greed, he watched firsthand as the party bowed to the demands of Big Business during the Jimmy Carter administration.

      And then there’s Nick Brana, the leading activist behind the Movement for a People’s Party (MPP). Like Nader, Brana isn’t content merely to expose the corruption of the dismal dollar Democrats—a party that late political scientist Sheldon Wolin rightly called “the inauthentic opposition.” He’s looking to replace them with something much better: let’s call it an “authentic opposition.”

      Don’t let his tender age of 29 fool you. Brana has served his time served his time inside the belly of the beast that is the Democratic donkey, first as a volunteer for Barack Obama and later as a member of John Kerry’s political action committee. These experiences gave him a front-row seat to the “quid pro quo” between concentrated wealth and elected officials.

      Brana later served as the deputy director for voter protection of close Clinton ally and top Democratic Party fundraiser Terry McAuliffe’s successful 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign. It was, in his words, “a test run for the [2016] Hillary Clinton campaign.” There, Brana got to know future Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook and other high-ranking Clinton staffers.

    • Everybody Loves Redistricting Reform

      2018 was a banner year for redistricting reform, with voters in five states — Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah — putting limits on extreme partisan gerrymandering.

      Not surprisingly, the reforms were especially popular among Democrats, who have been on the receiving end of gerrymandering this decade. But the measures also earned wide backing from Republicans, winning with more than 60 percent support in four of the five states.

      To understand how the measures did among voters, we analyzed the approval rate in each county and compared support for reform with votes cast in a statewide partisan election. Our preliminary analysis makes it clear that these proposals did strikingly well among Republicans, far outperforming candidates of either party in nearly every instance.

      In other words, while the political class may still be divided along partisan lines about fixing gerrymandering, voters aren’t. The American people are strongly in favor of efforts to reform how redistricting is conducted in the states so that partisan lawmakers don’t have unfettered control of the process.

    • Democrats’ 2020 battle royale is going to be brutal, dirty, and totally worthwhile

      Jostling for position in the 2020 Democratic primary has started already, God help us. And there is probably no way around a bitter fight between liberals and leftists over who is going to be the nominee.

      However, it might be possible to head off some of the bitterness that resulted from the 2016 primary by admitting the necessity of that fight and making it about ideology and policy to the greatest possible degree.

      The first big flare-up of 2020 has already happened, over Beto O’Rourke. The failed Texas senate candidate got a ton of positive media attention during his campaign, leading to him being put forward by former Obama staffers as a good presidential candidate. Various lefties expressed some skepticism of this: Zaid Jilani and Branko Marcetic focused on his moderate policy record, particularly his support of financial deregulation, while I focused on how neither O’Rourke nor his Obamaworld supporters have deeply reckoned with the appalling consequences of the too-small stimulus or the corrupt bank bailout.

      It really got going when Elizabeth Bruenig wrote a much more gentle criticism in The Washington Post. She argued that while O’Rourke is well above average when it comes to a possible Texas Democratic senator, he isn’t the kind of full-throated progressive we should ask for, since about anyone should be able to defeat Trump.

    • As Schumer and Pelosi Offer Up $1.3 Billion, Progressives Say ‘Not One Dime’ Should Go to Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      With House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reportedly preparing to offer President Donald Trump $1.3 billion for his brutal anti-immigrant agenda during a scheduled budget meeting Tuesday morning, that was the message from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who joined other progressives in warning the Democratic leadership against capitulating to the Trump administration’s xenophobic border policies—and argued the amount of funding they should offer is zero.

      “If anything,” Ocasio-Cortez added in her tweet, “they need to fund healthcare for the children they have traumatized (with lifelong implications) after months of separation from their parents.”

    • See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White

      It is hard to watch TV these days without seeing reports pertaining to the recent death of the elder George Bush — former president, CIA director, and whitewashed war criminal. I call him a “whitewashed war criminal” because there are inconvenient truths that the mainstream media would rather ignore in favor of the usual hero worship that accompanies the death of a popular politician (see also: coverage on the death of John McCainor, even more egregiously, Richard Nixon). Sprucing up our departed politicians, disgraced or otherwise, seems to be a nod to our most respected civil discourse values, but it’s not a favor to the truth and the whitewashing only makes it more likely to happen again.

      Perhaps the most inconvenient truth relating to war crimes of Bush the Elder involves Panama in 1989. Under the guise of protecting democracy, then-President Bush illegally invaded a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the United States, calling it “Operation Just Cause,” in order to remove its ruler — with disastrous results. The U.S. government acknowledges that at least 300 Panamanian civilians were killed, but other sources have estimated that as many as several thousand were killed with tens of thousands displaced. At best you could call it an overreaction to Noriega’s involvement in drug trafficking and a peculiar form of democracy promotion. The era of slaughtering civilians as acceptable collateral damage is over in the eyes of international law and simple decency. Bush could have resolved that contretemps without Panamanian children and other noncombatants dying.

    • The Bad Ideas-Industrial Complex

      One of the integral components of Beltway ecology, along with the Pentagon, intelligence spooks, contractors, and lobbyists, is the think tank. Whether it’s called a foundation, an institute or a trust, it’s not only as important as the other big players, it synergizes with them and cements their power. And since the think tank is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 “charitable” or “educational” pursuit, it operates with an implicit taxpayer subsidy.

      Think tanks have been a part of the American scene since the early 20th century, when passage of the income tax motivated the super-rich to shield their money from the revenooers with some ostensibly do-gooding activity. Some of the major ones performed undeniably laudable works, such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s medical research, but from the beginning, even the highly prestigious foundations, such as Carnegie and Ford, engaged in studies that inevitably impacted the politics of the day.

      That said, the Washington think tank world, at least through mid-1960s, was a mostly gentile and prestigious activity whose directorships were suitable for the political elite. McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson, left government to become president of the Ford Foundation, while Dean Rusk, secretary of state in both administr

    • In Major Victory for Progressives, Democratic Leadership Abandons Tax Rule That Would Have Made Bold Agenda Impossible

      In a major victory for the growing Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and everyone who supports popular solutions like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and tuition-free public college, the House Democratic leadership on Tuesday ditched plans to impose a widely denounced right-wing tax rule that would have made a bold agenda impossible to fund.

      “We are pleased to announce that the rules package for the 116th Congress will not include the 3/5 supermajority tax provision promoted by House Republicans in recent years,” the CPC wrote on Twitter. “The removal of this harmful provision will help progressives pass college for all, Medicare for All, and other bold proposals that will deliver meaningful relief for working families.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ‘A Cowardly Act’: Democrat Leads Bipartisan Push to Sneak Criminalization of Pro-Palestinian BDS Campaign Into Must-Pass Spending Bill

      If passed, the measure would strike a significant blow against the growing Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) movement, which has been endorsed by two newly-elected Democratic members of Congress—Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

      “Regardless of how anyone may personally feel about BDS, Congress’ attempts to attach criminal penalties to freedom of expression against the Israeli occupation must not stand,” Iram Ali, campaign director at MoveOn.org, said in a statement on Monday. “Hiding anti-BDS legislation in end-of-the-year packages is a cowardly act and one that is being considered only because members of Congress know that this legislation would not pass muster if debated publicly and openly.”

      When Cardin’s bill was introduced in the Senate last year, it was co-sponsored by 42 Republicans, Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine), and 15 Democrats—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

    • CNN Must Rehire Pundit Who Defended Democratic Rights

      As Marc Lamont Hill delivered his widely discussed speech at the United Nations on November 28, in which he expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and emphasized the need to protect the human rights and self-determination of all who lived “from the river to the sea,” he probably expected some critical response. What he likely didn’t expect was to be fired from his position as a CNN commentator, and to have his job as a professor at Temple University threatened.

    • Congress Is Trying to Use the Spending Bill to Criminalize Boycotts of Israel and Other Countries

      Congress is trying to sneak an unconstitutional ban on political expression into the spending bill in order to avoid public scrutiny.
      According to recent reports, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle are planning to sneak a bill criminalizing politically motivated boycotts of Israel into the end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill.

      The bill’s original sponsor, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), is pushing Democratic leadership to include this bill, which has not moved forward thus far primarily because it violates the First Amendment. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are reportedly leaning toward slipping the text into the spending bill, which needs to pass for the government to stay open.

      The ACLU has long opposed the Israel Anti-Boycott Act through its multiple iterations because the bill would make it a crime to participate in political boycotts protected by the First Amendment. Now, the bill’s sponsors are attempting to avoid public scrutiny by including the bill’s unconstitutional criminal penalties in must-pass legislation scheduled for a vote just days before Congress’ holiday recess — likely because it will be harder to pass in the new Congress.

      Earlier versions of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would have made it a crime — possibly even subject to jail time — for American companies to participate in political boycotts aimed at Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories when those boycotts were called for by international governmental organizations like the United Nations. The same went for boycotts targeting any country that is “friendly to the United States” if the boycott was not sanctioned by the United States.

    • 5 Questions Congress Should Ask Google’s Sundar Pichai

      On Tuesday, Pichai will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a hearing focused on transparency, data collection, and filtering. Until now, Pichai has mostly avoided the public lashings in Washington that his contemporaries, like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have received. In September, Google declined to send either Pichai or Larry Page, CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to testify alongside Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senators instead vented their frustrations with Google to an empty chair, artfully reserved with a name plate for Page.

      Pichai has since held closed door meetings with leading Republicans, including House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, who has repeatedly accused Google of skewing its search results in favor of Democrats and their causes. Both McCarthy and Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte have signaled that these charges will be central to the committee’s questioning.

    • Human Rights Groups Blast Google for ‘Actively Aiding China’s Censorship and Surveillance Regime’

      The letter (pdf) came ahead of Pichai’s Tuesday morning testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Google’s data collection, use, and filtering practices. His prepared remarks (pdf) read, “I’m incredibly proud of what Google does to empower people around the world, especially here in the U.S.”

      Digital rights defenders, meanwhile, are concerned about the company’s plans to launch a censored search engine in China, warning that it “is likely to set a terrible precedent for human rights and press freedoms worldwide.”

      Signed by 61 groups—including Amnesty International, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and Human Rights Watch—as well as 11 individuals that include NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the letter points to a series of reports from The Intercept that detail how the project “would facilitate repressive state censorship, surveillance, and other violations affecting nearly a billion people in China.”

    • Human rights groups press Google on China plans ahead of Pichai testimony

      “We are writing to ask you to ensure that Google drops Project Dragonfly and any plans to launch a censored search app in China, and to re-affirm the company’s 2010 commitment that it won’t provide censored search services in the country,” the letter, which is addressed to Pichai, begins.

    • Google CEO Has Serious Questions to Answer on China Censored Search

      Google CEO Sundar Pichai will appear before Congress later today to defend his company against allegations of political bias. Google is accused of rigging search engine results against US conservatives, so Pichai can expect the grilling to focus on Google’s domestic operations. But given some of Google’s current activities further afield, lawmakers in Washington would be wise to broaden the scope of their inquiry.

    • Human Rights Groups to Sundar Pichai: Listen to Your Employees and Halt Project Dragonfly

      EFF, as part of a coalition of over sixty other human rights groups led by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International —still have questions for Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO. Leaks and rumors continue to spread from Google about “Project Dragonfly,” a secretive plan to create a censored, trackable search tool for China. Media reports based on sources from within the company have stated that the project was being readied for a rapid launch, even as it was kept secret even from Google’s own security and privacy experts.

      These stories undermine the vague answers we were given in previous correspondence. On the eve of Pichai being called before the House Judiciary Committee, we have re-iterated our profound concern, and jointly called upon Google to halt Project Dragonfly completely.

      Silicon Valley companies know how dangerous it can be to enter markets without considering the human rights implications of what they do. A decade ago, following Yahoo’s complicity in the arrest and detention of journalist Shi Tao, and Google’s own fumbles in creating a Great Firewall-compatible search service, companies like Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo agreed to work with independent experts in the Global Network Initiative to stave off the use of new technology to conduct human rights violations. Members of the U.S. Congress concerned about Google and other tech companies’ co-operation with other governments, have been supportive of this open, cautious approach.

      But under Pichai’s leadership, Google appears to have ignored not just outside advice; the company has apparently ignored the advice of its own privacy and security experts. An Intercept article based on statements made by four people who worked on Project Dragonfly noted that Google’s head of operations in China “shut out members of the company’s security and privacy team from key meetings about the search engine … and tried to sideline a privacy review of the plan that sought to address potential human rights abuses.”

    • China has established an ethics committee to vet online games

      China has established a new ‘ethics assessment committee’ to vet online games for release in the country.

      As reported by state media agency Xinhua, the committee is comprised of online gaming experts and researchers from government departments, industry institutions, and media outlets.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • When Not Hiding Cameras In Traffic Barrels And Streetlights, The DEA Is Shoving Them Into… Vacuums?

      This almost sounds like an ultra-low tech version of the NSA’s hardware interdiction program. The NSA intercepts computer equipment to install hardware/software backdoors. The DEA’s vacuum camera possibly could be stashed in a Shop Vac en route to a targeted person/business. Either that or a DEA agent/informant is going to pretend to be a janitor and wheel around a loaded Shop Vac to capture footage.

      It’s weird but it’s pretty much in line with the DEA’s procurement history. A report from Quartz last month showed the DEA was buying cameras concealed in streetlights, traffic barrels, and speed-display road signs. The last one on the list doesn’t house ordinary cameras, but rather automated license plate readers.

      Are there Constitutional concerns? Sure. They’re pretty minimal in areas where any activity could be observed by a member of the public. But they’re not nonexistent. And much of this surveillance activity occurs with the silent blessing of the city governments that own the repurposed streetlights. The government has occasionally pushed for upgraded streetlight systems, with the main “improvement” being the addition of surveillance devices.

    • Mobile Location Scandals Keep Making Facebook’s Privacy Flubs Look Like Child’s Play

      Curiously, the Times doesn’t even mention the cellular carriers’ role in this problem, insisting that location data sales “began as a way to customize apps and target ads for nearby businesses.” In reality, cellular carriers have been tracking and selling your location data before the concept was even a twinkle in many app makers’ eye, and as the recent LocationSmart scandal (which exposed the personal data of nearly every mobile customer in North America) made very clear, this data is sold to dozens of third-party location data brokers and their sales partners — without much, if any, effort to ensure it’s being protected down the chain.

      In other words, app location data sharing is just a smaller part of a massive problem. A problem that started with telecom operators and our total unwillingness to hold them accountable for similar behavior. Politically powerful cellular carriers who repeatedly insisted we didn’t need any meaningful privacy rules of the road because “public shame” would keep the industry honest. That promise has never really worked out that well.

      Multiple ISPs were accused years ago of collecting and selling consumer clickstream data. When they were pressed for details, many simply either denied doing it or refused to respond. Collectively, we decided that was fine. As more sophisticated network gear like deep-packet inspection emerged, ISPs began tracking and selling online browsing habits down to the millisecond, some even charging users extra if they wanted to protect their own privacy. Wireless only made things worse, some carriers even going so far as to modify your very data packets to glean additional insight without your knowledge or consent.

    • Microsoft Posts List Of Facial Recognition Tech Guidelines It Thinks The Government Should Make Mandatory

      Roughly five months later, this blog post was discovered, leading to Microsoft receiving a large dose of social media shaming. A number of its own employees signed a letter opposing any involvement at all with ICE. A July blog post from the president of Microsoft addressed the fallout from the company’s partnership with ICE. It clarified that Microsoft was not actually providing facial recognition tech to the agency and laid out a number of ground rules the company felt would best serve everyone going forward.

      This starting point has now morphed into a full-fledged rule set Microsoft will apparently be applying to itself. Microsoft’s Brad Smith again addresses the positives and negatives of facial recognition tech, especially when it’s deployed by government agencies. The blog post is a call for government regulation, not just of tech companies offering this technology, but for some internal regulation of agencies deploying this technology.

    • Australia’s encryption laws will fall foul from differing definitions

      The Assistance and Access Act, which became law just days ago, defines a systemic weakness as one that “affects a whole class of technology, but does not include a weakness that is selectively introduced to one or more target technologies that are connected with a particular person”.

      That just creates a new conundrum: What counts as a “whole class” of technology?

    • GCHQ now has the power to legally hack anyone

      In a letter filed in the House of Commons library Ben Wallace, security minister, stated that the “GCHQ’s position on the authorisation of equipment interference operations has evolved since the Investigatory Powers Act”, specifying “Since the passage of the Bill, the communications environment has continued to evolve, particularly in terms of the range of hardware devices and software applications which need to be targeted.”

      In the letter, Wallace points to the Investigatory Powers Act (more commonly known as the Snooper’s Charter) as providing a theoretical warrant for bulk equipment interference, with the further permissions to enact it provided by recent warrant applications. He also states that Investigatory Powers Commissioner Adrian Fulford has recommended safeguards for the hacks — although all are post-facto, so may have limited effect.

    • Social Justice Organizations Challenge Retention of DNA Collected from Hundreds of Thousands of Innocent Californians

      California Arrestees’ DNA Profiles Become Part of Federal Database, Accessible to Law Enforcement Across the Country, Even for Those Not Convicted of Any Crime
      San Francisco – Two social justice organizations—the Center for Genetics and Society and the Equal Justice Society—and an individual plaintiff, Pete Shanks, have filed suit against the state of California for its collection and retention of genetic profiles from people arrested but never convicted of any crime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Law Office of Michael T. Risher represent the plaintiffs. The suit argues that retention of DNA from innocent people violates the California Constitution’s privacy protections, which are meant to block overbroad collection and unlawful searches of personal data.

      “One-third of people arrested for felonies in California are never convicted. The government has no legitimate interest in retaining DNA samples and profiles from people who have no felony convictions, and it’s unconstitutional for the state to hold on to such sensitive material without any finding of guilt,” said Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society.

      While California has long collected DNA from people convicted of serious felony offenses, in 2009 the state doubled-down on this policy to mandate DNA collection for every single felony arrestee, including those later determined to be innocent. The intimate details that can be revealed by a person’s DNA only increases as technology develops, exposing plaintiffs to ever heightening degrees of intrusiveness. After collection, the DNA is analyzed and uploaded to the nationwide Combined DNA Index System, or “CODIS,” which is shared with law enforcement across the U.S.

    • Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

      At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information, The Times found. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States — about half those in use last year. The database reviewed by The Times — a sample of information gathered in 2017 and held by one company — reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day.

      These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior. It’s a hot market, with sales of location-targeted advertising reaching an estimated $21 billion this year. IBM has gotten into the industry, with its purchase of the Weather Channel’s apps. The social network Foursquare remade itself as a location marketing company. Prominent investors in location start-ups include Goldman Sachs and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder.

    • Electric vehicles are sending real-time location and diagnostic data to Chinese government monitoring centers

      More than 200 carmakers selling electric vehicles in China – including famous brands like Tesla, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen – send over 60 data points to government-backed monitoring platforms. Chinese officials say that they are merely using the analytics to improve public safety, and to aid with infrastructure planning. Those are certainly legitimate uses of aggregate data, and are similar to how Geotab’s vehicle data is being analyzed and applied in the US. However, in China’s case, the data is flowing to the Beijing Institute of Technology, which is monitoring some 1.1 million vehicles in the country. As the Associated Press article explains, the data flow is about to increase dramatically as part of a “Made in China 2025” industrial development plan.

    • The Week in Business: The Emails Facebook Doesn’t Want You to See

      The victim of Facebook’s latest privacy breach: itself. On Wednesday, Britain’s parliament released 250 pages of the company’s internal documents, including emails between top executives. The messages revealed ruthless efforts to extract as much data as possible from users like you and me, and obscure the fact that it was doing so. The emails also show that the company wielded data like currency, bestowing special access to it as a reward to friendly businesses like Airbnb and Netflix while cutting off rivals. Facebook says the emails don’t tell the full story. It must be painful to have private information given to others without your consent, right?

    • How Tinder creates better matches using AWS image recognition technology

      Speaking during AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas last week, Tom Jacques, VP of engineering at Tinder explained how it is using the deep learning-powered AWS Rekognition service to identify user’s key traits by mining the 10 billion photos they upload daily .

      [...]

      Tinder ingests 40TBs of data a day into its analytics and ML systems to power matches, which are underpinned by AWS cloud services.`

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • YouTube tells impersonation victim: No, you’re not being impersonated

      She took to Twitter to ask her followers how to report impersonation claims on YouTube. After filing a Wednesday impersonation report, which included her government-issued driver’s license, her published book’s jacket sleeve photo, and screenshots of the offending, fake YouTube account, Ng received a Thursday response from YouTube: her report did “not meet our impersonation reporting guidelines.”

      A quick scan of YouTube’s reporting page includes a request for “a clear, readable copy of your valid driver’s license, national ID card, or other photo ID” as an attached image. Ng’s posts did not confirm whether her book’s jacket photo was YouTube’s point of contention, nor whether that photo was used to demonstrate an issue with the fake account: that it had lifted a publicly available photo (from a book’s jacket sleeve) to pretend to be Ng.

    • Atlanta Cops Caught Deleting Body Cam Footage, Failing To Activate Recording Devices

      Officers know the system is flawed and abuse it. Those in charge of securing recordings officers may not want retained either don’t know what they’re doing or are playing dumb when questioned by auditors. At the top of the miserable heap is a chief who has allowed flagrant policy violations to occur under her watch.

      An official worth a damn would never express their lack of surprise at this sort of behavior from underlings. There should be shock and dismay at these results, not a shrug of “They’re cops, what can you do?” emanating from the top person in Atlanta law enforcement. If that’s the official reaction, the next audit will just find more of the same.

    • More Than Half Tech Workers Work In ‘Toxic’ Environment: Survey

      Over half the employees in tech domain find their work culture toxic. According to a survey conducted by Blind, an anonymous work talk app, about 52 percent of participants aren’t happy with their work environment. (Source: WFAA)

    • There’s A Reason They Call It “Work” — As Opposed To “Spa Vacation”

      I saw this question at Quora and found the sense of entitlement to employees’ time, sans pay, pretty unbelievable: [...]

    • Stung by Controversies, Police Chief Resigns in Elkhart, Indiana

      Elkhart, Indiana, Police Chief Ed Windbigler announced his resignation Monday after recent reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica about disciplinary issues in the city’s Police Department and a video that showed two officers beating a handcuffed man.

      In a letter addressed to members of the Elkhart Police Department, Windbigler said Mayor Tim Neese contacted him on Sunday and asked him to resign.

      “I admit that I am not perfect and have made mistakes, but I always tried to make sure we were making decisions that would be best for the department,” Windbigler said in the letter.

      Last month, the mayor suspended Windbigler for 30 days without pay after the release of a video showing two officers repeatedly punching a handcuffed man in the police station after he tried to spit on one of them. Windbigler downplayed the severity of the incident at an oversight commission meeting in June and reprimanded the officers. But after the Tribune requested a copy of the video, the officers were criminally charged with misdemeanor battery.

    • 1 in 4 government officials accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era is still in office today

      At least 138 government officials, in both elected and appointed positions, have been publicly reported for sexual harassment, assault, misconduct or violence against women since the 2016 election, according to an analysis my colleagues and I conducted.

      Three in every four of these officials have left or been ousted from their positions. But as many as 33 will remain in office by January.

      Our study of those accused, posted online on Nov. 9, tallied reports of allegations of sex-related misconduct by government officials in the media over the past two years. Although these reports are likely the mere tip of an iceberg of sexual misconduct, they are yet another sign that #MeToo is slowly beginning to disrupt the power structure.

    • Resistance is Not Terrorism

      Today we live in a continuous state of warfare at different levels of intensity. The bully U.S. Empire keeps busy maintaining that level of aggression by using huge amounts of resources taken away from uninformed USAmericans and others.

      We have quite a wide range of “conflictive relationships” masterminded by the U.S. government.

      It’s interesting to see the corresponding proliferation of terminology associated with different types of warfare that we have come to use in describing those conflicts.

    • A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!

      Last year, the College of the Ozarks (C of O), a small evangelical Christian college in Point Lookout, Missouri, organized a two-week study abroad trip Viet Nam that paired 12 students with 12 US veterans of the US War in Viet Nam. Many of the destinations were sites of battles in which the veterans had fought.

      Launched in 2009, these Patriotic Education Travel Programs affirm one of the five goals of the college: Patriotic Education. According to its website, “These rich educational journeys provide life-changing experiences for College of the Ozarks students, who not only learn volumes of history from its firsthand participants but grow to love and appreciate them as well. Participating students return with renewed respect for Veterans and a dramatically increased love for their country.” The Viet Nam trip, the 21stof its kind, was under the direction of C of O’s “director of patriotic activities.”

      The purpose of the C of O Patriotic Education Program is to “to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibility, love of country, and willingness to defend it.” Not surprisingly, C of O “provides numerous opportunities for students to learn, become involved, and show respect to our nation,” including Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and citizenship classes that “provide formal academic training for students with regard to learning how to become effective citizens and if desired, members of the military” and student organizations that place “a heavy emphasis on patriotism.”

    • ‘Not Your Average Demonstration’: Faith Leaders Arrested Demanding Demilitarization of US Border

      Dozens of faith leaders were arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border in California on Monday after they confronted border patrol agents, demanding the demilitarization of the area and calling on the Trump administration to end its detention and deportation of asylum-seekers.

      [...]

      The rally was the first event in a planned week of direct actions, ending on International Migrants Day on December 18. Those who participated came from a number of Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and other faiths.

      A small group of Central American refugees has been the latest target of President Donald Trump’s xenophobic fear-mongering regarding immigration; they arrived at the border late last month after fleeing violence and unrest in their home countries and traveling for weeks.

      The protest came two weeks after border patrol agents closed the border’s busiest port of entry—which the Trump administration has repeatedly claimed it wants immigrants to enter the country through—and fired tear gas at asylum seekers including many families with young children.

    • Trump’s Caravan Problem Isn’t Which People Are Coming, But What Kind of Country America Will Choose to Be

      A bleak irony is emerging in Tijuana’s border zone. For all the raging conservative rhetoric about how Central American migrants are lawbreakers who refuse to just “get in line” and enter the “legal” way, the asylum seekers are actually “getting in line” — or what passes for a line — by forming an ad hoc queue that Mexican authorities have improvised to maintain some social order.

      Every day, migrants line up to be “processed” with a black number scrawled onto their arms — an informal label used to secure a “spot” on a theoretical waiting list. Yet, as they wait indefinitely for their number to be called, the basic institutions of due process they hope to invoke are disintegrating in a dysfunctional, backlogged immigration court system.

      The White House remains hell bent on keeping them out, however, and the plan appears to be to warehouse asylum seekers in Mexico with the underlying aim of discouraging them from trying to cross at all. So a ragged encampment in Tijuana is slowly sinking into chaos as heavily militarized American border authorities block and repel refugees.

    • Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.

      Wondering which side police in the U.S. are on…. left or right, is a more certain social science proposition than attempting to guess how many angels can safely fit on the head of a pin.

      For those close to protest from the 1950s through today, including all facets of left protest, the broken and murdered bodies of protesters in the civil rights movement and the Vietnam antiwar movement, and movements beyond those heady days of protest are quite telling. Guns, fire hoses, batons, tear gas, fists, planting evidence, etc., have all been used viciously by police throughout the U.S. in doing the bidding of their political and financial overlords.

      The militarization of the police began, not as a coincidence, in the 1970s. Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) “teams” were soon in evidence, as was the gathering of so-called intelligence by police units, a fact well known to Vietnam-era protesters, the movement to which mass policing responded. The dumping of military weapons and vehicles to the police was the direct result of the massive police mobilization during and following the Vietnam War. All that was needed was a globalized economy to begin the school to prison pipeline of which the police are an integral part.

      Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs (D.A.R.E.), founded in Los Angeles in 1983, have been totally ineffective in stemming the tide of drug use in the U.S. Indeed, D.A.R.E. has seen some police act as enforcers of discipline in schools in mostly poor neighborhoods and has furthered the school to prison pipeline in the U.S.

      That many individual police have authoritarian leanings and behaviors comes as no surprise. The antipathy toward people of color in the civil rights era and beyond had its roots in the mass violence in the U.S. in which police were an integral part. That a member of the Black Panther Party would relate that violence is as “American as cherry pie” is no accident.

    • What white nationalists think about Tucker Carlson

      He has used his nightly show to question whether racial diversity is truly a positive thing in America. He has promoted, and defended, the phrase “It’s OK to be white,” which has become a slogan for racists across the country. David Duke, former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, claimed last year the campaign was “sweeping the nation.”

      Just last month Carlson suggested that a Georgetown professor was calling for “genocide” of white people. This is a warning that has been circulating in white supremacist circles for decades. And he has used his perch to play down the issue of white nationalism in America: “It’s not a crisis. It’s not even a meaningful category,” he said on his show earlier this year.

      One of the stated goals of leading white nationalists has been to mainstream their racist ideals into the modern conservative movement. With that in mind, we were curious to see whether the hardcore white nationalists on the web viewed Carlson as their messenger to the broader public.

      We asked our Hate Sleuths, a group of loyal Hate Report readers who volunteer their time to help research, to comb through sites that often host hate speech for mentions of the conservative commentator.

      They found overwhelming support for Carlson. Everywhere they looked, the Fox News anchor was being discussed, and ideas were being swapped about how to convince him to continue mainstreaming racist and anti-Semitic talking points.

    • ‘For Taking Great Risks in Pursuit of Greater Truths,’ Journalists Under Attack Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

      Capping off a year marked by accusations of “fake news,” hurled at journalists by President Donald Trump and other global threats to press freedom, TIME magazine selected as Person of the Year journalists who have spent the past year fighting increased hostility toward their work—including those who lost their lives as a result of their reporting.

      Calling journalists under attack “guardians” of the truth, the magazine announced the selected Tuesday as it prepared to release four covers of the yearly issue.

      “Like all human gifts, courage comes to us at varying levels and at varying moments,” wrote editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal. “This year we are recognizing four journalists and one news organization who have paid a terrible price to seize the challenge of this moment…They are representative of a broader fight by countless others around the world—as of Dec. 10, at least 52 journalists have been murdered in 2018—who risk all to tell the story of our time.”

    • “It’s Called Transparency”: Donald, Chuck, and Nancy Hold Rare Public Talks as Negotiations Erupt on Live TV

      A press availability at the White House with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Democratic leader in the House Nancy Pelosi broke into bizarre—as well as refreshing—public negotiation on Tuesday as the Democrats and the president sparred over funding for a border wall and the prospect of a government shutdown if a budget deal is not reached before a fast-approaching deadline.

      “I will shut down the government,” the president declared at one point. “And I am proud to shut down the government for border security.”

    • Trump Bickers With Democratic Leaders, Threatens Shutdown

      Bickering in public with Democratic leaders, President Donald Trump threatened repeatedly on Tuesday to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t provide the money he says is needed to build a wall at the Mexican border.

      Trump’s comments came as he opened a contentious meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, with a partial shutdown looming on Dec. 21 when funding for some agencies will expire. The president and Pelosi tangled over whether the House or the Senate was holding up his proposal. Trump and Schumer jabbed at each other over the import of the midterm elections — and who will be blamed if a shutdown occurs.

      “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump ultimately declared. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

    • Courage Is Contagious

      One reason for blindness to our own power could be that we can’t see the bucket that our “action drops” are filling up–that is, the big, system-changes our individual choices inch forward. I do know that every time in my life that I have been able to catch even a glimpse of such a bucket, my life has changed.

      Most recently it happened as I marched more than a hundred miles with Democracy Spring in 2016 to sit on the Capitol steps, demanding money out of politics. Knowing that I was part of the rising Democracy Movement, I could feel my “drops” splashing into a powerful bucket.

      But a metaphor of “filling up” from the top down still misses a lot, for in our world where “there are no parts, only participants” (the lovely phrase of my departed friend, physicist Hans Peter Duerr) our energies radiate horizontally.

      It happens because in our interconnected world, almost always someone is noticing. Even if it’s one person.

      On that note, I love a story author Rebecca Solnit tells about a rainy day in the early 1960s when a handful of Women Strike for Peace members protested above-ground nuclear testing in front of the Kennedy White House. They reported feeling “foolish and futile,” she writes.

    • New York Police Rip Toddler From Mother in Plain Sight

      Outrage built Monday over a video showing police officers violently yanking a toddler from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn public benefits office, with officials criticizing police for not de-escalating the situation and clients of the facility complaining it is indicative of how the city treats social-services recipients.

      The video, taken by a bystander, captured the chaotic scene that unfolded last Friday as officers tried to remove mother Jazmine Headley from the crowded office, where she had sat on the floor for two hours because of a lack of chairs. Police were called when she refused a security guard’s order to leave. The woman ended up lying face-up on the floor during a tug of war over her 18-month-old son.

    • Unsolicited Dick Pics Prompt Stupid, Unworkable Legislative Response From New York Lawmakers

      Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic a trenchcoat-wearing lurker. Apple’s AirDrop app, which allows anyone to share files with anyone else using the app, has become the new way to send unsolicited dick pics.

      Granted, there’s a bit of a perfect storm aspect that sets it apart from the ChatRoulettes of the world. Users of the app must allow messages from “Everyone” (rather than just people on their Contacts list) and be within Bluetooth range of the amateur photographer.

      Of course, since it can conceivably happen to someone, it has happened to someone. And the New York Post was there to report on the easily-avoidable menace.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Hardwood Floors, Natural Light and the Right to Choose Your ISP

      Your landlord is prohibited from making deals that restrict you to a single video provider, and those prohibitions should apply to your broadband service as well. Yet, across the country, tenants remain locked into a single choice. In January of 2017, San Francisco became the first city to take action toward filling in the loopholes that enable anti-competitive practices. Will 2019 see more cities adopting similar protections?

      Large Corporate ISPs—looking to lock out competition—have created a market of landlord addiction to practices that take advantage of these loopholes in the FCC’s prohibition on exclusive access agreements, by simply denying physical access to any but their preferred ISP. These owners and Real Estate Investment Trusts may charge prohibitive Door Fees, participate in ISP revenue sharing schemes, or enter into exclusive marketing agreements. While ostensibly legal, these practices often result in the same lack of choice, and disincentivization of innovation, the FCC intended to curtail.

    • FCC to investigate whether major wireless carriers submitted false coverage data
    • At least one major carrier lied about its 4G coverage, FCC review finds

      The RWA, which represents rural carriers, made its case to the FCC by submitting speed test data. The speed tests showed the Verizon network wasn’t providing 4G LTE service in areas that Verizon claimed to cover, according to the RWA.

    • Google, Facebook Face Australia Crackdown Over Market Power

      In a preliminary report released Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said a new or existing watchdog should investigate and monitor how large digital platforms rank and display adverts and news. It also expressed concern about a lack of transparency in how their key algorithms work.

  • DRM

    • Denuvo-Protected Just Cause 4 Cracked In A Day, Suffering From Shitty Reviews

      Two common topics here at Techdirt are about to converge in what will likely serve as a lovely example of how piracy is often a scapegoat rather than a legitimate business issue. The first topic is Denuvo, the once-unbeatable DRM that has since become a DRM that has been defeated in sub-zero days before game releases. The exception that used to prove the rule that DRM is always defeated has become another example that yet again proves that rule. On the other hand, we’ve also talked at length that the real antidote for piracy is creating a great product and connecting with fans to give them a reason to buy. The flipside of that formula is that no amount of piracy protection is going to result in big sales numbers for a product that sucks.

      While that’s typically obvious, we’re all about to watch what happens when a game both has its piracy protection fail completely and is deemed to be a shitty product, with Just Cause 4 having its Denuvo protection defeated a day after launch while the game is suffering from withering reviews.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • UK pregabalin ruling “increases patent applicant burden”, say drug companies [Ed: A patent maximalists' site complains that patents might be harder to get; pretends it cares about "small innovator companies"]

      “As with many Supreme Court decisions, we will have to wait and see how the lower courts apply it,” says the patent attorney at a UK pharmaceutical firm. “But my concern is that the higher hurdle for plausibility will be applied more widely, and that would increase the burden on patent applicants.”

      The vice-president of IP at a UK biotech company adds that the decision does not reflect the scientific reality of drug development because of the complexities associated with animal models.

      Last month, the Supreme Court rejected Warner-Lambert’s appeal that its patent for medication used to treat anxiety, epilepsy and neuropathic pain was sufficiently disclosed, and upheld Mylan and Actavis’s appeal that the disputed claims were not even partially sufficient.

    • Copyrights

      • While Everyone’s Busy, Hollywood & Record Labels Suggest Congress Bring Back SOPA

        There are a million different things going on these days when it comes to preventing the powers that be from destroying the internet that we know and love. There are dozens of mostly bad ideas for regulating the internet here in the US, and of course, over in Europe, they’re doing their best to destroy everything with the poorly thought out GDPR, the new Copyright Directive and the upcoming Terrorist Regulation (more on that soon). With all of that keeping everyone trying to protect the internet busy, it appears that the MPAA and the RIAA have decided that now would be a good time to re-introduce SOPA. No joke.

        Every year, the US government’s “IP Enforcement Coordinator” — or IP Czar — takes comments for its “Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property,” which is supposed to lay out the federal government’s yearly plan for protecting Hollywood’s profits. As questionable as that is already, this year, the comment submissions seemed to go a bit further than usual. The RIAA’s submission, the MPAA’s submission and the (almost so extreme as to be a parody) Copyright Alliance’s submission all seemed to push a pretty consistent theme. Despite the incredible abundance of content creation happening these days, despite the myriad new ways to distribute, to build a fan base, to create new works and to make money from those works… these legacy gatekeepers all insist that the internet is truly a horrible attack on creativity and must be stopped.

      • Four million Europeans’ signatures opposing Article 13 have been delivered to the European Parliament

        Lawmakers in the European Union (EU) often lament the lack of citizen engagement with the complex policy questions that they wrestle with in Strasbourg and Brussels, so we assume that they will be delighted to learn that more than 4,000,000 of their constituents have signed a petition opposing Article 13 of the new Copyright in the Single Market Directive. They oppose it for two main reasons: because it will inevitably lead to the creation of algorithmic copyright filters that only US Big Tech companies can afford (making the field less competitive and thus harder for working artists to negotiate better deals in) and because these filters will censor enormous quantities of legitimate material, thanks to inevitable algorithmic errors and abuse.

        Currently, the Directive is in the “trilogue” phase, where European national governments and the EU negotiate its final form behind closed doors. We’re told that the final language may emerge as soon as this week, with the intention of rushing a vote before Christmas, despite the absolute shambles that the negotiations have made of the text.

      • Federal Courts Aren’t ATMs, Angry Judge Reminds Copyright Troll

        I will never tire of judges handing down benchslaps to IP trolls. Perhaps I’ll never tire of it because it just doesn’t happen often enough. Or perhaps it cannot happen often enough, given the sheer amount of troll litigation judges preside over. Not every dismissed case can be given the court’s full attention. But this opinion, from Judge Royce Lamberth, should certainly get Strike 3 Holding’s attention.

      • Latest EU Copyright Proposal: Block Everything, Never Make Mistakes, But Don’t Use Upload Filters

        As we’ve been discussing the “Trilogue” negotiations between the EU Commission, EU Council and EU Parliament over the EU’s Copyright Directive have continued, and a summary has been released on the latest plans for Article 13, which is the provision that will make upload filters mandatory, while (and this is the fun part) insisting that it doesn’t make upload filters mandatory. Then, to make things even more fun, another document on the actual text suggests the way to deal with this is to create a better euphemism for filters.

        When we last checked in on this, we noted that the legacy film and television industry associations were freaking out that Article 13 might include some safe harbors for internet platforms, and were asking the negotiators to either drop those protections for platforms, or to leave them out of Article 13 altogether and only have it apply to music.

        The latest brief description of the recommendations for Article 13 appear to be an attempt by bureaucrats who have no understanding of the nuances of this issue to appease both the legacy copyright industries and the tech companies. Notably absent: any concern for the public or independent creators. We’ll dig in in a moment, but frankly, given the state of Article 13 demonstrated in this two-page document, it is horrific that these discussions are considered almost concluded. It is obvious that the vast majority of people working on this have no idea what they’re talking about, and are pushing incredibly vague rules without any understanding of their impact. And rather than taking in the criticism and warning from knowledgeable experts, they’re just adding in duct-taped “but this won’t do x” for every complaint where people warn what the actual impact of the rules will be for the internet.

      • New EU Piracy Watchlist Targets Key Pirate Sites and Cloudflare

        Following the example set by the United States, the European Union has published its very first ‘Counterfeit and Piracy Watch List’. The European Commission report targets a broad range of alleged ‘pirate’ sites in the BitTorrent, cyberlocker, stream-ripping spaces, encouraging law enforcement and network players to help stymie their activities.

      • UK Govt. Backs Anti-Piracy Campaign With £2 Million in Funding

        The UK Government has committed £2 million to fund the ongoing “Get it Right” anti-piracy campaign until 2021. Under this program, UK Internet providers and rightsholders have teamed up to warn alleged pirates and educate the public at large on how to access content through ‘genuine’ channels.

        [...]

        This isn’t the first time that the UK Government has financially supported the ‘Get it Right’ campaign. It also contributed £3.5 million to the program at the start.

      • Scammers Use Facebook and Google to Spread Malicious ‘Pirate’ Files

        Scammers and spammers are using user-generated content sites to distribute links to malware and viruses. The malicious content is advertised as pirated software and games, in an attempt to lure users. The issue is plaguing many platforms but appears to be rather persistent on Facebook and Google groups.

      • IFPI Slams Pirate MEP For ‘Lobbying’ Kids, Forgets a Decade of Rightsholders Doing Just That

        Yet another war of words on Twitter over Article 13 has delivered one of the great ironies of recent times. After Pirate MEP Julia Reda called on kids to ‘lobby’ their parents over the controversial legislation, she got a “shame on you” from IFPI for “manipulating minors”. Trouble is, the entertainment industries have been doing the same for well over a decade.

        [..,]

        Joking aside though, it’s pretty ironic that IFPI has called out Reda for informing kids about copyright law to further the aims of “big tech companies”. As we all know, the music and movie industries have been happily doing exactly the same to further their own aims for at least ten years and probably more.

        Digging through the TF archives, there are way too many articles detailing how “big media” has directly targeted kids with their message over the last decade. Back in 2009, for example, a former anti-piracy consultant for EMI lectured kids as young as five on anti-piracy issues.

Number of Filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Highest in Almost Two Years

Posted in America, Patents at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Objections (post-grant) to particular US patents

Andrei IancuSummary: Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), which typically invalidate software patents by citing 35 U.S.C. § 101, are withstanding negative rhetoric and hostility from Iancu (on the right)

IMPROVING the quality of US patents would improve their overall value. Maybe not revenue of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), but it’s not a corporation and it has no shareholders.

Michael Loney has just crunched some numbers and it looks encouraging. PTAB is, in the simplest of terms, some entity you can tell, “hey, this patent is rubbish, invalidate it already!” And they do. So this highest filing level (in nearly 2 years) is good news for patents’ quality:

November’s 230 petitions filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board was the highest monthly figure since January 2017, while the newly-formed Precedential Opinion Panel will address issue joinder

Challengers flocked to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in November, with 230 petitions filed. This was the largest monthly figure since the 246 petitions in January 2017.

Unhappy about 35 U.S.C. § 101, Watchtroll is attacking SCOTUS again. This is from yesterday. They’re totally losing their minds and their ‘business’ (litigation). The writer this time is Eric Guttag, who boasts “private intellectual [sic] property [sic] law experience on patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret” (what he actually means by ‘IP’). It was only yesterday that we wrote about these ugly tendencies of Watchtroll in light of SCOTUS’ insistence on Alice, not to mention insistence on IPRs (Oil States).

With ‘Brexit’ in a Lot of Headlines Team UPC Takes the Unitary Patent Lies up a Notch

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows EPO

Summary: Misinformation continues to run like water; people are expected to believe that the UPC, an inherently EU-centric construct, can magically come to fruition in the UK (or in Europe as a whole)

THE lies told by Team UPC are nowadays pathetic. The European Patent Office (EPO) seems more reluctant to lie after António Campinos started his term, so the EPO basically says almost nothing.

Funnily enough, even the biggest liars have been mostly silent. Bristows LLP, for instance, barely posts anything on the matter (since the summer) and when Alan Johnson mentioned the UPC a few days ago it wasn’t even about the UPC but about SPCs. It seems as though his employer is now paying to spread its nonsense elsewhere (from its marginalised blog that is barely active anymore). We took note of it at the time.

“They don’t want people to publicly call them “liars” (even implicitly) when they lie. They believe that massively repeating the lies ad infinitum will help these lies stick and thereby shape perceptions. At the same time they attack their critics, albeit only anonymously.”An article by Alistair Maughan, Wolfgang Schönig, Sana Ashcroft, Robert Grohmann and Jana Fuchs (Morrison & Foerster LLP) promoted the same old UPC myths earlier this week. UPC was also mentioned here yesterday. They don’t seem to care about facts. It’s just that same old nonsense about Britain joining something that does not even exist and that it cannot technically join anyway. Team UPC’s Wouter Pors wrote about it first thing in the morning; he carries on with the infamous UPC lies (citing as sources other Team UPC fantasists). These ‘unitary’ patents do not exist and will never exist; they’re just fantasies. They’re staging a legislative coup for self enrichment and in order to succeed they increasingly attempt to rely on lying to politicians, e.g. Wouter’s claim that “if it [UK] does leave the EU, it can still remain part of the UPC, which at least in my view is an honourable cause.”

No, it profitable for you, Wouter, it’s harmful to the UK, and technically it is not even possible. Deep inside Wouter knows it.

Even though they ‘sanitise’ comments to remove dissent (to the UPC) from this blog, Concerned observer’s first and sole comment soon thereafter appeared (one must remember that these commenters have to be exceedingly polite to not have their comment deleted at the back end). To quote:

Wouter,

With all due respect, I think that the above analysis misses one or two key points.

Firstly, it is important to note that Opinion 1/00 included the following conclusion:
“Therefore, the mechanisms for ensuring uniform interpretation of the rules of the ECAA Agreement and for resolving disputes WILL NOT HAVE THE EFFECT OF BINDING THE COMMUNITY and its institutions, in the exercise of their internal powers, to a particular interpretation of the rules of Community law incorporated in the agreement”.

In other words, rulings on provisions of EU law in connection with the ECAA Agreement (in common with rulings of the EFTA Court) would NOT be binding on any EU Member States, and so would not threaten the autonomy of EU law. By way of contrast, the UPC Agreement purports to make rulings of the UPC binding upon the Participating Member States. This is a highly significant difference, meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to draw any positive conclusions from Opinion 1/00 (or either of Opinions 1/91 and 1/92) when it comes to the question of compliance of the UPC Agreement with EU law.

Secondly, I do not believe that paragraph 26 of the CJEU’s ruling in Wightman and others has any significance for the UPC. The key part of that paragraph reads as follows:
“it is solely for the national court before which the dispute has been brought, and which must assume responsibility for the subsequent judicial decision, to determine in the light of the particular circumstances of the case, both the need for a preliminary ruling in order to enable it to deliver judgment and the relevance of the questions which it submits to the Court”.

In essence, the CJEU is saying that it is up to the national court to determine the need for a preliminary reference under Article 267 TFEU. However, the CJEU’s answer is based upon the undisputed assumption that the national court in question was a “court or tribunal of a Member State” in accordance with Article 267 TFEU. Given that the UK’s future participation in the UPC appears to hinge upon that court being classified an INTERNATIONAL court (ie NOT a “court or tribunal of a Member State”), there is at least a prima facie reason to doubt that the CJEU would accept any preliminary references from the UPC.

In other words, the ruling of the CJEU in Wightman and others simply does not address the key point of contention for the UPC.

One final point: the combination of the above two points could well provide reason to doubt Prof. Tilmann’s assertion that the UK’s loss of EU membership is not a fundamental change of circumstances within the meaning of Article 62 VCLT. This is because a potential consequence of that change is the conversion of the UPC to the status of an international court, the rulings of which could then threaten the supremacy and autonomy of EU law. Thus, whilst it is clear that the CJEU is prepared to entertain arguments based upon the VCLT, I do not believe that this would be the end of the matter for the UPC.

One might assume that other comments have been posted or will be posted albeit removed before anyone can see them. Such is the nature of this blog and such is the nature of Team UPC in general (it censors other blogs too, as we’ve demonstrated for a number of years). They don’t want people to publicly call them “liars” (even implicitly) when they lie. They believe that massively repeating the lies ad infinitum will help these lies stick and thereby shape perceptions. At the same time they attack their critics, albeit only anonymously [1, 2].

The EPO Not Only Abandoned the EPC But Also the Biotech Directive

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like outlaws still run the Office

Topić France

Topić letter

Summary: Last week’s decision (T1063/18, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04) shows that there’s still a long way to go before the Office and the Organisation as a whole fulfil their obligation to those who birthed the Organisation in the first place

EUROPEAN Patents (EPs) which threaten lives and software patents that are EPs were mentioned in our last post. How far is António Campinos willing to go? How far will Iancu at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) go?

How about patents on life itself?

It is widely known that this subject is ‘controversial’, by which we mean on one side we have large corporations like Monsanto and on the other side virtually everyone else, i.e. the public (those not striving to ‘own’ all lives using bizarre patents).

Last week there was some disturbing development/news which made one wonder if judges had been having dinners at Bayer or something like that. There has been no word on this decision from the EPO’s Twitter account, which has been unusually quiet lately (the past few days). Those who covered the decision have been almost without exception patent maximalists; the same goes for comments. Apparently all that matters is how much they can profit from it, not how much sense it actually makes. Miquel Montañá wrote about this yesterday (“The Political Dimension of Tomatoes, Broccoli and Peppers”); it’s about the incredible stance of the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Board of Appeal (BoA), which decided that patents on seeds, pigs, plants etc. are acceptable as if people “invented” these. Does the EPC not matter anymore?

Here’s a new comment on the connection between the EU and the EPO:

In response to ‘EPO is not EU…’, please see http://patentblog.kluweriplaw.com/2018/05/08/eu-bring-unitary-patent-system-control/

Already the economic and academic arguments are being made as can be seen in that article. The EPO is being entrusted with the Unitary Patent, but that will bring the responsibility of harmonising with EU. It does not make sense to have 2 different sets of appeal systems in Europe (The EPO Boards and the CJEU). A single system of control is sensible, and I am sure will come into being at some point.

“Finally, as has already been pointed out, Opinion 1/09 closes the door to the EPO becoming an EU institution. Indeed, it is not 100% clear whether the EPO as it currently stands is compliant with EU law.”

Here’s another comment of interest:

I would like to address a number of inaccuracies in (implied) statements in your comment from 7 December.

Firstly, it is the Member States that are bound by the Biotech Directive. The role of the courts is to interpret that legislation, ie to determine the meaning of rules that bind the Member States (and other individuals / entities towards which those rules are directed).

Secondly, only the CJEU is able to provide a binding interpretation of the Biotech Directive. Whilst the views of the Commission and of the Member States may be of interest, they are meaningless if they do not align with the CJEU’s interpretation of that Directive.

Thirdly, there has already been national litigation (in the Netherlands) on relevant claims. Contrary to what you asserted would be the inevitable result, those claims were held by the Dutch court not to be excluded from patentability.

Finally, as has already been pointed out, Opinion 1/09 closes the door to the EPO becoming an EU institution. Indeed, it is not 100% clear whether the EPO as it currently stands is compliant with EU law. In this respect, a positive aspect of the Board of Appeal’s decision is that it avoided an outcome that would have been a blatant example of non-compliance with EU law (specifically, with Article 267 TFEU, which is essential to preserving the autonomy and supremacy of EU law).

If the Biotech Directive does not matter and the EPC does not matter either, what does that make the EPO? An outlaw organisation? An organism? If it’s an organism, maybe people can apply for a patent on it.

“There is a large uncertainty regarding patenting of plants and animals exclusively obtained by means of essentially biological processes in Europe,” Valea AB’s Joanna Applequist and Karolina Wiktorson wrote earlier this week. Over at Mondaq, J A Kemp (promoter of antibody patents) seemed rather happy to see this. “We understand that, at an oral hearing held on 5 December 2018 in relation to case T1063/18 concerning an application entitled “New pepper plants and fruits with improved nutritional value”, EPO Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.04 held that Rule 28(2) EPC introduced in July 2017 is in conflict with Article 53(b) EPC. Once confirmed, this will have important implications for EPO practice regarding inventions in the field of plant (and animal) breeding as in principle the Rule can no longer stand or be used to reject patent applications if it does not conform to the Article it is supposed to implement,” J A Kemp’s Andrew Bentham wrote.

Patent propaganda site Managing IP chose a headline that says “Plants patentable in Europe”. How misleading. It’s not actually over yet. Moreover, as we explained some days ago, the EPO is simply enraging farmers, who have already protested such moves. The ramifications remain to be seen, but for a patent office that just strives to increase so-called ‘production’ this may seem (artifiically, on the surface) like a positive development. At what cost?

Patents on Abstract Things and on Life (or Patents Which Threaten Lives) Merely Threaten the Very Legitimacy of Patent Offices, Including EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Limits are necessary

Low maximum speed

Summary: Patent Hubris and maximalism pose a threat or a major risk to the very system that they claim to be championing; by reducing the barrier to entry (i.e. introducing low-quality or socially detrimental patents) they merely embolden ardent critics who demand patent systems as a whole be abolished; the EPO is nowadays a leading example of it

Disguising/framing bogus, invalid software patents as “AI” isn’t so hard anymore. António Campinos, who has no grasp of the concept (he’s not a scientist but a former banker), thinks of the term like it’s pixie dust that miraculously makes everything “innovative”.

As IPPro Magazine put it yesterday: “According to Khan, the US has seen the most AI-related patents granted, but it is the European Patent Office (EPO) in which he sees some difficulty in terms of filing.

“They don’t even use the term “AI” in its classic/traditional sense; they just call almost any ‘clever’ algorithm or computer “AI”.”“He described the EPO’s take on the excluded subject matter in its guidelines relation to AI inventions as “easy to overcome” but warned that the inventive step aspect will be the opposite of that, likening it to pole-vaulting.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also started to adopt this buzzword more recently, quite likely in pursuit of tricks by which to overcome (at least at the Office) 35 U.S.C. § 101 (SCOTUS). They don’t even use the term “AI” in its classic/traditional sense; they just call almost any ‘clever’ algorithm or computer “AI”. This is what happens when nontechnical people are put in charge of leadership roles. Law firms run the asylum.

IP Kat‘s Neil Wilkof has just written about how Singapore deals with trademark maximalists while lawyers who produce nothing pocket lots of money.

“…letting such patents persist simply delegitimises the Office in the public eye…”IP Watch‘s article from yesterday (“Singapore IP Office Grants First Accelerated Patent Under New FinTech Initiative”), relating directly to what we wrote about yesterday, speaks about Singapore accelerating the granting process for some bogus/abstract patents and uses the buzzword “FinTech” to justify that. In their own words: “This accelerated patent application-to-grant process comes at no additional cost and is open to any FinTech enterprises from anywhere in the world who file through IPOS.” The European Patent Office (EPO) has a similar program, notably PACE although PPH and Early Certainty also relate to so-called ‘speed’ (shortcuts rather). It’s to do with backlogs really (the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) obsesses over it) and the EPO doesn’t seem to care much about 9,000+ appeals in the pipeline, addressing for the most part erroneous or controversial grants, not rejections. Some of these patents have many lives at stake. There are some notable examples of these, e.g. as covered by a propaganda site for patents on nature and life, Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review, as recently as yesterday:

Six organisations have appealed against the European Patent Office’s (EPO) decision to uphold a patent for a key hepatitis C drug.

The appeal, which concerns Gilead Sciences’ patent for sofosbuvir, was filed on Wednesday, December 5, by Médecins du Monde (MdM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), AIDES (France), Access to Medicines Ireland, Praksis (Greece) and Salud por Derecho (Spain).

According to a statement released by MSF, the EPO should revoke Gilead’s patent (EU number 2,604,620) for sofosbuvir because “it does not meet the requirements to be a patentable invention from a legal or scientific perspective”.

We wrote about it several times last week. As we put it some days ago, letting such patents persist simply delegitimises the Office in the public eye; we’ll say more about this in the next post.

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