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12.27.18

Links 27/12/2018: SpaceVim 1.0.0 and antiX 17.3

Posted in News Roundup at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tech Mahindra Launches GAiA

    Tech Mahindra Ltd. announced the launch of GAiA – the first enterprise edition of open source Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform Acumos. GAiA will enable enterprises across industry verticals to build, share and rapidly deploy AI-driven services and applications to solve business-critical problems.

  • Is It Time for Cloud Native Open Source?

    Fourteen years ago a book seller out of Seattle quietly launched its first web service and in doing so laid a foundation for the very notion of “Cloud Computing”. It is hard to believe now that it took 9 more years for the term “Cloud Native Architecture” to be coined first at Netflix and later popularized at Pivotal. In 2018, however, it is all but clear that “Cloud Native Applications” represent a radical departure from the software architectures that came before them. And if the software architecture and its ecosystem changed so much, shouldn’t “Open Source” philosophy also evolve to keep up with it?

  • The top 10 stories of 2018: Blockchain rises, open source reigns, trust wanes
  • Events

    • Cambodia ICT Camp 2018

      The day before the first day of ICT Camp Cambodia was mostly travel. I had to wake up early for going to the bus. I went through the city very fast, as it was sunday morning. But very often that doesnt mean anything, so to be on time you have to start early and sometimes that is right enough but sometimes you have then still time, especially the bus arrives later. S

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome/Chrome OS

      • Chrome OS to test early GPU support for Linux apps soon

        If you’ve kept up with Chrome OS in the past six months or so, you’ll know that one of the more interesting new features to launch is Linux apps support. While this has potential to introduce all sorts of new applications to Chrome OS, there are some features missing that hold it back, in this early stage. One of the most anticipated features, graphics acceleration (or GPU support), necessary for running Linux games and some other apps, will be available to test soon on Chrome OS.

      • Chrome OS Camera App Is Now Open Source

        Many features of Google Chrome and Chrome OS are available to open source directly from Google under the Chromium projects.

        But still, there are some things which Google intends to keep private. One feature of Chrome OS that has been kept private all this time is the Camera app, but from now on it won’t be private as it is being added to the open source Chromium repository.

      • GPU acceleration command for Linux coming soon to Project Crostini

        One of the key missing components when running Linux on a Chromebook is support for GPU hardware acceleration. That’s why many high-framerate games and the Android emulator in Android Studio don’t yet work, or if they do, they don’t work well. 9to5Google spotted a code commit that will allow you to test GPU acceleration support, likely soon in the Canary, Dev and Beta channels of Chrome OS.

  • BSD

    • DragonFly BSD 5.4.1 released with new system compiler in GCC 8 and more

      This Christmas eve, team DragonFly released the 54th version, DragonFly BSD 5.4.1, a free and open-source Unix-like operating system. This version comes with a new system compiler in GCC 8, improved NUMA support, a large number of network and virtual machine driver updates. This release also has significant HAMMER2 improvements and better WLAN interface handling.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • New frontiers in freedom for a new year

      The beginning of a new year invests us with new hope for the future: while the free software movement has been dealt some harsh blows in 2018, here at the Free Software Foundation (FSF) we have a lot of reasons for optimism as well.

      The public is slowly becoming aware that Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and other purveyors of proprietary software don’t have their best interests at heart, that “smart home” appliances are an unwise buy, and that allowing bulk surveillance in the name of “security” isn’t worth the loss of freedom. The less people outside of the inner circle of tech trust the peddlers of nonfree software and related products, the more open they are to our message; the more the public fights back to defend net neutrality, smash the disastrous EU Copyright Directive Article 13, and demand answers about how social media giants are violating their privacy, the broader our potential audience grows.

      In order to create the free world we need, free software must become a “kitchen table” issue. Making that happen is a large part of the FSF’s mission, and it takes the everyday advocacy and hard work of a huge community of supporters to make it possible. It also takes funds for campaigns, software development, and more — freedom isn’t always gratis, unfortunately. So we’re making one last push to ask you to help us start 2019 in a position of strength.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Region’s public sector takes to open source software

      Dubai: Open source software development is gaining some much needed traction as organisations try to find the right mix between innovation and cost efficiencies.

      Within the public sector, there is a focus to move away from proprietary technologies towards open source innovations, according to Adrian Pickering, regional general manager for Red Hat, the US software company.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Confluent, an Apache Kafka service provider adopts a new license to fight against cloud service providers

      A common trend of software firms limiting their software licenses to prevent cloud service providers from exploiting their open source code is all the rage these days. One such software firm to have joined this move is Confluent, an Apache Kafka service provider, who announced its new Confluent Community License, two weeks back. The new license is aimed at allowing users to download, modify and redistribute the code without letting them provide the software as a system as a service (SaaS).

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Open-source hardware simplifies sensor connection

        SeeedStudio BeagleBone Green (BBG) is a joint effort by BeagleBoard.org and Seeed Studio. It is based on the open-source hardware design of BeagleBone Black and developed into this differentiated version. The BBG has included two Grove connectors, making it easier to connect to the large family of Grove sensors. The on-board HDMI is removed to make room for these Grove connectors. Software Compatibility includes: Debian; Android; Ubuntu; Cloud9 IDE on Node.js w/; BoneScript library; plus much more.

      • Everything you need to know about modding the PlayStation Classic

        When the PlayStation Classic was first released, within hours, we had a hidden menu to play with. Unfortunately, it required you to use a mechanical keyboard by Corsair or Logitech, both of which cost a lot of cash. I tried many different keyboards in the hopes of getting this to work but it just wouldn’t. Rejoice, however, the same people who make the game hack above have got the secret menu working on the controller.

      • Lenses For DIY Augmented Reality Will Get a Bit Less Unobtainable

        When Leap Motion first announced their open-source AR headset, we examined the intruiguing specifications and the design has since been published to GitHub. At the time, we did note that the only option for the special lenses seemed to be to CNC them and then spring for a custom reflective coating.

      • Fomu Is An Open Source FPGA Board That Fits Inside A USB Port

        Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) are integrated circuits that can be programmed as per desired application after their manufacturing. Due to their flexibility, they can be used in different areas to achieve the desired purpose.

        Fomu is one such tiny FPGA that can fit inside a USB port. It is a fully open-source device that ships with 4 buttons and an RGB LED. Fomu comes in its own plastic enclosure that fits perfectly in a USB Type-A port.

  • Programming/Development

    • All about Kotlin: 8 steps to app creation

      Tour the basic guidelines for using the Kotlin programming language. This article defines its merits and demerits, along with the Java issues which Kotlin solves. It also focuses on famous applications built on the platform. Finally, you also find yourself how to build your first Kotlin application using the Android studio with little to no Java.

    • Episode #192: Python Year in Review 2018 Edition

      It’s been a fantastic year for Python. Literally, every year is better than the last with so much growth and excitement in the Python space. That’s why I’ve asked two of my knowledgeable Python friends, Dan Bader and Brian Okken, to help pick the top 10 stories from the Python community for 2018.

    • I fell in love with GAction

      A few weeks ago, while working on Fractal, I rediscovered something I had completely forgotten about: GAction. I don’t remember how I came across it, but it was definitely love at second sight, because for the next days I didn’t do much other than refactor Fractal and replace code with Actions wherever I could.

      Of course, if you like something a lot you have to be careful to use it only where it’s appropriate. For me it was basically when it’s a user action then it should use GAction, or in other word if it’s a response to an user input, like clicking on a button, then it should be a GAction.

    • Python Bytes: #110 Python Year in Review 2018 Edition
    • More Roman Numerals and Bash

      In my last article, I started digging in to a classic computer science puzzle: converting Roman numerals to Arabic numerals. First off, it more accurately should be called Hindu-Arabic, and it’s worth mentioning that it’s believed to have been invented somewhere between the first and fourth century—a counting system based on 0..9 values.

    • Put the exclamation marks and question marks to the balance, are they balanced?

      Hello, we are supposed to move to another site today but let us finish up another python problem on codewars first before we proceed to a new site. The problem goes like this.

      A function will take in two parameters consist of a string, each string consists of the exclamation mark and the question mark. Each exclamation mark weight is 2; Each question mark weight is 3. Sum up all the character values that consist of a question mark and exclamation mark on the left parameter and the right parameter, if the left side is heavier, return “Left”; If the right side is heavier, return “Right”; If they are balanced, return “Balance”. This is a very simple question so you will be able to answer it easily, come out with your own solution before looking at the below answer.

    • Exceptions in Python
    • Summarize the python pygame project
    • The people, processes, and tools of DevOps in 2018
    • The mantra for this year’s sysadmin: Work smarter, not harder
    • At KubeCon 2018, Kubernetes Lifts Cloud Native Coders To New Heights

      For an exclusive group, it has a surprisingly inclusive message.

    • Build React.js routing using History API Fallback

      In computing, React.js is an open source JavaScript library for creating User Interface (UI) specially for single page applications. It is developed and maintain by Facebook and it used for maintaining view layer for web and mobile applications.

Leftovers

  • Blizzard’s Sudden Shuttering Of Heroes Of The Storm Demonstrates Why eSports Needs Its Next Evolutionary Step

    We’ve long discussed the explosion eSports has undergone over the past few years. From a largely overseas pastime, eSports has since grown leaps and bounds, with collegiate and professional programs sponsored by educational institutions and sports leagues. Buy in from major media properties in sports has occurred at the same time, including from ESPN. The trajectory of eSports has seemingly moved in only one direction: upwards.
    But it was always going to be the case that this progress would eventually hit a wall. Those of us interested in the acceleration of eSports have been looking for symptoms of this wall, unsure of where it would come from. Now we have something of an answer, with a prime example of why eSports needs to undergo its next step in evolution, as demonstrated by the chaos that was Blizzard shuttering its Heroes of the Storm league.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Coal Companies Get Tax Breaks, While Black Lung Rates Rise

      Does “black lung” sound like a dramatic 19th-century disease to you? A problem, perhaps, of a bygone era when coal miners used to work in unsafe conditions without respiratory protection?

      Well, surprise: The Trump administration wants to make black lung — also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis — great again.

      This illness occurs in people exposed to large quantities of coal dust over extended periods of time, and it can take years to manifest. Patients start to cough, develop shortness of breath and experience other respiratory symptoms. And while inhalers, supplemental oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation can help, sometimes a lung transplant is the best option — if someone can qualify and stay alive long enough to receive donor lungs.

    • A Safe Alternative to Female Circumcision

      Female circumcision, also called female genital mutilation (FGM) is widely practiced in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East. More than 125 million women have been subjected to different forms of genital mutilation across Africa and in areas of western and southern Asia, and 2 million women undergo the procedure annually. According to UNICEF, 91 percent of women age 15–49 undergo female circumcision in Egypt, where a young woman died recently following this procedure.

      It is also carried out in Australia, Canada, England, France, and the United States among immigrants from countries where it is performed as a ritual. Female genital mutilation is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. FGM has no health benefits to women. On the contrary, by removing normal, healthy genital tissue the procedure interferes with the body’s natural functions. An alternative rite to replace this practice offers hope to change this situation.

      A safe alternative to traditional female genital mutilation has been used for many years in some African countries. If more extensively used, it can contribute to putting an end to a practice that has caused considerable harm and suffering to millions of women worldwide.

  • Security

    • WireGuard Is Now Available From Apple’s App Store

      But for Linux desktop users, WireGuard wasn’t added to net-next so it doesn’t look like it’s coming now for the current Linux 4.21 cycle with its merge window currently open… At least the DKMS module support for WireGuard is in good shape. More details on setting up WireGuard for different platforms can be found at WireGuard.com.

    • Kaspersky Lab Finds Vulnerabilities With Connected EV Chargers That Can Be Used To Hack Home Networks

      It took longer than expected, but connected EV home chargers are showing their potential danger in an era of the Internet of Things (IoT). Kaspersky Lab has reported finding a serious flaw for home networks with connected EV chargers.

    • How to secure your Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop installation with Uncomplicated Firewall

      So you just installed Ubuntu Desktop 18.04. You’re probably assuming that desktop is already pretty secure. That assumption is, for the most part, correct. However, we all know that any computer connected to a network is insecure. We must always do everything we can to secure those desktops. Although out of the box, a Ubuntu desktop is going to be exponentially more secure than, say a Windows desktop, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take extra steps to secure it.

    • Linux Kernel USB Subsystem Data Size Checks Handling Vulnerability [CVE-2018-20169]

      A vulnerability in the USB subsystem of the Linux Kernel could allow a local attacker to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (DoS) condition on a targeted system.

    • Cyber breaches abound in 2019
    • An Internet Outage Could Kick In WannaCry Ransomware Again [Ed: Microsoft and the NSA colluded for back door access into Windows. 2 years after crackers exploited these back doors it’s still a plague.]

      WannaCry Ransomware started 18 months ago and infected hundreds of thousands of computers all over the world, encrypting data and demanding ransom in return. The infamous malware still lurks on thousands of computers.

      When WannaCry ransomware first started its attack, Marcus Hutchins, a security researcher from Kryptos Logic registered a domain that worked as a kill switch for the ransomware component. For those who are unaware, WannaCry Ransomware is programmed to connect to “iuqerfsodp9ifjaposdfjhgosurijfaewrwergwea.com” domain to decide whether it should activate itself or not. This kill switch domain prevents the activation of the ransomware when infection connects to it. However, to date, the infection runs in the background silently and attempts connection to the kill switch domain.

    • Class 2 00 Red Hat Enterprise Linux Security Technologies Lab Lucy Kerner and Roy Williams
    • Top advice for securing your systems in 2019

      And once data is leaked, it will be put to use. There’s been an enormous rise in extortion attempts based on account data allegedly used on “adult sites” and hijacked webcam footage. This brings us inexorably to cryptocurrencies. Besides being the payment method of choice for criminals, cryptocurrency has also suffered this year, with a $13.5 million wallet compromise at Bancor in July. Bitcoin has seen huge peaks and troughs as confidence in the currency has oscillated.

    • Bookmark 10 popular tips on containers and Kubernetes
    • Sysdig: Container Security Product Overview and Analysis
    • 10 Top Container and Kubernetes Security Vendors

      Containers are among the hottest areas of application development, with multiple vendors supporting the technology approach that enables a more agile deployment model. But with that agility comes some security concerns. Container platform technologies include some native security controls, but there is also a need for additional technologies. That’s where container security vendors come in.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • In Surprise Trip to Iraq, Trump Defends Decision on Syria Withdrawal

      In a surprise trip to Iraq, President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria where they have been helping battle Islamic State militants.

      “We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq. “We’re respected again as a nation.”

    • Imperial Interventions, Withdrawal from Syria and Self-Determination

      Trump’s sudden announcement to withdraw US troops from Syria is a good development that should be welcomed by everyone who proclaims to care about what the US does in their name around the world. American interference in that country starting in 2011 was never authorized by the UN according to international law and therefore has been illegitimate from the start. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be serious debate about how that withdrawal should be carried out.

    • Yemen and the War Powers Act

      There are two things you never let your children see. One is sausage being made and the other is policy. The House & Senate War Powers Resolutions were complicated as hell so most journalists and politicians are not able to explain half of it.

      For the wonkiest of wonks here is some information about the two separate Resolutions invoking the War Power Act to end the U.S. support to the Saudi-lead war reported in the news.

      What’s driving this nearly four-year-old war to finally be debated to the actually get votes is the horrific human tolls it’s taking. Everyone by now should have heard that the United Nations is calling the war in Yemen the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history. New estimates show more than ‪60,000 people have been killed in the Yemen war in past 2 years according to the UK-based independent research group Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). Sen. Bernie Sanders has been repeating over and over that 85,000 children have died of starvation. “Some 1.8 million Yemeni children are malnourished, making them more vulnerable to disease, the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with 400,000 whose lives are at risk from severe acute malnutrition,” reported Reuters in October.

    • Trump’s Big Pullout

      It is significant that US President Donald Trump has decided to withdraw his troops from Syria. The 14thDecember decision was followed immediately by another announcement by the President to pull out a sizeable number of soldiers from Afghanistan where the US has been involved in a war for the last 17 years — the longest war in its history.

      Both the decisions, especially the one on Syria, have been condemned by a lot of US Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. They feel that the decisions undermine the US’s role as a global power. US allies such as Britain and France have also criticised the pull-outs. By getting out of Syria in particular, the US has made it easier for certain powers from within and without the region to exert even more influence over the politics of that country and that of its neighbours to the detriment of the West. Most of the international media argue that US success in fighting the terrorists in Syria which Trump cited as the reason for the withdrawal will be rendered meaningless in no time since terrorist cells are still alive and capable of striking at civilians. In the case of Afghanistan, the US cut-back, the media contends, will expedite the Taliban’s goal of gaining total control over the country.

      [...]

      What are the real reasons then that persuaded Trump to act the way he did on Syria and Afghanistan? In both countries the prospect of imminent defeat was a factor that influenced Trump’s decision. More than that was the financial cost of war in the two countries. It is estimated that the Syrian war would cost the US 15.3 billion dollars in 2019. The figures are even more staggering for Afghanistan. With 16,000 troops in the country, the war costs the US taxpayer 45 billion dollars a year. Between 2010 and 2012 when the US had 100,000 troops on the ground, the Afghan war cost a 100 billion a year.

    • Iraqi Leaders Condemn Trump’s Surprise Visit as ‘Flagrant and Clear Violation of Diplomatic Norms’

      Bina, one of Iraq’s major parliamentary blocs, said Trump’s visit “shows his disdain and hostility in his dealings with the Iraqi government.”

      “The American leadership was defeated in Iraq and wants to return again under any pretext, and this is what we will never allow,” declared Falih Khazali, an Iraqi politician aligned with Bina.

      Sabah al Saadi, the leader of Islah—Bina’s parliamentary rival—agreed, demanding an emergency session “to discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.”

    • 2018: Year of Space Exploration & WikiLeaks Reveals US Spies’ ‘Shopping List’

      With US troops withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan and the departure of Defense Sec. Mattis, policy analysts are asking whether there’s a wider realignment for the US military. Is President Trump preparing to merely replace US soldiers with Western mercenaries and military contractors? Investigative journalist Ben Swann joins News.Views.Hughes to weigh in.

    • Trump’s first trip to a combat zone was secret — except on Twitter

      WikiLeaks then tweeted that the plane’s transponders — the device used to to track plane flights — were either changed or disabled near Romania.

    • “Fort Trump” in Poland is a Another Dumb and Dangerous Idea

      Should the United States build a permanent military base in Poland? Dangle a couple billion dollars in front of Donald Trump ― who seems to see himself as America’s premier arms merchant, when he’s not using the presidency to make money for himself and his family ― and you can see his eyes light up. “Fort Trump,” we will call it, suggested Poland’s president Andrzej Duda, who knows how to manipulate an insatiable ego.

      Trump responded positively: “Poland would be paying billions of dollars for a base, and we are looking at that.”

      But even some of the more hawkish military analysts, such as Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe from 2014 to 2017, have argued that this is “unnecessarily provocative.” The idea was roundly rejected by the US and Germany when it was suggested in 2016.

    • War Games in Vermont: Danger of Crashes and Permanent Hearing Loss

      The US Air Force does not pull punches: it readily admits the extreme harm it delivers to civilians in Vermont with its F-16 jets. It disclosed that the plan to replace F-16 jets with F-35s in 2019 will increase the number of civilians harmed, that the harms will be more severe, and that children and adults will be harmed in more ways.

      The Air Force divulged three distinct ways the F-35 will hit civilians with permanent hearing loss, as well as the extreme crash danger from the jets taking off from a civilian airport. Truthout has reported on the referendum and city council votes demonstrating public opposition to the jet basing.

      As Truthout has also reported, the Air Force admits that F-16 jets and their flight paths are so tightly intermingled with the schools and homes of thousands of Vermonters that their extreme noise impairs learning of 920 children who are directly blasted several thousand times a year as the F-16 jets take off. Learning is also impaired for thousands more who attend the seven schools that are hit with multiple daily classroom-speech interruptions. The Air Force also admits that the high average noise level its F-16 and F-35 jets produce can cause hearing damage for as many as 583 adults and children whose 242 homes are closest to the Burlington International Airport, and where the aircraft noise, when averaged over 24 hours, exceeds 75 decibels (dB).

    • Shiite Parties Decry Trump’s ‘Arrogant’ and ‘Disdainful’ Visit to Iraq, Ignoring Iraqis

      Trump’s surprise visit to a US military base in Iraq on the day after Christmas has provoked a strong critique among some Iraqis, who mind that Trump slipped in and out to visit the Ain al-Assad base in al-Anbar Province but did not bother to meet with any Iraqi officials. It was as if Iraq were an empty vessel useful only for hosting the US military.

      Trump has made a poor impression in Iraq by saying the US should have “taken Iraqi oil” as a reward for having invaded the country in 2003. He also keeps asking the politicians in Iraq to use their oil money to pay the United States’ military expenses incurred during the invasion and occupation of the country.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange and Russia’s UK embassy

      Your article (Revealed: Russia’s Christmas Eve plot to smuggle Assange out of UK, 22 September) claiming that Russian diplomats held secret talks to assess whether they could help Julian Assange flee the UK has nothing to do with the reality. The embassy has never engaged with Ecuadorean colleagues, or with anyone else, in discussions on any kind of Russian participation in ending Mr Assange’s stay within the diplomatic mission of Ecuador. As regards the idea that “the Kremlin was willing to offer support” to a secret plan by “allowing Assange to travel to Russia”, we are puzzled by the sensational attitude of the authors. Russia is always happy to welcome international guests if they arrive in a lawful manner and with good intentions.

      As recently as 18 September, the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, speaking at the Royal Television Society, called for increased efforts to combat media and online disinformation. Your article is a brilliant example of the kind of journalism that the British reader should be protected from.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • In Praise of Dead Trees

      We carry this cultural bias to our view of forests. Like most people I once viewed dead trees as an indicator of some presumed problem in the forest—that a ‘healthy” forest was one with a minimum of dead trees and largely free of wildfire, insects, and disease. Oh yes, I knew that a few snags were good for woodpeckers, and as a fly fisherman I understood that trout tended to be found hiding behind logs in the stream. I suffered from the same cultural bias as most people and thought that large numbers of dead trees meant that the forest was “out of balance” or “sick.” But the more I studied ecology, the more I questioned these assumptions. I now understand that large numbers of dead trees are critical to functioning forest ecosystems and sometimes, at the risk of hyperbole, I occasionally say they are ultimately more important to forest ecosystems than live trees.

    • An Indian Perspective on the UN Climate Meeting: Not Much Help for the World’s Poor and Vulnerable

      The international climate change conference that concluded in Katowice, Poland on Dec. 15 had limited ambitions and expectations — especially compared to the 2015 meeting that produced the Paris climate agreement. It will be remembered mainly for its delegates agreeing on a common “rulebook” to implement existing country commitments for reducing emissions.

      The deal is vital. It keeps the new global climate regime alive. It maintains a path to deliver financial and technical assistance to vulnerable countries and peoples. Actors with quite divergent interests, including the United States, the European Union, oil producing states, China, India, and small island nations all accepted a common approach to measuring progress.

    • Ten Ways 2018 Brought Us Closer to Climate Apocalypse

      The 20 warmest years ever recorded have been within the last 22 years, and the four warmest of those have been 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO has stated that if these trends continue (and there is no reason to believe they won’t), global temperatures may rise from between 3-5C by 2100. The organization warned that if humans exploit all known fossil fuel reserves, “the temperature rise will be considerably higher” than even those catastrophic levels.

      “It is worth repeating once again that we are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas announced in a recent WMO press release.

      Yet even with this stark wake-up call, it may well already be too late, given that we are already living in the Sixth Mass Extinction. A study published earlier this year, conducted by an international team of researchers from 17 countries whose findings were published in Nature Geoscience, showed that global temperatures could eventually double those that have been predicted by climate modeling.

    • Extinction Rates Could Be 10 Times Worse Than We Thought

      Two scientists want the world to think again about the extinction toll, the rate at which species could vanish as the planet warms. They warn that the worst fears so far may have been based on underestimates. Tomorrow’s rates of extinction could be 10 times worse.

      That is because the loss of one or two key species could turn into a cascade that could spell the end for whole ecosystems. “Primary extinctions driven by environmental change could be just the tip of an enormous extinction iceberg,” they warn.

      In their study, long before the complete loss of one species, other species locked into the same ecosystem started to perish. There is no need to worry about the rare but real hazard of an asteroid impact, or a burst of gamma rays from a nearby exploding star. The message from the simulators is that global average warming of between 5° and 6°C above the level for most of history since the end of the last Ice Age would be enough to wipe out most life on the hypothetical Earths.

      “This makes it difficult to be optimistic about the future of species diversity in the ongoing trajectory of global change, let alone in the case of additional external, extraplanetary catastrophes.”

    • Report on President’s Environmental Record So Far ‘Reminds Us That Trump Soap Opera Has Dire Real-World Consequences’

      A New York Times investigative report on President Donald Trump’s nearly two-year environmental record and how his industry-friendly policies are impacting communities nationwide, published in the Thursday paper, “reminds us that the Trump soap opera has dire real-world consequences.”

      That’s according to 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who added on Twitter that “futures are foreclosed because he’s a tool of dirty energy.”

  • Finance

    • Racial discrimination: Banks are shutting door to homeownership

      Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts.

      This modern-day redlining persisted in 61 metro areas even when controlling for applicants’ income, loan amount and neighborhood, according to a mountain of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

      The yearlong analysis, based on 31 million records, relied on techniques used by leading academics, the Federal Reserve and Department of Justice to identify lending disparities.

      It found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country, including in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio. African Americans faced the most resistance in Southern cities – Mobile, Alabama; Greenville, North Carolina; and Gainesville, Florida – and Latinos in Iowa City, Iowa.

    • By Shutting Down Government Over Racist Border Wall, Union Says Trump ‘Gambling With Lives of Federal Workers’

      “Most view this as an act of ineptitude,” said IFPTE president Paul Sheaaron, who noted that members of the union are among the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have been furloughed or are working without pay due to the shutdown.

      “Donald Trump is the head of the administrative branch of government. As the nation’s top administrator he should be deeply concerned about the morale of his employees,” Sheaaron continued. “Instead, he is literally tweeting the words ‘poor me’ while holding dedicated professionals hostage, creating unnecessary stress and financial hardships for their families, undermining their work product, and treating them as a chip on a giant poker table.”

      “If the president wants to gamble,” concluded Sheaaron, “perhaps he should go back to running casinos. Gambling with the lives of federal workers is not acceptable.”

    • Understanding ‘Brexit’ as Portmanteau

      The tragedy of ‘Brexit’ is as to that of illusion; it is that of some ‘Bipartisan’ assassination of ‘diversity’ as much as yet would retain control over the issue of ‘currency’?

    • Growing Income Inequality Threatens Middle Class, US Success
    • Taiwanese Launch Their Version of Yellow Vest Protest

      Protesters in Taiwan are taking a page from France’s yellow vest movement.

      Thousands of demonstrators turned out Thursday for the third time in a week to demand lower taxes and the fair handling of tax disputes.

      Wearing yellow vests, they shouted slogans outside the Ministry of Finance in Taipei and waved banners calling Taiwan’s tax collection policies illegal.

      A ministry official said earlier this week that it had addressed some of the complaints of anti-tax activists on its website.

    • Crooked River Water: Public Right vs. Private Profits

      An article in the November 9th Bend (Oregon) Bulletin reported that due to low water reserves, the Bureau of Reclamation that controls water release from Prineville Reservoir might limit flows in the Crooked River to preserve water for irrigators to the detriment of fish and the Crooked River’s aquatic ecosystem.

      A number of other recent commentaries have championed Agriculture and their use of water for irrigation.

      These articles fail to ask a fundamental question.

      Why are irrigators allowed to dewater our rivers, destroy aquatic ecosystems and potentially kill thousands of fish with impunity?

    • Russian federal officials raid major alcohol vendor’s offices and warehouses, days before crucial holiday sales

      On December 26, officials raided several stores that belong to the Krasnoe & Beloe (“Red & White”) alcohol sales chain. Officers from Russia’s Federal Tax Service, the Federal Alcohol Market Regulation Service, the Federal Security Service, and the Special Police Force carried out searches of the liquor vendor’s offices in Moscow and Chelyabinsk and company warehouses across the country on the morning of December 26, Red & White’s spokespeople told reporters. The searches lasted until late in the evening. According to the relative of a company employee working at a warehouse in Yekaterinburg, people in masks armed with automatic weapons “burst in and ordered everyone to the ground,” and then “herded” more than 300 staff into the cafeteria, where they were detained all day and forbidden from eating.

    • Building for Bulls, Bears, and the Crypto Revolution

      For context, in December 2017, the price of bitcoin had just hit its all-time high of $19,783.06. The price of ether was about to hit its all-time high of $1,417.38. CryptoKitties were running rampant all over the ethereum network, thousands of ICOs had launched in 2017 and hundreds of dedicated crypto funds opened their doors.

    • Why Do We Demolish Buildings Instead of Deconstructing Them for Re-Use?

      Just a few years after starting a non-profit reselling used building materials in the early 1990s, Ted Reiff’s organization, The ReUse People, hit a wall. “We couldn’t get enough materials to supply the demand,” he says. Despite tons of donated and salvaged doors, windows and structural beams coming in to his San Diego-based operation, the amount of people seeking cheap materials for homebuilding and renovation projects was overwhelming. “We were constantly getting cleared out every day.”

      So Reiff got a demolition license. But unlike traditional demolition crews that simply knock buildings down with a backhoe, Reiff’s approach was to gradually disassemble the structures, carefully extracting saleable materials like a miner plucking gold nuggets from the ground. Reiff’s company became specialists in a relatively new concept known as deconstruction, dismantling homes piece by piece to preserve the abundant reusable components within.

    • The 8 Most Important Labor Stories of 2018

      In June, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in Janus v. AFSCME—and it was just as bad as everyone feared. In a 5-to-4 decision, the court found that public-sector unions violated the First Amendment by collecting so-called fair-share fees from workers who aren’t union members but benefit from collective bargaining regardless.

      A report by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimated that the resulting “free-rider” problem could eventually lead to the loss of 726,000 public-sector union members nationwide. This diminished strength could result, in turn, in a 3.6 percent decline in public-sector wages.

      But the immediate fallout has been less catastrophic than some forecast. Public-sector unions took a hit to their finances, as automatic deductions from non-members ceased. But many are reporting that membership is holding steady, or even increasing. That’s thanks in large part to protective measures enacted in blue states, as well as proactive membership organizing by unions themselves—both of which the Right is attempting to overturn or counter with its own aggressive “opt out” campaigns. While it’s far too early to tell what the long-term impact of Janus will be, the ruling wasn’t the knockout blow that anti-union forces had hoped for.

      [...]

      #MeToo was never limited to rich Hollywood actresses, as some bad-faith critiques suggested. The hashtag was originally created by activist Tarana Burke to connect women of color with support and resources for sexual assault, and has also helped shine a light on sexual harassment in low-wage sectors.

      But until recently, the movement was generally more focused on public pressure and legal action than on workplace organizing. That changed this fall, when McDonald’s went on what organizers say was the first-ever multi-state strike against sexual harassment. After McDonald’s employees filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this spring, saying the company was routinely ignoring reports sexual harassment, workers escalated by going on a one-day strike at McDonald’s restaurants in at least 10 cities in September. The actions were backed by both Fight for 15 and Time’s Up, the legal fund launched earlier this year by a group of women in Hollywood.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Could This Be Our Best Hope of Removing Trump From Office?

      The dog whistle couldn’t have been any clearer. When Donald Trump said two weeks ago that “the people would revolt” if he were impeached, his extremist base of neo-Nazis, Klan members, right-wing militias and sympathetic service members likely heard the following: “Feel free to attack Democrats, liberals, leftists and progressives if the coming Democratic Party-run House of Representatives acts on its constitutional right to impeach me.”

      Impeachment alone probably wouldn’t trigger a right-wing uprising. But impeachment followed by the unlikely prospect of removal, which requires 67 votes in the Republican-majority U.S. Senate, might well make it happen. So too could invoking the 25th Amendment on the grounds that Trump is incapable of performing his presidential duties.

      Officially, the Democratic Party—led by corporate allies like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi—isn’t interested in moving ahead with either of these constitutionally available processes. That could change, however, if and when the report from special counsel Robert Mueller directly implicates Trump. But even if the party’s efforts proved successful, America would be left with President Mike Pence—an honest-to-goodness Christian fascist.

    • Rep. Louie Gohmert Wants To Strip Section 230 Immunity From Social Media Platforms That Aren’t ‘Neutral’

      Rep. Louie Gohmert is one of the most technologically inept Congressmen we have the misfortune of being “served” by. Getting to the top of this list isn’t easy. The halls of Congress are filled with people who truly don’t understand the tech they’re attempting to regulate. Nor do they appear to be making any effort to educate themselves. Gohmert, however, seems to believe his position as an elected official gives him tech smarts he actually doesn’t have, so he spends a great deal of time embarrassing himself when grilling tech reps during Congressional hearings.

      Gohmert was one of the participants in the Social Media Bloodsport Hearings of 2018. Held over the course of several months, the hearings were 75% grandstanding and 20% misunderstanding the issues at hand. Social media services have been hit hard recently for appearing to bury/deplatform right-wing accounts while simultaneously allowing the platforms to be overrun with foreign state-operated bots. It’s ugly but the ignorance displayed by Gohmert and others during the hearings was just as galling.

    • Britain’s Pantomimes and Puerile Propaganda

      The Pantomime season has begun in London. These particularly British stage shows are all-singing, all-dancing, slapstick comedies, mostly based on old fairy tales and peculiar to the British sense of humor, or what nowadays passes for that pleasant but disappearing national characteristic.

      On December 8, ‘Snow White’ opened at the London Palladium, ‘Peter Pan’ at Richmond Theatre, and ‘Aladdin’ in Wimbledon. All of them are loud, extravagant, amusing and far-fetched to the point of being grotesque.

      Which brings us to the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday and its front page headline on December 2 that

      Russian TV spies are caught at top secret UK army base: How Fake News team tried to infiltrate British psychological warfare unit.

      The “exclusive” report told Britons excitedly that “A top-level security alert has been issued at every military base in Britain after a Russian TV crew was caught ‘spying’ at the UK’s secret cyber warfare HQ. Troops have been ordered to urgently contact police if they spot a reporter and cameraman from Russia’s main state broadcaster loitering near military installations. The dramatic and unprecedented move came after journalist Timur Siraziev was seen secretly filming close to the 25 ft barbed wire perimeter fence of the 77th Brigade – a top secret Army unit that works alongside MI5, MI6 and the SAS in electronic and psychological warfare.”

    • Failed Neoliberal Policies Caused Low African American Turnout in 2016 – Not Russians

      The New York Times and other “liberal” media persisted this week with their yellow journalism regarding Russia, giving great publicity to two reports asserting that Russian trolls targeted African American voters over social media in their alleged attempt to elect Donald Trump.

      The reports were issued by a Cyber Security firm, New Knowledge, and Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University and Graphix, who were both commissioned by the Senate Foreign Intelligence Committee.

      Based on review of 10.4 million tweets, 1,100 YouTube videos, 116,000 Instagram posts, and 61,500 Facebook posts published from 2015 through 2017, the New Knowledge report concluded that the Russians had tried to dissuade African Americans from voting for Hillary Clinton.

      In some cases, the trolls tried to mislead people into texting their votes. In others, they encouraged voting for third-party candidates like Jill Stein or giving up on voting all together, with messages that read “F*CK THE ELECTIONS.”

    • The Party of Ideas

      Starve the beast. This was a popular rationale for tax cuts (beyond the real, tacit one of further enriching political donors) offered by reigning conservative demigod Milton Friedman. If you reduce revenue, it will force hated Big Government to shrink accordingly. Not only has this scheme never worked out, Republican administrations have expanded the national debt significantly more than Democratic ones.

      Tax cuts pay for themselves (or even increase revenue). This absurd myth is still being mouthed by true believers like Paul Ryan, even as he leaves the speakership with an unprecedented record of fiscal failure at a time of a generally good economy.

      The crazy implication of this tax-cut theology ought to be that if you cut taxes to zero, revenues will be infinite. This theory and “starve the beast” also achieve the difficult feat of each being completely wrong while flatly contradicting one another. It’s like believing simultaneously in the Young Earth Creation and Steady State models of the universe – two contradictory and demonstrably false hypotheses.

      Efficient markets hypothesis. Wall Street must, by a Newtonian law of nature, allocate capital and risk in the most efficient manner possible. Therefore, who needs regulations? A glance at the numerous financial panics throughout history ought to have disproved this idea, but Federal Reserve board chairman Alan Greenspan embraced it along with Ayn Rand’s other crank notions. In 1999, Brooksley Born, chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, attempted to argue that the near total deregulation of the futures market was a bad idea. Greenspan and the rest of the free-market establishment mowed her down, and so one more cause of the 2008 financial meltdown was set in concrete.

    • The Progressive Promise of Trump Country

      If you despair that a mysterious plague of incurable political knuckle-headism has swept our country, turning previously progressive white working-class people into mindless Trump worshipers, then I want to tell you about a new report.

      It’s from People’s Action, a grassroots coalition that sent out volunteers to knock on more than 5,000 doors, have nearly 2,500 phone conversations, and visit scores of local events and churches in “Trump Country” — dozens of rural counties in 10 swing states that went for Trump in 2016.

      The volunteers simply had open conversations, asking folks in economically distressed rural communities what mattered to them politically. The most common initial response was: “No one’s ever asked me before.”

    • The Real War on Christmas (Video)

      The phony “War on Christmas” seems to be about forcing Christianity down people’s throats. I’m all for Santa and, more importantly, Jesus, but it seems that the same people defending Christmas from some phony war are the same ones who would bar Jesus, Mary and Joseph from coming into the US.

    • As Claim That ‘Many’ Workers Support Shutdown Falls Apart, Trump Now Insists ‘Most’ Unpaid Federal Employees ‘Are Democrats’

      With his baseless claim that “many” federal workers support the government shutdown quickly falling apart in the face of objections from public employees themselves, President Donald Trump suddenly shifted ground in a tweet Thursday morning, declaring—also without any evidence—that “most of the people not getting paid are Democrats.”

      “Need to stop drugs, human trafficking, gang members and criminals from coming into our country,” Trump said as the government shutdown over his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding continued into its sixth day. “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • New Hampshire Sued Over Criminal Defamation Law Abused To Arrest Law Enforcement Critic

      Criminal defamation laws are stupid. But they’re more than stupid: they’re harmful. Plenty of entire countries still have them. But those countries don’t have a First Amendment. With the First Amendment in place, it makes little sense to criminalize speech that can be handled through civil litigation. Nevertheless, these outdated laws are still on the books. In some cases, courts have already found them unconstitutional, but legislators seem unwilling to remove laws that are only ever abused by the government.

      Due to this combination of laziness and self-interest, half the country still allows the government to arrest people for engaging in alleged defamation. One of those 25 states is New Hampshire, where the ACLU is now working to have the law ruled unconstitutional.

      The case stems from the arrest of New Hampshire resident Robert Frese. Frese was hauled in by Exeter cops for calling the Exeter police chief “corrupt” and saying that he had “covered up” for dirty Exeter cops. The arrest of Frese for criticizing Exeter law enforcement did nothing to undermine either of his claims. If anything, it just made Exeter cops look dirtier and Police Chief William Shupe look more corrupt.

      The criminal defamation charges ended up being dropped by the prosecutor, who found the charge wasn’t worth pursuing. That ended this criminal prosecution under the stupid state law, but it didn’t get rid the stupid state law that allowed Police Chief Shupe to retaliate against Frese in the first place.

    • UK Cops Have Decided Impolite Online Speech Is Worth A Visit From An Officer

      So, that’s where things are at in the UK. That has led to cops showing up at people’s doors to discuss online incivility. It’s a heckler’s veto with the weight of the UK government behind it — something that can be abused to silence critics of people who can’t handle criticism.

      In this case, it was Irish comedy writer Graham Linehan being visited by the Norwich Police Department on a Sunday morning. He was apparently reported by outspoken trans rights activist Adrian Harrop. Linehan had posted tweets criticizing Harrop’s televised debate with a woman who had paid for a billboard depicting the dictionary’s definition of the word “woman,” which bothered Harrop so much he complained and got that taken down as well.

      Harrop was the reason Linehan was talking to police officers about tweets that didn’t even violate the Twitter Rules. He had merely suggested Harrop’s steamrolling of the billboard buyer during a televised debate might have been “male privilege.” Another tweet alleged Harrop had threatened women and doxxed them for not being friendly enough to his cause. This is the tweet Harrop admits bothered him so much he needed to call the police. This is the disturbing, but ultimately useless, outcome of Harrop’s decision.

    • Yandex now censors Telegram.org search results for users in Russia

      Yandex has stopped showing search results to Internet users in Russia that link to the official website of the instant messenger Telegram, https://telegram.org. The newsletter The Bell was the first media outlet to notice the new policy.

      When using the Internet in Russia and searching Google for “telegram,” the messenger’s website is the first result. Internet users in Russia who turn to Yandex for the same search, however, find no links whatsoever to https://telegram.org.

    • Sudan journos strike to protest crackdown, censorship

      For eight days, Sudan has been rocked by angry protests against rampant inflation, acute bread shortages

      [...]

      Khalid Fathi, editor-in-chief of Sudanese daily Al-Tayyar, told Anadolu Agency that he had been attacked by police on Tuesday while covering protests in downtown Khartoum

      Fathi said he had suffered a leg injury after police used teargas to disperse demonstrators.

      Sudanese security forces on Tuesday dispersed thousands of protesters who had gathered in central Khartoum to demand the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Year in Review: Airport Surveillance Takes Off in a New, Dangerous Direction

      In 2018, we learned that expanded biometric surveillance is coming to an airport near you. This includes face recognition, iris scans, and fingerprints. And government agencies aren’t saying anything about how they will protect this highly sensitive information.

      This fall, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) published their Biometrics Roadmap for Aviation Security and the Passenger Experience, detailing plans to work with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to roll out increased biometric collection and screening for all passengers, including Americans traveling domestically. Basically, CBP and TSA want to use face recognition and other biometric data to track everyone from check-in, through security, into airport lounges, and onto flights. If implemented, there might not be much you can do to avoid it: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said that the only way we can ensure that our biometric data isn’t collected when we travel is to “refrain from traveling.”

    • Indian Government Wants Tech Companies To Give Law Enforcement 24-Hour Access To User Data And Broken Encryption

      India’s government is joining the rest of the world in seeking more direct control of the internet. We in the US used to be able to point at Section 230 immunity and the First Amendment as evidence of our hands-off approach, but with the passage of FOSTA and multiple legislators demanding tech companies engage in more moderation and less moderation simultaneously, we’ve ceded a lot of the high ground.

      The Indian government, however, is seeking to expand its control of the internet far past what should be considered reasonable in a nation whose government pays occasional lip service to protecting free speech. In addition to its already-abused laws covering certain forms of speech — which, in practice, tends to mean criticism of government officials — the Indian government is demanding speedy takedowns of content and direct access for law enforcement to user info, posts, and comments around the clock.

    • GDPR and Requests by EU Clients to be Forgotten

      Prosecution for foreign clients presents several ethical issues, and the recently enacted EU General Data Protect Regulation (“GDPR”) presents some fun ones. In Maryland State Bar Association Ethics Opinion 2018-06 (here), the committee tackled how a firm can abide by an EU client’s request to be “forgotten” — and so delete all records of having represented the client — and yet after that run conflicts checks to make sure the firm isn’t being adverse to that former client in a substantially related matter, as Rule 1.9 of most state ethical rules (and USPTO rule 11.109) require.

    • Facebook Filed A Patent To Calculate Your Future Location

      Facebook has filed several patent applications with the US Patent and Trademark Office for technology that uses your location data to predict where you’re going and when you’re going to be offline.

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

    • The Morning Download: Facebook Under Fire

      Good day, CIOs. The flow of user data among Facebook Inc. and other companies is the subject of extensive examination in a story yesterday in the New York Times. “For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules,” the article begins, citing internal records and interviews.

    • Amazon patent hints at using doorbell cameras to build a suspicious persons database

      Jacob Snow, a technology and civil liberties attorney for the ACLU, has been making the rounds telling media outlets that a newly publicized patent from Amazon paints a picture of a dystopian, “nightmarish” future. Strong words for a patent application that’s starting to make headlines over fears that Amazon could use the Ring doorbell camera company it acquired to build a robust tool for creepy surveillance.

    • Amazon Patents Facial Recognition for Suspicious Persons
    • Amazon’s strategy to foil porch pirates with facial recognition hints at a ‘dangerous future,’ critics say

      Amazon may be introducing a high-tech solution for the millions of Americans who have packages stolen off their porches each year — but privacy groups aren’t buying it.

      The retail giant filed for a patent in November on a new feature for its Ring video doorbells that would use facial recognition software to identify “suspicious persons” near a customer’s front door. Such people could then be added to a database of “suspicious” people, the patent showed, according to the Telegraph. The technology would also use biometric techniques including scent recognition and fingerprinting to determine whether a person was an authorized guest.

    • Cybersecurity 101: Why you need to use a password manager [Ed: Microsoft Zack recommends uploading all your passwords to NSA PRISM companies even though Snowden leaks showed that the NSA harvests these from there]

      Passwords are stolen all the time. Sites and services are at risk of breaches as much as you are to phishing attacks that try to trick you into turning over your password. Although companies are meant to scramble your password whenever you enter it — known as hashing — not all use strong or modern algorithms, making it easy for hackers to reverse that hashing and read your password in plain text. Some companies don’t bother to hash at all! That puts your accounts at risk of fraud or your data at risk of being used against you for identity theft.

    • Cybersecurity 101: How to choose and use an encrypted messaging app [Ed: Poor advice from Microsoft Zack as many of the names services have back doors]

      Text messaging has been around since the dawn of cellular technology, and sparked its own unique language. But it’s time to put sending regular SMS messages out to pasture.

    • How The GDPR Nearly Ruined Christmas

      While the thinking behind the GDPR may seem sensible, time and time again we hear stories about how, in practice, it’s a complete disaster. Some of that may be because of people misinterpreting the law. Some of it may be because the law is being abused. And some of it may be because the law is too vague. But some of it is just because the law tries to do way too much. So, today, we have a little story of how the GDPR nearly ruined Christmas for a small town in Germany.

      The town of Roth has a long-standing tradition where children would write down their Christmas wishes, which would then be placed on a tree in the market. The city council would read the wishes and try to get the children what they wanted. Nice, wholesome, holiday good deeds and all.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Battle to Stop Family Separation

      In March 2017, John Kelly, then Secretary of Homeland Security, said in an interview with CNN that the Trump administration was considering a national policy to separate parents from their children to deter immigrants from crossing the border into the United States. The proposal triggered a backlash because it was so unpalatable, and the administration didn’t move forward with it. But six months later, in December 2017, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that the administration was again considering the idea. At the same time, advocates who provide services to children in government custody told ACLU lawyers they were seeing children much younger than the teenagers they usually saw entering their facilities. As the stories began to multiply, the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project quickly realized that the administration wasn’t considering the separation of children from their parents—it was already doing it.

    • Trump’s War on Children

      Children are in the news yet again.

      Not the 12,800 immigrant children that were in shelters for migrant children in the United States in September 2017, a significant increase from May 2016. In that month there were 2700 immigrant children in detention facilities that Trumpsters describe as similar to summer camps.

      And not the 85,000 children who Save the Children believes have died of starvation in Yemen since the U.S. assisted bombing began in that country in 2016.

      Today we focus on just two little girls, each the beneficiary of the Trump’s hatred of immigrants, a hatred given life by his thankfully now departed, mean-spirited and quintessentially evil, former Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.

      Jakelin was 7-years old. She came to us from Guatemala in the company of her father. Yeisvi is 11 years old. She came to us from Guatemala in the company of her mother. Their experiences were quite different.

      Jakelin arrived in the United States on December 6, 2018 at 9:15 P.M in a remote stretch of desert in the Bootheel region of New Mexico. Immediately upon arrival, she and the 161 other immigrants accompanying her and her father, were placed in the care of the Border Patrol. That agency took them by bus from the remote border crossing to Lordsburg, New Mexico. When they arrived at 6:30 A.M., Jakelin had a temperature of 105.7 and was having seizures. She was flown to El Paso where she died later in the day.

    • The Revival of Democratization is Not a Natural Corollary, But Requires Deliberate Efforts

      Although the Congress party has formed governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chattisgarh following the defeat of the BJP in all three states, the revival of secularism is not a necessary corollary. The tendency to equate secularism with the Congress is rather naïve.

      A couple of days ago, a court in India upheld the conviction of 88 people in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case, which resulted in a strong sense of achievement for justice-seeking people. But several Congress honchos who went on a rampage and played a reprehensible role in the series of pogroms against Sikhs, following the assassination of Prime Minister Gandhi, continue to rule the roost. In order to truly resuscitate progressive and secular forces in India, there needs to be a paradigm shift within the Congress.

      Politics are not as black and white as some people would like to think they are. In 1983/ ‘84, Indira Gandhi attempted to bolster her political platform by making overt and covert appeals to Hindutva majoritarianism against grossly exaggerated secessionist threats from Muslim and Sikh minorities.

      Indira Gandhi’s mobilization of Hindutva worked wonders for the Congress in the Jammu region, where it won 22 out of 32 Assembly seats. But the performance of the Congress in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley was dismal, where it won just 3 seats, and 1 in Ladakh. A regional party won a landslide victory, enabling it to form the state government with the Congress as a large opposition.

      But Indira Gandhi did not accept the unambiguous verdict given by the people of Kashmir in a democratic fashion. Her ire was particularly provoked by the alliance that a regional party in J & K formed with other non-Congress Indian parties in an attempt to unify anti-Congress forces as preparation for the parliamentary elections in late 1984.

    • We Should Be Appalled by What Happened This Christmas at the Border

      On Christmas Eve, Felipe Gomez Alonzo, an 8-year-old Guatemalan child, took his last breath. He had been detained for close to a week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). He died at 11:48 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24, at the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center in Alamogordo, New Mexico. He didn’t make it to Christmas. On that same day, the coffin containing the corpse of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin arrived at her Guatemalan village of San Antonio Secortez. She died on Dec. 8, after just over a day in CBP custody, also in New Mexico. Two children dead in three weeks. President Donald Trump has been tweeting incessantly about border issues and spoke on Christmas about the need for “a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it,” but has never mentioned either of these two young victims of his administration’s draconian immigration policies.

    • ‘Beyond Repulsive’: Outrage After Trump DHS Secretary Blames ‘Parents’ and ‘Open Borders’ Advocates for Deaths of Children in US Custody

      As human rights groups, Democratic lawmakers, and the United Nations demanded an independent probe into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in U.S. Border Patrol custody, President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sparked outrage on Wednesday by declaring that “open borders” advocates and the kids’ “own parents”—not Trump’s inhumane treatment of immigrants—are to blame.

      “Our system has been pushed to a breaking point by those who seek open borders,” Nielsen said in a statement just hours after eight-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez died in U.S. custody on Christmas day. “Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north.”

      Nielsen, who signed off on the Trump administration’s internationally condemned family separation policy, was immediately denounced for attempting to deflect attention and blame away from the White House’s anti-immigrant agenda.

    • Former Special Forces hero charged with murder after telling CIA he killed Taliban bombmaker
    • Decorated US soldier ‘admitted murder in CIA job interview’

      A decorated US special forces soldier has been charged with an Afghan man’s murder, which he reportedly admitted while applying for a job with the CIA.
      US Army Green Beret Major Matthew Golsteyn allegedly shot someone he described as a suspected Taliban bomb-maker during his 2010 deployment.
      Maj Golsteyn also subsequently spoke about the incident during an interview with Fox News.
      He denies the charge and maintains he did not violate rules of engagement.

    • Oliver Stone Remembers Anti-Imperialist Journalist William Blum, Chronicler of CIA Crimes

      Academy Award-winning filmmaker speaks about the life and legacy of Dissident Voice contributor, journalist, and historian William Blum, who documented US war crimes and CIA interventions across the planet.

    • Austin DWI lawyer charged with scamming Colombian drug traffickers suspects CIA meddling

      The veteran Austin lawyer with a long gray beard and ponytail, who calls himself “DWI Dude,” is also known for his opposition to laws criminalizing marijuana. It was his main issue when he ran for Texas attorney general in 2014 as a Libertarian.

      But now he’s caught up in an alleged scheme to scam Colombian drug traffickers out of as much as $2 million by claiming to be able to pay off U.S. justice officials to help their cases. Balagia has responded by casting doubt on the government’s motives and use of a longtime CIA operative and drug informant in his case.

    • He Drew His School Mascot ? and ICE Labeled Him a Gang Member

      WHEN ALEX WALKED INTO SCHOOL on June 14, 2017, it felt as if summer had already started. He didn’t have regular classes, just a standardized math test in the late morning. The other immigrant students in the bilingual program at Huntington High were crowded in a hallway comparing their plans for the break — most already had jobs lined up — and promising to stay in touch.

      Classmates came up to greet him. At 19, Alex was older than many of the other sophomores. He enrolled as a freshman when he arrived in Suffolk County on Long Island from Honduras a year and a half before. He felt good in the school from the start. A shy teenager who preferred video games and watching soccer on TV to playing it on the field, he had always been an outsider, slow to make friends. But all the immigrants in the bilingual program were outsiders, so he fit in, and he was popular for the first time in his life. In Honduras, it had felt as if teachers were preparing students to work in the fields, like everyone else. Here, in Huntington, they were always telling him that with a good education, he could do anything he wanted. The halls were decorated with inspirational posters of Latino students attending college and completing ambitious projects, mixed in with images of a scowling blue devil with horns, the school’s mascot.

    • In South Dakota, Police Officers Involved in Shootings Are Claiming They Have a Right to Privacy as Crime Victims

      Two officers in South Dakota say that the state cannot release their names to the public under Marsy’s Law, which protects crime victims’ rights.
      After a high-speed pursuit in South Dakota in September, a highway patrol trooper shot and wounded a man after he “ignored verbal commands” and “tackled” the trooper. One month later, the Department of Criminal Investigation cleared the trooper of any wrongdoing. Then in November, a South Dakota sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a suspect who had fled after reportedly firing at deputies during a pursuit.

      The people of South Dakota, however, do not know the names of these law enforcement officers. And the reason for this lack of transparency is Marsy’s Law, an obscure set of victims’ rights, which South Dakota voters added into the state constitution in 2016. In both instances, the officers invoked their right to privacy under Marsy’s Law as crime victims.

      Yes, you read that right. The officers, public servants who used their weapons in the line of duty, both claim they are crime victims and therefore assert that the government is legally prohibited from releasing their names publicly.

    • Without Notifying Anyone, ICE Dumps Hundreds of Migrants at El Paso Bus Station Around Christmas

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection have ordered medical checks on every child in its custody, following the death of two Guatemalan children in recent weeks. On Christmas Eve, an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy named Felipe Gómez Alonso died in New Mexico while in CBP custody. This follows the death of a 7-year-old indigenous Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal Maquín, who died on December 8—also in New Mexico—two days after she and her father presented themselves at the border in a bid for asylum. Meanwhile, authorities in El Paso, Texas, scrambled over the Christmas holiday to assist hundreds of migrant asylum seekers who were dropped off suddenly by ICE officials outside a Greyhound bus terminal without any plan to house them. We speak with Dylan Corbett, executive director of Hope Border Institute, an El Paso-based charity that assists migrants.

    • Victories in the State Legislatures: 2018 In Review

      States are often the “laboratories of democracy,” to borrow a phrase from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. They lead the way to react quickly to technological advances, establish important rights, and sometimes pass laws that serve as a template for others across the country. This year, EFF worked—and fought—alongside state legislators in California and across the country to pass legislation that promotes innovation and digital freedoms.

  • DRM

    • The audiophile MQA format really doesn’t have DRM, but that doesn’t mean it’s not on the toxic rainbow of locked tech

      After watching a CCC presentation that claimed that the MQA audiophile format has “stealth DRM,” I decided to investigate, and I’m pretty sure MQA is not DRM.

      But MQA is proprietary in several important ways that audiophiles should consider before they invest in the tech. Its overlapping patents, combined with extreme secrecy about the terms on which the format is licensed, mean that you have to trust in the long-term good decisions of the manufacturer in order to ensure that you’ll always be able to buy a device that can play back the music you’re buying — and because the spec and the contracts for implementing it are a secret, it’s hard to get good data to evaluate whether your trust is well-placed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent Links and Articles To Read By The Fire

      With the distraction of Qualcomm’s injunctions in the news, I was pleased to run across a paper looking at the impacts of the eBay decision on innovative activity in the United States. Written by Professor Filippo Mezzanotti of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern and titled “Roadblock to Innovation: The Role of Patent Litigation in Corporate R&D,” Mezzanotti’s paper attempts to examine the impact on innovation from the eBay decision’s rule against automatic injunctions. By looking at firms with differing exposures to patent litigation and comparing their innovative activities before and after the decision, Prof. Mezzanotti shows that the eBay decision had a positive impact on innovative activity.

      Foreign jurisdictions that grant injunctions easily or as a matter of course would do well to consider the evidence Prof. Mezzanotti puts forth.

      Patents in History

      While people tend to think of major inventions—radio, the semiconductor, a vaccine—when they think of patents, the reality is that most patents cover small advances on existing technologies. They’re follow-on inventions, not breakthroughs. That doesn’t stop people from pretending that those patents are extremely important, of course.

      What’s interesting is that that basic dynamic goes back to the Founding. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Ferdinando Fairfax wrote:

      “As I know, and have every year occasion to observe, how many unimportant Patents are obtained, and how many empty pretenders are employ’d in puffing their merits, I am cautious of deciding in favor even of those that I wish to adopt and best understand. “

    • An Interesting Opinion on the Right to Jury Trial that Can Relate to 101 and 285

      In the three prior posts (hey, it’s a trend!) on Section 285, I pointed out the need for lawyers to advise principals of patentees that they may, personally, be on the hook for liability for fee shifting. For example, if the patentee is an asset-less shell corporation, the accused infringer may seek (perhaps should seek, promptly) to join principals of the patentee in the event that the case is found exceptional. Likewise, given the long-standing line of cases (going back to Ultramercial, decided when I was clerking for Chief Judge Rader (here)), the CAFC has indicated 101 can implicate factual issues and, so, likely the right to trial by jury.

      It’s not a patent case, but nonetheless Marchan v. John Miller Farms, Inc. (3:16-0-357-WGY D. N.D. Dec. 11, 2018), here, has a discussion pertinent to both issues. The court addressed whether a jury must decide piercing the corporate veil under federal law, and held that there is a federal right to trial by jury on this issue. Honestly, that surprised me, but I hadn’t looked at the issue in 20 years.

    • Avoiding the Weeds in Fee Shifting Cases

      After successfully defending its lawsuit, Wright then asked to be compensated for its expenditures on the case — i.e., attorney fees under 35 U.S.C. 285.

      Standard U.S. practice is that each side pays its own attorneys and experts. Thus, a successful defendant may still walk away owing more than a million dollars in legal fees. Here, Wright Medical argues that it has spent more than $1.4 million to defend the case simply to win on a claim construction summary judgment.

      Under Section 285, “the court in exceptional cases may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.” Here, however, the district court declined to find an exceptional case. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has issued a deferential ruling — holding that “the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Wright’s motion for attorney fees under section 285.”

    • Fostering by Standards Bodies of the Formation of Patent Pools

      This article presents the experience of standards development organisations, notably the DVB Project, in fostering the formation of patent pools covering patents essential to their standards.

    • Constitutional Tensions in Agency Adjudication

      Last Term the Supreme Court decided two cases—Lucia v. SEC and Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group—that illustrate the potential constitutional tensions in modern agency adjudication: the importance of political accountability, yet the dangers of political control. As part of the Iowa Law Review’s Administering Patent Law Symposium, this Essay examines these constitutional tensions and assesses two ways the Supreme Court (or Congress) could attempt to resolve them—i.e., by turning to Article III adjudication and by transforming agency adjudicators into “true adjuncts” of Article III courts. The Essay concludes by revisiting the patent adjudication proceedings at issue in Oil States to explore how these constitutional tensions and potential solutions may play out at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    • Guest Post by Profs. Frakes and Wasserman: Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office

      The Patent Office, which processes over half-a-million patent applications a year, routinely faces budgetary shortfalls, high patent examiner turnover, and a crushing backlog of patent applications. Given this challenging environment, it is not surprising that the patent examination process generates some degree of error, including errors that culminate in the issuance of a significant number of invalid patents. Given that invalid patents impose substantial harms on society, the question is what should we do about them?

      At first glance, the solution seems straightforward: the Patent Office needs to do more to ensure it awards patents only to those inventions that deserve them. A seemingly promising start is to give patent examiners more time to evaluate applications. On average, a U.S. patent examiner spends only nineteen hours reviewing an application, including reading the application, searching for prior art, comparing the prior art with the application, writing a rejection, responding to the patent applicant’s arguments, and often conducting an interview with the applicant’s attorney. If examiners are not given enough time to evaluate applications, they may not be able to reject applications by identifying and articulating justifications with appropriate underlying legal validity. Offering validation for these concerns, our prior empirical work tested the extent to which patent examiner time allocations are causing examiners to grant invalid patents and found that examiners were indeed allowing patents of dubious quality because they are not given sufficient time.

    • The Relationship between Eligibility and Functional Claiming

      Glasswall’s patent claims are directed to a process of regenerating electronic files in a way that cuts-out non-conforming data. The approach here could be used as a virus filter. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,869,283 and 9,516,045. Although the generalized approach here is a nice goal, the Federal Circuit noted that the claims themselves did not actually claim how to achieve the goal.

    • Guest Post by Prof. Yelderman: Which Kinds of Printed Publications Invalidate Patents in Court?

      Continuing our study of prior art in the district court, in this post we’ll take a closer look at printed publications. As I discussed in my original post, around 13% of anticipation invalidations and 34% of obviousness invalidations rely on art in this category. (The numbers may be a touch higher than that, as a result of invalidations for which we could not determine the prior art supporting the court’s conclusion). For more background on this project, you can find the full paper here.

    • Doctrine of Equivalent Poses a Risk to TRIZ-Based Patent Circumvention?

      Patent circumvention is about substituting certain features encapsulated in claims of a patent without infringing the patent, yet fulfilling the same function to achieve the same results. This paper introduces the main steps of using TRIZ tools (i.e. function-oriented search, function analysis and trimming) and related terminologies to circumvent patents. Although the doctrine of equivalent (DOE) and prosecution history estoppel (PHE) are used to limit the substitutional approach in circumventing patents in the USA and other common law countries, its limited application and availability of PHE to the Malaysian patent law system open ample opportunity for competitors to do otherwise here. This paper is expected to be useful to Malaysia inventors to appreciate the concept of DOE and PHE when circumventing their competitors’ patent.

    • Issue Preclusion Following a R.36 Jugdment

      The PTAB sided with Apple in the underlying IPR proceedings, finding that VirnetX patent claims were obvious.

    • Locking Down Written Description and Continuations-in-Part

      During prosecution, Tropp rewrote his patent claims in this case to focus on “a set of locks” that each have dials for a traveler to use and a master key portion for TSA. The claims require some differences among the set — splitting them into two subsets with different number of dials for locks in each subset.

      During prosecution, the USPTO rejected the claims — finding that they lacked written description support. Although the specification does describe embodiments with different numbers of dials, the PTAB held that the specification does not describe a “set of locks” that include both sets of embodiments. This case fits within the line of written description cases where all of the elements of a claimed invention are described, but where the specification does not describe how to fit those various elements together.

    • Federal Circuit Refuses to Split Hairs over Level of Enhanced Damages

      In a R.36 judgment-without-opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed Stryker’s $250 million willful-infringement verdict against Zimmer. In the case, the jury found the asserted claims valid and infringed and awarded $70+ million in compensatory damages. The jury also found that the infringement was willful.

    • Gensetix, Inc. v. Baylor College of Medicine (S.D. Tex. 2018)

      Earlier this month, in Gensetix, Inc. v. Baylor College of Medicine, District Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an Order granting a Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) filed by Involuntary Plaintiff The Board of Regents of the University of Texas (“UT”), as well as related portions of a Supplemental Reply in Support of a Motion to Dismiss Gensetix’s First Amended Complaint filed by Defendant Baylor College of Medicine (“BCM”) and a Motion to Dismiss Gensetix’s First Amended Complaint filed by Defendant Diakonos Research, Ltd. (“Diakonos”). The District Court also declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Gensetix’s state law claims and therefore dismissed the case.
      .
      [..]

      The District Court concluded by declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Gensetix’s state law claims, finding that that “judicial economy, convenience and fairness to litigants” would not be served by keeping the remaining causes of action in federal court. The Court therefore determined that the Eleventh Amendment barred UT’s joinder as an involuntary plaintiff; granted UT’s Motion to Dismiss, the related portion of BCM’s Supplemental Reply in Support of its Motion to Dismiss, and the related portion of Diakonos’ Motion to Dismiss; and dismissed the case.

    • Commercial Courts of Barcelona and Alicante get ready for the 2019 Mobile World Congress

      The Mobile Word Congress (“MWC”) is the largest mobile trade event in the world and one of the most significant trade fairs taking place in Barcelona. More than 105,000 people attended previous events and more than 2,400 leading companies exhibited their products. Due to its importance, all relevant institutions do their very best each year to help make the event as successful as possible. The Commercial Courts of Barcelona want to do their part in contributing to this success. Thus, for the fifth year in a row, on 13 December 2018, they adopted a Protocol that includes effective procedural measures to avoid, to the extent possible, adopting interim injunctions based on industrial and intellectual property rights (IPRs) on an ex parte basis and, at the same time, to ensure the adoption of effective measures to protect those IPRs.

    • Patent case: Judgment of the Supreme Court of Poland

      The judgment addresses the question of the scope of the co-inventors’ right to obtain a patent, prior to the grant of the patent.

    • Supreme Court Asked to Decided if AIA Creates Standing for Any Party to Appeal PTAB Decisions

      On Monday, December 10th, Japanese manufacturer JTEKT Corporation filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking he nation’s highest court to determine whether federal statutes governing appeals from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) create a right for PTAB petitioners to have an appellate court review adverse final written decisions. If the case is taken by the Supreme Court the question will be whether the AIA creates standing for any dissatisfied party to appeal a PTAB final decision. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s had decided JTEKT did not prove an injury in fact for the purposes of determining the existence of Article III standing in its appeal.

    • Copyrights

      • For Digital Copyright First Sale Doctrine, “Move” Does Not Equal “Copy+Delete”

        The court then went on to hold that the use is also not a “fair use.” In the analysis, the court correctly concluded that the ReDigi secondary market is likely to undermine the marketplace for new digital files from the Record Company. However, I believe the court used the wrong baseline — the focus here should have been on whether the copy+move resale is a fair-use extension of the first-sale doctrine.

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