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12.30.18

Links 30/12/2018: Linux 4.21 Staging Updates, VLC 3.0.5, KaOS 2018.12, Calculate Linux 18.12

Posted in News Roundup at 2:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • How to Run a Different OS Without Buying a New Computer

      If you’re running Windows and adding Linux in a dual-boot setup, the Linux installer should include tools for partitioning your main hard drive—just make sure you choose to install Linux alongside Windows. You’ll also need to create a Linux installer on a CD, DVD, or USB drive first, then boot from that: There’s an official guide for doing this with Ubuntu here, for example.

      If you need another tool, search for the Disk Management utility from the Windows Start menu: Here you can view, edit, and manage disk partitions. One of the disadvantages of this method is that the process is more complicated to reverse if you change your mind.

      Alternatively, you can skip the partition and install a second hard drive inside your machine—provided you’re running a desktop computer and have the space. The process isn’t particularly difficult—YouTube is packed with tutorials—but it is more of a serious undertaking than just splitting your current hard drive into two with a few mouse clicks. You have to actually crack open your computer and install the additional drive, as well as much around in the BIOS for your motherboard to confirm the drive is installed correctly to function as a boot drive.

      But if that’s still too daunting don’t worry. There’s another way to get operating systems on your computer without partitioning drives (and running the risk of losing data) or installing entirely new drives.

    • Google is testing GPU acceleration for Linux apps on Chromebooks

      There are two major limitations to running Linux applications on Chromebooks — audio doesn’t work, and graphics aren’t accelerated. Google originally aimed to fix these issues in Chrome OS 71, but that didn’t happen. Thankfully, GPU acceleration is a bit closer to reality, according to a series of commits to the Chromium Gerrit.

      9to5Google spotted a commit in the Chromium Gerrit that allows GPU acceleration to be enabled. “Using the GPU in crostini is not ready for everyday use and should be considered pre-alpha,” the description reads. “The option to enable GPU can be taken away at any time.”

    • 10 Best lightweight Linux OS for old Laptop in 2019

      All the OS listed here can run on a very low amount of RAM, mostly on 1 GB RAM, also needs very less amount of CPU power, most of them do not need a 1 GHz CPU. Some of them do need to be installed on HDD but some them do not need to be installed on HDD at all. Some of them even do not need to have HDD on the Laptop to work properly.

      Now you make sure what your PC’s hardware specifications are, then choose according to your need. Make a list and download those from the internet, as all of the OS given here are free. To download you can use the given links as well as another way you can search from Google for downloads also. Try the OS one by one, as per your choice. To know more you can read our other articles on some of these Operating system listed here on this website.

      Though it would be very blunt to advise, then also if you ask me for advice on choosing the perfect OS from the list I would tell you to start from Puppy Linux, as it is the best and most optimized solution among all others in this list. As well as try Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Damn small Linux and SLAX if you have time to spare, as the experience worth it.

    • Google to Let You Run Windows 10 on Your High-End Chromebook

      If you follow Chromebook development news the way hot-stove baseball fans follow the latest trade rumors, you know Google is working on bringing Windows to Chromebook.

      If you have that one Windows applications you must run, Google has been working on making it possible to dual-boot Windows 10 on Chromebook since July 2018. This is not the same as Google bringing Linux to Chromebook. With the latter, you can run both operating systems at once. With the former, you can run one or the other, not both, simultaneously. ZDnet reported.

      This new dual-boot mode will let Chromebook users with Intel processors and a minimum of 64GB of SSD and 4GB of RAM run Windows 10. It also appears as if Dual Boot, the offspring of Google’s Project Campfire, will enable you to run other operating systems.

      In the short term, since Campfire is built on Eve, Chrome OS for the Pixelbook, you can expect to see it appear on that top-of-the-line Chromebook first.

    • Chrome OS To Trial Early GPU Support For Linux Apps Shortly

      If you have kept up with Chrome OS in the last 6 Months, you will know that one of the more appealing new functions to roll out is support for Linux apps. While this has capability to launch all kinds of new apps to Chrome OS, there are some functions not present in this early stage that hold it back. One of the most expected functions, GPU support (graphics acceleration), required for operating Linux apps and games, will be accessible to test shortly on Chrome OS.

      The Linux apps support (Crostini) by Chrome OS can be employed to operate some light games on your favorite Chromebook. On the other hand, without support for GPU, they are running exclusively employing the main chipset, which makes many games entirely inaccessible or slower.

  • Server

    • Major acquisitions, Kubernetes evolution top IT news in 2018

      After several years of containerization growth filling the top IT news slots, 2018 closed out with major container and DevOps-related updates, fixes, acquisitions and partnerships.

      These top ten stories from the second half of 2018, in no particular order, captured the attention of IT operations admins, container managers, IT directors and other industry professionals.

      [...]

      Kubernetes has emerged as the industry’s ubiquitous container orchestration tool, but it won’t match every enterprise’s security requirements from the get-go. Some default settings break security guidelines, such as the API server connecting to the unsecured network port 8080. Pariseau describes the security concerns of users deploying containers in production with Kubernetes.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Destination Linux EP101 – We Respin You A Merry Christmas

      On this episode of Destination Linux, we discuss some distro news for Peppermint Linux, GParted Live & Ubuntu. We cover some application news for Firefox, VirtualBox and more. Later in the show, we’ll talk about some unfortunate news regarding SQLite and Valve’s Artifact. We’ll also cover so great discussion topics like Photography on Linux and the pros and cons of Headerbars. All that and much more including our Tips, Tricks and Software Spotlight picks!

  • Kernel Space

    • F2FS Gets More Fixes In Linux 4.21 With The File-System Now Supported By Google’s Pixel

      The Flash-Friendly File-System (F2FS) has some new features for the current Linux 4.21 development cycle but it’s mostly fixes stemming from increased testing with Google now supporting this flash-focused file-system for their Pixel device line-up.

      Jaegeuk Kim, who started developing F2FS years ago while employed by Samsung and then since transitioned to Google almost two years ago, sent in these F2FS patches on Friday for the Linux 4.21 merge window. The F2FS maintainer mentioned they have been focusing on bug fixes with Pixel devices now shipping with F2FS. The fixes include taking care of some encryption issues, better idle time tracking, and a number of garbage collection fixes.

    • Linux Adds AMD Rome and Zen 2 Support

      Back in November, AMD debuted their new Zen 2 architecture. The new chips will offer a massive boost in performance, building on Zen and Zen+. To achieve the performance numbers, AMD has made a number of major changes to the underlying designs. Ahead of launch next year, OS support to starting to roll out. This week, we have the new Linux 4.21 kernel set to add some support.

      The new kernel integrates new AMD Platform QoS support that is geared towards the 7nm EPYC and Zen 2 chips. Due in part to the shift to the chiplet design, resource allocation is quite different. The updates aim to provide monitoring of the resources as well as place limits on them. Initially, this will be for L3 cache monitoring, limiting, prioritisation and memory bandwidth. Due to the chiplet design, the L3 cache is shared on a core die, with challenges to latency and sharing.

    • Linux 4.21 Picking Up New Console Font For HiDPI / Retina Screens

      While there are existing ways of manipulating Linux console fonts/sizes from user-space, with the upcoming Linux 4.21 kernel there is a new in-tree console font.

      Under the new FONT_TER16x32 kernel option is support for compiling a 16×32 sized Terminus console font into the kernel. This large, high-resolution font is intended for use with HiDPI and retina displays compared to the smaller in-kernel console fonts. The addition doesn’t enable it by default or otherwise make any changes to the existing kernel console font configuration unless explicitly opting for this new console font.

    • Linux 4.9.148

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.9.148 kernel.

      All users of the 4.9 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Linux 4.14.91
    • Staging/IIO driver patches for 4.21-rc1
    • Linux 4.21 Staging Updates Have “Lots & Lots Of Tiny Patches”

      Greg KH on Friday submitted the staging changes for the Linux kernel where many drivers and other code continues maturing before being elevated to the normal area of the kernel.

      Greg commented of the 4.21 cycle staging changes, “Lots and lots of tiny patches here, nothing major at all. Which is good, tiny cleanups is nice to see. No new huge driver removal or addition, this release cycle, although there are lots of good IIO driver changes, addtions, and movement from staging into the “real” part of the kernel, which is always great.”

    • Linux 4.19.13
    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Linux Graphics Driver Developers Working On More Efficient Display Presentation For GVT

        Local Display Direct Flip is a feature being worked on by the Intel developers working on the GVT-g graphics virtualization technology for Linux for more efficient display handling.

        The “Local Display Direct Flip” feature that is proposed would allow the virtual GPUs from KVM/Xen to control a subset of the Intel graphics hardware’s display engine resources. This would end up allowing the vGPUs to make use of the display engine for composing their frame-buffer and displaying to the assigned output.

      • NVIDIA’s Linux Driver Saw Some Nice Performance Gains In 2018

        The NVIDIA Linux driver stack this year saw punctual support for new consumer and workstation/professional products, as we’ve come to expect over the past decade and even longer. The 2018 NVIDIA Linux drivers also brought continued EGL improvements, introduced a new Vulkan SPIR-V compiler for faster shader compilation and lower memory consumption, kept up-to-date with the latest Vulkan revisions, added support for RandR transformations, added the OptiX ray-tracing engine, implemented support for Vulkan real-time ray-tracing, and there was a wide variety of fixes and other improvements. Though with NVIDIA’s Linux driver effectively having been at feature parity with their Windows driver for years, the ongoing changes may not seem as impressive as the open-source Radeon Linux driver stack that only recently has been reaching feature and performance parity to the Windows Radeon Software driver.

      • A Lot Of AMDGPU DC Fixes, New VegaM PCI ID Line Up For Linux 4.21

        A few days back the DRM feature updates landed in Linux 4.21 with AMDGPU FreeSync support and a variety of other improvements. With all of the AMDGPU changes at play, it’s now time to fix up the code with some early fallout.

    • Benchmarks

      • Clear Linux Ending Out 2018 With Even More Performance Optimizations

        With the Windows Server 2019 vs. Linux benchmarks this week on a dual socket Intel Xeon Scalable server and testing six different Linux distributions and three Windows Server configurations, Intel’s open-source Clear Linux was the winner in nearly half of the dozens of benchmarks carried out across these Linux and Windows operating system tests. But the results did yield some areas they could improve upon for better performance and as a result have already landed some more performance optimizations.
        As a result of the recent Windows Server vs. Linux benchmarks, at least one takeaway was the Rscript performance not meeting their expectations. To which they have now pushed out an update that resolves an issue in their OpenBLAS linear algebra library use by R as well as Numpy and other packages. With this fixing/tuning, the performance should be back to their expectations. Curious, I ran some benchmarks to see the difference.

  • Applications

    • VLC 3.0.5 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04

      VLC media player released version 3.0.5 a few days ago with performance improvements and numerous fixes. Here’s how to install it in all current Ubuntu releases.

    • VLC 3.0.5 Vetinari

      VLC 3.0.5 is the second version of the “Vetinari” branch of our popular media player.

    • VLC 3.0.5
    • Korkut – An Open-Source “Image Processing” Tool at the Terminal

      Digital image processing always bears far incredible and wide-ranging features if compared to the analog image processing as analog image processing lacks some specific attributes that can make the picture better than ever. In competition with the latest digital image processing software, Korkut is one of the topnotch software to deal with if you want your images ideally processed.

      This kind of software affords you the ability to apply a huge number of algorithms so that a user can input data effortlessly and it gets easy for them to avoid difficulties like the signal distortion or the noise build-up during the processing of the picture.

    • PulseEffects: A System-Wide Equalizer For PulseAudio

      Should you not be familiar with it already, PulseEffects is a program that provides an equalizer and other effects controls for Linux systems running on PulseAudio.

      A Phoronix reader wrote in praising PulseEffects for its ability to tweak systems making use of PulseAudio, which is now common among nearly all modern Linux desktops.

      PulseEffects provides a ton of output controls for audio as well as a wide range of application parameters.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine Announcement

        The Wine development release 4.0-rc4 is now available.

      • Wine not! The Wine 4.0 RC4 release bottle has been opened and is ready to serve

        Not quite the corker that previous releases have been, since they’re not focusing on any new features right now. This latest release candidate only stated ten bug fixes and some of them are older bugs only now being noted as fixed. While it’s not exactly exciting, it’s good to have a clean-up of open bug reports so they know what to focus on for the next development cycle.

        Comparing Wine 4.0 with the previous stable Wine 3.0 release, there’s a lot of exciting changes ahead for those who don’t test out the development versions. These features include: support for HID gamepads, Vulkan support, OpenGL core contexts enabled by default in Direct 3D, support for fetching BIOS information on Linux, subpixel font rendering support and much more.

      • Wine 4.0-RC4 Is Out For Testing While The Official Release Expected Next Month

        Lead Wine developer Alexandre Julliard has just posted the fourth weekly release candidate of the upcoming Wine 4.0 stable release for running Windows games and applications on Linux and other platforms.

        Wine 4.0-RC4 continues in the code freeze with just bugs being fixed for these weekly release candidates. Over the past week there are just ten known bug fixes compared to 27 the prior week. Yes, the release cycle is winding down, but also Christmas fell in over that time which may explain the low bug and patch numbers.

      • WINE applications on HD displays – Better looks

        Here’s a story for you – you need it to understand the reasoning for this article slash guide. Got meself a new laptop, one Slimbook Pro2 and installed Kubuntu Beaver on it, right. Encountered HD scaling issues all over the place, which I fixed. So far so cushty.

        Now, I also started reporting my daily slash weekly experience with this machine, used on full thrusters in a production environment, no restraint and no detail glossed over. If it’s good, it’s good, and if it’s not, then hopefully, stuff will be fixed in future versions of Plasma, like the 5.14 release, for instance. I found out that the default KDE image viewer GwenView and the text editor Kate aren’t quite as slick and efficient as their Windows counterparts by the names of IrfanView and Notepad++, respectively. So I installed these, and noticed they looked mighty tiny on Slimbook’s 1920x1080px display. No scaling. Aha! The reason why we’re here. Let’s fix that, then, shall we?

    • Games

      • ETLegacy Continues Work On New Renderer 16 Years After Enemy Territory

        This coming May will mark sixteen years already since the release of the legendary Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory game built atop the ioquake3 engine. Continuing to let this game live on and advance as open-source is ETLegacy, which continues work on its new renderer for this once popular first person shooter.

        Already the ETLegacy support is well past where Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory left off with having an OpenGL 3 renderer and many other improvements while retaining compatibility with the original ET game client. They have also been re-creating the original game maps in higher quality.

      • Unigine 2.7.3 Released With Rendering Improvements But No Vulkan Support Yet

        The high-end, Linux-friendly Unigine engine for powering games but seemingly more industrial/simulator applications these days is out with their last feature release of 2018.

        Unigine 2.7.3 is out with various rendering improvements, including better sky rendering, a screen-space dirt effect, improved glass refraction, and other visual enhancements.

      • Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation inches closer to a Linux release with Vulkan

        Some fun weekend news for those wanting another RTS to play, as Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation is getting closer to a Linux release.

      • Get This Highly-Rated Computer Game for Free for the Next 40 Hours

        The site is giving away SOMA for Windows, Linux, and Mac for free. From the creators of the cult classic Amnesia Dark Descent, the scary game promises to “raise questions about identity, consciousness and existence itself.” Based on reviews, it delivers on that promise.

        It was also a Kotaku favorite back during its initial release. The reviewer said, “I’ve been thinking about what happened in SOMA for days now, especially the game’s closing minutes, and can’t let it go. Just thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach. If that’s not a sign of success, I’m not sure what is.”

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • digiKam 6.0.0 beta 3 is released

        Dear digiKam fans and users, following the first beta release published in October, we are proud to announce the third and last beta of digiKam 6.0.0, before the final release planed in February 2019.

        [...]

        With this release, 40 new files have been closed since 6.0.0 beta2. The total files closed for next 6.0.0 final release is more than The reports already closed 600 files now, and we are now close to the final 6.0.0 release planed in Febrary 2019.

        The next stage while January will be to stabilize all implementations. No new features are planed and the application will be ready for a major update by translator teams about internationalization.

      • Kid3 Tag Editor 3.7.0 Comes with Complete Playlist Editor

        Kid3 is a free and open source audio tagger runs on Linux (KDE/Qt), MacOS, Windows and Android. With Kid3 you can easily tag multiple formats of audio files without typing the same information again and again. This is very handy tool when you need to tag huge volumes of audio files for various purposes. Kid3 supports almost all popular audio file formats – MP3, Ogg/Vorbis, FLAC, MPC, MP4/AAC, MP2, Opus, Speex, TrueAudio, WavPack, WMA, WAV and AIFF files (e.g. full albums).

      • Latte bug fix release v0.8.4

        Latte Dock v0.8.4 has been released containing important fixes and improvements!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • The Biggest GNOME Stories Of 2018

        The GNOME desktop environment advanced in 2018 especially when it came to its rather mature Wayland compositor support plus a lot of minor usability fixes (“paper cuts”), the PipeWire remote desktop/recording capabilities, continuing to mature Flatpak, performance improvements, and other changes to polish off the “GNOME 3″ experience this year.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Sparky 4.9.1 & 5.6.1

        Sparky iso images of both lines stable and rolling have been rebuild and updated.
        This is a minor but important update which provides new settings of Sparky repositories.

      • KaOS 2018.12

        Two years after initially starting the move to OpenSSL 1.1 has this update now been possible. All downstream libraries and applications have caught up, so the move was now smooth, without the need to have a mix of OpenSSL versions in the repositories. This move required a very large rebuild, combine that with a move to Perl 5.28.1, FFMPEG 4.1, LLVM/Clang 7.0.1 and Qt 5.12.0, it is clear a new ISO is needed.

        The artwork saw an update to the Midna SDDM theme, gone are the QML sliding effects, instead a cleaner and simpler layout with the addition of several warnings when num lock or capslock are activated.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Gentoo Family

      • Calculate Linux 18.12 released

        We have a bunch of news for this last 2018 release. We have added support for installation on Btrfs with the zstd compression. All server editions have been optimized for size. Software can now be transferred when reinstalling the system. Our ISO images are packed in the zstd format to speed up the startup times for the LiveCD, applications and system installation.

        Are available for download: Calculate Linux Desktop featuring the KDE (CLD), Cinnamon (CLDC), LXQt (CLDL), Mate (CLDM) or else Xfce (CLDX and CLDXE) environments, Calculate Directory Server (CDS), Calculate Linux Scratch (CLS) and Calculate Scratch Server (CSS).

      • Gentoo-Based Calculate Linux 18.12 Adds Btrfs Install Support With Zstd Compression

        The Gentoo-based Calculate Linux distribution is out with a final release before ringing in the new year.

        Calculate Linux 18.12 is now available in its various flavors from the Calculate Linux Desktop powered by KDE Plasma to its different Cinnamon/LXQt/MATE/Xfce spins to the Calculate Linux Directory Server, Calculate Linux Scratch, and Calculate Scratch Server.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Popularity-Contest Program To Collect System Packages Data

        In the following article, we will see how we can provide data on the use of our .deb packages to the Debian team through popularity-contest. Obviously, the fact of providing the data of the packages that we use the most will be optional and totally anonymous.

      • Orphaning reportbug-ng

        After more than two years without an update, I’ve decided to discontinue developing reportbug-ng and orphaned the Debian package. Since reportbug is a more than adequate alternative and reportbug-ng’s popcon value is relatively low, it’s probably the best to just remove the package from the archive.

        I started developing reportbug-ng 11 years ago as a user-friendly alternative to Debian’s standard reportbug. Not only did it come with a nice GUI that allowed for easy searching and filtering of existing bugs, it also queried our bug tracking system (BTS) using its SOAP interface. Back then, reportbug used to parse the human readable HTML from the website to get the same information.

        A couple of years later Debian’s reportbug got a GUI too and became a lot more novice-friendly.

      • Stephen Michael Kellat: How I Did It

        The output rendered is actually rather nicely organized and fairly compact. My site does not require much interactivity at this time. If people need to contact me, they’ll need to use e-mail. I’m not maintaining a huge CRM database on a remote server. This is a small Digital Ocean droplet. Black text on a white background works in this case as there are links to two work examples plus to the stash of multimedia on the Internet Archive.

        Every tool used is in the package archive. I didn’t even get fancy enough to use a snap for this. LaTeX actually gives me the flexibility to logically lay everything out in a way that makes sense not just in print but also online. Thankfully the nice folks at NIST came up with that great package.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 5 Ubuntu Themes That Will Steal Your Breath Away
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Beautiful Desktop Effects on Lubuntu LXQt

              At the last moment I wrote the WTDAI, I found out Compton settings to be very very interesting. In other words, we can make our old computer runs beautiful desktop OS featuring translucent window and drop shadows (similar to macOS). As it would be too complicated to explain on a simple WTDAI, I make a separate tutorial here starting with finding out the config, enabling it, and making the effects right for you. This tutorial is based on Lubuntu 18.10 and should be effective for the next releases and other LXQt distros as well. Enjoy!

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: flyio

    Data company SocialCops’ solution for reading and writing data from cloud and local storage is now open-source.

    The project, flyio, provides an interface for interacting with data storage directly from R.

    Currently flyio supports AWS S3 and Google Cloud Storage, and can read or write tables, rasters, shapefiles, and R objects to a data source from memory. It also enables users to specify which function name they want to read or write.

  • What is the Next of Virtualization

    In conclusion, while virtualization is being adopted ubiquitously, and the next move would be to enable and accelerate adoption of a DevOps paradigm with an automation platform that provides users with turn-key experience. In specific area of DevOps in IoT field, service virtualization will play a more and more important role in its enablement and accelerated adoption. Machine learning will be a key technique to build a reliable model of service virtualization for DevOps in IoT field. And more importantly, the gaps are the missing open source solutions for both DevOps automation platform and machine-learning-based service virtualization platform. Those open source solutions are really needed by industry, now.

  • Tech Mahindra Launches Open Source AI Platform For Enterprises

    Tech Mahindra has now revealed the launch of GAiA, the first enterprise edition of the open source Artificial Intelligence platform Acumos.

    GAiA will now help to enable the enterprises across the industry verticals to build, share and quickly deploy the Artificial Intelligence driven services and applications to solve some of the critical problems.

  • Tech Mahindra launches open source AI platform for enterprises

    Acumos AI is a platform and open source framework that makes it easy to build, share and deploy AI apps. It standardizes the infrastructure stack and components required to run an out-of-the-box general AI environment. This frees data scientists and model trainers to focus on their core competencies.

  • The Best Kodi Add-ons 2018: For Your Viewing Pleasure

    Kodi is a free, open-source media center that allows you to import and categorize your digital content. In this guide to the best Kodi add-ons, we’re going to help you expand Kodi’s functionality with the best official and unofficial add-ons. We’re going to show you how to install an add-on, run through why we like each pick and give you a few suggestions on staying safe when using them.

  • From Cooperation to Competition or How Code Became Proprietary

    After two semesters of hard work, I’m happy to say I’ve finished all the classes I had to take for my Master’s degree. If I work hard enough, I should be able to finish writing my thesis by the end of August.

    Last night, I handed out the final paper for my History of the Economic Thought class. Titled “From Cooperation to Competition or How Code Became Proprietary”, it is a research paper on the evolution of the Copyright Law in the United States with regards to computer code.

  • Haiku Beta: The release heard around the world

    One big step for this little OS. One leap for free software.

  • Events

    • Learn how to jump start your career in open source in 5 minutes

      In his Lightning Talk, “How to jump-start a career in open source,” at All Things Open 2018, October 23 in Raleigh, NC, Eric D. Schabell says the most important thing in advancing your career is a lesson most people learn in preschool: “Sharing is caring.”

      Eric, global technology evangelist director at Red Hat, says the best way to bolster your career if you work in open source (or want to) is to share your knowledge with others. Some of his suggestions include giving talks at conferences or meetups, showing your colleagues how to do something, publishing blogs, and writing articles for Opensource.com

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • How different is Chromium from Google Chrome browser and Chrome OS

        Google has been on some major moves in general systems operation and internet services. There are a few terms like Chromium/Chrome OS, Chromium and the Google Chrome. First, the Chromium and Chromium OS are part of an open source project called Chromium Project. A few years in, the project has gotten some major players on board and just recently Microsoft embarks on using Chromium as the base code for its Edge browser. Let’s get into what these terms mean already.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Labs is back!

        Not seen for a number of years, Mozilla Labs used to be home to experimental Firefox projects. Now, the relaunched version is home to more, including Project Things, Spoke, Hubs and more — Firefox is no longer the sole focus.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 9.0 Compiler Benchmarks Against GCC7/GCC8 At The End Of 2018

      In early 2019 we will see the first stable release of GCC 9 as the annual update to the GNU Compiler Collection that is bringing the D language front-end, more C2X and C++ additions, various microarchitecture optimizations from better Znver1 support to Icelake, and a range of other additions we’ll provide a convenient recap of shortly. But for those wondering how the GCC 9 performance is looking, here are some fresh benchmarks when benchmarking the latest daily GCC 9.0 compiler against GCC 7.4 and GCC 8.2 atop Clear Linux using an Intel Core i9 7980XE Skylake-X system.

      Similar to the few other tests we’ve done at different times throughout the years and on different hardware, this article is a last look as we end out 2018 to see how the GCC9 performance is looking on Intel x86_64 compared to the past two major releases. When the formal GCC 9.1.0 compiler release nears its debut around the end of Q1-2019, I’ll be back with plenty more compiler benchmarks on different CPUs. Of course, there will also be benchmarks of the upcoming LLVM Clang 8.0 release that should be out roughly around the same time as GCC9 stable.

    • Gnuastro 0.8 released

      The 8th release of GNU Astronomy Utilities (Gnuastro) is now available for download. Please see the announcement for details.

  • Public Services/Government

    • In January, the EU starts running Bug Bounties on Free and Open Source Software

      In January the European Commission is launching 14 out of a total of 15 bug bounties on Free Software projects that the EU institutions rely on. A bug bounty is a prize for people who actively search for security issues. The amount of the bounty depends on the severity of the issue uncovered and the relative importance of the software. The software projects chosen were previously identified as candidates in the inventories and a public survey.

      You can contribute to the projects below by analysing the software, and by submitting any bugs or vulnerabilities you find to the involved bug bounty platforms. Here is the list of Software projects and the bug bounties: [...]

    • EU to fund bug bounty programs for 14 open source projects starting January 2019

      The 14 projects are, in alphabetical order, 7-zip, Apache Kafka, Apache Tomcat, Digital Signature Services (DSS), Drupal, Filezilla, FLUX TL, the GNU C Library (glibc), KeePass, midPoint, Notepad++, PuTTY, the Symfony PHP framework, VLC Media Player, and WSO2.

      The bug bounty programs are being sponsored as part of the third edition of the Free and Open Source Software Audit (FOSSA) project.

      EU authorities first approved FOSSA in 2015, after security researchers discovered a year earlier severe vulnerabilities in the OpenSSL library, an open source project used by many websites to support HTTPS connections.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • New Leads for Malaria Discovered: Open Source Pharma FTW!

      Happy Scientific Sunday! There’s been some promising news in the field of Anti-Malaria Research! In this new article on Open Science, we are going to talk about the current challenges we face concerning the disease and what the new Open Source Discovery is all about!

      In our previous Science articles, we have talked about the Open Source Malaria Project and Open Source Pharma. You might want to look into them before reading on.

  • Programming/Development

    • SD Times news digest: SDM 1.2.0, Apache NetBeans 10.0, and Linux 4.20

      Atomist has released Software Delivery Machine (SDM) 1.2.0. The release was mostly focused on fixing bugs, the company explained.

      New features include an improved config command in the CLI, LazyProjectLoader for preventing eager cloning of Git projects, a convenience method for implementing ExecuteGoal instances, and more.

      The release is also backwards compatible and can be used with any SDM that is running SDM 1.0.0 or higher.

    • Creating a Custom Landing Page in Sphinx
    • 100 Days of Code – Julian Sequeira
    • Running an interactive terminal in the browser

      In the last blog post I explained that JupyterHub can be used to spawn instances of applications other than Jupyter notebooks. Because JupyterHub can also handle user authentication, this made it a handy way of spinning up distinct user environments when running workshops. Each attendee of the workshop would be given access to a shell environment running in a separate pod inside of Kubernetes, with access via an interactive terminal running in their web browser. This meant that they did not need to install anything on their local computer in order to complete the workshop.

      For the interactive terminal, the Butterfly application was used. This is a backend Python application implemented using the Tornado web framework, with the in browser terminal support being based on term.js.

    • Open Source IDE for FPGAs as QtCreator Learns Verilog

      Classic battles: PC vs Mac, Emacs vs Vi, Tastes Great vs Less Filling, and certainly one that we debate around the Hackaday watercooler: command line or IDE? There’s something to be said for using good old command line tools, and even if you like to configure your favorite editor to be nearly an IDE, at least it is one you are familiar with and presumably leverage over several different uses.

      Most commercial FPGA tools come with a heavy-weight IDE. The open source tools for Lattice (IceStorm) typically is driven by the command line or a makefile. Until now. [Rochus-Keller] released VerilogCreator which is a plugin for QtCreator.

    • What’s inside the Google V8 Engine?

      JavaScript has always been an interesting language fro the developers across the globe for its user-friendliness. We thought that by knowing how the building blocks of JavaScript play together and write better code and applications. There are many JavaScript engines which are committed to the clarification and depiction of the numerous pages. Among all, it is the Google V8 Javascript engine which has become the talk of the town these days. People are going gaga over its functionalities and flexibility.

    • Python Get Current time
    • stackoverflow python report
    • The Zen of Python is well sed :)

Leftovers

  • Is Haiti Awakening to Change?

    It started with a few keystrokes in a living room in Montreal. Gilbert Mirambeau Jr., a Haitian filmmaker and writer, took to Twitter on Aug. 14 to post a photo of himself, blindfolded, holding a piece of cardboard with a simple question written on it in Haiti’s Creole: “Kot Kòb Petwo Karibe a???” — Where is the Petrocaribe money???

    He was referring to funds that had gone missing from some $2 billion in low-interest loans provided by Petrocaribe, a Venezuela-led oil-purchasing alliance of Caribbean states, since 2008 to help Haiti’s economy. It became a critical emergency resource in 2010, when an earthquake devastated the country.

    A few days after the Mirambeau tweet, the popular Haitian rapper K-Lib tweeted his own picture, using the hashtag #PetroCaribeChallenge. On the 18th, an informal group of young Haitians who organized on Twitter and Facebook decided to make promoting the hashtag their first public action. The movement continues to build momentum and the campaign has hit Haitian streets.

    On Oct. 17, huge crowds of Haitians from all sectors of society peacefully demonstrated with banners and shirts demanding an answer to Mr. Mirambeau’s tweeted question, which is still trending.

  • Science

    • People adopt made-up social rules to be part of a group

      The new work was published by the University of Melbourne’s Campbell Pryor, Amy Perfors, and Piers Howe. It’s based on past research that looked at how social norms are established. This work has suggested two means that drive their adoption. One is simply practical: people will adopt social standards that are popular because it’s likely those standard have some utility. An alternative explanation is only slightly less practical in that it posits adopting a social norm will ensure that you can avoid punishment by the rest of society for violating it.

    • Why you might want to wrap your car key fob in foil

      People who store their fobs in Faraday cages aren’t paranoid, experts say.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s gaslighting over bent iPads is a stunning response to a serious problem

      There’s enough photographic proof that a number of warped iPad Pros are indeed arriving in customers hands. But in the face of this mounting evidence, Apple hasn’t indicated that it will replace any of them. In fact, Apple seems to be actively trying to convince users that there’s nothing wrong with their tablets at all. Basically, Apple is saying these iPads are either a) not bent, or b) supposed to be bent.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What Ireland’s Pro-Choice Referendum Teaches Us About Democracy

      When future historians write about 2018, what will stand out? Some might say the midterm elections that repudiated of the policies of Donald Trump and saw the ascendency of some pretty progressive figures – including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who might potentially save our two-party system from the dreaded scourge of centrism. But to me one of the most important stories of the year is also one of the least understood.

      In May, the people of Ireland affirmed what has long been understood to be a basic tenet of human rights law: a woman’s body is her own. No one – no relative, spouse or government – has the right to prohibit a woman’s access to her sexual and reproductive rights. That includes her choice to end a pregnancy. Yes there are certain parameters within which she may do so, and there is room for further improvement. But in general this is a huge step forward for women’s rights.

      That’s great for the people of Ireland, but the really interesting thing is about how that referendum took place. Unlike in other referenda (one involving Ireland’s neighbor to the North and East), the referendum wasn’t the first step. Rather it was the end of a process that was started essentially by politicians who didn’t want to touch a potentially explosive issue. The middle class in Ireland – the perhaps 30% of the population who live in the cities and visit relatives in the large Irish diaspora – have long been ready for changes to Ireland’s repressive anti-abortion laws. But fear of a backlash prevented mainstream political parties from actually taking forward a proposal through the usual channels.

    • Reckless Gamble for Profit that Placed Indian Cotton Farmers in Corporate Noose

      The dubious performance (failure) of genetically engineered Bt cotton, officially India’s only GM crop, should serve as a warning as the push within the country to adopt GM across a wide range of food crops continues. This article provides an outline of some key reports and papers that have appeared in the last few years on Bt cotton in India.

      In a paper that appeared in December 2018 in the journal Current Science, P.C. Kesavan and M.S. Swaminathan cited research findings to support the view that Bt insecticidal cotton has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers. This paper was not just important because of its content but also because M.S. Swaminathan is considered to be the father of the Green Revolution in India.

      The two authors provided evidence that indicates Bt crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place.

  • Security

    • Breaking Up the Crypto-Criminal Bar Brawl

      Unikernels embrace this new model of software provisioning yet enforce it at the same time. They run only one single application per virtual machine (the server). They can not, by design, run other programs on the same server.

      This completely prevents attackers from running their programs on your server. It prevents them from downloading new software onto the server and massively limits their ability to inject malicious content, such as credit card skimming scripts and cryptomining programs.

    • Electrum wallet hack spooks market, causing bitcoin price to plunge again

      Those behind the hack tricked users to download and install a malicious software update. They did so by adding malicious servers to Electrum’s network that if contacted would result in an error message followed by an update client message that linked to an unauthorized GitHub repository.

    • Side-Channel Vulnerability Variants 3a and 4 – Spectre and Meltdown

      On May 21, 2018, new variants of the side-channel central processing unit (CPU) hardware vulnerabilities known as Spectre and Meltdown were publicly disclosed. These variants—known as 3A and 4—can allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information on affected systems.

    • Firejail – Securely Run Untrusted Applications in Linux

      Sometimes you may want to use applications that have not been well tested in different environments, yet you must use them. In such cases, it is normal to be concerned about the security of your system. One thing that can be done in Linux is to use applications in a sandbox.

      “Sandboxing” is the ability to run application in a limited environment. That way the application is provided a tighten amount of resources, needed to run. Thanks to application called Firejail, you can safely run untrusted applications in Linux.

      Firejail is a SUID (Set Owner User ID) application that decrease the exposure of security breaches by limiting the running environment of untrusted programs using Linux namespaces and seccomp-bpf.

    • Hackers Attack IPMI Default Passwords to Deploy Ransomware On Linux Servers

      However, JungleSec is only a concern for those using the IPMI default password. The best prevention against the JungleSec Ransomware attack is to simply reset your IPMI password to a something more secure, alternatively consider disabling/restricting if not required.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Democrats and Neocons Are the Biggest Losers of Trump’s Syria Withdrawal

      Russia: Nancy Pelosi’s Dec. 20 description of the pullout as “a Christmas present to Vladimir Putin” is not off the mark. Not only has the Russian president gained leverage in Syria, he’s now the chief arbiter across the entire Mashriq, the area from the Nile to the Tigris. But the pullout alters the balance of power in another arena as well: the Black Sea. The Nov. 26 fracas in the Kerch Strait, in which Russia captured three Ukrainian navy boats attempting to force their way through what Moscow regards as its territorial waters, ended in a clear Russian victory, because it showed that it could limit access to the Sea of Azov (and therefore to the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk) without NATO able to do much in response.

      It’s a far cry from the heady days of February 2014, when the U.S. thought it could use the “AutoMaidan” protests in Kiev to force Russia out of its historic naval base at Sevastopol in the southern Crimea, a move that, if successful, would have virtually closed off Russian access to the Black Sea. But now the shoe is on the other foot. If the Syria pullout is a sign that the American appetite for foreign adventures is on the wane, Russia will gain even more room to maneuver—not only in Syria but in the Black Sea as well.

      Iran: The last time Iran opened a corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean was in the early seventh century, when it overran Syria and captured Jerusalem. Then the Byzantines counterattacked in 628, and the Arab conquests began in 632. With the U.S. out of Syria, the path is once again open from Iraq to Lebanon. It’s a victory of historic proportions.

    • Keep Walking, Nothing Important to See Here

      Shanahan managed, with the assistance of a friendly press corps who were either inappropriately polite or simply historically ignorant, to cover up the reality that the Pentagon had actually been forced by Congress to finally submit to an attempted audit by 1200 auditors from the nation’s leading audit firms after 27 years of stonewalling a Congressional mandate to develop an auditable set of books.

      Like all his predecessors in the leadership of the Pentagon dating back to 1990, when Congress passed the CFO Act requiring all federal departments and agencies to have auditable books and regular outside audits, Shanahan did his best during his short tenure to avoid making the Pentagon’s budget and spending record transparent and understandable.

      The reality is that under Shanahan and his soon-to-be-cashiered boss Sec. Mattis, as under prior Pentagon leaders, neither Congress nor any inquisitive media (if there still are any), nor any of us taxpayers have the remotest idea how the Pentagon spends the astonishing trillion or so dollars that are annually shoveled its way by the US Treasury Department, and that’s the whole point of keeping the budget totally opaque and filled with purely fake numbers called, in the Pentagon’s darkly humorous jargon, “plugs.” Nor, it would appear, does this guy who is so ready to excuse himself and the department for this abject and apparently willful failure at a first audit exercise, plan to let us learn more in the future.

    • Confessions of a Soviet Assassin

      That’s the story of Stashinkiy’s second assassination at the behest of Soviet intelligence– at least according to Stashinkiy himself. The alleged murder took place in 1959, and two years later Stashinkiy defected to the West. The story above is the one he told the CIA during long debriefings, according to declassified CIA files.

      Stashinkiy’s first kill supposedly came in 1957 – another Ukrainian who died of what authorities thought was another heart attack also in Munich.

    • US turns to military, medical research to solve diplomats’ ‘health attacks’

      In the waning days of summer, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan was quietly dispatched to a Pennsylvania brain clinic to investigate for himself what government doctors had described: American diplomats and spies suffering from a mysterious set of ailments.

    • How the CIA Finally Caught One of Russia’s “Most Successful” Spies

      A declassified CIA study describes what happened:

      “Located at his hotel at 0800 the next morning, Felfe invited our liaison officer to breakfast. Without being asked to account for his time, Felfe volunteered that he had gone to the movie at 1830, had had something to eat and drink, and had then gone to another movie at 2230. Again without being asked or challenged, he exhibited two movie tickets.

      “This voluntary display of props to support a story struck the liaison officer as quite unusual,” the study says.

      But then a telltale detail: “Equally unusual was the fact that the stub was torn off only one of the tickets…”

      The CIA officer played it cool and let Felfe get back to his breakfast, but later wrote up a report about the man’s “disappearing act.”

      Luckily for Felfe, and unluckily for the CIA, the suspicious account was one among many suspicious accounts recorded by Western security services – but not shared with one another.

      Only years later did the CIA find out that Felfe had actually gone to meet a KGB officer that night, as he had many, many times over the years, under the collective noses of Western intelligence.

      According to the CIA, “of the identified KGB penetrations of Western intelligence and security services, Heinz Felfe was certainly one of the most successful.”

    • This was a fight against MI6 and CIA not Ranil – Gammanpila

      MP Udaya Gammanpila stated that the foreign ambassadors can rest well because their wishes have been fulfilled. He went on to state that this fight was not against Karu Jayasuriya or even Ranil Wickremesinghe but a fight against foreign secret services such as America’s CIA and Britain’s MI6. He added that they will now be able to see how the UNP dances to the tune of the UNP.

    • We were up against CIA and MI6, not Karu and Ranil – Gammanpila

      Speaking at a press conference in Colombo on Saturday, he stated that they were not up against Speaker Karu Jayasuriya or UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

      “We were up against secret intelligence agencies such as America’s CIA and Britain’s MI6,” he claimed.

    • China should free the two Canadian citizens held after Huawei arrest: CIA director

      Pompeo’s comments were the first by a senior U.S. official on the arrests, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said could escalate a growing trade conflict between China and the United States.

      “The unlawful detention of two Canadian citizens is unacceptable,” Pompeo told reporters after talks in Washington with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. “They ought to be returned … We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly.”

      Canadian officials were granted consular access on Friday to one of the two detainees in China and were still trying to contact the second, the Foreign Ministry said.

      China detained the two – businessman Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG) – after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec 1.

      ICG President Robert Malley also called for Kovrig’s release on Saturday.

    • Following Report on Saudi Use of Child Soldiers in Yemen, Anti-War Voices Offer This Reminder: American Tax Dollars ‘Help Pay for It’

      “America is now aiding and abetting the use of child soldiers.”

      That was how Ari Rabin-Havt, deputy policy director for U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), responded to a New York Times report on Friday detailing Saudi Arabia’s use of Sudanese child soldiers as young as 14 years old to wage its vicious assault on Yemen, which has resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

      According to the Times, “five fighters who have returned from Yemen and another about to depart said that children made up at least 20 percent of their units. Two said children were more than 40 percent.”

      “To keep a safe distance from the battle lines,” the Times noted, “their Saudi or Emirati overseers commanded the Sudanese fighters almost exclusively by remote control, directing them to attack or retreat through radio headsets and GPS systems provided to the Sudanese officers in charge of each unit, the fighters all said.”

      The Times report was met with horror by anti-war activists, who highlighted the fact that—by continuing to send the Saudis arms and provide other military assistance—the United States is directly complicit in the kingdom’s use of children as soldiers in its years-long war on Yemen.

    • Stop Wasting Money on the Pentagon

      In this season of (hoped for) peace and goodwill, it’s worth looking for things our divided country can agree on. And since all of us want to be able to trust government to spend wisely, we might find common cause in a surprising place: the Pentagon budget.

      When you think of politicians railing against the Pentagon (if you can think of any) it might be someone on the left, like Senator Bernie Sanders. That’s why I was gratified to see Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley take on the Pentagon budget in a recent op-ed in The New York Times.

      It’s a relatively rare occurrence for a politician of any persuasion to criticize the Pentagon — but especially for a conservative Republican like Grassley. (That said, the late Senator John McCain, when he was in the right mood, could do it with the best of them. And it’s not Grassley’s first rodeo, either.)

      The Pentagon deserves the criticism. Nearly 30 years ago, Congress asked the Pentagon to complete an audit that could show military leaders knew where our money was going. This year, the Pentagon finally delivered a result: After waiting nearly 30 years, the Pentagon failed its first-ever audit.

    • Bush, Posada and Dirty War Against Cuba

      Former president George H.W. Bush recently died. Stories abound as to his civility and easy interaction with political associates and casual contacts alike. In Maine, where his family owns a summer home, the press highlighted such qualities and also his generosity. The assumption prevails that affability softened the hard edges of wielding power. Dark corners in Bush’s political life receive less attention.

      The criminal Luis Posada Carriles lived in one of them. President Bush’s dealings with Posada reflected amorality, want of ethical principles, and dedication to preserving a world of privilege. The contrast between a decent-guy image and easy tolerance of blatant criminality is striking.

      It’s a blight recalling the high-minded framers of the U.S. Constitution who owned enslaved people. Bush resembled the “gentleman” southern planter of pre-Civil War years whose hands were not often dirtied. An underling enforced the “pushing system” of industrial-scale cotton production. (1) Similarly, Bush himself didn’t perform the dirty deeds against Cuba.

    • UN Arrives in Hodeida to Monitor Fragile Truce Amid Repeated Saudi Violations

      A UN monitoring team, led by Cammaert, arrived in the port city on Monday after traveling from the Saudi-controlled city of Aden, and earlier from Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, where they met with Houthi officials on Sunday. The team arrived in Yemen on Saturday to oversee the fragile truce reached during recent UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden.

      Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia increased its attacks — in breach of the UN-brokered truce – in the port city of Hodeida, leaving a father and his child dead after Saudi-led coalition fighters launched a guided missile at Bani Ghazi village in western Heis city on Wednesday.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Watch Replay of 10th Online Vigil for Julian Assange

      Consortium News on Friday night broadcast live the 10th online vigil for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. Among the guests were Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who spoke about his experiences with the U.S.-British extradition treaty.

      Other guests were radio host Scott Horton, activists Cathy Vogan and Vivian Kubrick, journalist Nozomi Hayase, priest and boxer Father Dave, radio journalist Ann Garrison, CIA analyst Ray McGovern and journalist and historian Gareth Porter. If you missed the live broadcast you can watch the entire replay here, which ends with a video of a talk given by Julian Assange…

    • Justice for Julian Assange, Test of Western Democracy

      Assange claimed political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to mitigate the risk of extradition to the US, relating to his publishing activities. He has been unlawfully by the UK government without charge, being denied access to medical treatment, fresh air, sunlight and adequate space to exercise. In December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Assange was being “arbitrarily deprived of his freedom and demanded that he be released”. Yet the UK government’s refusal to comply with the UN finding has allowed this unlawful detention to continue.

      This cruel persecution of Assange represents a deep crisis of Western democracy. As injustice against this Western journalist prevails, the legitimacy of traditional institutions has weakened. The benevolent Democracy that many were taught to believe in has been shown to be an illusion. It has been revealed as a system of control, lacking enforcement mechanisms in law to deal with real offenders of human rights violations, who for example illegally invade countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Under this managed democracy, the premise of “no person is above laws” is made into a pretense that elites use to escape democratic accountability. Media has become the “Guardian” of ruling elites that engage in propaganda to distort truth.

    • Guarded warehouse near airport and mysterious cargos from Baghdad; what is the US embassy in Helsinki up to?

      Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of parcels sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

      A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

      The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks’ database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

      Situated across the street from the main entrance of Malmi Airport, the warehouse with its 3 meter high security fence appears an unlikely location for official embassy business. Neighbouring companies include a car yard and a tyre warehouse.

      [...]

      In addition to Finland and Western Europe, the Wikileaks database shows that the US embassy in Baghdad disseminates hundreds of thousands of parcels worldwide, with more than 300,000 parcels recorded as being delivered Stateside alone.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Is the Green New Deal a Revolutionary Reform?

      The movement around the Green New Deal is the ultimate testing ground for the kind of political skills and strategy needed to win the most important political battles of all. What do you think of the Green New Deal? I think we might just have a workable “revolutionary reform.” The Green New Deal can help us focus our energy on a concrete set of proposals that provides a bridge to the fundamental social transformation necessary to preserve the planet and free the people. But first we need a winning strategy.

    • Ten 2018 Extinction Awards

      Given the way people are transforming the earth into a place where the human species cannot survive, it is only right and just that we honor achievement in the race to extinction.

    • Permian era die-off may be warning for today

      Forensic geologists have revisited the scene of one of the world’s great massacres to identify the means of death. The victims of the Permian era die-off found themselves increasingly in hot water, to die of overheating or suffocation.

      That is, in a rapidly warming globe, marine animals simply could not gasp fast enough to take in the increasingly limited dissolved oxygen. So they died in their billions.

      It happened at the close of the Permian era 252 million years ago: the planet’s worst single mass extinction event so far, in which up to 90% of marine species perished and 70% of land animals succumbed.

      And if the scientists who have reconstructed this epic event are right, then the prime cause of mass death and destruction was a dramatic rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide which raised tropical ocean temperatures by about 10°C.

      Tropical species could move away from the equatorial zones to find cooler waters and a breathing space. Species adapted to cooler waters had nowhere to go.

    • ‘Not the Leadership This Moment Calls For’: Progressives Slam Pelosi for Pushing ‘Weak’ Climate Panel Over Green New Deal Committee

      Following presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) official announcement on Friday that Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) will chair the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, progressives accused the Democratic leadership of moving ahead with a “weak” congressional panel instead of listening to grassroots demands for a more bold and visionary Green New Deal Select Committee.

      Justice Democrats—an advocacy group that helped organize recent mobilizations in support of a Green New Deal—declared in a statement that the Democratic leadership appears dead-set on taking the “path of least resistance” when it comes to tackling the climate crisis.

      “Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership seem to be pushing forward a weak Select Committee that has no subpoena power, that allows participation from members of Congress who take donations from the fossil fuel industry, and that has no explicit goals regarding the mass economic mobilization needed to match the [United Nations'] recommendations on scale and timeline,” Justice Democrats spokesman Waleed Shahid said in a statement.

    • With ‘Unconscionable Rollback,’ Trump EPA Lays Groundwork for Coal Industry to Release More Mercury Into the Air

      Janet McCabe, who ran the EPA’s air office under Obama, told the Times, “There is a likelihood that this rule-making will be the administration’s flagship effort to permanently change the way the federal government considers health benefits.”

      When crafting the regulation, the Obama EPA considered not only the direct gains of curbing mercury pollution, but also public health impacts such as fewer asthama attacks and premature deaths. Under notoriously pro-coal Trump, the agency is now, as Bloomberg News put it, “effectively ignoring those so-called co-benefits and focusing only on the direct potential benefits from slashing mercury emissions.”

      Ex-coal lobbyist and current EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler “is attacking the foundational building blocks for these critical protections,” declared Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) president Fred Krupp. In spite of the fact that much of the industry complies with MATS, which enjoys widespread public support, “and in spite of all common sense, Wheeler is plowing ahead.”

    • World’s Governments Indulge in Symbolism, Not Action, at COP24

      The good news from the annual climate summit just concluded in Katowice, Poland, is that the world’s governments agreed on a “rulebook” intended to implement the Paris Accord, the 2015 agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The bad news is that the world is no closer to actually tackling global warming than before and the rulebook has little binding effect.

      Because these annual meetings are more about symbolism than action, it is symbolic indeed that the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP 24, took place in Katowice, in Poland’s coal country. For added irony, the far-right Polish government announced the opening of a new coal mine days before COP24 opened, and Poland’s pavilion featured displays of everyday items such as walls and soap made out of coal.

      Admittedly the bar is awfully low, but COP24 was an improvement over last year’s COP23 gathering in Bonn, Germany, when the world’s governments talked and concluded by announcing that they would talk some more. But there were some glowing press releases issued, in which participants congratulated themselves for their willingness to talk. The official COP23 website declared that “we have done the job we came here to do, which is to advance the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement.” Evidently, talking about those guidelines was considered sufficient to “advance” the Paris Accord agreements.

    • Bear Dreaming: Of Wonder in Winter

      By now most grizzly bears are snug in winter dens, safe at last from poachers, big game hunters, and other dangers. Last week, to the relief of her many fans, Number 399, the rock star grizzly matron of Grand Teton Park, was seen with her two yearling cubs making their way back towards her denning area along Pilgrim Creek. She and her family had stayed up later than most grizzlies because they could feast on the abundant remains of elk killed by hunters in Jackson Hole. Once again, this 21-year-old veteran mom had miraculously survived a landscape bristling with guns as well as other hazards that come with her life strategy of living close to people.

      What does the next four to five months of life look like for her and other grizzly bear moms? Let’s peer into her lair and find out.

      In the darkness below the snow, we find miracles and mysteries. I like the fact that, despite industrial-scale research, hibernation remains magical and elusive. Wild animals will always defy circumscription by the human intellect – and throw us back on heart, soul, and imagination.

    • Louisiana Sheriff Who Criticized Pipeline Opponents Is Ordered to Release Records on Standing Rock Visit

      On December 27, a federal appeals court ordered a Louisiana’s sheriff’s department and its sheriff to release information about its officers’ trip to North Dakota during the heated protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. The extended, indigenous-led protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation drew a highly militarized response from public and private law enforcement. Out-of-state cops, including those from Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish, flooded North Dakota to support it via an interstate agreement.

      The latest move reversed a decision by a district court, which denied a public records request made by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights law firm, on behalf of environmental groups in Louisiana after parish law enforcement spoke out against Dakota Access pipeline opponents and endorsed the Bayou Bridge pipeline, a similar oil pipeline in Louisiana.

    • The Green New Deal: Let’s Shake Things Up

      Lately there’s been a lot of bad news about climate change and the future of humanity.

      In October, the United Nations issued a major report warning of a climate crisis as soon as 2040. The day after Thanksgiving, the Trump administration tried to bury the release of its own report on the dire effects of climate change already occurring in the United States, which included dark predictions for the future.

      In December alone, we learned that 2018’s global carbon emissions set a record high. NASA detected new glacier melts in Antarctica. There were wildfires. Coral reef bleaching. Ecosystem upheaval in Alaska as the arctic ice melts.

      Meanwhile the Trump administration sent an adviser to the UN climate summit to promote coal and warn against climate “alarmism.”

      So this all sucks. But here’s the thing about climate change: You can either ignore it, get depressed about doomsday scenarios, or believe that no matter how badly we’ve screwed up as a species, we’re also smart and creative enough to fix this.

    • China’s Climate Progress May Have Faltered in 2018, But It Seems to Be on the Right Path

      Despite clear signs that the need to act on climate change is becoming more urgent, global greenhouse gas emissions are set to rise for the second straight year.

      China, the world’s second-largest economy and ground zero in the global effort to combat climate change, is among the biggest drivers of this increase. Accounting for 27 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, China has been the world’s leading emitter for more than a decade. Although its emissions stayed flat between 2013 and 2016, they rose again in 2017 and increased by an estimated 5 percent in 2018.

      While recent increases are certainly cause for concern, based on my research on China’s climate change policies, I see grounds for optimism in terms of what to expect with China’s carbon footprint.

    • Germany’s Electricity 38% Renewable in 2018, more than Coal for 1st Time

      Germany, a pioneer in renewables among the advanced industrial economies, now gets 38% of its electricity from renewables.

      In the United States the proportion of electricity generated by renewables is only about 20%, about half as much as Germany, because of the opposition to green energy of Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Gas, and increasingly Big Trump (what has he been eating?) Moreover, much of the increase in renewables in the US is very new, with falling solar and wind prices, whereas Germany has been at this for a long time and thus avoided substantial carbon emissions that it would otherwise have produced.

    • CIA, climate scientists, and Mueller all show limits of Trump’s authority

      Right before Thanksgiving, the Trump Administration issued the National Climate Assessment which laid bare the dangers to the United States of man-made climate change. Trump denied the conclusions of the report, a strange reaction for a president regarding a report from the executive branch of government.

  • Finance

    • Over 5 million workers will have higher pay on January 1 thanks to state minimum wage increases

      On January 1, 2019, 20 states will raise their minimum wages, lifting pay for 5.3 million workers across the country.1 The increases, which range from a $0.05 inflation adjustment in Alaska to a $2.00 per hour increase in New York City, will give affected workers approximately $5.4 billion in increased wages over the course of 2019. Affected workers who work year-round will see their annual pay go up between $90 and $1,300, on average, depending on the size of the minimum wage change in their state.

      [...]

      The increases in the remaining six states—Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Missouri, and Washington—are the result of ballot measures approved directly by voters in those states.

    • Thoughts on Putin, Economic Downturns and Democracy

      A friend called my attention to this Project Syndicate piece by Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard economics professor and former chief economist at the I.M.F. Rogoff argues that Russia will need major economic reform and political reform in order for its economy to get back on a healthy growth path.

      In the course of making his argument, Rogoff makes a quick and dirty case that the fact Putin was able to win re-election despite the economic downturn in 2015-2016 resulting from the collapse of world oil prices, shows that the country is not a western democracy.

    • ‘Pouring Salt Into the Wound’ Amid Shutdown, Trump Signs Executive Order Freezing Pay of Nearly 2 Million Federal Workers

      With hundreds of thousands of federal employees currently furloughed or working without pay due to the ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump delivered another blow to struggling workers on Friday by signing an executive order that will freeze the pay of around two million public employees in 2019.

      “This is just pouring salt into the wound,” declared Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents around 100,000 federal workers. “It is shocking that federal employees are taking yet another financial hit. As if missed paychecks and working without pay were not enough, now they have been told that they don’t even deserve a modest pay increase.”

    • Innovation Used to Benefit Workers. Can It Again?

      Replacing human labor with a machine used to mean fewer work hours per worker, with little or no loss in pay. It meant workers being freed up to do other, more rewarding work.

    • China’s plan to sideline Bitcoin for investors

      When Satoshi Nakamoto introduced Bitcoin to the world in 2008, he or she or they (the mystery endures) pitched it as a way to end the power of central authorities in finance. Ten years on, the Chinese government is adapting the ideas behind Bitcoin to do the exact opposite.

      The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, plans to introduce a digital currency of its own. But unlike the decentralized blockchain-based offerings, this one could give Beijing more control over its financial system.

    • Questioning the Logic of Capital: A Conversation With Richard D. Wolff

      Richard D. Wolff is professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a visiting professor in the Graduate Programs in International Affairs at the New School University in New York City. In this interview, Wolff discusses how market-based economies have had their critics since the times of Plato and Aristotle, how both major US political parties have become subservient to the gospel of capitalism and how technology isn’t always constructive. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    • American History for Truthdiggers: FDR and His Deal for a Desperate Time

      Roosevelt’s detractors labeled him a socialist before he ever took office. His partisans deified him ahead of his inauguration and predicted he would save the nation from economic plight and bring back prosperity. Roosevelt was, in fact, neither a “commie” nor a miracle worker, neither Christ nor Antichrist. What he was, as he took the mantle of executive power in March 1933, was imbued with a mandate for change and determined to do something—not just to end the Depression but to reshape the country. Through fits and starts, periods of immense popularity and stretches in the political doldrums, FDR would improvise and legislate with an energy and passion rarely seen from an American president.

      From the very start, both on the campaign trail and in his inaugural address, Roosevelt announced that the train of change was a-coming. Accepting his party’s nomination in a Chicago stadium, he exclaimed, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” Just what that New Deal would mean in practice was initially rather vague, couched in rhetoric more than clear public policy. FDR liked to say that the “New Deal is as old as Christian ethics. … It recognizes that man is indeed his brother’s keeper. … [It] demands that justice shall rule the mighty as well as the weak.” To the optimistic leftist and the fearful conservative alike, this rhetoric smacked of socialism. But it was never that.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Since When Did the Irish Words “Sinn Féin” Mean Pro-Empire?

      Brexit has exposed Ireland as much as it has exposed Britain. In the on and off deal between the UK and the EU, the future of the Irish border, and therefore the future of Ireland, is being decided by faceless bureaucrats in Britain and Brussels. This is yet more proof – if any more proof was needed – of Ireland’s dependent status. After the Irish banking disaster, this is the latest ignominy “Independent Ireland” must bear.

      While the subjugation of Ireland by its powerful neighbors is nothing new – the almost cheerful acceptance of this current state of affairs by “rebel Ireland” is something new.

      For decades now the Sinn Féin party has been the face of “rebel Ireland”. It fought British rule in the north. And openly defied the comprador capitalists in the south. But today it cheers on Brussels as the latter decides the fate of Ireland. Today Sinn Féin criticizes anyone who wishes to exit the European Union. Today – irony of ironies – Sinn Féin is the Unionist Party par excellence. In the most smug way, it is now loyal to the prevailing Empire.

      The Irish words “sinn féin” mean “ourselves”, or in political terms, “ourselves alone” – as opposed to “ourselves following the orders of others”. So in contemporary terms, the words “sinn féin” best describe those arguing for Brexit. While those wishing to remain in the EU are anything but “sinn féin”. Following this semantic line, Ireland’s Sinn Féin party, by defending the EU and mocking Brexit, has turned the meaning of “sinn féin” on its head.

    • Schumer vs. the Climate: Manchin’s Criminally Insane Promotion

      If I read Chuck Schumer correctly, he generally assumes his progressive opponents are powerless wimps and that he can just serve his Wall Street and AIPAC masters without taking our views or feelings into account. Or even that we’re “fucking retarded,” as Schumer evidently believes but it took Rahm Emanuel to actually say. Schumer, by contrast, typically goes about his business of screwing progressives without getting too emotionally or verbally worked up about us.

      But occasionally—I hope ever increasingly—we progressives manage to get under his skin and Schumer does (usually not says) something incredibly spiteful. And potentially incredibly stupid, provided Schumer has severely underestimated his progressive opponents’ numbers, resolve, and strategic savvy.

      Now, given progressives’ long years of political impotence—the same history of futile tethering to the anti-progressive Democratic Party that prompted Rahm Emanuel to ask, “Where the hell will they go?”—Schumer’s calculus of screwing progressives without backlash has worked incredibly well. Perhaps an occasional grumble of protest (say, by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights) when he actually sought to violate the Constitution, as Schumer’s irrational level of aversion to the BDS movement (abetted by Congress’s largest AIPAC-sponsored donations) rashly compelled him to do. But nothing like career-threatening backlash from his rashness; such a powerful shield is Schumer’s prowess as a Wall Street fundraiser for Democrats that it’s been long years since he’s even faced the indignity of a primary.

    • ‘Fake News’ Results In Real Jail Time For Ohio Woman

      As Sullum points out, this sentencing appears to ignore the First Amendment, which allows for the spreading of stupidity, even if the stupidity could conceivably provoke reactions from those who come across it.

      The school claims the repeating of the unfounded rumor — months after the alleged event had happened — disrupted school administration. Apparently, the principal of Coventry Middle School “spent the entire day” answering phone calls from parents who had read Croghan’s post. Croghan’s post — referencing a rumor she had heard from her daughter the previous November — hit Facebook shortly after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

      [...]

      The sentence is being appealed. This will likely be followed by a lawsuit, especially if the sentence is overturned. The application of the state law in this fashion criminalizes ignorance. And, in this case, it comes with additional Constitutional violations (prior restraint) that make it litigation bait. Handing out jail time in response to “fake news” is the worst way to handle careless — but protected — speech. Sooner or later, Ohio taxpayers are going to be paying real dollars to settle cases stemming from “fake news” arrests.

    • Why Scott Pruitt Still Matters in the Trump Era

      Scott Pruitt is gone. In place of the erstwhile EPA administrator sits former coal lobbyist and savvy deregulatory policy hand, Andrew Wheeler. Good luck, environment.

      The world, such as it is, has moved on. It’s time now to turn away from that unpleasant episode as the Trump saga trudges through interminable bedlam. But, although Pruitt is gone, he can’t be forgotten. (Investigators certainly remember.) Tracing the course he charted helps clarify today’s politics and presages what oversight will uncover as the Democrats take over the House and hold the Trump administration accountable. In retrospect, he seemed destined to go under, yet the fact that it took so long and required such a torrent of venality to sweep him away even now remains astounding.

    • The comical incompetence of President Trump

      President Trump is spending the last few days of 2018 in signature fashion, with a series of unforced errors and comical pratfalls around the world, any one of which would have been a multi-week scandal for any previous president. The government is shut down over total nonsense, and Trump’s attempt to visit the troops for a quick propaganda coup instantly became a head-shaking discussion about his awful operation security and pointless lies.

      It’s worth remembering every now and then that Trump is horrible at being president. The basic tasks are as far beyond him as it would be for a parakeet attempting to operate the Large Hadron Collider.

      Let’s review. The United States is on the seventh day of a government shutdown sparked by Trump demanding $5 billion for The Wall. As many, many experts have argued at tedious length, any border wall is all but pointless for achieving its stated objective. Walls are easy to get around, and actually building one would ruin the lives and properties of many law-abiding citizens, in addition to presenting huge logistical and legal barriers. Anyway, since 2007 most people who immigrate illegally overstay their visas instead of crossing the border.

    • Democrats Won’t Seat Candidate in Contested Race, House Leader Says

      Amid the turmoil, incoming U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a statement saying House Democrats won’t allow Republican Mark Harris to be sworn in next week because of the ongoing investigation.

      “Given the now well-documented election fraud that took place in NC-09, Democrats would object to any attempt by Mr. Harris to be seated on January 3,” Hoyer said, adding that “the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress.”

    • Government Shutdown or Not, the Police State Will Continue to Flourish

      At least, parts of the government have temporarily shut down over President Trump’s demand for a $5 billion border wall.

      Yet while these political games dominate news headlines, send the stock market into a nosedive, and put more than 800,000 federal employees at risk of having to work without pay, nothing about this government shutdown will diminish the immediate and very real dangers of the American Police State with its roadside strip searches, government surveillance, biometric databases, citizens being treated like terrorists, imprisonments for criticizing the government, national ID cards, SWAT team raids, censorship, forcible blood draws and DNA extractions, private prisons, weaponized drones, red light cameras, tasers, active shooter drills, police misconduct and government corruption.

      Shutdown or not, war will continue. Drone killings will continue. Surveillance will continue. Censorship and persecution of anyone who criticizes the government will continue. The government’s efforts to label dissidents as extremists and terrorists will continue.

      Police shootings will continue. Highway robbery meted out by government officials will continue. Corrupt government will continue. Profit-driven prisons will continue. And the militarization of the police will continue.

    • A government agency shared tips for employees to send to landlords while the shutdown leaves them without paychecks

      In a Thursday tweet, the US Office of Personnel Management sent out three sample letters to furloughed federal employees. The letters are templates to use in case they need to ask their creditors, landlords, and mortgage companies for a payment break, since the government shutdown has, for the time being, frozen their paychecks.

      Nearly 800,000 federal government employees are currently not getting paid thanks to the partial government shutdown that began on December 22. These include scientists, researchers, janitors, and paralegals. Some have taken to Twitter to share the struggles the shutdown has put them in under the hashtag #ShutdownStories. Many of the stories shared were from employees worried about not being able to make rent or pay for their utilities under the shutdown.

      The OPM sample letters aim to explain to creditors and lenders the precarious situation many workers are finding themselves in.

    • 10 Good Things About 2018

      1. The election of the progressive new members of Congress, particularly women of color such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Ayanna Pressley and Sharice Davids. Before even taking office they are shaking up the D.C. establishment: Calling out lobbyists for briefing new members of Congress? Refusing to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel? Paying congressional interns? Calling for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All? It’s head-spinning for the establishment and thrilling for the rest of us. With these new progressive allies, with Democrats now controlling the House, and with an expanded and invigorated Progressive Caucus, we have a chance to drag centrist Democrats into supporting policies that might not be popular with their big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

    • Should We Rethink Presidential Powers?

      On Dec. 18th it was agreed that Donald Trump’s charitable foundation would be dissolved. The decision was reached as a result of findings that Donald Trump and his family abused the tax exempt status and abused campaign finance laws.

      The lawsuit is not over; a decision on $2.8 million in restitution and penalties as well as possible permanent ban against Trump and three of his children serving on nonprofits in New York still needs to be reached.

      Given what was described by the State’s Attorney General office as:

      “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,”

      one hopes they are prevented from betraying the public’s trust in the future. One might ask, “what does this mean?”

      Trump is selfish and willing do whatever it takes to get what he wants for himself. His favorite tool is dishonesty—it is all purpose, he lies all the time. In his version of winning the public’s loss is his gain, and we’ve been “big league” losing. Reflecting on the dissolution of his corrupt Trump Foundation, as with so much of his storied career of dishonesty, reveals an ingenious ability to deceive unfettered by any moral decorum—his absolute willingness to betray. He is proof, in financial terms, that in this broken system cheaters do win, and he publicly brags that he doesn’t pay his debts because he is smart.

    • Alexandria The Millennial

      This “self-care” was a trendy enough term (Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is savvy enough to know all the trendy terms). It was a trendy enough term for the right to be their traditional mean and petty selves, griping about socialists being lazy or whatever. But there was even more people that came to Ocasio-Cortez’s defense, for whatever reason.

      [...]

      Regardless, she is cultivating all the millennial stereotypes at once. First, there is the socialist stereotype (this one isn’t true at all, sadly!). Socialism, in the mainstream imagination, basically just means that you are lazy and selfish (rather than opposed to human suffering). Oh dear!

      But the other assumption behind believing in socialism is that you must be a spoiled brat, unwilling to earn your capitalist points of suffering in exchange for not dying. I wish we had more lazy socialists. I wish we had more lazy people in general! But everyone works too hard, including on the left. No one has fun, no one has the time or energy or courage to have fun. This stinks. And screw you people telling us all to work harder! You don’t like it, we don’t like it, and why the hell are we all doing it?

      It is here that Ocasio-Cortez is an open troll, or an authentic stereotype. Yoga? Salmon? Sleeping in your jeans? I mean it’s the strangest mixture of high-brow misery and low-brow struggle one could come up with! And if that’s the millennial reality, no wonder we all hate the world!

    • Redrawing the Political Map: Gerrymandering Fights Set the Stage for 2019 and Beyond

      Nowhere has the Republican plan to hang onto power at all costs expressed itself more fully than in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

      In both states, Democratic governors won competitive statewide elections, only to see their powers stripped away by Republicans who control the state legislatures.

      And in both states, the gerrymandered electoral maps that set up Republican control in the first place are the subject of potentially precedent-setting federal lawsuits.

      As demographic trends undermine Republican control across the country, the GOP is resorting to more flagrantly anti-democratic tactics to hold on to power. What happens next in the battleground states of North Carolina and Wisconsin will set the stage for the next round of elections, and for politics for many years to come.

    • UK-funded psyop, war-torn Yemen & Bush’s criminal legacy: John Pilger looks back at 2018

      The recent emerging scandal around the shadowy UK government-funded Integrity Initiative (II) leaked by Anonymous hacktivists has been hitting the headlines over the past month. Commenting on the II motto which is ‘Defending Democracy against Disinformation’ Pilger said: “I would say ‘satire’ but it isn’t satire.”

    • Do it CIA style: What you need to know about latest leak on UK-funded psyop

      It’s been over a month since hackers began exposing the Scotland-based ‘Integrity Initiative’ as a UK government-funded propaganda outfit — and gradually new details of the organization’s clandestine activities have come to light.

      The documents were leaked by a group which claims to be associated with the Anonymous hackers. The first batch of leaks revealed the Integrity Initiative (II) was stealthily operating “clusters” of influencers across Europe working to ensure pro-UK narratives dominate the media. The second batch showed that the organization was also running disinformation campaigns domestically — specifically a smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn; all done under the guise of combatting “Russian propaganda.”

      Now, a third batch of leaks has exposed that the project allegedly operated much like a modern-day version of Operation Mockingbird — a secretive 1950s project whereby the CIA worked hand-in-glove with willing journalists in major media outlets to ensure certain narratives were adhered to. Only this time, it’s a UK-funded organization with deep links to the intelligence services and military passing itself off as a non-partisan “charity.”

    • The funny, the weird and the serious: 33 media corrections from 2018

      No one likes admitting to a mistake. But everyone likes reading about them.

      Poynter’s annual roundup of media corrections is now in its sixth edition (follow the links for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and 2017 lists) — and it is always among our top articles of the year.

      The corrections in our roundup are often hilarious, uncovering Freudian slips, misplaced homonyms or pedantic readers. But not all are a laughing matter. Corrections can reveal systemic bias or severe mispractice in reporting.

      Still, readers should continue to value publications that honestly correct themselves over those that pretend nothing happened or stealthily edit past mistakes. Corrections policies are an unequivocally good thing about journalism. Even as accusations of “fake news” dog the industry, its response should be to double down on this practice.

    • 2,200 Women Who Ran for Office in 2018 Lost. What’s Next for Them?

      They put their passion on the line, knocking on doors, dialing for dollars, giving speeches wherever they could find a podium, and working to turn out the voters to give them victory on election day.

      They did this for months, then they learned that it had not been enough. Despite the soaring number of women who won races in the 2018 election, they were not among them. They were among the even greater number of women who lost.

      While the winners make headlines and prepare to take office, the losers face a different reality.

      “We find this narrative around women winning can be really isolating for the women who lost. There’s no guide for the day after the election if you lose,” says Erin Loos Cutraro of She Should Run, an organization she co-founded in 2011 to encourage more women to run for office.

    • Crushing Glas Along With Ecuador’s Rule of Law

      This is totally unsurprising if you read a previous interview in which Ruiz-Chiriboga described how the government of Lenin Moreno has trampled all over Ecuador’s constitution and judicial independence.

    • Lessons for the Left From the Spanish Elections

      In what seems a replay of recent German and Italian elections, an openly authoritarian and racist party made major electoral gains in Spain’s most populous province, Andalusia, helping to dethrone the Socialist Party that had dominated the southern region for 36 years. Vox (Voice)—a party that stands for “Spain First,” restrictions on women’s rights, ending abortion, stopping immigration and dismantling the country’s regional governments—won almost 11 percent of the vote. The Party is in negotiations to be part of a ruling rightwing coalition, while left parties are calling for an “anti-fascist front,”. It’s as if the old Spanish dictator Francisco Franco had arisen from his tomb in the “Valley of the Fallen” and was again marching on Madrid.

      Actually, the results were not so much “stunning”—the British Independent’s headline on the election—as a case of chickens coming home to roost, and a sobering lesson for center-left and left forces in Europe.

      The Dec. 2 vote saw the center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) lose 14 seats in the regional parliament and the leftist alliance, Adelante Andalucía, drop three. The conservative Popular Party (PP) also lost seven seats, but, allied with Vox and the rightwing Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party, the right now has enough seats to take power. It was the worst showing in PSOE’s history, and, while it is still the largest party in Andalucía, it will have to go into opposition.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • It Is Both Ridiculous And Dangerous To Make Domain Registrars Liable For Content On Domains

      Going back more than five years, we’ve been warning about the dangers of moving copyright enforcement down the stack, away from the actual hosting companies deeper and deeper into infrastructure. This was, of course, part of the goal of SOPA — to make infrastructure companies liable for infringement, and to force them to shut down entire sites. But that’s exactly a key part of our concern. Infrastructure players have only a single remedy: shut down an entire site, including anything that’s not infringing, to deal with claims (never adjudications) of infringing content. And yet, legacy copyright companies have been going after domain registrars for years.

      We were particularly troubled by a ruling in Germany back in 2014 saying that a registrar could be liable for infringement on a site using a domain from that registrar. And while it’s taken years, it appears that that ruling has now been upheld by a higher court.

    • Facebook’s Secret Censorship Manual Exposed as Platform Takes Down Video About Israel Terrorizing Palestinians

      After the New York Times on Thursday published an exposé of Facebook’s global censorship rulebook, journalist Rania Khalek called out the social media giant for taking down a video in which she explains how, “on top of being occupied, colonized territory, Palestine is Israel’s personal laboratory for testing, refining, and showcasing methods and weapons of domination and control.”

      Tweeting out the Times report—and noting that while, according to the newspaper, “moderators were told to hunt down and remove rumors wrongly accusing an Israeli soldier of killing a Palestinian medic,” Israeli soldiers did fatally shoot an unarmed 21-year-old female paramedic earlier this year—she announced Friday morning that Facebook had “just removed” her video.

    • Cybersecurity Law: Vietnam Will Censor Internet, Not Close Websites

      Expect to get caught if you post anti-government material on the internet in Vietnam or take a phishing trip. From 2019 authorities can build evidence against you from material provided by email services and social media networks including Facebook. Yet the country, mindful of its role in the emerging digital economy, won’t close down websites the way China does.

      Vietnam has long walked a thin line between a free internet as part of its economic growth and resistance against what market research firm IDC’s country manager Lam Nguyen calls “digital disasters.” The country is getting testier toward online dissent at the same time.

    • Major American Magazine Time Column Reports About Bitcoin’s Liberating Potential

      Bitcoin (BTC) has a substantial liberating potential, American mainstream newspaper Time reports on Dec. 28.
      The aforementioned article claims that “speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry have overshadowed the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.”
      According to the article’s author, Bitcoin “can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.”
      Alejandro Machado, a cryptocurrency researcher at the Open Money Initiative, reportedly said that the fee on a wire transfer from the United States to Venezuela can be as high as 56 percent.

    • Why Bitcoin Matters for Freedom

      For people living under authoritarian governments, Bitcoin can be a valuable financial tool as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange.

    • Jordan Peterson takes crypto donations to avoid censorship

      Jordan Peterson has taken to accepting cryptocurrency donations to circumvent potential censorship.

    • Vladimir Putin bows to his most dangerous enemy

      The kids are alright. Or so says Vladimir Putin, defender of Slavic values, crusher of political dissent and (it seems) indulgent fan of Russian rap music.

      Speaking on Saturday at a St. Petersburg forum on arts and culture, the Russian President warned against heavy-handed censorship of Russian rap.
      On the surface, it’s an odd move. Like most authoritarians, Putin likes to present himself as a social traditionalist — defending Russia’s viciously homophobic restrictions on gay life and decriminalizing domestic violence in a nation which still expects women to obey their husbands. Among the international alt-right, Putin is widely seen as a last defender of Christian values.

    • A year of death, destruction and censorship in Kashmir

      IAK is rife with stories of killing, maiming, enforced disappearance, custodial killings, rape, torture, crackdowns and censorship on media.

    • 50 Years Ago, Brazil Virtually Legalized Torture and Censorship

      It was actually the news, and the only way possible to convey it. The night before, in a televised address to the nation, the justice minister of the military dictatorship ruling the country since 1964 had announced the enactment of the “Institutional Act Number 5”. The AI-5, as it became known, superseded the constitution and ushered in a new, more oppressive phase of the regime. The newspaper’s “weather report” was a way of editorializing about the change without provoking the military’s censors.

      Institutional Acts established supra-constitutional powers and legalized actions by the Brazilian military rulers. The first one was signed on April 9, 1964, just days after civilian president João Goulart was deposed. AI-1 gave the regime the power to terminate terms of elected representatives and strip critics of all political rights, as well as to fire any civil servant on national security grounds. The following year, the Institutional Act Number 2 (AI-2) instituted indirect elections for the presidency, extinguished political parties and honed the system of persecution of opposition figures by giving the general-president the right to declare a state of siege without congressional approval.

      By the time the fifth act came around, it was 1968 – a year that became a symbol thanks to a series of transforming events around the world. The mobilizations against the Vietnam war, the hippie movement, the sexual revolution, the large demonstrations in Paris, Berkeley, Berlin, Mexico—there was transformation in the air in all fields of existence: in politics, in culture, in the arts. In Brazil, the winds of rebellion were blowing under a dictatorship.

    • Is media censorship a coming threat in Poland?

      In mid-November, the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza unveiled a corruption scandal that forced Marek Chrzanowski, the head of the Financial Supervision Authority (KNF), to resign.

      In a conversation that was recorded, Chrzanowski offered to help a bank owner solve the bank’s woes. The institute was to hire a specialist recommended by Chrzanowski and pay him a fee of €10 million ($11.36 million).

    • Cuba Readies More Censorship Efforts on Performers and Artists
    • Released From Jail, Artist Tania Bruguera Vows to Remain in Cuba to Continue Her Fight Against a New Censorship Law

      The performance artist Tania Bruguera was released on Thursday, along with around a dozen other Cuban artists and activists, after spending three days in jail for organizing a sit-in protest against new regulations that would limit artistic expression in the country. Amid widespread backlash against the law, known as Decree 349, the government rolled back some of its most rigid and repressive provisions just before it was due to go into effect on December 7.

      But Bruguera, for one, believes the fight is far from over. She announced this morning that, despite her release and the softening of the law, she no longer plans to attend the Kochi Muziris Biennale, which opens on December 12 in Kerala. She was due to give a performance and lecture there, according to Indian media reports.

      “As an artist I feel my duty today is not to exhibit my work at an international exhibition and further my personal artistic career,” she said in a statement, “but to be with my fellow Cuban artists and to expose the vulnerability of Cuban artists today.” She noted that the status of the law and the requested adjustments is not yet clear and the current version still makes “independent art impossible.” Bruguera could not immediately be reached for additional comment.

    • ‘This is scientific censorship of the worst kind’: The Trump administration reportedly froze the acquisition of fetal tissue for research, including an HIV cure experiment

      The Trump administration has quietly barred scientists working at the National Institutes of Health from acquiring new fetal tissue to use in experiments, including researchers working on a potential HIV cure, according to Science Magazine.

      The use of fetal tissue, some of which is donated by women who have had legal abortions, in scientific research is fiercely opposed by anti-abortion groups.

    • ‘Scientific censorship’: Trump administration shuts down study to find cure for HIV by halting use of fetal tissue
    • Letter To U.S. State Department Expresses Opposition To Reported Proposal To Censor Sexual, Reproductive Health Language
    • Maine Governor Settles Suit Claiming Facebook Censorship
    • US Sanctions Top North Korean Officials for Human Rights Abuses, Censorship
    • U.S. Targets North Korean Censorship With Sanctions
    • US sanctions 3 North Korean officials for human rights abuse
    • Israel’s National Lottery as Censor
    • ‘Alabama Story’ addresses censorship and race
    • How Sister Wendy Observed ‘Controversial’ Art Through a Progressive Lens
    • Venezuelan stand-up comics still dare to joke about Maduro — but for how much longer?
    • Movie on Bal Thackeray hits censor roadblock
    • Facebook Censors Image of Santa Kneeling Before Our Lord
    • Israeli Military Censor to Post Officer in State Archive Office, Worrying Historians

      The military censor will soon assign an official to be seated at the state archive office in Jerusalem, a source familiar with the situation told Haaretz.

    • Ian Johnson: Most people in China are not really aware of censorship

      Most people are not really aware of censorship in China. Unless you personally have had a problem, have come up against the power of the state, or you have a very strong sense of justice. It is quite an effective, very refined method, Ian Johnson says about China in the Rise of a New Superpower lecture he delivered in Bratislava on December 5.

    • Actors Union Presses To Revive California Age Censorship Law

      A California law requiring entertainment industry site IMDb.com to mask actors’ ages marks a valid attempt to combat discrimination in Hollywood, the actors union says in new court papers.
      “There is unrefuted evidence … that age discrimination in the industry would be reduced if IMDB did not publish age-related information,” the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists argues in legal papers filed last week with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    • India Proposes Regulation to Force Tech Platforms to Censor the Web and Shatter Security

      Following in the footsteps of the European Union and Australia, the government of India now wants to rewrite its laws to censor *content* and weaken encryption.

    • Congress Censors the Internet, But EFF Continues to Fight FOSTA: 2018 in Review
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Facebook CEO Zuckerberg Says Problems Will Take Years to Fix

      This year was one of constant apologies for the social network, after multiple instances of broken trust with its users. Zuckerberg testified for the first time in front of Congress in April, explaining why Facebook allowed users’ data to fall into the hands of unauthorized third parties. In his reflection on Friday, he made the case that Facebook is now a changed company, and will be more proactive about problems.

    • From Encrypting the Web to Encrypting the Net: 2018 Year in Review
    • EU Diplomatic Comms Network, Which the NSA Reportedly Warned Could Be Easily Hacked, Was Hacked

      The European Union’s network used for diplomatic communications, COREU, was infiltrated “for years” by hackers, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, with the unknown rogues behind the attack reportedly reposting the stolen communiqués to an “open internet site.”

      The network in question connects EU leadership with other EU organizations, as well as the foreign ministries of member states. According to the Times, the attack was first discovered by security firm Area 1, which provided a bit more than 1,100 of the cables to the paper for examination.

    • Hacking Diplomatic Cables Is Expected. Exposing Them Is Not

      ON WEDNESDAY, THE security and anti-phishing firm Area 1 published details of a breach that compromised one of the European Union’s diplomatic communication channels for three years. The perpetrators also compromised systems related to the United Nations, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and a number of international foreign affairs ministries. It’s a massive trove of sensitive communications—the kind that intelligence agencies from every country attempt to access every day.

      The European Union says it is investigating the findings, but hasn’t yet publicly confirmed them. Area 1 discovered the breach during routine analysis of international phishing campaigns. The firm showed more than 1,100 of the compromised diplomatic cables to The New York Times as evidence of the breach, an unorthodox decision for a private security firm conducting an investigation.

    • NSA’s empty PROMISes

      The investigations into the Inslaw affair were the result in the Department of Justice, the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency all responding to allegations involving the PROMIS software. Each agency denied their involvement and any wrongdoing, to varying degrees of credibility. The investigations eventually involved Inspectors General, a Special Counsel, and Congressional briefings, only scarce details of which have been released more than 20 years later. The NSA performed what it considered a very thorough search that proved that its PROMIS software was wholly separate from Inslaw’s. While the review of said software was thorough, the search nevertheless failed to identify the Agency’s purchase and use of at least one other piece of software called PROMIS.

    • Google is a Vital Cog in the U.S. Spying Machine

      Microsoft isn’t the only one working closely with the U.S. spying machine. Google has been doing it for years. The company’s roots are tied to the CIA, and it has worked with the NSA as well.

    • Mother of jailed NSA contractor rails against Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen: ‘Those actually responsible for threatening our election continue to get off easy’

      The mother of former NSA contractor Reality Winner is taking aim at some of the biggest names in the Trump-Russia investigation.
      Billie Winner-Davis, who’s now-27-year-old daughter was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” published a scathing op-ed in the Intercept on Sunday.
      “I am writing now because I am outraged: While my daughter languishes in prison, those actually responsible for threatening our election continue to get off easy,” Winner-Davis wrote.
      Winner was accused of leaking an intelligence report about Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election to the Intercept. Winner’s sentence is, to date, the lengthiest ever given for such a federal crime. She was arrested June 3, 2017 and sentenced August 23, 2018.

    • ACLU suit seeks info from NSA

      A civil rights group has sued the U.S. government, saying it needs more information about surveillance of Americans’ phone and financial records to guide the public debate over what will happen when the law that regulates the scrutiny expires next year.

    • ACLU sues US government to learn more about NSA call records program

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued several federal agencies in an effort to learn more about surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and financial records, according to The Associated Press.

      The ACLU filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court in Manhattan and says that the federal government hasn’t answered requests made last month by the ACLU for additional information about surveillance under a 2015 law, the AP reported. The ACLU made the requests through the Freedom of Information Act.

      The defendants in the lawsuit include the National Security Agency (NSA), the director of national intelligence, the CIA and the Justice Department.

      The 2015 law was created to put limits on NSA’s surveillance of Americans’ phone calls after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified information from the NSA in 2013 that revealed surveillance programs.

    • Once Again, GDPR Is A Potential Privacy Nightmare: Amazon Sends 1,700 Voice Recordings To The Wrong User In GDPR Request

      There are, of course, many different ways of thinking about this. On the whole, it’s a good thing that companies are giving users more access to data, and allowing them to not just see what’s being held, but to download it as well (it would be nice if things were more standardized, and it would enable easier shifting between services, but… baby steps). But, it also needs to be recognized that this creates new privacy challenges.

      This isn’t necessarily good or bad, but is a useful reminder that, contrary to what many GDPR supporters will tell you, the GDPR itself doesn’t actually do much to “protect” your privacy, and could make your data even more vulnerable. Again, there are potentially good reasons for this, but way too many people keep insisting that the GDPR is about protecting privacy, and it is important to understand where and how it fails in that regard, and how it could even make much of your data more vulnerable.

    • Economists calculate the true value of Facebook to its users in new study

      Since the design of both studies was so complementary, they decided to combine their data and results into a single paper. Cash and Saleem had a larger sample for their part of the study and looked at a longer time period of one year, while Corrigan and Rosein focused on shorter time frames, asking subjects to quit Facebook for one day, three days, or seven days. The studies nonetheless had similar results.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Year Tech Workers Realized They Were Workers

      2018 was the year that Big Tech’s mission statements came back to haunt it. When employees felt that their products were damaging the world and that management wouldn’t listen, they went public with their protests. At Google and Amazon, they challenged contracts to sell artificial intelligence and facial-recognition technology to the Pentagon and police. At Microsoft and Salesforce, workers argued against selling cloud computing services to agencies separating families at the border.

    • The First Step Act Is a Small Step for Incarcerated Women

      While the law ends two gender-specific indignities of federal incarceration, it only begins to scratch the surface for incarcerated women.
      The enactment of the First Step Act earlier this month will bring some much-needed change to our criminal justice system. But the First Step Act remains just that, a first step — particularly with respect to the impact that mass incarceration has had on cisgender women and trans people.

      The legislation ends two gender-specific indignities of federal incarceration: the shackling of pregnant women and restrictions on access to menstrual hygiene products.

      Shackling pregnant women during delivery has zero safety or health purposes, and serves only to demean and endanger the individual and her infant. The First Step Act moves toward permanently banning this practice by prohibiting federal correctional authorities from shackling incarcerated women during pregnancy and for a period thereafter, with some exceptions. The act also requires the federal Bureau of Prisons to provide sanitary napkins and tampons at no charge. As with the shackling of pregnant women, unnecessary restrictions on access to menstrual health products have turned a normal bodily function into a nightmare for people in prison.

    • How to Fund the Government Without Paying for Trump’s Border Wall

      Congress has a way out of this crisis of Trump’s making, and it doesn’t involve rewarding the Trump administration for its attacks on immigrants.
      President Trump has followed through on his threat to shut down the government in order to feed his border wall obsession. In fact, he’s gone further, stating that he’ll loot his cabinet departments, including the military, if necessary.

      After Trump refused to sign a bipartisan bill passed by the Senate, which would have kept the government open through February 8, 2019, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders suggested that the administration will somehow find money to pay for a border wall by raiding “every agency” for dollars. “We’re looking at every avenue available to us,” Sanders said. “The president asked every one of his cabinet secretaries to look for funding that can be used” to build the wall.

      Unfortunately there are bad precedents in the Trump administration for this sort of sham accounting: At the beginning of hurricane season, for example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shifted nearly $10 million in disaster relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use for ICE detentions.

    • The power of the courts and the people can still protect immigrants’ rights

      For immigrants, there’s no way to sugarcoat 2018. The Trump administration enacted a series of draconian policies targeting noncitizens, and the one that will most define the year — and this administration — is the separation of thousands of children, some less than a year old, from their mothers and fathers at the U.S. border.

      Conceived as a means to deter people from seeking refuge, the scope of the “zero tolerance” family separation policy was unprecedented, notwithstanding the administration’s claim that past presidents engaged in similar practices. The government took more 2,500 children away from their parents. The government did this systematically, without regard for the trauma that would inevitably follow and without a plan for how these families could ever be reunited. This was the worst policy I’ve seen in more than 25 years of civil rights work.

      Of course, this was not the only attack on immigrants by the administration, which is also seeking to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, putting 800,000 young people who were raised here at risk of being deported. The administration has also enacted an asylum ban and abruptly taken protected status away from hundreds of thousands of people who fled wars and natural disasters decades ago.

    • Tale of a Number-One Cold-Blooded Bastard

      Anyone who has ever questioned the Iraq War and Dick Cheney as a vice president expropriating power as second banana to a shallow man ill-equipped to lead anything has to see the Adam McKay film Vice. It’s nothing short of incredible. The filmmaker has created a hybrid genre that’s part narrative, part essay; most important, it’s extremely entertaining with just the right elements of satire, horror and tragedy. While it’s clearly driven by a disdain for its protagonist, it’s not reductive and presents a fully human, three-dimensional dramatic character. McKay’s point seems to be, this is serious stuff for all Americans and we ought to give it a lot more thought than we did as it was unfolding. Especially now, when we have a president with unquestioned, in-your-face authoritarian instincts.

      McKay began as a Saturday Night Live writer and went on to make films like Anchorman with Will Ferrell, with whom he made at least five films. As McKay did in The Big Short – the first serious film he directed without Will Ferrell – in this internet, i-phone age of interactive, touch-screen communication, he likes to use bold and ironic graphics to advance his tale. Perhaps his most creative touch is the use of visual metaphors – quick images of predatory animals, a drawing by Goya from his Disasters of War series, a precarious, wobbling stack of teacups and saucers, a still of golfers playing with a backdrop of a raging California forest fire – popped in the middle of a playing-out scene like modifying literary metaphors. It feels unorthodox, but it seems to hark back to the basic Eisenstein montage theory of juxtaposing images to establish complex emotions quickly. It certainly does that, creating a rich stew of images for the brain to chew on.

      McKay wrote the screenplay, which begins in Cheney’s youthful, wild days of drunken rowdiness where he’s a man headed off the rails. His wife Lynne reads him the riot act: Straighten up or it’s goodbye, Dick. She tells him she didn’t sign on to be the wife of an asshole like her abusive father, who the film virtually indicts for the drowning death of Lynne’s mother. Thanks to wife Lynne, Dick turns to the pursuit of Power, which as they say, made all the difference. There is a wonderful scene later in the film where — in bed and played like late-in-a-marriage foreplay — the two erotically recite an exchange between Shakespeare’s MacBeth and his famously ambitious Lady. It’s both funny and very serious.

    • What’s It Like for an Immigrant Child to Have a Glimpse of the American Dream, Then Have It Taken Away?

      Christmas wasn’t going to be much this year at the Maldonados’ tiny home in eastern El Salvador. Then 6-year-old Wilder arrived, lugging a duffel bag fat with the brightly colored remnants of his brief life in the United States — time he’d spent separated from his father by immigration authorities.

      Suddenly, the two shabby rooms with dirt floors and drab adobe walls turned festive. As a pot of chicken stew simmered on a wood-burning stove, a group of barefoot children rummaged with glee through the big black bag, pulling out treasures.

      Two-year-old Kevien claimed the Spider-Man pajamas and the talking Spider-Man mask that said things like, “Look out, it’s web-slinging time!” Darwin, a neighbor’s kid, posed in a pair of red Spider-Man glasses with silvery-white webs and blinking lights on the frames.

      Yohana, 14 and wispy like a ballerina, picked up a glossy soccer ball that had “USA,” emblazoned on one side and called Darwin outside to play. Meanwhile, the baby, MiLeidi, 8 months old, squealed in delight at a stuffed Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen,” that was bigger than she was.

      The only kid who didn’t seem to care much about the contents of the duffel bag was Wilder. He sat by himself on the only bed in the house, apart from the commotion, engrossed in games on his mother’s old cellphone. Kevien offered Wilder the talking mask, trying to entice him to come play. But, without looking up from the cellphone, Wilder shook his head and turned away.

    • The Cure for White Supremacy Lies in Religion and Art

      For the ideas helping the direction of this essay, I am indebted to Chris Hedges’ recent essay in Truthdig about black theologian James Cone. I am grateful to Mr. Hedges for his hailing of one of the most powerful cultural figures we have, whose insights, because he is of that backward-gazing group of intellectuals known as “theologians,” is inevitably marginalized by the secular liberal left. Marginalization of such a voice surely helps to maintain the continued visionlessness and depleted vitality among progressive secular liberals.

      [...]

      Significantly, suffering, whether mine or yours, whether the sufferer is bourgeois liberal or poor, always contains an implicit critique of illegitimate authority. And here may be the hiddencause of white people’s tendency, as individuals, to be stopped by fear at the threshold of the process of humanization: To throw off the oppressive dictum “I must never do what I want” makes necessary a complete bottom-up revision of the society. It radicalizes, for now one sees right through to power’s naked truth, to the weakness inherent in the tyrant’s “I can never do what I want and therefore you must not either.”

    • 6 Young Men, Given Adult Sentences for “Minor” Infractions, Are Freed in Illinois

      Six young men who had been sentenced to lengthy adult prison terms for committing what were described as minor infractions at a southern Illinois youth correctional facility went free Friday after outgoing Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, in an unannounced move, commuted their sentences.

      The young men, whose cases were documented in a ProPublica Illinois investigation last year, had only learned they would be released the day before. By Friday afternoon, all had walked out of the prisons where they were being held.

      “It feels good to be out,” Kaleb Martin said in a phone call, after leaving the Pinckneyville Correctional Center in southern Illinois, where he was met by his sister. Martin had been sentenced to six years in adult prison for biting a guard he claimed put him in a chokehold that blocked his breathing.

      He and the other five young men had been imprisoned for assaulting guards or other employees at the Illinois Youth Center at Harrisburg, though internal Department of Juvenile Justice records described some of the incidents as “minor.” Juvenile justice advocates and some state officials criticized Harrisburg officials for pressing charges, saying the incidents, which included biting, striking or spitting on workers, typically would have been handled through internal discipline.

    • County Pays $90,000 Settlement To Man After Seizing $80,000 Judgment From Him Using 24 Deputies And An Armored Vehicle

      This decision made national news in 2014. In the wake of the Ferguson protests, it was considered bad form to be turning normal police work into military maneuvers. But the Sheriff’s office didn’t care. Sheriff’s Captain Greg Bean said 24 deputies and a military vehicle were a proportionate response. Deputies were needed to haul away the junk that had prompted the $80,000 civil settlement and Hoeppner had been known to be “argumentative” in the past.

      But the fact is the squad of deputies could have shown up after the judgment and other legal issues had all been sorted out and someone being contentious in the presence of law enforcement officers is hardly justification for the use of an armored vehicle.

      This bit of bad optics and worse judgment had resulted in another setback for Marathon County. As [former cop/current lawyer] Greg Prickett pointed out, it has also proven the local government sucks at math. The law enforcement man-hours and legal fees incurred by the county has turned its $80,000 judgment into at least a $10,000 loss.

    • Police: Students made ‘horrifying’ mock shooting videos
    • Students Make A Video Depicting A School Shooting; Sheriff Decides Everyone Needs To Have Their Rights Violated

      Lots of movies, books, TV shows, and videogames contain “graphic and horrifying” content. Some even include “racist” dialogue, just as this video did. At no point did any of the participants mention a school, mention an intent to perform these acts at a school, or even tag other students/schools in the posting. It was simply a dramatization of events that happen far too often in this country.

      The videos were noticed by a student of the school the three arrested students attended. No one’s faulting the school for handing over the videos to law enforcement, but the sheriff’s office should have recognized the students were engaging in protected speech, not issuing terroristic threats. A simple conversation about why the videos might be disturbing to others should have been the end of it. Instead, there are now three arrests and a bunch of civil rights lawyers pointing out exactly why these arrests should not have occurred.

    • How CIA created remote-controlled DOGS with sinister brain electrodes for its infamous Project MKUltra

      Documents detailing the experiments were provided under the Freedom of Information Act by John Greenewald, founder of The Black Vault, a site specialising in declassified government records.

      In one letter a person with their name redacted writes to a doctor, whose name has also been redacted, with advice about launching a laboratory for experiments in animal mind control.

      The writer of the letter is an expert in the field, has already apparently created six remote control dogs, which could be made to run, turn and stop.

      The letter describes the work with remote-controlling the pooches as a success, describing “a demonstrated procedure for controlling the free-field behaviours of an unrestrained dog.”

    • Inside the CIA’s Top-secret Otter Dossier

      The CIA’s illegal program of human experimentation aimed at controlling the human mind, Project MKUltra officially ran from 1953 until 1973, when CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all MKUltra files, permanently obscuring a full understanding of the CIA’s use of otters in experimentation. Through Project MKUltra, drugs were administered to thousands of unsuspecting people in the United States and Canada, including amphetamines, salvia, sodium pentothal, scopolamine, psilocybin and LSD. Through hospitals and universities, the CIA sponsored further experiments into the application of sensory deprivation, psychological and sexual abuse.

    • Turkish FM claims freed US pastor is a ‘CIA agent’

      In a surprising statement, Turkish Foreign Minister Meblut Cavusoglu claimed at the Doha Forum on Sunday that US Pastor Andrew Brunson, who stood trial in Turkey over terrorism charges, is a CIA agent.

      Cavusoglu’s statements have been ridiculed in the US, with some even calling it a joke.

      “Everybody was focusing on this Pastor Brunson, who is also a CIA agent, I am also a very straightforward person like Erdogan, but it was a minor issue in our relations, we have more serious problems,” Cavusoglu said.

    • Leaked video shows Pervez Musharraf seeking covert US support to regain power

      In an embarrassment to Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani dictator, in a leaked video, was purportedly seen seeking covert US support to regain power and telling American lawmakers that he was “ashamed” of the ISI being negligent about the al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts.

      The undated video clips, which have been posted by dissident Pakistani columnist Gul Bukhari, also shows the self-exiled former president as saying that he thinks that the negligence of the ISI was “pardonable” as the CIA was also involved in same level of negligence on 9/11.

    • How the CIA Used Brain Surgery to Make Six Remote Control Dogs

      ‘Delivering that electrical stimulation to a dog’s brain involved some gruesome side effects, including “infection at the electrode site due to a failure of the surgical wound to heal.”’ https://www.newsweek.com/cia-mkultra-documents-files-remote-control-dogs-1250519

    • MFIA Clinic Files Lawsuit Against CIA

      Acting for two investigative journalists, the Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic has sued the Central Intelligence Agency for silencing the top FBI interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. The lawsuit alleges a CIA effort to mislead the American public about the effectiveness of torture.

    • New Docs Reveal Extent of CIA’s Grotesque Mind Control Experiments

      Earlier this year, the CIA marked the 65th anniversary of the launch of Project MKULTRA, a secret program which engaged in mind control experiments on people. Now, thanks to new documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the public has a chance to learn just how far those carrying out the gruesome experiments were willing to go.

      For many decades, the CIA tried to prevent documents related to Project MKULTRA from being released. However, late last week, John Greenewald Jr., founder of The Black Vault, a website specializing in declassified government records, released new documents said to detail the bizarre extent of the project’s experimentation on both people and animals.

    • ‘No to $5 Billion, No to $2.1 Billion, No to $1.6 Billion’: Progressive Groups Pressure Democrats to Reject Any Funding for Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

      While applauding the Democratic leadership’s refusal to give in to President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding, a coalition of dozens of advocacy groups on Friday sent a letter to presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressing alarm that their proposals to reopen the government would still hand the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) billions of dollars to continue Trump’s inhumane anti-immigrant agenda.

      “The Trump shutdown is deeply unfair to hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors; it is a disgrace that the president chose to inflict distress on them and their families,” the groups wrote (pdf). “As much as we all desire an end to the shutdown, however, rewarding Trump’s DHS with border barrier money is the wrong course of action, especially at a time when its personnel are tear gassing toddlers, separating and detaining families, and presiding over custodial deaths, including those of a seven-year-old girl named Jakelin and an eight-year-old boy named Felipe in Border Patrol custody just this month.”

    • Women in Military, Female Veterans Turning Away From GOP

      It had been months since retired Lt. Cmdr. Michele Fitzpatrick paid attention to news coverage. She was turned off by President Donald Trump’s tweetstorms and attacks on critics such as the late Republican Sen. John McCain, a war hero. But as the November midterm elections approached, she fired up her laptop.

      A member of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s Class of 1980, the first to include women, Fitzpatrick began researching candidates and poring over issues. On Election Day, she voted without hesitation: all Democrat.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC announces probe into CenturyLink outage disrupting 911 lines

      The outage began on Thursday morning and appears to remain unresolved.

    • 342.4 Million Top Level Domains Now Populate the Internet

      Country-code TLD (ccTLD) domain name registrations, which include the dot cn for China and dot de for Germany on the whole continued to grow as well. Across all ccTLDs, VeriSign reported that at the end fo the third quarter there were approximately 149.3 million domain name registrations for a 3.2 percent year-over-year gain.

      The dot cn (.cn) ccTLD is actually the second largest TLD overall, behind dot com, with a total of 22.7 million domain names registered. In third is another ccTLD, with the dot tk (tokelau) domain, which had 21.5 million domains registered. The dot tk domain has grown thanks to the fact that it is available for free to anyone that wants a domain.

    • How Microsoft lost the web [Ed: And it lost a lot more. Windows market share now at around 30%.]

      Microsoft’s announcement earlier this month that it was dumping its own browser technology for Google’s – turning Edge into a Chrome clone – was a stunning acknowledgement that the company had lost its decades-long battle for browser supremacy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Spineology, Inc. v. Wright Medical Technology, Inc., US

      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied attorney fees to a medical device manufacturer in a dispute relating to an expandable surgical reamer patent, ruling that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the prevailing defendant’s motion for attorney fees.

    • Patent case: Icescape Limited v Ice-World International BV & ors, United Kingdom

      Applying the so-called ‘Actavis Questions’ (further to the Supreme Court decision in Actavis v Eli Lilly), the Court of Appeal reached a different conclusion from the Patents Court on the issue of infringement.

    • Illumina, Inc. v. Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 2018)

      U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston stuck again on Christmas Eve, giving the biotech patent community a rhetorical lump of coal in their stocking by invalidating on summary judgment claims directed to methods for isolating cell-free fetal DNA from maternal DNA on the grounds that they are not patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

    • Why iPhone Sales Are—and Are Not—Banned In Two Countries
    • China launches appeal court for intellectual property right disputes

      China’s first ever appeal court for intellectual property disputes – a major bone of contention in the ongoing trade war with the US – will open for business in Beijing on Tuesday, the nation’s top court said on Saturday.
      The new body would handle cases that demanded “highly technical expertise”, Luo Dongchuan, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, which established the new body, told a press conference in the Chinese capital.
      The creation of the appeal court was the latest effort to protect intellectual property rights, inspire innovation and improve the business environment, said Luo, who will oversee its operations.

    • Copyrights

      • Metal Band Bans Photographer After Copyright Clash

        Metal band Arch Enemy has banned photographer J. Salmeron from shooting any future gigs. The band’s management was not amused when he alerted a clothing sponsor about the unauthorized use of his work. Apparently, the band sees ‘exposure’ as sufficient compensation. But what about people who pirate their latest album?

      • Philippines Could Revoke Licenses of ISPs That Help to Facilitate Piracy

        A new bill introduced in the Philippines could see local ISPs stripped of their licenses to operate if they provide access to sites that infringe or facilitate infringement of copyright. Citing threats posed by torrent, streaming, and cyberlocker sites, the bill requires ISPs to promptly disable access to “infringing online locations” or face serious consequences.

      • Bryan Adams: Longer Copyright Term Enriches Intermediaries, Not Creators

        Following a new trade deal with the US and Mexico, Canada is set to expand its copyright term to 70 years after the creator’s death. According to the Canadian singer Bryan Adams, large intermediaries such as record labels stand to benefit the most, not creators themselves. He, therefore, calls for a simple change that would allow creators to terminate their copyright assignments after 25 years.

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    The rumour mill may still be humming along; but against all odds — as Chief GNUisance of the GNU Project — Stallman keeps fighting the good fight (in the face of growing resistance)



  23. Banning Former Microsoft Employees Who Complain About Microsoft Lies, Abuses and Crimes

    The official account of Windows Insider is banning people whom it never even spoke to; this seems like a way of 'punishing' people who are not 'true believers' in Microsoft



  24. Wikileaks: Thierry Breton May Have Misused Regulatory/Government Positions to Attack His Competition (in the Market)

    Thierry 'revolving doors' Breton as seen by the United States government



  25. 13 Years of UPC Promises

    The anatomy of UPC 'fake news' or lobbying tactics along the lines of self-fulfilling prophecies and false predictions



  26. Is Water Wet?

    The criteria for patent eligibility reduced only to this question: will allowing these patents increase ‘production’ (number of patent grants)?



  27. The EPO's President Admits He's Illegally Granting Software Patents (CII, 4IR, IoT, AI and Blockchain Mean Software Patents at the EPO)

    The EPO's chief liar is openly and proudly promoting software patents using buzzwords and hype waves (and mysterious acronyms that are rather meaningless but spread by the media in exchange for money received from the EPO)



  28. Tone Policing and the Linux Foundation

    A timely example of situations where the Linux Foundation can seemingly 'cancel' people (using the Code of Conduct) for political opinions



  29. It EEEsn't Just a Microsoft Thing Anymore

    The EEErosion of Python's independence is a known problem and Microsoft is not the sole culprit



  30. Links 1/12/2019: KDE's GTK CSD Support, Skrooge 2.21.0

    Links for the day


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