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01.23.19

Links 23/1/2019: Cockpit 186, Wine 4.0, Apt Security Issue

Posted in News Roundup at 7:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • The Best Chromebooks to Buy In 2019

      Advancements in technology over the past few decades has been all about shrinking down computers. We’ve also seen manufacturers cramming as much power in them as humanly possible. This has led us to the creation of small form factor desktop PCs, portable yet powerful gaming laptops and even handhelds.

      Despite the fact that a faster computer is almost always appreciated, a lot of people don’t need all that power most of the time. Especially when responding to e-mails, or writing up text documents. In this scenario, a lot of people can get away with using a Chromebook every day.

      Chromebooks are different from your traditional Windows laptops. They run on Google’s own version of desktop OS, known as ChromOS. These affordable machines have especially gained popularity among students. This is mainly because of their workflow, most of the time they are writing up essays or watching videos. That is why Chromebooks are so popular in the first place. They are affordable, portable and long-lasting laptops. So, if you’re thinking about getting a Chromebook for yourself, keep on reading to figure out which one is best suited for you.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 4.20.4

      I’m announcing the release of the 4.20.4 kernel.

      All users of the 4.20 kernel series must upgrade.

    • Linux 4.19.17
    • Linux 4.14.95
    • Linux 4.9.152
    • Open-Source Linux Driver Published For Habana Labs’ “Goya” AI Processor

      Today they published initial open-source Linux kernel driver patches for review to potentially include in the mainline kernel moving forward.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Lands Transform Feedback Support In Their Vulkan Driver For Mesa 19.0

        Ahead of the Mesa 19.0 feature freeze coming up at month’s end for this next quarterly feature release, Intel’s open-source developers today merged support for the VK_EXT_transform_feedback extension that is important for Linux gamers with DXVK for mapping Direct3D 11 atop Vulkan and similar graphics API translation libraries.

        VK_EXT_transform_feedback was added to the Vulkan spec a few months back for transform feedback support in Vulkan drivers for helping efforts like DXVK for running Direct3D 10/11 and other APIs on top of Vulkan. The VK_EXT_transform_feedback is needed for efficiently implementing Direct3D Stream-Out support and has been used by DXVK since then, VKD3D is also now using it now, and obviously for OpenGL-over-Vulkan efforts it could be used for providing GL transform feedback itself.

      • Intel Is Working On A Vulkan Overlay Layer, Inspired By Gallium3D HUD

        Aside from some out-of-tree experiments last year by one of Valve’s developers on a RADV Vulkan HUD of similar nature to the popular Gallium HUD option, it turns out an Intel developer has recently been working on a Vulkan overlay layer to provide “Gallium HUD” inspired information.

        Lionel Landwerlin is the open-source Intel developer that has begun working on this Intel Vulkan driver “heads-up display” implemented as a Vulkan overlay layer. The code is intended to provide Vulkan swapchain information and various statistics of use to Vulkan driver developers and game developers.

      • AMD Radeon VII Will Have Excellent Linux Support From Day 1

        AMD Radeon VII was one of the biggest announcements made at the CES 2019; it even got featured in our top highlights of CES video. This 2nd-gen Vega graphics card will be launching in early February and it’s also generating lots of questions.

        One such doubt that many open source enthusiasts might be having is regarding the state of Linux support for Radeon VII. Well, the answer to this question is a big yes, according to Forbes.

      • Libdrm 2.4.97 Released With AMDGPU Updates, Other Minor Work

        Libdrm 2.4.97 was released today by AMD’s Marek Olšák as the newest version of this Mesa DRM library. The main feature of this list is a newer, faster buffer object list API for the AMDGPU code.

        Libdrm releases these days tend not to be too exciting and for v2.4.97 are just over a dozen changes. Many of the changes are AMDGPU related and include some test updates and updating the list of GPU marketing names but most notably is a faster buffer object (BO) list API. Aside from the AMDGPU additions, there is a fix for Android to avoid 32-bit apps from crashing in 64-bit Android, build system fixes, and other minor changes.

      • AMDGPU DC Code Improvements Bring Better Page-Flipping

        The once notorious AMDGPU “DC” code (formerly known as DAL) saw a fresh round of patches on Tuesday further improving this display stack shared between the Windows and Linux drivers for advanced functionality from FreeSync to HDMI/DP audio and much more.

        With this latest round of AMDGPU DC patches, improving the page-flipping process was a motivation. This new work resulted in the introduction of a DC VM interface to allow virtual memory to be used for flipping to surfaces that are not contiguously allocated. This DC VM interface will allow for better memory efficiency and security.

    • Benchmarks

      • Microsoft Windows Server Benchmarked Against Six Linux Distributions

        While it was not too long ago that Microsoft Windows Server 2019 began shipping and that we conducted some end-of-year benchmarks between Windows and Linux, with being in the process of running a number of Windows and Linux benchmarks as part of our ongoing 10GbE OS performance testing, I also took the opportunity to run some other benchmarks on Windows Server 2016 and 2019 as well as a set of Linux distributions.

        With carrying out the fresh OS installations anyways for the network testing, with recently having brought over some more Phoronix Test Suite test profiles with Windows support, I decided to run some fresh Windows Server vs. Linux benchmarks anyways. Granted, not all of the tests are server-oriented and not all of the traditional Linux server distributions were used. Just take this as you wish of some fresh Windows vs. Linux performance benchmarks.

  • Applications

    • Essential System Tools: nmon – Curses based Performance Monitor

      This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For this article, we’ll look at nmon, a free and open source performance monitor. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.

      Nmon is short for “Nigel’s Monitor”. It’s a systems administrator, tuner, and benchmark all wrapped up in an easy-to-use tool. The utility displays performance information on the CPU, memory, network, disks (mini graphs or numbers), filesystems, NFS, top processes, resources (Linux version & processors) and more.

      The software aims to be as frugal as possible, as it’s self-defeating for a performance monitor to consume large chunks of CPU cycles and memory.

    • Top 10 Free Open Source Documents Management Platforms

      Document management platforms are software systems that enable individuals and businesses to control different versions of documents and records, schedule meetings, employee appointments, and to regulate user access among other functions in a user-friendly environment while making sure that security and data collection standards are not compromised.

      There are so many document management platforms that you can choose from but I have done the job of filtering them into a list of the best options that are free, open source and run on Linux.

    • Top 11 Free Linux DICOM Viewers for Doctors

      DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine and it is the international open image format for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical images.

      Medical images are used in the identification and examination of physical injuries and diseases via procedures like Xrays, CT scans, etc.

      This article lists the best free Linux applications used for processing images generated by DICOM devices.

    • gotop: Graphical System Monitor For The Command Line

      gotop is a terminal-based (TUI) system monitor for Linux and macOS. The software is inspired by gtop and vtop, but while these 2 utilities use Node.js, gotop is written in Go.

      The command line tool supports mouse clicking and scrolling, comes with vi-keys, and it displays the CPU, memory and network usage history using colored graphs, while also displaying their current values.

      gotop also shows the disk usage, temperatures and a top process list, which includes CPU and memory usage.

    • Cockpit 186

      Cockpit is the modern Linux admin interface. We release regularly. Here are the release notes from version 186.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 4.0 Released

        The Wine team is proud to announce that the stable release Wine 4.0 is now available.

      • Wine 4.0 released

        Version 4.0 of the Wine Windows compatibility layer is out. “This release represents a year of development effort and over 6,000 individual changes” New features include initial Direct3D 12 support, a Vulkan graphics driver, support for high-DPI displays (but only on Android) and more; see the release notes for details.

      • Wine 4.0 Officially Released with Vulkan & Direct3D 12 Support, HiDPI on Android

        The Wine project proudly announced today the general availability of the Wine 4.0 release, a major version of the open-source software that lets Linux and macOS users install and use Windows apps on their computers.

        Wine 4.0 comes about a year after the Wine 3.0 release, which was the first to introduce an Android driver to allow users run Windows apps and games on devices powered by Google’s Android mobile OS, Direct3D 11 support by default for AMD Radeon and Intel GPUs, a task scheduler, as well as AES encryption support on macOS.

        With Wine 4.0, the team continues to improve the free and open-source compatibility layer that allows Windows program to run on Linux and Mac computers, adding new features like support for the next-generation Vulkan graphics API, Direct3D 12 support, HiDPI (High-DPI) support on Android, and support for game controllers.

      • Wine 4.0 Released With New Features: Run Windows Apps On Linux Efficiently

        With Microsoft’s initiative to bring Linux Bash Shell on Windows 10, the Windows users are now able to run their favorite Linux tools on their current operating system. But what if you need to run full-fledged Windows apps and games on a Linux distro?

        In that case, a software like Wine is really helpful. The developers of this utility have recently released the new version, i.e., 4.0, with lots of features. Wine 4.0 is the result of a year of development effort.

      • Wine 4.0 Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 Support, CSMT Enabled By Default

        After being in development for a year, Wine 4.0 is now available for download. The new stable Wine release includes important changes like support for Vulkan, Direct3D 12 and game controllers.

        For those that might not be familiar with it, Wine is a Windows compatibility layer for Linux that lets you run Windows applications and games on Linux, macOS, and Android (experimental). Wine is used by Proton, Valve’s Steam Play compatibility layer that allows playing Windows games on Linux, and by CrossOver, a commercial Microsoft Windows compatibility layer for macOS and Linux, among others.

      • Wine 4.0 is Here with Significant New Features

        Not everyone prefers to use Wine. But, if you have a favorite app/service that is not yet available for Linux, you can try Wine in order to run Windows apps or games.

        For those who are not aware of Wine, it’s a software that lets you run Windows-only applications and games on Linux. Want iTune on Linux, Wine is your best bet.

      • Wine 4.0 Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 and Better HiDPI
      • Wine 4.0 Officially Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 & Better HiDPI

        Wine 4.0 is now officially available as the new annual stable release to Wine for running Windows programs and games on Linux and other operating systems.

        Following seven weekly release candidates, Wine 4.0 was ready to ship today as judged by Wine founder Alexandre Julliard. Wine 4.0 is a big release bringing initial Vulkan graphics API support, Direct3D CSMT is enabled by default, early Direct3D 12 support via VKD3D, continued HiDPI work, various OpenGL improvements, multi-sample D3D texture support, 64-bit improvements, continued Android support, and much more… See our Wine 4.0 feature overview to learn more about this big update.

      • Just over a year after the last main release, Wine 4.0 is officially here

        You might want to grab a glass for this one, no not that dusty old thing, one of the nice ones. The ones at the back of the cupboard for special occasions! Wine 4.0 is officially here.

        Comparing Wine 3.0 to 4.0, naturally it’s a pretty huge release. Although, most people have likely been using the development builds for some time.

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • GCompris is back on Mac OSX
      • KookBook 0.2.1 – now actually kind of useful

        There was a snag in the KookBook 0.2.0 release, and 0.2.1 is available.

      • KDE Plasma 5.14.90 (the beta for Plasma 5.15) is available for testing

        Are you using Kubuntu 18.10, our current Stable release? Or are you already running our daily development builds?

        We currently have Plasma 5.14.90 (Plasma 5.15 Beta) available in our Beta PPA for Kubuntu 18.10 and in our daily Disco ISO images.

      • KDE Plasma 5.15 Beta Arrives

        The KDE community has announced its first release of 2019 – the Plasma 5.15 beta. One of the major highlights of the beta release is increased focus on usability and productivity.

        The KDE community has teamed up with the VDG (Visual Design Group) contributors to get feedback on all the papercuts in the software to create an intuitive and consistent workflow for users.

        The release has enhanced integration with third-party technologies like GTK and Firefox so users can choose the apps they like without worrying about a sub-par experience.

        Massive improvements have been made to the Discover software management tool, something similar to App Store. Users can now perform the distribution upgrade within Discover. It also offers fine-grained control over which packages users want to update.

        Discover also now supports app extensions offered with Flatpak packages and lets you choose which ones to install.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.32 Desktop Environment to Launch with a “Radical New Icon Style”

        Besides the slightly revamped default theme, it looks like the GNOME 3.32 desktop environment will come with a “radical new icon style,” along with new guidelines for app developers to provide a more unified icon style across the GNOME ecosystem.

        GNOME designer Jakub Steiner writes in his latest blog article about the improvements needed for the revamped icon style to be included by default with the GNOME 3.32 release of the open-source desktop environment used by numerous Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu.

      • GNOME Is Making Great Progress On Overhauling Their App Icons
      • The Big App Icon Redesign

        As you may have heard, GNOME 3.32 is going to come with a radical new icon style and new guidelines for app developers. This post aims to give some background on why this was needed, our goals with the initiative, and our exciting plans for the future.

      • WORA-WNLF

        I started my career writing web applications. I had struggles with PHP web-frameworks, javascript libraries, and rendering differences (CSS and non-CSS glitches) across browsers. After leaving that world, I started focusing more on the backend side of things, fleeing from the frontend camp (mainly actually just scared of that abomination that was javascript; because, in my spare time, I still did things with frontends: I hacked on a GTK media player called Banshee and a GTK chat app called Smuxi).

        So there you had me: a backend dev by day, desktop dev by night. But in the GTK world I had similar struggles as the ones I had as a frontend dev when the browsers wouldn’t behave in the same way. I’m talking about GTK bugs in other non-Linux OSs, i.e. Mac and Windows.

        See, I wanted to bring a desktop app to the masses, but these problems (and others of different kinds) prevented me to do it. And while all this was happening, another major shift was happening as well: desktop environments were fading while mobile (and not so mobile: tablets!) platforms were rising in usage. This meant yet more platforms that I wished GTK supported. As I’m not a C language expert (nor I wanted to be), I kept googling for the terms “gtk” and “android” or “gtk” and “iOS”, to see if some hacker put something together that I could use. But that day never happened.

      • Gnome MPV 0.16 Released, How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04

        Gnome MPV, GTK+ frontend for mpv video player, released version 0.16 a day ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 18.04 and higher.

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux Versus Parrot Security OS: Pentest Linux Distribution Comparison

      Today, there are Linux distributions for all kinds of applications. While most people are familiar with general-purpose distributions like Debian, Fedora, or Arch Linux, pentest (short for penetration testing) Linux distributions are typically used only by security professionals, researchers, and hackers.
      If you don’t fit into any of those categories, it doesn’t mean that you have no use for pentest Linux distributions. Regardless of whether you want to pursue a career in information security, become a Linux administrator, or just learn more about computers and networks, pentest Linux distributions let you get hands-on experience with technologies most people only read about.

      In this article, we compare what are currently the two most popular pentest Linux distributions, Kali Linux and Parrot Security OS, to help you get started on your pentest journey. While you can use both Kali Linux and Parrot Security OS as your main operating system, most pentesters run them from a USB drive instead to increase their privacy and security.

    • 10 Most Promising New Linux Distributions to Look Forward in 2019

      Some of the distributions that have not been reviewed yet may be worthy of consideration due to their great potential. Keep in mind that they may never make it to the front page ranking due to lack of time or Distrowatch resources to review them.

      For that reason, we will share a list of what we consider the 10 most promising new distros for 2019 and a brief review on each of them.

      Since the Linux ecosystem is a live being, you can expect this article to be updated from time to time, or perhaps be radically different next year.

      That said, let’s take a look!

    • Custom Linux Installations

      Customize your Linux installation and gain working knowledge of your system at the same time.

      Most Linux users are content with a standard installation of their distribution of choice. However, many prefer a custom installation. They may simply prefer to do things their way without dozens of post-install tweaks. Others may want to know exactly what they are installing as a requirement for security. Still others may want a consistent installation for multiple machines or to learn more about their operating system step by step. Linux offers tools for all these purposes.

      Admittedly, most of these tools are for major distributions. A survey of these tools shows that many are for time-tested distros like Debian or openSUSE. If you want a custom install of, say, KDE neon or Puppy Linux, you may not find a ready-made solution. But among the major distributions, you are like to find multiple solutions. Read on for some of the main options.

    • Reviews

      • Netrunner’s Unique Blackbird Soars to New Heights

        Blackbird, Netrunner’s version 19.01 release, hit the download servers on Jan. 14, and this distro deserves to be considered bleeding-edge.

        Netrunner is a step ahead of other KDE distros, thanks to its solid integration of classic KDE desktop performance with Web-based applications and cloud services. That said, if you aren’t fondness of the K Desktop, Netrunner may leave you wanting more desktop simplicity.

        For that you must look elsewhere. KDE is the only desktop available from the Germany-based Blue Systems development team. Blackbird is based on Debian’s “Testing” branch. Its developer brings some aggressive updates to the distro that propel it ahead of other distros’ regular development cycles.

        The main updates include KDE Plasma 5.14.3, KDE Frameworks 5.51, KDE Applications 18.08 and Qt 5.11.3 for its essential security updates. Linux Kernel 4.19, Firefox Quantum 64.0 and Thunderbird 60.3 push the envelope as well.

        One of the more noticeable new features in Blackbird is its new Netrunner Black theme. This theme is based on a dark-toned contrasting visual. It uses the Kvantum theme engine, plus the Alpha-Black Plasma theme, to produce a more 3D-looking design.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections: Meet incumbent Sarah Julia Kriesch

        My name is Sarah Julia Kriesch. I am 31 years old and a work-experienced Student in Computer Science with a pre-education as a Computer Science Expert for System Integration. I had worked as a Linux System Administrator for an ISP and a Linux Systems Engineer at a Cloud Computing Provider for 4 years.

    • Fedora

      • Fedora – I’m coming back…..

        It’s been a while since I’ve done anything Fedora, but I’ve decided that my sabbatical has to end. With this in mind, I’m going to start slowly coming back to the Fedora ecosystem, it’ll be slow to start with, but I’ve missed it, I need to come back. I hope you’ll have me.

    • Debian Family

      • Updated Debian 9: 9.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch). This point release incorporates the recent security update for APT, in order to help ensure that new installations of stretch are not vulnerable. No other updates are included.

      • Debian 9.7 Released To Address APT Security Issue

        Debian 9.7 was just announced by the Debian developers and it contains a sole update compared to 9.6: an updated APT. Going public yesterday was an APT security vulnerability that would open the package manager up to possible man-in-the-middle attacks. This MITM attack could then open up users to unknowingly installing invalid APT packages. There is an APT command option to disable HTTP redirects to close off this vulnerability or to update to the latest APT package. Details on that vulnerability via this security advisory.

      • Epilepsy, Javascript, Security and Debian

        This would be quite a long post so would request everybody to relax, have their favorite hot/cold drink in their hand, kick up their feet and relax as it’s going to take time.

        The first update I wanna share is about my epilepsy. For those who didn’t know I suffered a series of epileptic seizures about a year and a half back. I stayed in an hospital for about 3 months, luckily medicines helped me and didn’t had to go for brain surgery (which was a real possibility), needed a month and a half of physiotherapy to regain balance and muscular movement. It is still not 100% but can move around which is more than enough to be thankful for.

        Last month, after coming from the Kerala trip, took the brave step of getting an MRI and a battery of tests. While the expenditure of the tests and MRI was expensive ( INR 25k), I was more apprehensive if it would result in a further stay in hospital which I was really afraid of. Thankfully, the doctors had said that 99% of the issue is gone. While I am supposed to visit him once every few months, he has advised to take another similar test around 6 months to a year from now but that’s upto us. The moment the doctor shared this, I felt like an unimaginary weight I had been putting on my shoulders had been lifted.

      • Louis-Philippe Véronneau: A Cold BSP

        Sadly for us, the Montreal Bug Squashing Party was also taking place that weekend. I have to say I was worried people wouldn’t show up, but we ended up being fourteen on Saturday and eight on Sunday!

        On Saturday morning, I arrived pretty early, bootstrapped networking and installed an apt proxy. Turns out it’s surprisingly easy to setup. Anarcat then gave a quick “BSP 101″ workshop and we started to work on fixing bugs.

        On Sunday Anarcat gave another workshop, “Packaging 101″ this time. Even though I’ve been there the last 3 times he gave that workshop, it was the first time I had time to attend it. Debian packaging is now much clearer for me!

      • Derivatives

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Getting started with Isotope, an open source webmail client

    There seems to be a mad rush at the beginning of every year to find ways to be more productive. New Year’s resolutions, the itch to start the year off right, and of course, an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude all contribute to this. And the usual round of recommendations is heavily biased towards closed source and proprietary software. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Here’s the 11th of my picks for 19 new (or new-to-you) open source tools to help you be more productive in 2019.

  • We Need Open Hosting Platforms

    I think he’s starting with a reasonable, positive call: we can’t just decry the state of things, we have to make things. And we have to make good things. The open web should be better.

    I fear a moralizing approach to advocacy pushes people away, makes it harder for people to care about the values we are espousing. When we frame something as depressing or hopeless we encourage people to pay attention to other things. So yes: the open web should be the best web.

    But ignoring my advice, I’m going to point out a depressing fact: open source products aren’t successful. Open source is not in line to be part of any solution.

    Open Source has done a lot for developers, but it’s not present on the surface of the web – the surface that people interact with, and that defines the “open web”. Actual sites. Actual interfaces. Open source is used everywhere except at the point of interaction with actual people.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM 2019

      In just over a week’s time, Collabora will be heading to Brussels to take part in the 2019 edition of FOSDEM, a two-day event organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software. Taking place at the ULB Solbosch Campus on February 2 & 3, FOSDEM is widely recognized as the best and biggest conference of its kind in Europe.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Brussels Mozilla Mornings – Disinformation and online advertising: an unhealthy relationship?

        On the morning of 19 February, Mozilla will host the second of our Mozilla Mornings series – regular breakfast meetings where we bring together policy experts, policymakers and practitioners for insight and discussion on the latest EU digital policy developments. This session will be devoted to disinformation and online advertising.

        Our expert panel will seek to unpack the relation between the two and explore policy solutions to ensure a healthy online advertising ecosystem.

      • ffsend – Easily And Securely Share Files From Linux Command Line Using Firefox Send Client

        Linux users were preferred to go with scp or rsync for files or folders copy.

        However, so many new options are coming to Linux because it’s a opensource.

        Anyone can develop a secure software for Linux.

        We had written multiple articles in our site in the past about this topic.

        Even, today we are going to discuss the same kind of topic called ffsend.

      • Welcome Roxi Wen, our incoming Chief Financial Officer

        I am excited to announce that Roxi Wen is joining Mozilla Corporation as our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) next month.

        As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, the Mozilla Corporation, with over 1,000 full-time employees worldwide, creates products, advances public policy and explores new technology that give people more control over their lives online, and shapes the future of the global internet platform for the public good.

        As our CFO Roxi will become a key member of our senior executive team with responsibility for leading financial operations and strategy as we scale our mission impact with new and existing products, technology and business models to better serve our users and advance our agenda for a healthier internet.

  • LibreOffice

    • A day in the office … without Office

      First, let me give you a brief overview of my typical “office” setup. Normally, I write fiction in LibreOffice Writer, and by that I mean books and short stories, not website content. There’s no need for any great embellishment, just text. When I do need to send these files to editors, agents and alike, they are rinsed through Microsoft Word 2010 (the best of the bunch, including the more recent versions).

      Non-fiction work, i.e. technical books fall into two buckets: 1) LaTeX and LyX for entirely self-published items 2) the likes of my Problem Solving and System Administration Ethics titles are done and conceived almost entirely in Microsoft Word, because they require a lot more precision and focus, and ultimately, they need to be easily accessible by the publisher. This is a no-nonsense constraint. I cannot have any styling lost converting files between different formats.

      If I need to do graphics (including diagrams and alike), I will use all sorts of tools, including even something like Octave, but also Powerpoint, GIMP, and other programs. Equations are best done either using the built-in editor, or the aforementioned LaTeX. Now that covers the writing part. There’s also collaboration.

      Here, I decided to try a bold thing – which is part of this experiment. On the System Administration Ethics book, I am collaborating with a friend in a different country, so we are using the Internetz to communicate. We also decided to use Google Docs to share files, comment and edit each other’s writing and such. Then, I’ve also recently configured a Slimbook Pro2 & Kubuntu setup, i.e. Linux, i.e. not Windows. That means that such a system cannot use locally installed Microsoft software – the cloud-based Microsoft Office Online is a really great option though, plus, as luck would have it, it also works just fine on Linux. Now there.

      And so, LibreOffice and Google Docs gain even more focus due to these Linux-based restrictions, but not only. Finally, you have the full context for this experiment. Spurred by actual usage needs – and with meaningful, months-long projects at hand – I decided to examine the tech landscape, and you’re now enjoying the fruits of my labor. Also worth reading Slimbook reports in parallel, that is.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • The LLVM Codebase Is Moving Past C++11 This Year, Likely To C++14

      As was discussed in 2018 and has largely reached consensus, the LLVM code-base and its sub-projects like Clang will move past being bound by C++11 and will moving to a newer C++ standard so they can begin making use of newer language features in the development of this compiler stack.

  • Programming/Development

    • 14 Best NodeJS Frameworks for Developers in 2019

      Node.js is used to build fast, highly scalable network applications based on an event-driven non-blocking input/output model, single-threaded asynchronous programming.

      A web application framework is a combination of libraries, helpers, and tools that provide a way to effortlessly build and run web applications. A web framework lays out a foundation for building a web site/app.

      The most important aspects of a web framework are – its architecture and features (such as support for customization, flexibility, extensibility, security, compatibility with other libraries, etc..).

    • Debian now got everything you need to program Micro:bit

      I am amazed and very pleased to discover that since a few days ago, everything you need to program the BBC micro:bit is available from the Debian archive. All this is thanks to the hard work of Nick Morrott and the Debian python packaging team. The micro:bit project recommend the mu-editor to program the microcomputer, as this editor will take care of all the machinery required to injekt/flash micropython alongside the program into the micro:bit, as long as the pieces are available.

      There are three main pieces involved. The first to enter Debian was python-uflash, which was accepted into the archive 2019-01-12. The next one was mu-editor, which showed up 2019-01-13. The final and hardest part to to into the archive was firmware-microbit-micropython, which needed to get its build system and dependencies into Debian before it was accepted 2019-01-20. The last one is already in Debian Unstable and should enter Debian Testing / Buster in three days. This all allow any user of the micro:bit to get going by simply running ‘apt install mu-editor’ when using Testing or Unstable, and once Buster is released as stable, all the users of Debian stable will be catered for.

    • Some Ideas for 2019

      Well, after my last article moaning about having wishes and goals while ignoring the preconditions for, and contributing factors in, the realisation of such wishes and goals, I thought I might as well be constructive and post some ideas I could imagine working on this year. It would be a bonus to get paid to work on such things, but I don’t hold out too much hope in that regard.
      In a way, this is to make up for not writing an article summarising what I managed to look at in 2018. But then again, it can be a bit wearing to have to read through people’s catalogues of work even if I do try and make my own more approachable and not just list tons of work items, which is what one tends to see on a monthly basis in other channels.
      In any case, 2018 saw a fair amount of personal focus on the L4Re ecosystem, as one can tell from looking at my article history. Having dabbled with L4Re and Fiasco.OC a bit in 2017 with the MIPS Creator CI20, I finally confronted certain aspects of the software and got it working on various devices, which had been something of an ambition for at least a couple of years. I also got back into looking at PIC32 hardware and software experiments, tidying up and building on earlier work, and I keep nudging along my Python-like language and toolchain, Lichen.
      Anyway, here are a few ideas I have been having for supporting a general strategy of building flexible, sustainable and secure computing environments that respect the end-user. Such respect not being limited to software freedom, but also extending to things like privacy, affordability and longevity that are often disregarded in the narrow focus on only one set of end-user rights.

    • 5 Best Python IDEs You Can Get in 2019

      If you’re taking Python lessons online, you will eventually need a good IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to write better code. The command line interface can only prove so useful. At Python.com you can download a native IDE called IDLE (Integrated Development and Learning Environment). However, it is rather basic in scope, and debugging can consume more time than necessary. With this in mind, here are a few of the best IDEs for Python which add to your productivity.

    • Python’s Requests Library (Guide)
    • Factorial one-liner using reduce and mul for Python 2 and 3
    • Sample Chapters from Creating wxPython Applications Book
    • Migrating from Pelican 3 to Pelican 4
    • Python Software Foundation Fellow Members for Q4 2018 [Ed: Python Software Foundation has many Microsoft employees in it now. Not good. Microsoft has been using money to filtrate just about everything, including its competition. This isn't so new a strategy and many examples of it exist.]
    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #352 (Jan. 22, 2019)
    • Why Don’t People Use Formal Methods?

      Before we begin, we need to lay down some terms. There really isn’t a formal methods community so much as a few tiny bands foraging in the Steppe.1 This means different groups use terms in different ways. Very broadly, there are two domains in FM: formal specification is the study of how we write precise, unambiguous specifications, and formal verification is the study of how we prove things are correct. But “things” includes both code and abstract systems. Not only do we use separate means of specifying both things, we often use different means to verify them, too. To make things even more confusing, if somebody says they do formal specification, they usually mean they both specify and verify systems, and if somebody says they do formal verification, they usually mean mean they both specify and verify code.

      Before we begin, we need to lay down some terms. There really isn’t a formal methods community so much as a few tiny bands foraging in the Steppe.1 This means different groups use terms in different ways. Very broadly, there are two domains in FM: formal specification is the study of how we write precise, unambiguous specifications, and formal verification is the study of how we prove things are correct. But “things” includes both code and abstract systems. Not only do we use separate means of specifying both things, we often use different means to verify them, too. To make things even more confusing, if somebody says they do formal specification, they usually mean they both specify and verify systems, and if somebody says they do formal verification, they usually mean mean they both specify and verify code.

      For clarity purposes, I will divide verification into code verification (CV) and design verification (DV), and similarly divide specification into CS and DS. These are not terms used in the wider FM world. We’ll start by talking about CS and CV, then move on to DS and DV.

    • Learning C as an uneducated hobbyist

      V=Programming, however, is conscious. It’s an activity in which you have to think in order to act. Unlearning bad practice in programming takes no energy at all apart from that spent being told that the practice is bad and coming to understand and remember it. Once you’ve done that, it’s almost impossible to make the same mistake again.

      That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of learning “along the way”, “as you go” or “in an ad-hoc manner” because “you might learn bad practice”. If you learn the wrong thing, you can learn the right thing later. After all, you’re not a professional programmer. It doesn’t matter very much if you make a mistake; your job doesn’t depend on it.

    • Demystifying Pointers in Go

      If you’ve never worked with a language that exposes pointers, it could be a little confusing. But the good news is pointers don’t need to be scary. In fact, pointers can be pretty straightforward. Here are the basics of pointers in Go:

    • Qt 5.13 Slated To Deliver Many WebAssembly Improvements

      The Qt 5.12 release at the end of last year brought the Qt for WebAssembly Tech Preview to allow for Qt-based applications to run within web browsers via the sandboxed WASM technology. With the Qt 5.13 release coming out this spring, the WebAssembly support should be in much better shape.

    • Branching out with Git
    • How to Install Anaconda on ECS
    • variable_cache_control – Django view decorator to set max_age in runtime
    • Django Post Idea
    • This Week in Rust 270
    • So a list and a tuple walk into a sum()

Leftovers

  • We all love bonking to pay, but if you bonk with a Windows Phone then Microsoft has bad news

    Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to honour the memory of yet another Windows mobile technology. The rabidly unpopular Microsoft Wallet for the much beloved Windows Phone is for the chop.

    Microsoft has quietly updated its Microsoft Pay page to reflect the demise of the tap-happy mobile technology, though it broke developments to the masses in an odd way.

    “Breeze through checkout by using your Windows phone. Just tap, pay, and you’re on your way. Starting on Feb. 28, 2019, the Microsoft Wallet app will be officially retired.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Secretive ‘Rebate Trap’ Keeps Generic Drugs For Diabetes And Other Ills Out Of Reach

      Lisa Crook was lucky. She saved $800 last year after her insurance company started covering a new, less expensive insulin called Basaglar that was virtually identical to the brand she had used for years.

      The list price for Lantus, a long-acting insulin made by Sanofi that she injected once a day, had nearly quadrupled over a decade.

      With Basaglar, “I’ve never had my insulin cost drop so significantly,” said Crook, a legal assistant in Dallas who has Type 1 diabetes.

      But many people with diabetes can’t get the deal Crook got. In a practice that policy experts say smothers competition and keeps prices high, drug companies routinely make hidden pacts with middlemen that effectively block patients from getting cheaper generic medicines.

    • More Salt in Our Water Is Creating Scary New ‘Chemical Cocktails’

      Gene Likens has been studying forest and aquatic ecosystems for more than half a century. In that time he’s seen a change in the chemistry of our surface waters — including an increase in the alkalinity and salinity of waterways — something he and his colleagues have dubbed “freshwater salinization syndrome.”

      Likens coauthored a report published last month that found that not only is salinity increasing in many surface waters, but when you add salt to the environment it can mobilize heavy metals, nutrient pollution and other contaminants that are combining to create new “chemical cocktails” in rivers, streams and reservoirs.

      These cocktails can be a danger to our drinking water, wildlife and riverine ecology. And they’ve already contributed to a public health crisis in at least one U.S. city.

      “I didn’t expect the massive scale of change across the lower 48 that we found — or the magnitude of change,” says Likens, who is president emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a distinguished research professor at the University of Connecticut.

    • Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace

      The House Democrats have decided that their single payer Medicare for All bill will not carry the HR 676 number.

      They let that number go this week to a bill that reiterates “the support of the Congress of the United States for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

      Some in the single payer movement see the abandonment of HR 676 as a betrayal of years of grassroots activism, activism that drew 124 co-sponsors to HR 676 in the House last year.

    • Medicare For All—The Democratic Party Audition for 2020

      The next two years will present multiple tests of the soul of the Democratic Party, just as have the last 10 years. But two of those tests have “high profile” written all over them. The outcome of these tests could determine the Party’s future, and consequently the nation’s, in the 2020 presidential election.

      One test is the Green New Deal. The other is Medicare For All. Both are mere proposals for now, and neither is as well defined as it needs to be in order to become law. But that day is coming for both, and the first time either comes before the House as an bill, the soul of the Democratic Party will be tried and judged, in full public view, with the bright 2020 klieg lights fully upon them.

      How will the Democratic Party, in the aggregate, respond when those bills present Party leaders with a moment of decision — to support or not to support; to sabotage in secret or to show their approval in plain sight and by their actions?

    • Progressives Warn Against Democrats Pushing ‘Diluted’ Half-Measures as Alternative to Medicare for All

      A Medicare buy-in. A Medicaid buy-in. Medicare for retiring police officers and firefighters under the age of 65. Defend and strengthen Obamacare.

      With Medicare for All polling at an unprecedented 70 percent support among the American public and headed toward its first-ever congressional hearing, Politico on Tuesday reported that there is a growing effort among congressional Democrats—including some 2020 presidential hopefuls—to “water down” the grassroots push for a transformative single-payer program by offering up more incremental approaches to solving America’s for-profit healthcare crisis.

    • ‘Blatantly Unconstitutional’ Abortion Ban Struck Down in Iowa as Pro-Choice Groups Vow to Defend Roe From Coordinated Attack

      The United States’ most restrictive abortion ban—which Republicans in Iowa explicitly put forward with the hope of triggering a U.S. Supreme Court fight over Roe vs. Wade—was struck down by a federal judge late Tuesday, with the Polk County District Court declaring the legislation unconstitutional.

      The so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill would have effectively outlawed all abortions in Iowa by banning the procedure as soon as fetal cardiac activity is detected—this happens at around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even discover they are pregnant.

    • Amid a Deteriorating Landscape for Abortion Rights, a Critical Victory in New York

      On Tuesday, New York passed the Reproductive Health Act, finally bringing state law in line with Roe v. Wade.
      On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that secured the right to abortion, the nationwide picture could not look grimmer. That’s what makes Tuesday’s victory in New York, which protected and expanded abortion rights in the state through the Reproductive Health Act, so important.

      Across the country, anti-abortion politicians have been eroding abortion rights in state after state. Since 2011, they have quietly passed more than 400 restrictions, creating a web of barriers to safe, respectful, and affordable abortion care. These politically motivated laws force doctors to lie to patients; require multiple, medically unnecessary appointments; and impose far more onerous restrictions on abortion providers than other health care providers, causing clinics to shut down.

      Emboldened by the prospect that the Supreme Court might eviscerate or overturn Roe, some states are now trying to ban abortion outright. Take Kentucky, where we represent the sole remaining clinic in the state. Just this month, Kentucky politicians introduced a bill that would ban abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. And Kentucky isn’t alone — legislators in many other states have introduced similar bills.

  • Security

    • Debian & Ubuntu Fix Man-in-the-Middle Attack in APT Package Manager, Update Now

      The security vulnerability was discovered by Max Justicz in the APT package, the high-level package manager used by the Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu operating systems, as well as any other derivative, official or unofficial, such as Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, and even the popular Linux Mint.

      The issue could allow a remote attacker to trick APT into installing malicious packages that pose as valid ones, but which could be used for code execution with administrative (root) privileges after installation to gain control of the vulnerable machine. More details are available for further reading at CVE-2019-3462.

    • Nasty security bug found and fixed in Linux apt

      If you want to install a program on the Debian/Ubuntu/Mint Linux distribution family, you almost always end up using the core software installer program Advanced Package Tool (apt). It works well, but security researcher Max Justicz recently found a nasty way to make a man-in-the-middle attack on apt.

      Adding salt to this wound, Justicz found the hole would enable a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code as root on any system installing any package. To understand how it attacks, you need to understand how apt works.

    • Pain the APT | LINUX Unplugged 285

      An embarrassing vulnerability has been found in the apt package manager, we’ll break it all down. Plus Alessandro Castellani tells us about his plans to build a professional design tool for Linux.

      We also have a batch of big community news, and the case for the cloud killing Open Source.

    • Justicz: Remote Code Execution in apt/apt-get
    • Remote Code Execution in apt/apt-get
    • Security Vulnerability Found in APT, Wine 4.0 Release, GPU Acceleration for Linux Apps on Chrome OS, Kickstarter Campaign for Polished Game Creation Tutorials for the Godot Free Game Engine, TUXEDO Computers Launch Two New High-Performance Laptops

      All Debian and Ubuntu users (as well as users of their derivatives, such as Linux Mint, Ubuntu MATE, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu) should update APT immediately. Softpedia News reports that Max Justicz discovered a vulnerability in the APT package that could “allow a remote attacker to trick APT into installing malicious packages that pose as valid ones, but which could be used for code execution with administrative (root) privileges after installation to gain control of the vulnerable machine.” See CVE-2019-3462 for the details.

    • How Blockchain Changes the Nature of Trust

      Blockchains have to be trusted in order for them to succeed, and public blockchains can cause problems you may not think about, according to Bruce Schneier, a fellow and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, in his keynote address at December’s Hyperledger Global Forum on “Security, Trust and Blockchain.”
      Schneier began his talk by citing a quote from Bitcoin’s anonymous developer, Satoshi Nakamoto, who said “We have proposed a system for electronic transaction without relying on trust.”
      “That’s just not true,’’ Schneier said. “Bitcoin is not a system that doesn’t rely on trust.” It eliminates certain trust intermediaries, but you have to somehow trust Bitcoin, he noted. Generally speaking, the Bitcoin system changes the nature of trust.

    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • StackRox Boosts Container Security Platform With Multi-Risk Profiling
    • Detecting Ghosts By Reverse Engineering: Who Ya Gonna Call?

      The most recent purportedly serious proposal by a Western government to force technology companies to provide access to the content of encrypted communications comes from Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, the U.K.’s equivalent of the National Security Agency. Cryptography luminaries such as Susan Landau, Matt Green, and Bruce Schneier have published detailed critiques of this proposal. Indeed, others from EFF have written about the proposal—known colloquially as the “ghost”—and explained why, contrary to GCHQ’s claim, the proposal really is an encryption backdoor with all the attendant security risks.

    • Amazon Posts L1TF/Foreshadow Demonstrator Code For The Linux Kernel

      In helping to build better defenses against this side channel vulnerability, Julian Stecklina of Amazon Germany (who previously co-discovered the “LazyFP” vulnerability last year) has posted demonstrator code for the Level 1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerability against the Linux kernel.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Syria’s Sunken Cost Fallacy: American Deaths Are Not a Reason to Stay

      I’m just old enough to remember a time – before 9/11 – when the death of a US soldier in combat was an exceptionally rare thing. Indeed, its hard not to look back fondly on those days of relative peace. Since then, nearly 7000 Americans – and perhaps half a million local civilians – have been killed in the wars for the Greater Middle East. Most of our fallen troopers, and all of the indigenous victims, are essentially nameless, faceless, forgotten. Sure, Americans “thank” their veterans, and display diligent adulation rituals at weekly sporting events, but most military casualties receive only a passing reference on the nightly news. War is the new normal after all, a standard fact of modern American life that’s far less interesting – and less lucrative – than reporting on the latest soap-opera-drama in the White House.

      That’s why the detailed media attention on the latest bombing in Syria, which killed four Americans, is so notable. And strange. So why the sudden interest in individual troop deaths after 17+ years of aimless war? The answer, as is so often the case these days, is simple: Donald Trump. Last week’s fatal attack, and another attempted bombing this Monday, happened to occur on the heels of the president’s controversial announcement of a total troop withdrawal from Syria. Make no mistake: that’s the only reason these tragic deaths happen to matter to the mainstream media outlets and a slew of suddenly interested congressmen.

    • Supreme Court Returns to Gun Rights for 1st Time in 9 Years

      The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.

      The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.

      The challengers are represented by prominent lawyer Paul Clement, who has been urging the justices to elaborate on the extent of constitutional gun rights the Supreme Court declared in decisions in 2008 and 2010. The court had previously rejected several appeals.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Intelligence Agencies Sued For Refusing To Turn Over Documents Related To Jamal Khashoggi’s Brutal Murder

      The shocking and brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by members of the Saudi Arabian government late last year was breathtaking in its audacity and execution. Lured to the Saudi consulate in Turkey by Saudi government officials, Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered by a team of Saudi security operatives.

      Khashoggi was a legal resident of the United States, in self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia as a result of the government’s treatment of dissidents. As a lawful resident, Khashoggi was technically protected by the many of the same laws and rights US citizens are. While the US government limits those rights and protections when legal residents (but not citizens) travel out of the country, the US intelligence community still bears a “duty to warn” lawful residents of any violent threats against them.

      The IC knew Khashoggi was a target of the Saudi government. It knew Riyadh had “something unpleasant” waiting for Khashoggi should he return to Saudi Arabia. A plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia was intercepted by US intelligence. No one knows whether Khashoggi was ever warned by US intelligence of these plans.

    • Wikileaks founder files legal challenge demanding the Trump administration reveal secret charges

      In November, the Justice Department accidentally revealed that it has sealed charges against Assange.

    • Wikileaks founder’s lawyers file urgent application in attempt to prevent extradition to US

      Lawyers for Julian Assange are taking action aimed at forcing US President Donald Trump’s administration to reveal charges “secretly filed” against the WikiLeaks founder.

      The lawyers are also pressing Ecuador to protect Assange from being extradited to the US if he leaves its embassy in London, where he has been living for more than six years.

    • Julian Assange takes legal action against US government

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday he is launching a legal challenge against the Donald Trump administration.

      The Guardian reported that lawyers for the activist have filed an application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, aimed at forcing U.S. prosecutors to “unseal” any secret charges against him. It is believed that American prosecutors have been investigating Assange since at least 2011 over his website’s publication of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables.

      The legal move comes at a time when Assange’s protection by the government of Ecuador appears on shaky ground. Assange has been staying in a Knightsbridge flat, which houses the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012, when he fled extradition proceedings at the U.K.’s Supreme Court.

      But the relationship has deteriorated since a new government took office in the Latin American country in 2017. In December, Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno said Assange can leave Ecuador’s London Embassy.

      In a radio interview, Moreno said he has received sufficient written guarantees from the British government that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he would face the death penalty, according to the Associated Press.

    • U.S. ramping up probe against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks says

      American federal prosecutors have been pressing witnesses in the U.S. and abroad to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, WikiLeaks says, offering further evidence that the Justice Department is building a criminal case against the man who leaked Democratic emails hacked by the Russians in the 2016 election.

      In a new submission to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, based in Washington, WikiLeaks is urging the Justice Department to unseal the charges that appear to have been secretly filed against Assange in the Eastern District of Virginia. A mistake in a Justice Department court filing in November inadvertently suggested the existence of those charges.

      “The submission reveals for the first time that U.S. federal prosecutors have in the last few months formally approached people in the United States, Germany and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Mr. Assange in return for immunity from prosecution,” WikiLeaks said in a statement. “Those approached are associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about U.S. diplomacy, Guantanamo Bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • New Study Shows Climate Crisis Could Mean ‘Time Bomb” for World’s Groundwater

      A new study sheds light on another impact of the climate crisis—a “time bomb” for the world’s groundwater reserves.

      It’s a key issue, as roughly two billion people worldwide rely on groundwater as their main source of freshwater, and many of these reserves are already being overdrawn.

      In contrast to surface water, groundwater is stored beneath the ground’s surface, held in porous rock, sand, and soil. That water seeps out, or “discharges,” into waterways. The groundwater is also replenished in what is called “recharge” when precipitation falls. As such, a balance is created. But events like drought or extreme downpours—features of a warming planet—have an impact on restoring that balance.

    • As Americans Increasingly Bear ‘Real Costs of Climate Crisis,’ Polls Show Soaring Realization of Global Warming’s Threat

      One survey, conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, found that 73 percent of Americans polled in November and December believe that global warming is happening, a 10 percent jump since March of 2015.

      Additionally, 62 percent understand that it’s mostly human-caused, 65 percent think it’s affecting weather in the United States, and a majority are concerned about harm from extreme heat, flooding, droughts, and water shortages.

      “Despite Big Oil’s ongoing multi-billion dollar deception campaign, people across America are bearing the real costs of the climate crisis, so it’s no surprise we’re more concerned than ever,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve, in response to the results.

    • Greens: UK fossil fuel subsidies peel away Government greenwash

      “These figures peel away more of the Government’s greenwash. The UN has made clear we have a 12 year window of opportunity to tackle climate change – the fact the UK pays out the highest fossil fuel subsidies in Europe shows how deeply the Government has failed to grasp the scale of this challenge. We can’t tackle climate change while giving more subsidies to dirty fossil fuels than clean renewable energy. The UK must follow Germany’s example and take advantage of the falling cost of offshore wind to invest in the future.”

    • Ocean waves pack bigger and stronger punch

      As the world’s seas warm, the ocean waves are starting to pack more power. Spanish scientists monitoring the tropical Atlantic report that the waves today contain more energy than they did 70 years ago. Sea surface temperatures influence wind patterns, and the payoff is a wave with more impact.

      What this means for marine creatures, mariners, meteorologists and the mayors of seaside cities is not yet certain. But it does mean that wave energy could join carbon dioxide atmospheric ratios, global sea level rise and global air temperatures as yet one more metric of overall global warming and climate change.

      And Chinese scientists who have been calculating the heat absorbed by the oceans over the last 30 years have confirmed that in 2018 ocean temperatures reached record levels. Before that, 2017 was the hottest oceanic year ever, followed by 2015, 2016 and 2014. Once again, the implications are uncertain: sea levels will rise with ocean temperatures.

    • The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction

      Near term human extinction is not all bad. For one thing it’s absolutely free. No need to break the piggy bank. And the whole family can go. It’s gratis. Not only that, but you can even bring your pets. Cat, dog. parrot, termite you name it. No need for special carriers, quarantines, shots, whatever. None of that. Of course don’t expect to find them on the other side, because there is no other side.

      Then, really good news, all your debts are wiped out. Zippity-doo-dah. Zero. Kiss the student loan, mortgage, credit card bill good-bye. No more vig to the neighborhood henchman. Sayonara. Your balance goes to zero, just like you. Don’t worry, there’s no paperwork.

      And your boss, that asshole, gone. You’ll never have to kiss his rosy red one again.

      No more housework. No taking out the garbage, cleaning the frig– no house.

      No more having to listen to twaddle about Donald Trump.

    • Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging

      The Helena National Forest has released its Ten Mile-South Helena Project, which will include logging, prescribed burning on more than 17,500 acres including in roadless lands proposed for wilderness designation. Throughout its document, the FS ignores the preponderance of fire science to justify logging/thinning of the forest and ignores the many environmental impacts that result from such actions.

      First, the FS implies that dead trees, particularly beetle-kill lodgepole pine, increases fire risk. Contrary to this message, numerous studies have concluded that dead trees reduce, not increase, fire hazard.

      For example, a study done on bug killed trees in Colorado found: “Contrary to the expectation that bark beetle infestation alters subsequent fire severity, correlation, and multivariate generalized linear regression analysis revealed no influence of pre-fire beetle severity on nearly all field or remotely sensed measurements of fire severity.”

      The authors further noted: “In comparison to severity of the pre-fire beetle outbreak, we found that topography, pre-outbreak basal area, and weather conditions exerted a stronger effect on fire severity.”

      Another study found “Modeling results suggested that undisturbed, red, and gray-stage stands were unlikely to exhibit transition of surface fires to tree crowns (torching) and that the likelihood of sustaining an active crown fire (crowning) decreased from undisturbed to gray-stage stands.”

    • Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies

      A recent column by Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder claims that transferring federal public lands to state management is the right thing to do because “nobody cares more for our state than the people who live right here in it.” Montana’s history, however, is rife with examples of what actually happens when management of extractive industries has been ceded to the state by the federal government. “Management” would be a very kind term to describe the rape and pillage that actually occurred and with which we and future generations must live.

      Let’s just take the worst examples of state management failures first, the hundreds of mining industry sites that remain unreclaimed, many of which have now been designated Superfund sites. Every mine and smelter in Montana was and is “managed” by state agencies. Take Golden Sunlight, Zortmann-Landusky, Anaconda’s smelter and Butte’s infamous Berkeley Pit. These are all toxic waste sites that will require treatment in perpetuity. Next will be Colstrip with its leaking waste ponds, while closer to Missoula is the seeping dioxin disaster of the former Smurfitt-Stone plant — both “managed” by state regulators.

      In the ’90s Republican majorities in the Legislature and Republican Gov. Marc Racicot trashed the state’s non-degradation water quality laws at the behest of the mining industry. They repaid Montana’s “management” with a host of abandoned open pit mines now costing Montanans millions of tax dollars in cleanup costs.

    • ‘Despicable’: Wells Fargo Bashed for Plans to Cash In on Global Climate Crisis

      Citing disclosures provided to the British nonprofit CDP—which collects self-reported environmental impact data from companies, cities, states, and regions worldwide—Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Wells Fargo sees the crisis as potentially profitable.

      “Preparation for and response to climate-change induced natural disasters result in greater construction, conservation, and other business activities,” the bank reportedly noted in its disclosure, adding that it “has the opportunity to provide financing to support these efforts.”

      Sierra Club, which has pressured Wells Fargo to stop providing billions of dollars in financing for dirty energy projects like the widely contested the Dakota Access Pipeline, sharply condemned the bank’s plans to cash in on the crisis.

      “It’s despicable that Wells Fargo is seeking to profit from the destruction and suffering its own investments are helping to create,” Sierra Club campaign representative Ben Cushing said in a statement.

  • Finance

    • The Problem Isn’t Robots Taking Our Jobs. It’s Oligarchs Taking Our Power

      Each week workers are confronted with yet another article touting the threat of technology wiping out their jobs. A recent “60 Minutes” segment featured venture capitalist and author Kai-Fu Lee predicting that advances in artificial intelligence would “in 15 years displace about 40 percent of the jobs in the world.”

      The message to workers is clear: the threat of obsolescence is real, so act accordingly. The advice of the World Economic Forum, the McKinsey Global Institute, and others, is that workers must “reskill” in order to have a livelihood available to them.

    • ‘Historic Day for American Unions’: Los Angeles Teachers Strike Earns Victory for Labor, Public Education

      .

      “For the last 10 years, the political forces in Los Angeles haven’t valued public schools, nor respected the people who teach in them,” she noted. “This was a fight for the soul of public education. It was a fight to invest in public schools after decades of neglect, and while one contract can’t fix everything, this is a starting point.”

      Caputo-Pearl announced the preliminary results at a Tuesday night press conference. “It was a dramatic end to a dramatic day that started with Caputo-Pearl and L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner emerging from an all-night negotiating session at City Hall,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti—a possible 2020 presidential candidate—and his senior staffers served as mediators.

    • In Montana, the Practice of Suspending People’s Licenses for Outstanding Court Debt Could Soon Be Over

      Lawmakers are considering a bill that would repeal a Montana policy that permits driver’s licenses to be suspended for failure to pay court debt.

      In more than 40 states across the country, state governments suspend people’s driver’s licenses for outstanding court debts, a practice that disproportionately harms low-income people. But if a Republican legislator has his way, this destructive and counterproductive policy may soon be null and void in Montana.

      On Jan. 9, Rep. Casey Knudsen (R-Malta) introduced a bill to repeal the part of Montana law that permits driver’s licenses to be suspended for failure to pay court debt.

    • What LA Teachers Tell Us About Rising Inequality

      Back during the 1960s and 1970s, in cities, suburbs, and small towns across the United States, teacher strikes made headlines on a fairly regular basis. Teachers in those years had a variety of reasons for walking out. They struck for the right to bargain. They struck for decent pay and benefits. They struck for professional dignity.
      The teachers’ strike in Los Angeles, America’s second-largest school district, was the latest high-profile walkout in a new surge of teacher activism that began last year. L.A. teachers went on strike to demand the same dignity and decency teachers sought in the mid-20th century. But the L.A. struggle, many observers believe, amounts to much more than a battle over how school officials treat teachers.

      Teachers in L.A. went on strike, in a most fundamental way, against how unequal America has become. They’re speaking out against our billionaire class.

    • “This Was About the Survival of Public Education”: LA Teachers Claim Victory After Week-Long Strike

      Public school teachers in Los Angeles are returning to classrooms today after approving an agreement to end a historic 6-day strike. The strike was the first in Los Angeles in three decades. It came after more than 20 months of strained negotiations between the union—United Teachers Los Angeles—and the school district. The strike effectively shut down Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second largest school district. On Tuesday morning, union leaders and Los Angeles city officials announced that they had reached a deal on a new contract. After a vote, the union announced Tuesday night that the contract had been approved by a supermajority of UTLA members. Included in the agreement are pay increases for teachers, additional support staff in schools, smaller class sizes and the regulation of charter schools. For more, we speak with the union’s bargaining committee chair, Arlene Inouye, as well as labor journalist and author Sarah Jaffe.

    • No One Said Rich People Were Very Sharp: Davos Tries to Combat Populism

      Let’s see, cattle ranchers are against vegetarianism, coal companies are against restricting CO2 emissions, and the Davos crew is trying to combat populism, according to The Washington Post. It is kind of amazing that the rich people at Davos would not understand how absurd this is.

      Yeah, we get that rich people don’t like the idea of movements that would leave them much less rich, but is it helpful to their cause to tell us that they are devoting their rich people’s conference to combating them? The real incredible aspect of Davos is that so many political leaders and news organizations would go to a meeting that is quite explicitly about rich people trying to set an agenda for the world.

    • The top 1% controls a third of the wealth, and the poor are getting poorer. How Russia became one of the most unequal places on Earth.

      According to January 2018 research by Oxfam, the richest one percent of people worldwide “bagged 82 percent” of the wealth created in 2017, while the poorest half of humanity “got nothing.” Since the 1980s, inequality has been growing everywhere on Earth, except in Western Europe. The rich own more and more, while the working class and middle class own less and less. This process is especially pronounced in Russia. Meduza breaks down these trends into graphs and takes a closer look at how Russia became a world leader in social inequality.

    • ‘This Is Called Union-Busting’: As Teachers Union Approves Strike, Denver Superintendent Wants to Turn Furloughed Federal Workers Into Scabs

      For seeking to exploit a situation in which hundreds of thousands of public employees nationwide are going without paychecks as the Trump shutdown enters its second month, the superintendent of Denver’s public schools is under fire for floating the idea that those suffering workers could be used as replacements for city teachers who voted Tuesday to approve a district-wide strike.

      Ahead of the vote, held by the city’s 5,600-strong teachers union, Denver Public Schools (DPS) Superintendent Susana Cordova told the local press that she was preparing to offer furloughed federal workers substitute teaching jobs for the duration of a potential strike.

    • Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests

      Here are seven things you won’t hear much if anything about in the reigning corporate media regarding the ongoing record-setting partial shutdown of the United States federal government:

      1: The Longstanding Neoliberal War on “Big Government”: a proper understanding of the shutdown in relation to the longstanding capitalist project of what the leading corporate-neoliberal champion Grover Norquist called “starving the beast,” with “beast” taken to mean “big government.” Norquist wanted, he said, “to cut government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

      Now might be a good time to recall how Trump’s former top political adviser the faux-populist Steve Bannon (with whom Trump certainly still regularly speaks) described his main policy goal when speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February of 2017: “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

      Bannon once proudly told an academic: “I am a Leninist.” Bannon said that “Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too.”

      Is the current shut-down not an exercise in “administrate state deconstruction” – something right out of the faux-libertarian (more on why I use that term in my next comment) fever dreams of a Norquist, a Bannon, a Charles Koch, a James McGill Buchanan, a Milton Friedman and others of their right wing and so-called free-market ilk? The orange monstrosity says the shut-down could “go on for years.” You can be sure that capitalist politico and ideologues in the Norquist and Bannon mode are hoping the shut-down can last as long as possible with no clear reported disasters resulting. This will help them advance their “drowning” project. “See?” they can proclaim, as former federal employees work for reduced wages at grocery stores and shopping malls, “we don’t really need this big monstrous and totalitarian government after all. All hail the free market!”

    • Tentative Deal Reached to End L.A. Teachers Strike

      A crowd of teachers roared its approval after a tentative deal was announced Tuesday between Los Angeles school officials and the union that will allow educators to return to classrooms after a six-day strike in the nation’s second-largest district.

      Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, accompanied by leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District, announced the agreement at City Hall a few hours after a 21-hour bargaining session ended before dawn.

      “I’m proud to announce that, pending approval by the teachers represented by UTLA and educational professionals and this Board of Education, we have an agreement that will allow our teachers to go back to work on their campuses tomorrow,” Garcetti said.

      Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said teachers would vote Tuesday, and he expected approval. Teachers planned to meet with union representatives to familiarize themselves with the agreement before casting ballots later in the day.

      It wasn’t clear when the vote results would be known, but teachers are expected to be back at work on Wednesday.

    • AOC’S 70 Percent Solution Shows US the Progressive Majority Has Been There All Along

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the latest progressive to speak out in favor of taxing the wealthy, and predictably, the punditocracy pounced on her as if she was some naïve political ingenue, and just as predictably, many of the mainstream Democrats joined them.

      As with Sanders, however, AOC didn’t go into a swoon when she was challenged on the idea that a 70 percent marginal rate could raise revenue needed to support a Green New Deal. In her 60 Minutes interview, when Anderson Cooper characterized her as “radical,” she said “… then call me radical.” When Scott Walker completely mischaracterized how marginal rates work in an attempt to discredit her, AOC took him on and destroyed him, rather than going into hiding.

      Her courage and conviction has proven to be a political asset, not a liability, as the corporate wing of the Democratic Party would have it.

      But here’s the thing: after the 60 Minutes interview and AOC’s rebuttal of the assault by the forces of the status quo, mainstream Democrats and the punditocracy seem surprised and shocked to learn that nearly 60 percent of Americans support a top marginal rate of 70 percent on the ultra-rich.

    • Reality Is Starting to Creep Into the Billionaire Oasis of Davos

      At this time of year, about 2,000 private jets fly into Zurich airport and to various smaller Swiss airports (including the Dübendorf military airbase). Hundreds of helicopter flights move from Zurich to Davos, where the hotel rooms go for as high as US$10,000 a night during the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF, which began in 1971, opened this Tuesday and runs through to the end of the week. The theme is Globalization 4.0, which refers—it seems—to the need to tackle the high-tech economy and to create a new architecture for a crumbling world system.

      Evidence of the irrelevance of Davos and of that crumbling system is clear. Neither the U.S. President Donald Trump nor the Chinese President Xi Jinping will be there. With the European Union falling apart, neither British Prime Minister Theresa May nor French President Emmanuel Macron will be flying in. Germany’s Angela Merkel will be stuck with strongmen such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. It will not be pleasant company.

    • As Public Shouts Approval for Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% Tax Rate for Ultra-Rich, Elites at Davos Admit: “It’s Scary”

      Gathering for the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps town of Davos, some of the world’s wealthiest business leaders and so-called “thought leaders” focused their attention Monday on a proposal that’s gaining traction in the U.S.—a return to a far higher marginal tax rate for the wealthy as a way of correcting the country’s widening wealth gap. A majority of American voters support the idea, a fact that was cited by one Davos attendee as precisely why he fears the proposal.

      “It’s scary,” Scott Minerd, head of the $265 billion investment firm Guggenheim Partners, told CNBC of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) proposal of a 70 percent tax rate for income over $10 million per year, predicting that the idea will likely continue to get more of the the attention it’s captured over the past three weeks, since the freshman congresswoman mentioned it in an interview with “60 Minutes.”

    • Why Aren’t Hedge Funds Required to Fight Money Laundering?

      For many years, the federal government has required banks, brokerages and even casinos to take steps to stop customers from using them to clean dirty money.

      Yet one major part of the financial system has remained stubbornly exempt, despite experts’ repeated warnings that it is vulnerable to criminal manipulation. Investment companies such as hedge funds and private equity firms have escaped multiple efforts to subject them to rules meant to combat money laundering.

      The latest attempt, which began in 2015, appears to have ground to a halt, according to sources familiar with the process.

      “You’ve got several trillion dollars, the management of which nobody is required to ask any questions about where that money is coming from,” said Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition. “This is very problematic.”

    • Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands

      The righteousness of our cause is becoming clearer ever day, and LAUSD is on the run. A new independent analysis from Capital & Main finds that funding exists that would more than cover UTLA’s core demands without even touching the district’s massive surplus.

      [...]

      In describing UTLA’s demands, from the beginning LAUSD superintendent Austin Beutner went into an act, throwing up his hands and claiming UTLA was demanding we “accept [an] offer that would bankrupt us. I don’t know how the district can respond constructively to that other than ‘no.’”

      I thought this was stupid on the face of it, since nobody in any negotiation expects the other side to meet all their demands. If Beutner wanted to know how to “respond constructively,” he could’ve responded the way any other organization in negotiations does—by making a reasonable counteroffer.

      Moreover, all of those UTLA demands were fully justified, and most of them were things LAUSD should’ve been doing for the good of its students on its own initiative. One annoying thing about this whole dispute has been LAUSD consistently behaving as if they’re doing something for us, “giving in to the union,” “offering the union” this or that. But in almost all instances these are things that students needed and the district should’ve been doing everything it could to accomplish them even if UTLA never asked for them or if UTLA never even existed.

    • Brexit has already been cancelled – and here’s why they’re not telling you

      If Brexit were a film, it would be at the point where pages were being ripped off a calendar in a frenzy.

      Tick, tock, goes the clock, as we get nearer to the day we were told was either the end of the beginning or beginning of the end. Only trouble is, March 29 is nothing but a plot device.

      The fact is, Brexit is off. When the nation finally realises this is a false ending you’re going to be told a load of limp excuses about why you’ve got to sit through a load more of this tripe.

      So allow me to explain.

      We have had one meaningful vote, which achieved nothing meaningful. Next Monday Theresa May will present us with Plan B, which is exactly the same as Plan A but has had the ‘A’ Tipp-exed out. A second meaningful vote is scheduled for next Tuesday, in which Theresa will probably find she has negotiated her walloping, earlier defeat down to being a slightly-less walloping second defeat.

    • Who is Alexey Gromov? New report finds the de facto curator of Russian state TV owns major real estate and has ties to oligarchs

      The online media outlet Proekt (Project) has released a new investigative report about the Russian presidential administration’s first deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov—the man responsible for state propaganda on Russian television. Proekt reported that Gromov owns a country home in the wealthy Rublyovka district as well as an apartment in central Moscow whose cost greatly exceeds his income.

      In 2002, Alexey Gromov received more than 30,000 square feet of land in Rublyovka that had previously belonged to the Russian government. According to Proekt, his property is located in the elite town of Ilyinskye Dachi and includes a home with over 10,000 square feet of floorspace. A similar property in the same neighborhood costs about 12.6 million dollars.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Rob Williams and ‘Russian Interference’ in the Election

      Amid the ongoing corporate-media hue and cry about ‘Russian interference’ in the 2016 US election,
      media scholar Rob Williams reviews the evidence, and the unexamined assumptions made by promoters of
      the ‘Russian hacking’ position. Some of the discussion on the show revolves around Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s
      new book Cyberwar.

    • Stop Trusting Viral Videos

      But rather than drawing conclusions about who was vicious or righteous—or lamenting the political miasma that makes the question unanswerable—it might be better to stop and look at how film footage constructs rather than reflects the truths of a debate like this one. Despite the widespread creation and dissemination of video online, people still seem to believe that cameras depict the world as it really is; the truth comes from finding the right material from the right camera. That idea is mistaken, and it’s bringing forth just as much animosity as the polarization that is thought to produce the conflicts cameras record.

    • If Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Talk, Britain Is Waiting

      Britain is ready to discuss “the future of technology in society” with Mr. Zuckerberg, whenever he’s ready. But we aren’t going to wait for him. We’re having those discussions now.

    • WhatsApp rolls out changes to curb spread of misinformation

      The Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp this week rolled out changes to curb the spread of misinformation, a move that comes months after conspiracy theories circulated by users on the app allegedly fueled more than 20 murders in India.

    • Stalled Brexit Goings On

      The tumultuous last few days in Ukania’s House of Commons have been bewildering even for those Brits used to the arcane fripperies and conventions of the supposed “mother” of all parliaments.

      117 Tories rejected May last month in their intra-party vote on her leadership, which she survived by a slim majority.

      Faced with a vote on Labour’s subsequent no-confidence motion on the Tory government, all these 117 fair-weather Tories found a way to support May! A successful vote of no confidence in the May government would have ensued in a general election.

      Clearly, for these 117 craven Tories, the parliamentary vote on the future of May’s government, with obviously crucial Brexitimplications, had little to do with Brexit per se (since they reject, absolutely, all her Brexit proposals), and everything to do with saving their own political careers.

    • Here’s the Pro-Bernie Sanders 2020 Op-Ed The Baffler Decided Its Readers Should No Longer See

      Because The Baffler, which focuses on left-wing politics and culture, is owned by The Baffler Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, it is legally prohibited from endorsing any candidate for public office. But Sunkara—whose magazine is also owned by a 501(c)3—argued that because the piece did not reflect the “views of an institute,” it was “clearly within bounds.”

      So, late Tuesday, Jacobin decided to repost the article on its website (read Frost’s full piece below). Initially headlined “It’s Bernie, Bitch” by The Baffler—a spin on a phrase by American singer Britney Spears—Jacobin ran the op-ed with the title, “It’s Still Bernie.”

      “A President Sanders isn’t some idealist fantasy, he is our best bet by a mile,” Frost argued in her piece. “Not only is he the best candidate politically (as in, the only social democrat), he has the best chance of giving the ‘pragmatists’ what say they want: a presidential win.”

    • Popular Democracy in Cuba

      The socialist governments of the Third World plus China have developed popular democracy, with structures that are alternatives to those of representative democracy. Laws and policies are decided by deputies of the people, and not by politicians dependent on the support of corporate and wealthy interests. Let us look at the historical development of the alternative political process in the case of Cuba.

      During the neocolonial Republic of 1902 to 1959, Cuba had the basic structures of representative democracy. Military dictatorships periodically interrupted the democratic process, in response to political instability, which itself was a consequence of the incapacity of the Cuban system of representative democracy to ensure the sovereignty of the nation or the needs of the people. It was a system designed to support the interests of international capital and a weak international bourgeoisie, with political power in the hands of a political class dependent on both. In key historic moments (1924, 1944, & 1948), the people were able to elect candidates who promised reform, but once in office, they were not able to deliver on their promises. Revolutionary leaders in Cuba could not possibly overlook the limitations of representative democracy.

    • Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert

      The general error that I see is people disregarding and throwing out mediations altogether. In politics, sometimes the main problem is not so much the ultimate goal but rather how to get there. In brief, strategy and tactics, and Chavez had a genius for both.

      In this sense, it’s important to point out that political activity and class struggle do not take place in some kind of Newtonian ether. Instead, both happen in history. So what I argue that Chavez did was activate a historical possibility, a latent revolutionary tendency in Venezuela, which drew on Bolivar, Rodriguez, and Zamora, and also the popular movements behind them. It’s a rich tradition, but perhaps we can summarize it with a shorthand, as Chavez did, using the proper name “Bolivar.”

      That was the historical legacy that Chavez pulled out of the past, dusted off, and put into action. It is interesting to me that when most people give an account of the Bolivarian Process today, they have nothing to say about Bolivar. How different that is from Chavez, who couldn’t stop talking about Bolivar! Was he crazy? Ninety-five percent of the analyses of the political process – whether critical or affirmative – implicitly assume that this part of Chavez’s discourse was just madness or populism on his part.

    • A N.Y. Times Story Just Accidentally Shredded the Russiagate Hysteria

      Every once in a while, one of those stories comes along that makes the mainstream corporate media look like a bunch of middle-school kids filming their “news show” on an iPhone with their neck ties crooked. Recently, one of those stories splashed down into the middle of our cultural zeitgeist like a small meteor landing in the middle of an elite dinner party.

      It made our mass media pundits look like hardened fools. But they have kept spouting their nonsense anyway, hoping no one notices the soup dripping down their faces.

      But to talk about that, I have to talk about this: Last month we finally got to see the Senate report spelling out the Russian meddling in our last election. And it was a bombshell. It rocked the heart of our country. It shredded the inflamed core of our palpitating democracy.

      As Dan Cohen reported for the Grayzone Project, the report said that “…everything from the Green Party’s Jill Stein to Instagram to Pokemon Go to the African American population had been used and confused by the deceptive Facebook pages of a private Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency.”

      [...]

      So who are these amazing nonpartisan unbiased sleuths who put together this legitimate and nonpartisan unbiased Senate report? The New York Times found out they are a group called New Knowledge (which sounds like a terrible boy band). New Knowledge was founded by two veterans of the Obama administration, Jonathon Morgan and Ryan Fox. …So, I guess we’re, um, doing away with the “nonpartisan unbiased” thing.

      Well, in that case—I say go hard or go home. I want MORE bias!

      The Grayzone Project pointed out that besides working for Obama and the State Department, “… Morgan also developed technology for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the arm of the Department of Defense created for basic, applied technological research, and futuristic war toys.”

      All right, all right, not bad. But I know what you’re thinking. “Lee, that might be a great bias appetizer, but we want the full bias entree!”

    • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Tax Proposal Rattles Billionaires at Davos

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., during a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper on Jan. 6, proposed a 70 percent marginal tax rate on income earned above $10 million. Cooper called this “radical.” The proposal has earned extensive media coverage, and has been debated by pundits on both sides of the political aisle.

      One group that is not thrilled, according to Hugh Son and Brian Schwartz of CNBC, are attendees at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, the annual gathering of international business and political leaders who meet to discuss the state of the world economy. “It’s scary,” Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer for Guggenheim Partners, told CNBC, adding, “By the time we get to the presidential election, this is going to gain more momentum. … I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real.”

      Stephen Schwartzman, the CEO of Blackstone, a private equity firm and a major Republican donor, sarcastically (as reported by Son and Schwartz) told CNBC that he is “wildly enthusiastic,” about the plan.

      Another billionaire, who declined to be named, told CNBC that despite the massive media attention around Ocasio-Cortez’s interview, Democrats would not be likely to support the plan. “It’s not going to happen—trust me,” he said.

      One prominent Democrat interviewed at Davos agreed. Glenn Hutchins, founder of the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, who CNBC calls a member of the “Democratic establishment,” said, “The important thing in my view is not to try to score political points with having a 70 percent, very high tax rate. The important thing is to try to figure out a tax system that is both fair and efficient.”

    • ‘Poor King Snowflake’: Trump Admits Ordering Huckabee Sanders to Halt WH Briefings Because Reporters Behave ‘Rudely’

      President Donald Trump on Tuesday admitted he told his press secretary “not to bother” any longer with White House press briefings over his belief that journalists cover the administration both “rudely & inaccurately.”

      “The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press,” Trump tweeted. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

      Glenn Kessler, fact-checker for the Washington Post, pointed out the historic anomaly of Trump’s admission. “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” Kessler wrote in response to the president’s tweet. “White House reporters have been aggressive with the press secretary of every WH, and they didn’t flee from questions that needed answering.”

    • Senate Sets Up Showdown Votes on Shutdown Plans

      Senate leaders on Tuesday agreed to vote on dueling proposals to reopen shuttered federal agencies this week, forcing a political reckoning for senators grappling with the longest shutdown in U.S. history: Side with President Donald Trump or vote to temporarily end the shutdown and keep negotiating.

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. set up the two showdown votes for Thursday, a day before some 800,000 federal workers are due to miss a second paycheck. One vote will be on his own measure, which reflects Trump’s offer to trade border wall funding for temporary protections for some immigrants. It was quickly rejected by Democrats. The second vote is set for a bill approved by the Democratic-controlled House reopening government through Feb. 8, with no wall money, to give bargainers time to talk.

    • Ocasio-Cortez: “Breathe Fire” in Face of Trump

      “The choice isn’t what I’m breathing in, it’s what I’m exhaling,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared this Monday at an event organized by Blackout for Human Rights celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in New York City. “Right now, I think with this administration, with the current circumstances, with the abdication of responsibility that we’ve seen from so many powerful people … I feel a need for all of us to breathe fire.”

      In conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates at Riverside Church, Ocasio-Cortez was responding to his comments about the level of “toxicity and stupidity” the new congresswoman encounters on a near daily basis. In delivering this exhortation, Ocasio-Cortez not only galvanized audience members but also stirred their respect with her ability to let the intense scrutiny roll off her back.

      It’s this ability to speak truth to power in a strong and forthright way that’s gained Ocasio-Cortez wide praise and admiration, and perhaps her assignment to the powerful House Oversight Committee. Meanwhile the media have lavished attention on her flair for blistering comebacks — such as her rapid rebuttal to bizarre comments from Aaron Sorkin, creator of “The West Wing,” who implored young freshman Democratic Congress members to “stop acting like young people,” and to focus instead on the “economic anxiety of the middle class.”

      Though Sorkin later walked back his comments, his remarks betrayed the anxiety frequently exhibited by established public figures toward Ocasio-Cortez, and further underscored the disappointing failure by this class to acknowledge the deeper vision of justice that Ocasio-Cortez is already articulating.

    • ALEC’s New Union-Busting Toolkit Illustrates the Goal Is to Bankrupt Unions Not Protect Workers

      It’s becoming an annual ritual. The Koch-funded cluster of groups, which has long abused their 501(c)3 IRS “charitable” designation by working to destroy political enemies, has concocted another “union busting” toolkit, giving ammunition and guidance to Republican politicians on how to attack and dismantle a major funder of the Democratic Party.

      The toolkit appears to have been prepared by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) staff shortly after the Supreme Court’s June 2018 Janus vs. AFSCME decision, which held that unions could no longer require individuals in a bargaining unit who did not want to be members of a union to pay agency or “fair share” fees. Fair share fees compensate union staff who are required by law to represent all workers in a bargaining unit in their quest for better wages and working conditions.

      ALEC is a collection of state politicians and corporate lobbyists from many of the largest corporations in the country. The Janus case was spearheaded by ALEC’s sister group, the $80 million State Policy Network (SPN), made up of 66 right-wing think tanks and other Koch-funded institutions.

      The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) uncovered a secret SPN “toolkit” that coaches politicians to replace anti-union rhetoric with phrases like “worker freedom” and “worker choice.” Also uncovered by CMD and published in the Guardian, were SPN private fundraising letters bluntly detailing strategies for dismantling unions and striking a “mortal blow” to progressive politics and the Democratic Party.

    • The $5.7 Billion Hole in Shutdown Coverage – The arbitrary, fanciful and contradictory nature of Trump’s border wall demand goes unexamined

      In the standoff between the Democratic House and President Donald Trump over the latter’s demand for border wall funding, the corporate press has done a passable job highlighting the unpopularity of Trump’s border policy, as well as exploring the vast real-world impact of the shutdown. There have been notable low points in the coverage as well, from tabloid-style outrage-baiting (FAIR.org, 1/7/19) to overwrought falsely balanced factchecking (FAIR.org, 1/10/19).

      But there’s also been a major blindspot in reporting on the shutdown, and it involves the very thing at the center of the entire debate: Trump’s proposed border wall expansion.

    • ‘No SOTU for You’: Pelosi Tells Trump House Chamber Not an Option Unless Government Reopens

      After President Donald Trump insisted on Wednesday that he still intends to deliver the State of the Union address next week even though Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) rescinded his invitation last week, the speaker quickly doubled down on her decision.

      “I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened,” Pelosi wrote to Trump, adding that she’ll welcome him for the speech after the shutdown ends.

    • The MAGA Boys Are Racist Brats

      In the abstract, innocence is a rather simple idea. A blank slate, unmarked by sin. In the real world, innocence is a stranger concept. For some, it is wholly unattainable. For others, all it takes is a press release. For many Native people, the last few days have been exhausting. After elder Nathan Phillips’s now-famous encounter with a group of tomahawk-chopping, MAGA-hat-wearing Catholic school students made headlines, a surprisingly large number of non-Native people spoke in Phillips’s defense, decrying the behavior of the Covington Catholic High School students. The outpouring of support was striking to many Native people because, while Native people experience bigotry and abuse on a regular basis, we rarely see other Natives experience the kind of public support that Phillips was ever-so-briefly afforded.

      We should have seen the revocation of that support coming a mile away.

      Even though footage of the MAGA boys taunting Phillips has been viewed countless times, the existence of other footage, in which the boys were crudely insulted by a small group of Black Israelites, was seen as a game-changer. The group of Black Israelites, who, by all accounts, made despicable comments to both Native people and the Covington youth, were quickly cast as the true instigators, as though the boys’ mimicry and taunts of Phillips and his group were somehow justified by the acts of a completely different group of people. By the time Nick Sandmann, the young man who stared Phillips down while the elder sang and drummed, released a statement, many were eager to accept it as fact. The statement itself, which cast Sandmann and his classmates as level-headed angels being menaced by an elder with a small drum, was purported to be Sandmann’s own narration of events, but read like a press release from a PR firm.

      As Vice reported, Runswitch PR, the firm the Sandmann family hired, has a history of supporting powerful Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Runswitch PR was founded by CNN contributor Scott Jennings, a former adviser to McConnell and George W. Bush. Jennings currently advises a McConnell super PAC.

    • Parents in Russian town say mobsters delivered homophobic lectures at local school. Officials say don’t worry, they weren’t mobsters.

      Prosecutors in Russia’s Primorsky Krai, which forms the southeast corner of the country, have begun investigating claims that one of the region’s schools has allowed criminal leaders to give lectures to its students, according to Interfax. The regional branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee has also begun preliminary inquiries into the matter.

      A post on the Russian social website Pikabu first brought the lectures to the public eye. It described how one school organized a lecture for its fifth- through seventh-grade boys that was led by four men. The director introduced them as people who “watch over the village” and should be “emulated.” The men used profanity to explain to the boys that they should live “by standards,” a word that sometimes refers to criminal rules, and advised them not to enter into homosexual relationships to avoid being harassed later on “in the zone,” a slang term for prison colonies. “In the end, the kids were told they weren’t allowed to tell [their teachers and parents] where they were and what they were lectured about!” the post exclaimed. It was allegedly written by parents whose children were at the lecture. The post did not name the village or the school.

    • Nationwide Call-In Day Pressures Senators to Reject “Stephen Miller’s Wish List” and Pass Clean Bill to End Trump Shutdown

      With the Senate set to vote Thursday on two competing plans to reopen the government—a White House-backed measure with billions in border wall funding and a short-term Democratic resolution with no wall money—progressive advocacy groups on Wednesday launched a nationwide call-in day pressuring senators to unite against President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant shutdown and pass the “clean” legislation.

      Denouncing the “extreme” Trump-backed bill that “reads like [White House adviser] Stephen Miller’s wish list,” Indivisible urged people to flood the phone lines of their representatives and urge them to pass the bill with no wall funding, which has already cleared the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

      “A majority of the American public doesn’t want to pay for Trump’s wall; they just want Republicans in Congress to open up the government,” Indivisible declared. “It’s important that we first block Trump’s anti-immigrant bill, and then put pressure on Republicans to do the right thing and open up the government by passing a clean [continuing resolution].”

    • Ocasio-Cortez Rattles Pundits Across the Corporate Media Spectrum
    • Common sense is now perilously absent in our nation

      With the government still partially shut down, partisan politics is generating more heat than light.

      President Donald Trump, in his unique blustery style, believes he can slander the Democratic leaders that he must negotiate with, burlesque their position and demand capitulation in return for simply allowing the government to run. When the Democratic-led House recently passed legislation that was approved by the Republican Senate in December to fund the government, Republican senators refuse even to put it on the floor.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • The secret censorship holding back the sex toy industry

      If anything, the back and forth over Osé is an indication of a broader confusion over whether sex toys count as wellness devices or something obscene. That confusion impacts nearly every aspect of how pleasure product companies do business, from fundraising to retail to advertising. While crowdfunding and online retail have been eager to court the business of other gadget manufacturers, sex toy companies still struggle to navigate content regulations and figure out whether their business counts as “obscene” in the eyes of payment processors, banks, and advertising platforms.

    • Court Rules ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Criminalizing Undercover Reporting Violates the First Amendment

      The unconstitutional law was meant to protect agribusinesses from public scrutiny.
      In a win for freedom of the press, a federal court this month struck down an Iowa law making it a crime to lie about your intentions when accessing an agricultural production facility.

      The “ag-gag” law, which was aimed at undercover journalists and activists, essentially prevented undercover investigations of the agricultural industry. The court rightly found that the law violates the First Amendment.

      This welcome ruling joins a host of other court decisions finding similar laws in other states to be unconstitutional — and for good reason. Undercover reporting is a critical tool to inform the public about corporate wrongdoing. Overbroad laws criminalizing false speech violate the First Amendment and prevent investigative journalism from holding powerful private actors to account.

    • It’s Perfectly Constitutional to Talk About Jury Nullification

      Jurors have the power to vote against convicting criminal defendants under laws that the jurors believe are unjust.

      Eric Patrick Brandt and Mark Iannicelli were handing out pamphlets outside a Denver courthouse in July 2015. They wanted to inform the public about jury nullification — that is, the power of jurors to vote against convicting criminal defendants under laws that the jurors believe are unjust.

      Brandt and Iannicelli were trying to participate in a centuries-old and still-thriving discussion.

    • US Media Companies Engaging In Proactive Censorship Of Content Ahead Of India’s New Hate Speech Laws

      Just the threat of government intervention has been enough to turn a number of US companies into proactive censors. As Paris Martineau notes in this Wired article, Netflix and a number of other streaming services have already voluntarily agreed to engage in self-censorship, purging their Indian offerings of content that “disrespects the country’s flag,” “hurts religious sentiments,” or promotes terrorism.

      Netflix’s justification for self-censorship is apparently that this is somehow better than direct government censorship. But this justification makes no sense, especially when proactive measures tend to remove more content than is actually illegal. Add in some automation and legal content is going to get flagged and removed faster than the Indian government can issue self-serving removal requests.

      The government’s timetable on content removal only adds to the problem. The Indian government wants content it finds illegal removed within 24 hours of notification. Short turn times — seen elsewhere in the world — have increased proactive takedowns by internet companies, resulting in far more content removals than are strictly necessary.

    • Herrick V. Grindr The Section 230 Case That’s Not What You’ve Heard

      On the surface Herrick v. Grindr seems the same sort of case as Daniel v. Armslist (which we wrote about last week): it’s a case at an appeals court that addresses the applicability of Section 230, meaning there is a reasonable possibility of it having long-lingering effect on platforms once it gets decided. It’s also a case full of ugly facts with a sympathetic plaintiff, and, at least nominally, involves the same sort of claim against a platform – in Armslist the claim was for “negligent design,” whereas here the claim is for “defective design.” In both cases the general theory is that because people were able to use the platform to do bad things, the platforms themselves should be legally liable for the resulting harm.

      Of course, if this theory were correct, what platform could exist? People use Internet platforms in bad ways all the time, and they were doing so back in the days of CompuServe and Prodigy. It is recognition of this tendency that caused Congress to pass Section 230 in the first place, because if platforms needed to answer for the terrible things their users used them for, then they could never afford to remain available for all the good things people used them for too. Congress felt it was too high a cost to lose the beneficial potential of the Internet because of the possibility of bad actors, and so Section 230 was drafted to make sure that we wouldn’t have to. Bad actors could still be pursued for their bad acts, but not the platforms that they had exploited to commit them.

      In this case the bad act in question was the creation and management of a false Grindr profile for Herrick by an ex-boyfriend bitter about their breakup. It led to countless strangers, often with aggressive expectations for sex, showing up at Herrick’s home and work. There is no question that the ex-boyfriend’s behavior was terrible, frightening, inexcusable, and, if not already illegal under New York law, deserving to be. But only to the extent that such a law would punish just the culprit (in this case the ex-boyfriend who created the fake profile).

    • Jury Trial? You Have No Right!

      I was wronged. All I wanted was a trial by jury, a right enshrined in Anglo-Saxon legal tradition in the Magna Carta 903 years ago.

      Is this still America? No. America is dead.

      Not only have I been denied that fundamental right, I have been punished for having had the temerity to seek redress in the courts.

      Justice is when wrongdoers are punished and victims are compensated. Instead, the California court system has provided Anti-Justice. The wrongdoers are getting off scot-free. I, the victim, am not merely being ignored or brushed off. I am being actively punished.

      The ruling in Ted Rall v. Los Angeles Times et al. came down last week. The California Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the Times’ “anti-SLAPP” motion against me. Anti-SLAPP law supporters, including the Times, say they’re supposed to be used by poor individuals to defend their First Amendment rights against big companies. But that’s BS. The Times—owned by the $500 million Tronc corporation when I filed suit, now owned by $7 billion biotechnology entrepreneur Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong—abused anti-SLAPP to destroy me.

    • Parody Washington Post Leads To Bogus Legal Threat, And A Reminder Of An Old Internet Lawsuit

      As you might have heard, the famed pranksters The Yes Men were recently involved in something of a parody news story. They printed up and handed out a ton of parody Washington Posts, dated May 1, 2019 (note: a date a few months in the future) with a cover story claiming to be about President Trump being removed from office. People who got their hands on the printed edition said that they looked pretty similar to an actual Washington Post. The pranksters didn’t just print out newspapers, they also set up a website at my-washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post itself was not amused and appears to have sent an incredibly stupid cease-and-desist letter from a publication that should know better.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FBI Forensic Experts Claim Mass-Produced Jeans And Shirts Are As Distinct As Fingerprints And DNA

      The evidence the feds use to lock people up continues to be laughable. Well, laughable under any other circumstances. Freedom is a high price to pay for bad science, but the FBI seems to believe the tradeoff between lost freedom and junk science is a net gain for society. Judges seem to agree. It’s difficult to challenge the sufficiency of evidence against you, nevermind the underlying “science” backing dubious forensic evidence like hair or bite mark matching.

      The gold standards in forensic evidence aren’t even gold. DNA is a hitchhiker which can put people never involved with a crime at the scene just by hitching a ride on first responders. Fingerprints have been considered individual markers for years, but even that assessment appears to have been overstated.

      But dig deep enough into the FBI’s forensic toolkit and you’ll find some truly surprising forms of “evidence.” ProPublica has done exactly that, uncovering so-called science that far more resembles faith. Convictions have been obtained thanks to FBI forensic experts claiming mass produced products like shirts and jeans are just as distinct as fingerprints and DNA.

    • Victory: Federal Court in Seattle Will Begin Disclosing Surveillance Records
    • Wow, fancy that. Web ad giant Google to block ad-blockers in Chrome. For safety, apparently

      Google engineers have proposed changes to the open-source Chromium browser that will break content-blocking extensions, including various ad blockers.

      Adblock Plus will most likely not be affected, though similar third-party plugins will, for reasons we will explain. The drafted changes will also limit the capabilities available to extension developers, ostensibly for the sake of speed and safety. Chromium forms the central core of Google Chrome, and, soon, Microsoft Edge.

      In a note posted Tuesday to the Chromium bug tracker, Raymond Hill, the developer behind uBlock Origin and uMatrix, said the changes contemplated by the Manifest v3 proposal will ruin his ad and content blocking extensions, and take control of content away from users.

    • Chrome May Get Faster Ad Blocking While Breaking uBlock Origin

      Ad blocker uBlock Origin “can no longer exist” if a proposed change to Chrome goes through. That’s according to Raymond Hill, the developer of uBlock Origin and uMatrix, in a comment on Chromium’s bug tracker.

      As spotted by The Register, Google engineers are proposing this change in the Chromium project’s bug tracker. Chromium is the open-source browser that forms the basis for Google Chrome, Opera, and soon Microsoft Edge.

    • Russia Wants Facebook, Twitter To Relocate Servers To Russia

      The Russian government agency, which controls Internet censorship in the country, has opened administrative proceedings against Facebook and Twitter because for failing to comply with local data laws.

      The action was taken citing that the law requires all servers, that store personal data of Russians, to be located in Russia.

    • Google Fined $57 Million For Violating GDPR Rules

      France’s data privacy watchdog National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (NCIL) has slapped a $57 million fine on Google for not complying with GDPR rules. This is the biggest fine that has been imposed on a tech company after GDPR rules come into effect from May last year.

      According to CNIL, the fine has been imposed because the tech giant failed to provide enough information to users about how their data is collected and didn’t give them complete control over their data.

    • Spying Agency MI5 Named One of UK’s ‘Best LGBT Employers’

      That MI5 is ranked at all represents significant progress for the agency – for gay men and women were prohibited from working at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ until 1992.
      British domestic spying agency MI5 has been named the UK’s fourth best LGBT employer in the UK by Stonewall, in the charity’s annual Workplace Equality Index.

      The list, topped by law firm Pinsent Masons, also features the British Army, Lloyds Bank, homeless charity St Mungo’s, Newcastle council and the Welsh government. Rankings are based on consideration of 10 areas of employment policy and practice, and staff at each organization also complete anonymous surveys on their experiences of diversity and inclusion in their workplaces.

    • Huawei wants another shot at 5G in NZ

      Chinese telco Huawei wants another shot at building Spark’s 5G network and is calling on the Government and the GCSB to be more upfront about its reasons for barring the network.

      Huawei NZ deputy managing director Andrew Bowater told Newsroom another network proposal could be submitted to the GCSB for approval in as little as two months’ time.

      New Zealand’s Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act or TICSA requires telcos to submit network proposals to the GCSB, the nation’s spy agency, which is tasked with ensuring they do not compromise national security.

    • Australian industry groups issue wish list of encryption law changes

      The contentious laws passed on the last evening of Parliament for 2018, following the capitulation of the Labor opposition, which dropped its own amendments and waved the legislation through the Senate under the belief Parliament will consider the amendments when it resumes in February. The government successfully had its 67 pages of amendments added to the Bill in the lower house.

      Following the legislation’s passage, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security opened a review of the new laws, and is due to report back by April 3.

      In a submission to the review, the industry groups endorsed a number of Labor’s dumped amendments, including judicial consent for warrants, and the removal of the definition of systemic weakness.

    • Is Privacy a Right?

      While Harari says rights are a collection of stories we tell ourselves, he also acknowledges their role in holding civilization together and in advancing it. He points out, for example, that the story of rights America’s founders told in the Declaration of Independence was a helluva lot more civilized than the Code of Hammurabi, which applied the death penalty to a huge roster of crimes (including lying), and codified women and slaves as forms of property. Harari also adds that the United States “would not have lasted 250 years if the majority of presidents and congressmen failed to believe in human rights”.

    • Max Schrems Files New Privacy Complaints That Seem To Show The Impossibility Of Complying With The GDPR

      We’ve written many times about privacy activist Max Schrems, who almost single-handedly brought down the silly privacy safe harbors between the EU and the US. Last year, we wrote about his newest project called noyb.eu, which stands for “None Of Your Business.”

      Last week, Schrems and noyb announced a big list of GDPR complaints filed in Austria, against basically every streaming media company, none of which — they claim — are in compliance with the GDPR.

    • A brief history of wi-fi privacy vulnerabilities

      Just like normal probes, targeted probes were transmitted every few seconds, in the clear and readable by anyone with a mind to look. But unlike normal probes, these ones contained the SSIDs of the networks that a user’s device had previously connected to. Attackers could intercept them and use their contents to infer the locations to which the user had previously taken their smartphone (eg. HOOTERSFREEWIFI, fbi-informant-hotspot, russian_embassy_guest). Helpful, open source maps of wi-fi network locations even made locating a user’s home from their wi-fi network’s SSID straightforward.

    • Industry coalition calls for changes to govt encryption legislation

      Judicial oversight of new surveillance powers and clearly defined limits on agencies’ notices top the list of a raft of changes recommended to the Federal Government for its encryption legislation by a broad coalition of Australia’s telecommunications, IT and Internet industries.

    • How sloppy OPSEC gave researchers an inside look at the exploit industry

      The companies that make advanced surveillance software are quiet by design. They generate enough press to let the market (i.e., governments) know their products exist, but it’s not as if there’s an app store for mobile spyware.

      They do make mistakes, though. And thanks to two researchers from Lookout, the public now has more information on how these companies operate.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Lawmaker wants to tax porn users to help fund the border wall

      Republican Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, has introduced House Bill 2444, which would make “distributors” of devices that allow access to the internet install software to make the offending material not viewable. To remove the blocking software, a person would have to pay the state $20.

    • Arizona lawmaker proposes ‘porn tax’ to fund Trump’s border wall

      House Bill 2444, introduced this week by Republican lawmaker Gail Griffin, would require all electronic devices sold in Arizona to include “blocking software” that would choke access to websites hosting “obscene” material, the AZ Mirror reports.

    • I Was Absolutely Afraid”: Indigenous Elder on “Mob Mentality” of MAGA Hat-Wearing Students in D.C.
    • Chase Iron Eyes: Trump’s Mocking of Native Americans Gives License to Others to Denigrate My People

      As we continue to look at the video that has gone viral showing a group of Catholic high school students apparently mocking an indigenous tribal elder near the Lincoln Memorial, we speak to Chase Iron Eyes, an activist and lead attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project. He is a spokesperson for the Indigenous Peoples March.

    • Activists increase efforts to help LGBTQ people escape Chechnya amid ongoing crisis

      The Russian LGBT Network, which announced on January 14 that it had received word of a new wave of arrests and torture in the Russian republic of Chechnya, has begun facilitating the evacuation of those affected by the current crisis. The LGBT Network noted in a press release that new information about the anti-LGBTQ persecution has emerged as some victims have been able to escape Chechnya and reach the Network’s representatives.

      While LGBT Network activists initially believed that the current wave of illegal arrests began in late December, they have now determined that new arrests were made as early as the beginning of that month. They have also discovered that LGBTQ people are no longer being imprisoned only in Argun, a town in the north of Chechnya where secret holding and torture cells for gay people have long been reported. Torture in law enforcement facilities has reportedly spread to the Chechen capital of Grozny as well.

    • Thinking About George Washington’s Teeth on MLK, Jr. Day

      I was having dinner a few nights ago with friends when one of them mentioned she was reading Jill Lepore’s new book, These Truths: A History of the United States.

      My friend was only 150 pages into the book and proceeding, like me, at a pace of about 20 pages at a sitting because any more was overload. She said she had to put the book down and stop reading for a while after learning about George Washington’s teeth. Yeah, I said, I remembered being stunned by that revelation, too, but had not really processed it fully.

      Washington’s teeth, as every kid knows, were wood. Right? Did he take poor care of the originals, eat too much candy, practice poor hygiene? Actually he took good care of his teeth, but lost them anyway—the first when he was twenty-four and the last before his second inauguration. We’ve also been taught that Washington’’s wooden teeth were a great embarrassment to him and excruciatingly painful.

    • Lawsuit Challenges Prolonged Detention Of Immigrant Children, Targeting Of Relatives For Deportation

      Detained immigrant children and relatives, who have attempted to serve as their sponsors, expanded a federal lawsuit to challenge the United States government’s practice of illegally and improperly denying children the opportunity to reunite with family.

      Immigrant rights advocates, including the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, contend there are thousands of children covered by the lawsuit, especially since the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has over 10,000 children in its custody.

      They additionally challenge the extreme vetting of potential sponsors, which involves fingerprinting, and is used for civil immigration enforcement against the “very sponsors who are willing to open their homes to enable children to leave government custody.”

    • It’s Time for Compassionate Release

      The US is home to nearly one out of every four prisoners in the world. There are 2.1 million prisoners in the US, including 1.2 million people incarcerated in state prisons. Nearly 180,000 are behind federal prison bars, and 704,500 are in local jails. The number of US prisoners serving life sentences is four times of what it was in 1984.

      In light of a system that is not only immoral and unethical, but also ineffective and unsustainable, these circumstances cry out for decarceration. One avenue that would lead to the freeing of significant numbers of people is increasing the use of compassionate release. The early release of elderly and ill prisoners is an effective way to affirm human dignity and morality, and to move the nation toward decarceration.

      The last four decades saw a burst of mandatory sentencing laws put on the books, a ramping up of a “war on drugs” and truth-in-sentencing convictions, which require that people serve most of their sentence on the grounds that this is necessary for justice to be served. This has culminated in a US prison population explosion overwhelmingly impacting communities of color, particularly Black communities.

      As former industrialized towns and cities experienced economic shifts and underinvestment resulting in job loss and decay, politicians passed harsh policies and gave the green light to law enforcement to target poor people and people of color. From the 1970s on, the trope of “tough-on-crime” policies took off. Prosecutors and judges threw the book at violent and nonviolent offenders, sentencing them for years to come. The criminal legal system began snatching away the primary and future breadwinners of families of color and the poor, sliding these communities further into the cycles of extreme poverty, despair and a higher likelihood to interact with the punitive justice system.

      The US may be lessening its grip on harsh sentencing of late, such as the recently enacted federal legislation easing mandatory minimum sentences, but the damage has been done. People who started serving mandatory life sentences 30 years ago are still behind bars.

    • Duma deputies want the author of Russia’s latest draconian Internet legislation to present it in person. He refuses.

      The State Duma Council says Senator Andrey Klishas, who heads the Federation Council’s Legislation Committee, should personally present the first readings of legislation he helped draft that would prohibit online insults against state officials and the publication of “fake news.” (Under the former law, offenders would face up to 15 days in jail. Media outlets and individuals who violate the latter law, meanwhile, would be subject to fines.)

      The lower house of parliament’s governing body also demands that a representative from Russia’s Communications Ministry attend the initial discussion of these controversial bills. (The government still hasn’t finished reviewing these draft laws, however, and Duma officials say the legislation will be pulled from the plenary session’s agenda on January 24 without feedback from the prime minister’s cabinet.)

    • Speaking in Puerto Rico, Warren Says, ‘With Trump, Cruelty Not an Accident’ But ‘Part of the Plan’

      On the heels of a new study showing the federal government gave short shrift to Puerto Rico relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday delivered a speech on the island in which she blasted the Trump administration for its lack of respect and “cruelty” towards the Puerto Rican people.

      The purpose of her talk, said Warren, who recently announced a potential 2020 presidential bid, was “to talk about the dignity and respect this island deserves from our government—and the cruelty that it has been inflicted upon.”

      It was 16 months ago that Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the island, she said, yet still “the people of Puerto Rico have not received the help they need to rebuild.”

      Echoing other observers, Warren noted that “these storms were piled on top of a much longer-running economic devastation of Puerto Rico,” and called it “a clear example of how well the federal government works for Wall Street” but not for suffering people who need it most.

    • ‘Outrage Spiking’: Federal Workers Occupy Senate Building With 33 Minutes of Angry Silence to End Trump Shutdown

      Protesting the widespread economic hardship caused by the ongoing shutdown and demanding that the Senate vote to reopen the government, federal workers and their allies gathered inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday for a 33-minute silent demonstration—one minute for every day the government has been partially closed over President Donald Trump’s demand for border wall funding.

      “The protest happening right now in the Senate office building is just the start,” declared MoveOn.org’s Ben Wikler. “Public outrage is spiking. GOP senators are feeling the pressure.”

      The union-organized demonstration comes as the Senate is set to vote Thursday on two competing measures to reopen the government—a Trump-backed bill that would fund the border wall and a Democratic continuing resolution with no wall money.

    • Protest Song Of Week: ‘Americana / the garden waits for you to match her wilderness’

      For his recent album, “Origami Harvest” (2018), Akinmusire wrestled with “societal divides” and the way politics can turn individuals into “emotional hostages.” He acknowledged black lives extinguished by systemic racism in the United States as well.

      Akinmusire deconstructed the title of the album. “Origami” evokes the “different ways black people, especially men, have to fold, whether in failure or to fit a mold.” He had a son and thought about how cycles repeat. That led him to the word, “Harvest.”

      There are six compositions on the album, but the one selected, “Americana/the garden waits for you to match her wilderness,” is a ten-minute journey through the paradoxes of living in America as a black father. There is both beauty and dread for the future.

      Akinmusire crafts a textured emotional landscape over four minutes before the first words are spoken by Kool A.D., who raps, “I’m a monster. Born in the belly of the beast. America. Americana. America-nah.”

      “The savage histories, brutal legacies, illusory democracies, feudal tendencies, render and twisting souls—twisted like the vines in the jungle,” the song adds.

      But there is also the “new rare feelings of freedom in a prison colony.” Akinmusire cannot ignore the intoxicating power of love.

      “Love is the main thing. Renovate your soul power generator. Any hater hating be killing theyselves.”

    • ‘Good to Have People Who Aren’t Afraid’: AOC, Tlaib, Pressley, and Khanna Win Seats on Committee Set to Probe Trump

      “This is extremely exciting for anyone who wants to see a bunch of badass young progressives interrogate members of the Trump administration over the next two years,” wrote Splinter’s Sophie Weiner in response to the new appointments, which were unveiled by Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).

      In a statement to Politico, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.)—a member of the Democratic steering panel that selected the appointees—expressed excitement about the new committee roster.

      “I want people to be aggressive, especially on that committee. It’s good to have people who aren’t afraid,” Kildee said. “They’re going to be dealing with some pretty important stuff.”

      After news of their appointments broke, Tlaib and Pressley—both of whom have said President Donald Trump should be impeached—signaled that they are ready to take full advantage of their spots on the powerful Oversight Committee.

    • Confederate Monuments Can No Longer Hide Behind Alabama Law

      In 2017 the mayor of Birmingham decided to cover up a Confederate monument — but the result was a suit from Alabama’s attorney general, who charged the city with violating a law that makes it illegal to interfere with Confederate monuments without statutory approval.

      An Alabama judge just issued a ruling in the case and sided with the city: This is a free speech issue, the judge asserted — and the state can’t force Birmingham to display a statue that the city no longer feels comfortable with.

      This is huge news for civil rights advocates in Alabama who are fighting to take Confederate monuments off public display. It could also be a warning sign for other states with similar laws, like North Carolina.

      Until now, officials have hidden behind such laws to justify the refusal to remove or cover such statues — sometimes forcing members of the public to take matters into their own hands. This ruling suggests that it could be possible to make a case that these kinds of laws are not constitutional.

    • Trump Puts the White in the Red, White and Blue

      As the old saying goes, putting a shoe in an oven don’t make it a biscuit.

      When he went on the air late Saturday afternoon to offer what he viewed as a magnificent compromise to end the government shutdown, Donald Trump was just trying to sell his same old nativist, anti-immigration malarkey, calling that worn-out shoe a freshly baked biscuit when it’s nothing but a variation on the shinola he’s been peddling since he first announced his candidacy. You know: the constant Trump dog whistle supporting racist xenophobia and signaling anyone who isn’t white to get permanently lost.

      The speech—seemingly timed to distract attention from the women’s marches that for the third year in a row marked the calamity of his 2017 swearing-in—claimed to create a breakthrough in the month-long, Trump-induced government paralysis. It did so by offering Dreamers—those brought here as children by their undocumented parents — a three-year extension of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, as well as three years’ continuance of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands who came here to escape from wars or natural disasters. And for these he would get the $5.7 billion he’s been demanding for weeks for his godforsaken wall.

      But wait, as columnist Jennifer Rubin asked, “Wasn’t he the one who put DACA and TPS folks at risk, and haven’t the federal courts already given DACA beneficiaries a likely one-year reprieve? Well, yes. A burglar has broken into your home, has taken the silver and is now offering to lease it back to you for three years only—but first, give him a $5.7 billion edifice.”

    • The Trump administration wants to tighten SNAP work requirements, bypassing Congress

      The Trump administration wants to tighten even further longstanding restrictions on who is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

      The farm bill, which gets updated every five years or so, spells out who can participate in SNAP, the assistance program previously known as food stamps. The most recent version of this legislation, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Dec. 20, 2018, left out new limits on the eligibility of adults without children. Those limits were part of the House version, but Congress dropped them prior to the bill’s passage.

      But that same day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a rule that would restrict access anyway.

      Having researched food assistance programs, I’ve seen that the consequences of having too little to eat are daunting. When people can’t afford food, they may skip meals, which leads to increased stress and poor nutrition. For people with chronic diseases like diabetes, meal-skipping can even make them more prone to hospitalization when their blood sugar gets too low.

    • The Global Crisis of Childhood Is Coming Home to Roost

      Halfway through 2018, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski hurled a mother-to-mother dagger at Ivanka Trump. How, during the very weeks when the headlines were filled with grim news of child separations and suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border, she asked, could the first daughter and presidential adviser be so tone-deaf as to show herself hugging her two-year-old son? Similarly, six months earlier, she had been photographed posing with her six-year-old daughter in the glossiest of photos. America had, in other words, found its very own Marie Antoinette, gloating while others suffered. “I wish,” Brzezinski tweeted at Ivanka, “you would speak for all mothers and take a stand for all mothers and children.”

      The problem, however, wasn’t just the heartlessness and insensitivity of the first daughter, nor was it simply the grotesque disparity between those mothers on the border and her. The problem was that the sensibility displayed in those photos — that implicit we-are-not-them exceptionalism — was in no way restricted to Ivanka Trump. A subtle but pervasive sense that this country and its children can remain separated from, and immune to, the problems currently being visited upon children around the world is, in fact, widespread.

      If you need proof, just watch a night of television and catch the plentiful ads extolling the bouncy exuberance of our children — seat-belted into SUV’s, waving pennants at sports events, or basking in their parents’ praise for doing homework. If you think about it, you’ll soon grasp the deep disparity between the image of children and childhood in the United States and what’s happening to kids in so many other places on Earth. The well-ingrained sense of exceptionalism that goes with such imagery attests to a wider illusion: that the United States can continue to stand apart from the ills plaguing so much of the world.

    • The Smile of Class Privilege

      There it is again. Recognize it? That smile. A grin, really. You can spin it anyway you want to, but it is unmistakable except, of course, to the toxically innocent or ahistorical and willfully obtuse.

      It is one born of privilege. The boys in this photo were taunting Dorothy Counts who was the first black student admitted to Harry Harding High School, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1957. She was forced to withdraw from the school only four days later following unrelenting harassment, threats and jeers by her white classmates.

      In the days following the now infamous incident in Washington DC between a group of mostly white students from the all-male Covington Catholic high school in Kentucky and Native American elder Nathan Phillips, photos like these have been resurfacing. But there is a missing component to most of the commentary. And it is by design.

      A statement has been released that was supposedly from the one boy in the now viral photograph. And many have reposted it as supposed evidence of the ‘pure innocence’ of him and his peers’ behavior that afternoon. After reading it twice it comes across as a carefully edited and prepared statement, as if drawn up by the family lawyer. And this is what is important here. How many working class kids have access to such services? Without class analysis of this incident everything else is rendered meaningless.

    • The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song

      I just saw the incident taking place in Washington, DC, in which a confrontation between the white Make America Great Again (MAGA) representatives and a Native Elder singing a religious song took a horrendous turn. There were threats and insults by the young punks wearing red MAGA hats, while an Elder, who happens to be my long time AIM friend and comrade Nate Phillips, was singing a religious song. Now, I see the media and folks changing it around like it was the Native Elder’s fault.

      Let me explain to you what the song’s history is.

      The Northern Cheyenne people gave this song to the American Indian Movement for an honor song in 1972 after the 71-day occupation of the Wounded Knee massacre grave site, which is now a memorial site, owned by a white person…Can you believe that? Wounded Knee is a sacred area for the Lakota peoples, where over 350 Elders, men, children, and women with unborn babies still inside of their bodies were slaughtered. There are documented accounts of soldiers who opposed the killing of babies, however there were Calvary soldiers riding their horses around the massacre grounds waving their swords with dead babies on them. The Lakota who had disarmed themselves, given up their weapons of stone tomahawks, bows and arrows and hand-thrown spears to the 7th Calvary, and raised the white peace and American flags, after an agreed truce between them.

    • In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High

      It almost never fails.

      Within minutes or hours after hitting the send key for a submission to online blogs/magazines/journals, I find myself wishing I’d deleted, added, or changed some of the text, and that includes correcting typos, using different lexis, and occasionally verifying a certain date.

      And there’s been many a time when I’d follow up with an email to the editors requesting a correction of one type or another – thanks to astute CP readers who politely point out an error.

      While I will not employ my poor typing skills as an excuse, attempting to meet a deadline does not always afford me the “Cooling off Period,” a praxis I attempted to impress on my students prior to their submitting their essays. “Allow your papers to percolate overnight” was an admonishment I preached, over and over again.

      And it almost never fails.

    • No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty

      I first heard of Howard Zinn’s idea of a “revolt of the guards,” last April in a Counterpunch piece by Bruce Levine (“Another Reason Young Americans Don’t Revolt Against Being Screwed”). The idea fascinates me, being myself in that class of the “slightly privileged,” at its lower end, and understanding the powerfully effective impasse we make to the revolution from below when we fail to realize that our wan and “wussy” “neutrality,” our refusal to pass judgment on neoliberal evil is evil. Due to the unlikelihood of insurgency sprouting among the non-needy, which he surely could see, Zinn’s idea must have been as much prayer as prediction!

      What are the chances for this revolt, 20 years after Zinn made his prayer/prediction, there being so little evidence of it among the liberal guards, who, rather, continue to look for saviors? (The latest iterations of which are evidenced in the joy and hope surrounding the recent elections to public office of indigenous, Latino and other minority people.) We asked this question in our Anti-fascist Book Club as we finished reading Zinn’s Peoples’ History together. One of our young group members said she thought this guard revolt could happen with the young people who, like her, face a world of lower expectations with less privilege to go around. But according to Levine, young Americans don’t revolt despite the fact they’re being screwed. In fact, he suggests that the young, increasingly “pained and weakened by multiple oppressive forces” need help from the older people, i.e., from fully engaged, non-neutral older people , whose interest is in the larger good. This means that, this time around, we older ones cannot look to the young to lead, as happened in the 1960’s. Then, many older liberals, though casting votes for anti-war candidates, became self-interestedly rebellious, survivalist and sometimes silly (parodied so well by Peter Sellers in I Love You Alice B. Toklas), rather than genuinely anti-authoritarian and communitarian. They never admitted their “alliance with the elite,” as their aging children, now similarly allied, for the most part also don’t admit.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Remember When Ajit Pai Said Killing Net Neutrality Would Boost Network Investment? About That…

      You’ll recall that one of the top reasons for killing popular net neutrality rules was that they had somehow supposedly crushed broadband industry network investment. Of course, a wide array of publicly-available data easily disproved this claim, but that didn’t stop FCC boss Ajit Pai and ISPs from repeating it (and in some cases lying before Congress about it) anyway. We were told, more times that we could count, that with net neutrality dead, sector investment would explode since carriers would be “unchained” from “burdensome regulation.”

      You’ll be shocked to learn this purported boon in investment isn’t happening.

    • Consumers at risk due to inadequate telco accountability

      Australians are being put at risk due to inadequate consumer protection frameworks around the reliability of telecommunications services, according to the telecommunications consumer interest lobby group the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN).

    • How Libertarian Theology and Trump Are Destroying the Internet—and America

      “Americans woke up this morning to the City of Chicago’s entire electrical system having shut down, along with the water systems of Boston and San Francisco, and all air traffic control in the Northeast. Several million homes with smart thermostats and surveillance cameras found themselves hacked, with furnaces running full-tilt to raise indoor temperatures above 100ºF and embarrassing home videos playing randomly on neighborhood TVs. The websites of the top newspapers across the nation are all down, and government agency sites only display the flag of North Korea. Twitter and Facebook only play martial music, and most people can’t make cell phone calls; those who can often hear foreign-language discussions in the background. Over 40 million checking, brokerage, and savings accounts were drained overnight, and the markets plunged 85 percent on the open, wiping out much of America’s liquid wealth.”

      The former chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, is warning us now that something like this is coming. And all because Trump is kowtowing to the libertarian billionaires who now fund and own the Republican Party.

      The new fifth-generation 5G cellular technology will bring a revolution to America every bit as transformational as was the transition from dial-up modems to high-speed broadband.

    • If 5G Is So Important, Why Isn’t It Secure?

      The Trump administration’s so-called “race” with China to build new fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks is speeding toward a network vulnerable to Chinese (and other) cyberattacks. So far, the Trump administration has focused on blocking Chinese companies from being a part of the network, but these efforts are far from sufficient. We cannot allow the hype about 5G to overshadow the absolute necessity that it be secure.

      Our current wireless networks are fourth-generation, or 4G. It was 4G that gave us the smartphone. Reaching the next level of mobile services, however, requires increased speed on the network. Fifth-generation networks are designed to be 10 to 100 times faster than today’s typical wireless connection with much lower latency (response time). These speeds will open up all kinds of new functional possibilities. Those new functions, in turn, will attract cyberintrusions just like honey attracts a bear.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • EFF Client Responds to Ludicrous “Collusion” Trademark Threat

        Sometimes trademark owners seem to think that they own ordinary words. In this case, U.K. clothing giant Asos sent a cease and desist letter [PDF] to an EFF client for registering a domain with the word “collusion” in it. Our client’s domain doesn’t have anything to do with clothing—it’s about contemporary U.S. political debates. It is about as far from trademark infringement as possible. Today, we sent a response letter [PDF] demanding that ASOS withdraw its baseless threat.

        The full backstory is something of a Russian nesting doll of stupidity. It begins with Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and current attorney to President Donald Trump. Last year, some Twitter users noticed that Mr. Giuliani was making typographical errors in his tweets in a way that inadvertently created well-formed URLs. A September 15, 2018 tweet read, in part, as follows: “#REALNEWS: Woodward says no evidence of collusion.So does Manafort’s team.”

        After seeing this tweet, our client registered “collusion.so” and directed the URL to the Lawfare blog’s coverage of connections between President Trump and Russia. Other people have also registered the domain names of Giuliani typos. Giuliani, who was once named a cybersecurity advisor to Trump, falsely claimed that Twitter was “invading” his tweets.

        What does this have to do with clothes, you ask? Well, in October 2018, ASOS launched a new clothing line called “Collusion.” It describes Collusion as “a new fashion brand offering bold, experimental, inclusive styles for the coming age.” Not content with a vaguely dystopian branding choice, Asos followed up by sending a threatening letter to our client claiming that the registration of collusion.so infringes its trademark.

    • Copyrights

      • There Was Heavy Tech Lobbying On Article 13… From The Company Hoping To Sell Everyone The Filters

        However, as we wrote about back in December, an analysis that looked at the actual lobbying efforts around copyright in the EU found that it was done overwhelmingly by the legacy copyright industries, and only sparingly by the tech companies. In that post, I went through a spreadsheet looking at the lobbying of the EU Commission, and found that over 80% of the meetings were from the entertainment industry.
        However, as is coming out now, there was definitely one “tech” company that was one of the most aggressive lobbyists on Article 13. However, it was lobbying in favor of it, and that’s because it knew that Article 13 would lead to an artificial, but highly inflated demand for internet filters. And that’s the company known for building the filtering technology behind nearly all of the non-ContentID copyright filters: Audible Magic.

      • CC0 at the Cleveland Museum of Art: 30,000 high quality digital images now available
      • 10 Best Torrent Sites For 2019 To Download Your Favorite Torrents

        The rise in legal actions against many torrent websites can be thought of as one significant reason the list of the top torrent sites might change more frequently than it did a few years ago. Regular users of the BitTorrent network might very well remember how the torrent-giants KickAss and ExtraTorrents went down. There has also been an increasing rise in demand for the VPN services, which unblock torrent sites.

      • Proposed Update To Singapore’s Copyright Laws Surprisingly Sensible

        Techdirt writes plenty about copyright in the US and EU, and any changes to the respective legislative landscapes. But it’s important to remember that many other countries around the world are also trying to deal with the tension between copyright’s basic aim to prevent copying, and the Internet’s underlying technology that facilitates it. Recently, we covered the copyright reform process in South Africa, where some surprisingly good things have been happening. Now it seems that Singapore may bring in a number of positive changes to its copyright legislation.

        [...]

        This is essentially a moral right alongside the usual economic ones. As the Wikipedia page on the subject explains, the degree to which moral rights exist for creators of copyright works varies enormously around the world. In France, for example, moral rights are perpetual and inalienable, whereas in the US they are less to the fore. Singapore’s Ministry of Law also proposes that where rights have not been explicitly signed away in a contract, they remain with the creator. Although that will prevent naive creators being tricked out of their rights, it won’t apply to work created by employees: there, it’s employers who will continue to retain rights.

      • Musical Unity

        The boundaries between music genres are imposed upon us by the music industry for marketing purposes. They are imaginary.

      • Lucasfilm Steps In After FanFilm That Tried To Follow The Rules Was Claimed By Disney Over Star Wars Music

        When it comes to Star Wars, both Lucasfilm and Disney have shown themselves to be perfectly insane when it comes to IP protectionism. Examples of this are legion, and neither company has come out of them with a stellar or fan-friendly image, generally speaking. That is probably why when Toos, the guy behind the quite popular Star Wars Theory YouTube channel, decided to put out a Darth Vader fan-film, he went out of his way to attempt to follow all the rules.

        [...]

        Which, yes, brings all of this back to where it was before Disney decided to claim the entire work of a fan-film over one of the most recognizable and widely available songs in any musical score on the planet. And this was, by the way, after Disney initially refused to back down at the request of Toos.
        So…welcome to the light side of the force, Lucasfilm?

      • Netflix Becomes First Streamer to Join the Motion Picture Association of America

        Netflix’s focus on anti-piracy [sic] has begun to match that of the big studios, with the burgeoning popularity of set-top boxes pre-loaded with customized open-source software that can be used to access pirated content. Netflix and Amazon have joined the studios in filing copyright lawsuits and, along with MPAA members, are part of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

      • MPAA and RIAA Want Site Blocking in New US-UK Trade Deal

        The MPAA, RIAA, and various other copyright groups see pirate site blocking as one of the priorities for a US-UK trade deal. ISP blockades are already commonplace in the UK and the groups hope to achieve the same in America.

01.22.19

The Whitewashing of the EPO Under António Campinos

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Same shit, different colour

António Campinos FTI

Summary: The charm offensive of the ‘new and improved’ EPO President seems to mostly boil down to a PR campaign, as we expected all along

IT has been bad enough to witness (so far this year) US patent maximalists suggesting tips for bypassing 35 U.S.C. § 101 and getting software patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) even if courts repeatedly and explicitly reject these (no respect for judges and the law). This year we prefer to focus on the European Patent Office (EPO), which is undergoing a reputation recovery (or laundering) campaign that’s pretty shallow to see. There’s nothing but ‘happy stories’ from IP Kat, where they even deleted almost 40 comments (an entire thread about António Campinos) that were critical but reasonably polite; almost not a single comment about EPO scandals has appeared since (we are watching all the comments and have been watching every single one since then, via RSS feeds).

The EPO’s patent quality is not improving; there is more advocacy of software patents in Europe than ever before (we saw a few more examples in today’s EPO tweets; they just use buzzwords as surrogates). This is a Campinos policy. He also helps and promotes patent trolls. It’s grim. Konstanze Richter and Mathieu Klos are now ‘sweeping up’ for EPO management, trying to give the impression things improve when they don’t really change at all (except reduced transparency). They’re just posted this in their new site in English and added this tweet: “New brooms sweep clean, or so they say. It’s been a tempestuous few years at the European Patent Office. With a controversial president and numerous structural reforms, many in the European patent community had begun to lose fait…” (truncated/cut, leading to a Microsoft link tracker/ID by cookie, which we omit in the interests of privacy)

The article is excessively/abundantly quoting EPO management, especially new managers so as to give the impression everything is fine now (see the headline of the article too, “Clearing the cobwebs”… as if “whitewashing” is now a sort of white-sweeping or clean-sweeping). Maybe sweeping under some rug (secrets and crimes, e.g. Battistelli corruption).

The article has some seemingly balanced bits, for example regarding patent quality:

A current survey by the EPO among its users is seen by patent firms as a positive sign that the institution takes their concerns seriously. But not everyone shares this optimism. A Dutch patent attorney said, “We get the impression that Campinos is sticking to his predecessor’s efficiency strategy. In this case, there will be no real positive changes for the users of the system.”

The EPO employees, who in recent years have repeatedly taken to the streets to protest Battistelli’s efficiency strategy and increasing work pressure, also hope for change. The Administrative Council set out clear expectations for the new president. “We want to achieve social harmony,” the former chairman told JUVE Patent in an interview in November 2017.

“Before the appointment of António Campinos, it was made clear that all 38 member states are looking for action on this from President Battistelli’s successor.”

Since taking office in mid-2018, Campinos has been actively seeking dialogue with the workforce. He is generally regarded as accessible and open to criticism. A patent attorney in the Netherlands is of the impression that, “he is doing his best to end the social unrest in the EPO and improve the atmosphere.” Initial progress is visible. When describing talks with EPO employees, Thomas Kitzhofer from Munich law firm Prinz & Partner says, “The internal mood has noticeably improved.”

[...]

However, not everyone is of this opinion. “Campinos has had six months to make many changes, but he hasn’t yet,” says an EPO expert. Two employees and members of the SUEPO trade union, Ion Brumme and Malika Weaver, the first suspended and the other demoted under Battistelli, have meanwhile been reinstated and restored to their posts following judgments of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation (ILOAT).

Union members Elizabeth Hardon and Laurent Prunier, on the other hand, have been neither reinstated nor compensated. “Campinos is said to have offered them an amicable settlement,” an insider told JUVE Patent.

The fact no insiders and even some external patent attorneys contacted by JUVE Patent did not want to be named indicates the depth of mistrust towards EPO management in some parts of the workforce. They do not trust the new peace, perhaps due to some of Battistelli’s former confidants still being part of the management committee.

[...]

Implemented in 2017, the structural reform of the Boards of Appeal remains controversial for much of the patent community. This was one of the EPO’s most important projects in the ‘Battistelli era’, where the Administrative Council initiated an extensive but incomplete separation of the court from the EPO.

Now, the Boards of Appeal has had its own president for one and a half years. The separation is also a physical one, having moved from the centre of Munich to Haar, on the eastern edge of the city.

Some patent attorneys and lawyers continue to complain that the Boards of Appeal still lack independence. Its current president, Carl Josefsson, manages both legal and administrative matters. He is, however, still dependent on the EPO president in terms of budgetary concerns and his own reappointment.

“While the reforms were presented as increasing the independence of the Boards, it remains highly doubtful as to whether this was actually achieved,” said a British patent attorney. Another problem is the “ever worsening backlog of cases because of a near-total freeze in recruitment to a large number of Boards of Appeal under Battistelli.”

This development is all the more troubling as the feared problems with quality in patent applications as a result of the efficiency strategy are likely to lead to a significant increase in the number of appeals, and thus to an increased workload for the Boards in the coming years.

This work cannot be done anymore; not properly because the backlog is massive (perhaps over 10,000 cases by now). They’re just flooding the system with junk patents. As Adam Lacy and Thorsten Bausch put it almost 2 months ago: “Despite the considerable backlog of 9200 cases, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel!”

9,200 cases?! How much is that per person? And it grows fast.

Earlier today I was told by Florian Müller that it’s “[a]lways funny when those #Qualcomm employees are asked about the number of #patents they hold. Typically dozens or even hundreds per person. Shows how low the standard for patentability is (not a $QCOM-specific issue, but a systemic problem).”

This is what’s happening in the EPO right now. Also earlier today cambridgenetwork.co.uk published a pure puff piece titled “Cambridge intellectual property practice Marks & Clerk named EU’s top patent filer,” basically noting that Marks & Clerk pollutes the system with loads of rubbish patents, including software patents as we wrote earlier today. “Leading global intellectual property practice Marks & Clerk – which has an office in Cambridge – has been named the UK’s top patent filer,” says the ‘article’ (more like a commericial) and shortly after that Graham Burnett-Hall (Marks & Clerk) wrote about the UPC as follows:

Alongside this, the Government is also committed to participating in the unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court that, if and when it comes into being, will underpin the unitary patent system.

Putting aside the fact that JUVE too is promoting/rewarding Team UPC, what we have here is this old perpetuation of falsehoods. Just like in JUVE (more so their new English site).

How does EPO staff feel? Well, JUVE quotes some rather old words from staff, but almost all the quotes come from Team Campinos (people whom he has just given high-paying jobs) and the patent microcosm.

An article noted by SUEPO on Tuesday (earlier today) gives the staff’s side of the story, based on communications from the CSC (gagged and threatened by Bergot), alleging that EPO staff is still being treated as “second-class European civil servants”:

“There is no reason why EPO staff should be treated as second-class European civil servants and that the weakest of our colleagues could be at the mercy of a hierarchy having a record of performance in badly treating staff, up to dismissing staff representatives who normally would enjoy special protection”, the CSC’s letter said.

“Legally speaking, we consider that Article 52 cannot be applied as it stands without any procedures defined for identifying, dealing with and remedying underperformance/incompetence. Pending the above, no single procedure on incompetence should be started.”

In the letter, the CSC questioned whether the new president, who took up the role in July last year, and the new vice presidents, who took office on 1 January 2019, will help the office take a different view on human resources policy, labour law and social dialogue.

An EPO source said that the concerns around article 52 extend to possible appeals at the International Labour Organisation’s Administrative Tribunal, where the allegedly incomplete proposals will most likely be found illegal.

The source explained that this was the reason the CSC had originally warned Campinos to take note of the procedure.

The source noted that Campinos was now six months into the job at the EPO and the “ill-designed policies implemented under his predecessor are still in”.

“This is really worrying since from background, Mr Campinos is a jurist and he was hired by the administrative council to improve the situation inherited from Battistelli.”

Yes, nothing has changed for the better and some readers insist that things have changed for the worse, albeit rather secretly. Maybe JUVE should look into that. We can’t help wondering if some external PR agency was assigned to twist/manipulate the media as it did happen before (we published leaks to that effect). That happened more than once, for a fact, and it even targeted German media specifically (publishers like JUVE).

Links 22/1/2019: Kodachi 5.8, LibreOffice 6.2 Finished

Posted in News Roundup at 5:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Startup 101: Here’s How Open Sourcing Can Be Beneficial For You

    In this week’s Startup 101, Upekkha founder Prasanna Krishnamoorthy tells how to make the right decision in open sourcing.

  • Is Bettering Threat Intelligence And Cyber Security the New Role For the Blockchain?

    Blockchains are typically epitomized by security and safety for storing data on its FL. They traditionally use depend on the trustless model to be completely trustworthy. On the principle of protection, it will make sense to begin applying the Blockchain initiative to a newly emerging movement in the cybersecurity space.

  • Crypto Pundit: Ethereum (ETH) Is “Doomed To Be Centralized”

    On January 14th, Preston Byrne, an attorney at Bryne & Storm that is enamored with blockchain technology, took to Twitter to mention his thoughts on Ethereum (ETH), likely in the context of the then-impending Constantinople hard fork, which was recently delayed due to security qualms. Byrne joked that the popular blockchain is more centralized than “the core of a neutron store falling into the event horizon of a black hole,” accentuating his true thoughts on Ethereum.

  • New Open Source Cryptocurrency Grin Has Deep-Pocketed Donors

    New cryptocurrency Grin launched its mainnet on January 15th. Grin is a volunteer-run project that says it’s only interested in getting the MimbleWimble technology — on which it is based — into public usage. But with major funding from multiple crypto investment firms and businesses, it’s unclear what safeguards Grin has in place to ensure the project remains independent.

  • Challenges in open source voice interfaces

    voice interaction begins with a wake word—also called a hot word—that prepares the voice assistant to receive a command. Then a speech-to-text engine transcribes an utterance from voice sounds into written language, and an intent parser determines what type of command the user wants to execute. Then the voice stack selects a command to run and executes it. Finally, it turns written language back into voice sounds using a text-to-speech engine.

    At each layer of the voice stack, several open source solutions are available.

  • Google cloud and GO-JEK’s announce Feast, a new and open source feature store for machine learning
  • The best free photo editor 2019

    GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is the best free photo editor around. It’s packed with the kind of image-enhancing tools you’d find in premium software, and more are being added every day.

    GIMP’s interface will be instantly familiar if you have ever used Photoshop or other premium photo editing software – especially if you select the single-window mode, which lays out all its toolbars and canvases in an Adobe-style layout.

    The photo editing toolkit is breathtaking, and features layers, masks, curves, and levels. You can eliminate flaws easily with the excellent clone stamp and healing tools, create custom brushes, apply perspective changes, and apply changes to isolated areas with smart selection tools.

    GIMP is an open source free photo editor, and its community of users and developers have created a huge collection of plugins to extend its utility even further. Many of these come pre-installed, and you can download more from the official glossary. If that’s not enough, you can even install Photoshop plugins.

  • Call for Answers: Survey About Task Assignment

    rofessor Igor Steinmacher, from Northern Arizona University, is a proeminent researcher on several social dynamics in open source communities, like support of newcomers, gender bias, open sourcing proprietary software, and more. Some of his papers can de found in his website.

    Currently, Prof. Igor is inviting mentors from open source communities to answer a survey about task assignment in projects. See below the description of the survey and take some time to answer the questions – the knowledgement obtained here can be very interesting for all of us.

  • The future of open source: An increased focus on security and performance

    This has always been critical as open source is inherently a shared resource system; we need to avoid an open source “tragedy of the commons”, especially now, given the heavy corporate backing of key open source projects. The support and investment from key tech players is critical to the future of open source; contributions from other enterprises, SMBs and general users is equally critical to ensure that the future of open source is open to everyone, not only the well-funded tech firms.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Friend of Add-ons: Shivam Singhal

        Please meet our newest Friend of Add-ons, Shivam Singhal! Shivam became involved with the add-ons community in April 2017. Currently, he is an extension developer, Mozilla Rep, and code contributor to addons.mozilla.org (AMO). He also helps mentor good-first-bugs on AMO.

        “My skill set grew while contributing to Mozilla,” Shivam says of his experiences over the last two years. “Being the part of a big community, I have learned how to work remotely with a cross-cultural team and how to mentor newbies. I have met some super awesome people like [AMO engineers] William Durand and Rebecca Mullin. The AMO team is super helpful to newcomers and works actively to help them.”

      • Code Coverage on Phabricator
      • This Week In Servo 124
      • How to make VR with the web, a new video series

        Virtual reality (VR) seems complicated, but with a few JavaScript libraries and tools, and the power of WebGL, you can make very nice VR scenes that can be viewed and shared in a headset like an Oculus Go or HTC Vive, in a desktop web browser, or on your smartphone. Let me show you how:

        In this new YouTube series, How to make a virtual reality project in your browser with ThreeJS and WebVR, I’ll take you through building an interactive birthday card in seven short tutorials, complete with code and examples to get you started. The whole series clocks in under 60 minutes. We begin by getting a basic cube on the screen, add some nice 3D models, set up lights and navigation, then finally add music.

        All you need are basic JavaScript skills and an internet connection.

      • The Coral Project is Moving to Vox Media

        Since 2015, the Mozilla Foundation has incubated The Coral Project to support journalism and improve online dialog around the world through privacy-centered, open source software. Originally founded as a two-year collaboration between Mozilla, The New York Times and the Washington Post, it became entirely a Mozilla project in 2017.

        Over the past 3.5 years, The Coral Project has developed two software tools, a series of guides and best practices, and grown a community of journalism technologists around the world advancing privacy and better online conversation.

        Coral’s first tool, Ask, has been used by journalists in several countries, including the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe, whose series on racism used Ask on seven different occasions, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting.

        The Coral Project’s main tool, the Talk platform, now powers the comments for nearly 50 newsrooms in 11 countries, including The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The Intercept, and the Globe and Mail. The Coral Project has also collaborated with academics and technologists, running events and working with researchers to reduce online harassment and raise the quality of conversation on the decentralized web.

  • LibreOffice

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Stable release: HardenedBSD-stable 12-STABLE v1200058.2
    • OPNsense 19.1-RC1 released

      For almost four years now, OPNsense is driving innovation through modularising and hardening the open source firewall, with simple and reliable firmware upgrades, multi-language support, HardenedBSD security, fast adoption of upstream software updates as well as clear and stable 2-Clause BSD licensing.

      We thank all of you for helping test, shape and contribute to the project! We know it would not be the same without you.

      Download links, an installation guide[1] and the checksums for the images can be found below as well.

    • OPNsense 19.1-RC1 Released With Many Improvements To This BSD Firewall Platform
    • Out-Of-The-Box 10GbE Network Benchmarks On Nine Linux Distributions Plus FreeBSD 12

      Last week I started running some fresh 10GbE Linux networking performance benchmarks across a few different Linux distributions. That testing has now been extended to cover nine Linux distributions plus FreeBSD 12.0 to compare the out-of-the-box networking performance.

      Tested this round alongside FreeBSD 12.0 was Antergos 19.1, CentOS 7, Clear Linux, Debian 9.6, Fedora Server 29, openSUSE Leap 15.0, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Ubuntu 18.04.1 LTS, and Ubuntu 18.10.

      All of the tests were done with a Tyan S7106 1U server featuring two Intel Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs, 96GB of DDR4 system memory, and Samsung 970 EVO SSD. For the 10GbE connectivity on this server was an add-in HP NC523SFP PCIe adapter providing two 10Gb SPF+ ports using a QLogic 8214 controller.

    • join-ing any open wifi network is now possible
    • Support for 2TB of memory added
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Radio Telescopes Horn In With GNU Radio

      Who doesn’t like to look up at the night sky? But if you are into radio, there’s a whole different way to look using radio telescopes. [John Makous] spoke at the GNU Radio Conference about how he’s worked to make a radio telescope that is practical for even younger students to build and operate.

      The only real high tech part of this build is the low noise amplifier (LNA) and the project is in reach of a typical teacher who might not be an expert on electronics. It uses things like paint thinner cans and lumber. [John] also built some blocks in GNU Radio that made it easy for other teachers to process the data from a telescope. As he put it, “This is the kind of nerdy stuff I like to do.” We can relate.

    • GNU Parallel 20190122 (‘Shutdown’) released

      GNU Parallel 20190122 (‘Shutdown’) has been released. It is available for download at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/parallel/

    • freedink @ Savannah: New FreeDink game data release

      It adds 4 new sounds replacements, 1 update sound, 1 new translation and 2 updated translations.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Letting people work where they want shows how much you value them

      Open organizations are inclusive. They aren’t inclusive solely because it’s the right way to be but because it produces better outcomes. Inclusivitiy enables a more diverse set of viewpoints.

    • Open Data

      • Cities agree on minimal interoperability mechanisms

        Over a hundred European cities have agreed on ‘Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms’ defining the communication between software programmes and building blocks to allow co-creation and sharing of services. The MIMs, advocated by the Open & Agile Smart Cities (OASC) initiative, are “simple steps towards using new technology”, OACS chairman Martin Brynskov said on Thursday.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Containers On The Edge

        There are two major families for the choice of operating system and ecosystem: RTOS-based and Linux-based families. Smaller, cost-constrained devices tend to benefit from the simplicity of RTOS-based, while more full-featured and complex devices benefit from the richness of Linux (see The Shift to Linux Operating Systems for IoT for more background on the reasons for these approaches in IoT). Linux has been used in embedded devices for almost as long as it has existed (see here for an excellent timeline of early embedded Linux usage by Chris Simmons). The focus here is on Linux based products, as they have the needed functions such as access controls and memory segregation that allows for upgrading portions in a controlled fashion.

      • YouTuber Fits A Fully Functional Computer Into A Mouse

        While the YouTuber’s original plan was to squeeze a Raspberry Pi inside of a regular computer mouse but was unable to do so due to size constraints. Hence, he 3D printed a computer mouse to fit the components of the computer inside the mouse.

        Dubbed as “The Computer Mouse”, the device consists of a Raspberry Pi Zero W computer, a 1.5-inch color OLED LCD display with a resolution of 128 x 128 pixels, a 3D-printed mouse, a rechargeable 500 mAh battery, and a tiny Bluetooth retractable keyboard for text inputs and more complicated commands. It also has a power button at the edge to start the tiny computer. Further, it runs GNU/Linux-based operating systems such as Raspbian.

  • Programming/Development

    • Best Programming Language for Hacking: Top 15 Reviewed for Ethical Hacking

      Ethical hacking is the art of legally penetrating enterprise networks in order to discover potential flaws that hackers might leverage for creating an entry point in a given network. The target of these ethical hacking endeavors is to find out any exploit before they fall in the hand of harmful attackers and patch them before any attack could take place. Ethical hackers use a diverse set of hacking programs and programming languages for this purpose. Today, we will outline the 15 best programming language for hacking a corporate network successfully. However, we suggest you obtain every necessary permission required before using such high-tech hacking programming, or else you might fall under the radar of law enforcement agencies.

    • Optimizating Conway

      Conway’s Game of Life seems to be a common programming exercise. I had to program it in Pascal when in High School and in C in an intro college programming course. I remember in college, since I had already programmed it before, that I wanted to optimize the algorithm. However, a combination of writing in C and having only a week to work on it didn’t leave me with enough time to implement anything fancy.

      A couple years later, I hiked the Appalachian Trail. Seven months away from computers, just hiking day in and day out. One of the things I found myself contemplating when walking up and down hills all day was that pesky Game of Life algorithm and ways that I could improve it.

      Fast forward through twenty intervening years of life and experience with a few other programming languages to last weekend. I needed a fun programming exercise to raise my spirits so I looked up the rules to Conway’s Game of Life, sat down with vim and python, and implemented a few versions to test out some of the ideas I’d had kicking around in my head for a quarter century.

    • py3status v3.16

      Two py3status versions in less than a month? That’s the holidays effect but not only!

      Our community has been busy discussing our way forward to 4.0 (see below) and organization so it was time I wrote a bit about that.

    • #195 Teaching Python at Apple
    • PortableCL Continues Marching Towards The POCL 1.3 Release

      When it comes to being able to run OpenCL kernels on CPUs, the main option at this point for Linux systems is POCL as the Portable Computing Language. While POCL 1.2 was released just this past September, we’re still very much looking forward to the upcoming POCL 1.3 release with more improvements for this portable OpenCL 1.2~2.0 implementation.

    • Fixing pelican revealjs plugin

      After my recent talk about blog-o-matic, I was trying to upload somewhere the slides I used.

      Since some time ago I started using Reveal-MD, so I could use MarkDown to create and show slides, but wanted also a way to upload them for consumption.

      Pelican-revealmd plugin seemed to be the answer.

      It does use pypandoc library and ‘pandoc’ for doing the conversion.

    • Working With Files in Python
    • Further modifying the video editing application
    • PyDev of the Week: Nina Zakharenko
    • Factorial function using Python’s reduce function
    • How this woman went from a $20,000 a year Trader Joe’s job to a well-paid programmer at a San Francisco startup

      But she was intrigued with the idea that she could have a fantastic career in tech by learning to code and wanted to try. She took a basic HTML course on Code Academy, a site that hosts free learn-to-code courses and it made sense.

      [...]

      You can even “fork” a project, she says: meaning make a copy of it that you can alter as you wish, sharing it with others.

    • Homebrew 1.9 Adds Linux Support, Auto-Cleanup, and More

      The latest release of popular macOS package manager Homebrew includes support for Linux, optional automatic package cleanup, and extended binary package support.

      Linux support, merged from the Linuxbrew project, is still in beta and will become stable in version 2.0. It also enables the use of Homebrew on Windows 10 systems with the Windows Subsystem for Linux installed.

      Auto-cleanup is meant to optimize disk space occupation by removing all intermediate data that Homebrew generates when installing packages. This can be a significant amount when Homebrew actually builds the packages from sources instead of just installing binaries. Auto-cleanup is opt-in by setting the HOMEBREW_INSTALL_CLEANUP. This behaviour will become opt-out in version 2.0, where you will be able to set the HOMEBREW_NO_INSTALL_CLEANUP environment variable to disable auto-cleanup.

    • Streamline your JBoss EAP dev environment with Red Hat CodeReady Workspaces: Part 1
    • Counteracting Code Complexity With Wily – Episode 195

      As we build software projects, complexity and technical debt are bound to creep into our code. To counteract these tendencies it is necessary to calculate and track metrics that highlight areas of improvement so that they can be acted on. To aid in identifying areas of your application that are breeding grounds for incidental complexity Anthony Shaw created Wily. In this episode he explains how Wily traverses the history of your repository and computes code complexity metrics over time and how you can use that information to guide your refactoring efforts.

    • Qt Visual Studio Tools 2.3.1 Released

      The Qt VS Tools version 2.3.1 has now been released to the Visual Studio Marketplace.

    • Ben Cotton: Inclusion is a necessary part of good coding

      Too often I see comments like “some people would rather focus on inclusion than write good code.” Not only is that a false dichotomy, but it completely misrepresents the relationship between the two. Inclusion doesn’t come at the cost of good code, it’s a necessary part of good code.

      We don’t write code for the sake of writing code. We write code for people to use it in some way. This means that the code needs to work for the people. In order to do that, the people designing and implementing the technology need to consider different experiences. The best way to do that is to have people with different experiences be on the team. As my 7th grade algebra teacher was fond of reminding us: garbage in, garbage out.

    • Additional properties in .editorconfig

      For some inexplicable reasons vim-editorconfig stopped working with my latest build of neovim. I am not sure why and I haven’t have enough time to debug it properly. As a workaround I have temporarily (?) switched to editorconfig-vim. The former plugin is all written in VimL, so it was not problem to extend properties it supports by two more ones spell_enabled and spell_language corresponding to spell and spelllang vim options respectively. The later plugin is in Python and it is a bit more complicated, but fortunately it has an explicit hook for custom plugins.

    • Big O Notation and Algorithm Analysis with Python Examples
    • Factorial function using Python’s reduce function
    • Serverless and Knative: Installation through Deployment

      Serverless, Knative and FaaS will change your workflow as much as any change to design patterns in your career.

      In this video, Red Hat’s Kamesh Sampath will deep dive all about Knative.

    • Using Terraform and cloud-init on Hetzner
    • Glibc Gets Patched For Three Year Old Security Vulnerability

      CVE-2016-10739 has been around since April 2016 as implied by the number and finally today this security issue has been fixed in the Git development code for the upcoming Glibc 2.29 GNU C Library.

    • Fedora 30 Going Through Its Formalities To Ship With & Built By The GCC 9 Compiler

Leftovers

  • How I Switched Working From Office Full Time to Remote 3 Days A Week

    I’m a freelance since 2012 and usually work at the office of my clients. I had 2 intense years some time ago and it was so intense I needed a break.That’s not optimal because, as you know, a freelance does not earn money when he does not work. No paid vacation. Moreover the freelancer can not count on any unemployment compensation (at least in France). I work on side projects since 2015 but I’m far from being self-sufficient. After my previous mission, I took a 6 month break and had important personal finance issue after that. You guess. So it’s obvious if I want to remain freelance, I need to work on a regular basis.

    But.

    Paris is a quite crowded city. Public transportation are overcrowded and some subway lines are too old. It generates a lot of stress for everyone, public transportation workers and users. When you go to work and especially if you live in Paris suburbs, after a chaotic ride from home, it usually means you haven’t started to work but you’re already stressed out. You also waste between 45mn and 1h30mn for each ride, between 1h30 and 3 hours each day!

    Given the fact I work on several side projects, helping communities to grow and developing online services, I need time. Even the lunch break time. I’m not a workaholic, I love playing squash, watching movies, reading, playing poker so I’m not going to work everyday until 2 or 3am.

  • Microsoft Wallet for Windows Phone to be retired in February

    Support is set to end for all Windows 10 Mobile devices by the end of this year, and Microsoft is already beginning to retire apps in anticipation. In an update to the , Microsoft has noted that the app will be “officially retired” on February 28, 2019.

    Microsoft Wallet is the official tap-to-pay method for Windows Phones, similar to Apple Pay and Google Pay on iPhones and Android devices. The app also allows users to load up their loyalty and membership cards, allowing them all to be stored in one place.

  • Science

    • GamChix women in Technology celebrates 1st anniversary

      It is part of the organisation’s mandate to participate in global activities to empower women in STEM by conducting activities such as mentorship training, child online safety and safe browsing, capacity building and online training on UNIX systems and DNS servers with the aim of enhancing skills in all various aspects of computing.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Meet the Short-Order Cooks So Good Waffle House Officially Calls Them ‘Rockstars’

      An independent franchise manager in Columbus, Ohio, named Fred Thomas invented the marking system in the 1990s and Waffle House adapted it nationally. Testing conducted by the company has shown it to be faster than computerized ordering.

    • Damning court docs show just how far Sacklers went to push OxyContin

      Documents released this week (PDF) allege—and include new, rather damning evidence—that members of the Sackler family not only knew about the illegal and loathsome activities at Purdue, but they personally directed them. Members of the Sackler family, particularly Richard Sackler, aggressively pushed for extreme sales figures—and profits—which they accomplished in part by bullying their sales representatives; targeting vulnerable patients, such as the elderly and veterans; suggesting that the addictive opioid was an alternative to safe medications like Tylenol; and encouraging doctors to write longer and higher dose prescriptions, according to the lawsuit. All the while, the family allegedly dismissed evidence of OxyContin’s addictiveness and blamed patients for their addictions—referring to them as “reckless criminals.”

    • 46 Years After ‘Roe’ and We’re Still Fighting. We Must Do Better.

      It’s no surprise to anyone who has ever worked within the reproductive health, rights, and justice fields that our movement has a history of leaving the most vulnerable behind.

      We’ve consistently failed to repeal the Hyde Amendment—even when Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House—denying some of the most vulnerable people access to abortion coverage. As a movement, we’ve sidelined this issue for far too long, and it’s hurting real people all across the country who are stuck making dehumanizing choices about whether to pay for an abortion out of pocket or for rent, groceries, or even to keep the electricity on.

      The mainstream pro-choice movement has also ignored the unique issues facing young people. I can’t even remember the last time there was a nationwide push to repeal state-level parental consent or notification laws. It’s almost as if advocates have accepted defeat without giving young people a fighting chance.

    • Health insurers want you to try cheaper drugs first, but that can hurt you

      Few people are familiar with the term “step therapy,” but most Americans have health insurance policies that adopt it. Step therapy programs, also known as “fail first policies,” require patients to try less expensive treatments before insurers agree to pay for more costly alternatives. Thus, insurers can deny coverage for a drug your doctor prescribed because you haven’t found other, cheaper medications to be ineffective first. As many as 75 percent of large employers have insurance plans with step therapy, and Medicare is increasingly embracing this approach as well.

      My husband and I encountered step therapy when he was prescribed a new medication for his Parkinson’s disease. As a professor of law and bioethics, I have since researched and written about this phenomenon. I have found that step therapy can be sensible in some instances, but it also raises important concerns and should be carefully regulated.

    • ‘Medicare for All and Equal Rights Aren’t Trends’: Ocasio-Cortez Fires Back After Aaron Sorkin Lectures Young Progressives

      “News flash: Medicare for All and equal rights aren’t trends,” the New York congresswoman wrote, referring specifically to Sorkin’s flippant dismissal of the push for equal rights for transgender Americans as a “Republican talking point they’re trying to distract you with.”

      “When people complain about low turnout in some demo[graphics], it’s not because communities are apathetic, it’s because they don’t see you fighting for them,” continued Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. “If we don’t show up for people, why should you feel entitled to their vote?”

    • Dr. King would want us to fight for Medicare For All

      Despite vehement opposition from the American Medical Association, Medicare and Medicaid were passed into law in 1965. Importantly, the federal government required participating hospitals to comply with the non-discrimination rules of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Hospitals and doctors who wanted payments from Medicare and Medicaid were mandated to provide all medical services to minority patients and to hire medical personnel regardless of race. Nonetheless, before Medicare was officially launched in July 1966, there were still many hospitals and clinics that continued to discriminate against patients and families on the basis of race.

      In March 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his allies at the Medical Committee for Human Rights called for non-violent direct action, lawsuits, and complaints to the federal government against such hospitals. Dr. King and the MCHR identified the then-segregated American Medical Association as complicit with the discrimination and racism practiced by hospitals across the country. They accused the AMA of a “conspiracy of inaction” in civil rights. Dr. King then elaborated, “We are concerned about the constant use of federal funds to support this most notorious expression of segregation. Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death. I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation.”

    • Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry

      Back in 2016, I posed the question in The Ecologist whether regulators in the EU were acting as product promoters when it came to the relicensing of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. The renewal of the license for glyphosate in the EU was being debated at the time and much evidence pointed to collusion between regulators and corporate interests whose sales of the herbicide add up to many billions of dollars a year.

      In that article, I referred to evidence presented in various documents written by environmentalist and campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason. Now, in the wake of a new, important paper by Charles Benbrook (14 January) in the journal ‘Environmental Sciences Europe’, Dr Mason has lodged a complaint with the European Ombudsman accusing European regulatory agencies of collusion with the agrochemicals industry.

      Mason has been writing to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the EU Commission over a period of 18 months, challenging them about ECHA’s classification of glyphosate. She notes that many people around the world have struggled to understand how and why the US Environmental Protection Agency and the EFSA concluded that glyphosate is not genotoxic (damaging to DNA) or carcinogenic, whereas the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), came to the opposite conclusion.

      The IARC stated that the evidence for glyphosate’s genotoxic potential is “strong” and that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. While IARC referenced only peer-reviewed studies and reports available in the public literature, the EPA relied heavily on unpublished regulatory studies commissioned by pesticide manufacturers.

    • Trump Swamp Threatens Waters of the US

      Last month, the Trump EPA finally issued its intended replacement to the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and R.D. James, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, wrote in the Kansas City Star that less stringent water rules will give “hardworking Americans the freedom and certainty they need to do what they do best: develop, build and invest in projects that improve the environment and the lives of their fellow citizens.”

      What’s really going on is that President Trump wants to give the nation’s chronic polluters freedom from consequence for harming ecosystems and the nation’s drinking water.

      While Trump has spent nearly two years railing against clean water rules, he has feigned neither a serious scientific nor economic rationale for rolling them back. Much like his assault on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and mercury air toxics standards, the intended beneficiaries of the weaker rules he proposes are indiscriminate developers and operators of mines, power plants, and agribusinesses who have all lobbied for a blind eye to the seepage and runoff of ash, heavy metals, oil, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and animal waste.

    • Hollywood Still Thinks Body Shaming Is Hilarious

      In the new film Isn’t It Romantic, actress Rebel Wilson plays a woman who suffers an injury and wakes up trapped inside a romantic comedy. The trailer shows one incredibly attractive man after another making romantic gestures to her.
      Rebel Wilson, I should note, played “Fat Amy” in Pitch Perfect. She was the fat girl, the comic relief — not the romantic lead.
      Last year, Amy Schumer’s movie I Feel Pretty is similar: She’s an unattractive-feeling woman who hits her head and wakes up with tremendous self-esteem.
      Both films put women who aren’t exactly Hollywood’s ideal of feminine beauty at the center of romantic comedies. In each, the gag is that a “fat ugly girl” either believes that she’s beautiful or that men do.
      I grew up on a steady diet of romantic comedies in a household dominated by a fat-phobic mother who berated us every time we put food in our mouths.

    • New Court Rulings Keep the Birth Control Mandate in Place

      Reproductive rights supporters received good news this week, as the courts ruled against a Trump administration attempt to block birth control access and indirectly harm abortion providers.

      A federal court in California first obstructed President Donald Trump’s effort to dismantle the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act on January 14. The ruling stated that the new policy of allowing expanded religious objections to the ACA’s birth control mandate should not go into effect until the courts have decided whether the rule is constitutional.

    • Refugees Are Not Health Threat to Host Countries, WHO Study Finds. In Fact, It’s the Opposite.

      In the first report of its kind, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday revealed that refugees are likely to be in good overall health when they leave their home countries, but are put at risk for infectious and chronic diseases in their new homes—where quality and affordable healthcare is often unavailable to them.

      Host countries must work “to protect” migrants from the heath risks they encounter after traveling to their new homes, the report said.

      “Refugees and migrants are potentially at greater risk of developing infectious diseases because of their exposure to infections, lack of access to health care, interrupted care, and poor living conditions during the migration process,” WHO reported.In the first report of its kind, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday revealed that refugees are likely to be in good overall health when they leave their home countries, but are put at risk for infectious and chronic diseases in their new homes—where quality and affordable healthcare is often unavailable to them.

      Host countries must work “to protect” migrants from the heath risks they encounter after traveling to their new homes, the report said.

      “Refugees and migrants are potentially at greater risk of developing infectious diseases because of their exposure to infections, lack of access to health care, interrupted care, and poor living conditions during the migration process,” WHO reported.

  • Security

    • Vulnerabilities Found in Highly Popular Firmware for WiFi Chips

      WiFi chip firmware in a variety of devices used mainly for gaming, personal computing, and communication comes with multiple issues. At least some of them could be exploited to run arbitrary code remotely without requiring user interaction.

      The security flaws were discovered in ThreadX, a real-time operating system (RTOS) developed by Express Logic. The vendor claims on their website that ThreadX has over 6.2 billion deployments, being one of the most popular software powering Wi-Fi chips.

      The firmware is also powering the Avastar 88W8897 SoC (Wi-Fi + Bluetooth + NFC) from Marvell, present in Sony PlayStation 4 (and its Pro variant), Microsoft Surface (+Pro) tablet and laptop, Xbox One, Samsung Chromebook and smartphones (Galaxy J1), and Valve SteamLink.

    • Wolf Halton on what’s changed in tech and where we are headed

      The tech industry is changing at a massive rate especially after the storage options moved to the cloud. However, this has also given rise to questions on security, data management, change in the work structure within an organization, and much more. Wolf Halton, an expert in Kali Linux, tells us about the security element in the cloud. He also touches upon the skills and knowledge that should be inculcated in your software development cycle in order to adjust to the dynamic tech changes at present and in the future. Following this, he juxtaposes the current software development landscape with the ideal one.

    • Rocke coinminer disables cloud protection agents

      A group of hackers that specializes in infecting servers with cryptocurrency mining software has started disabling security software agents used in cloud environments to evade detection. Known as Rocke in the security industry, the group has been active since at least April 2018 and is known for exploiting critical vulnerabilities in web application frameworks and servers like Apache Struts, Oracle WebLogic and Adobe ColdFusion.

    • Malware used by “Rocke” group evolves to evade detection by cloud security products
    • Malware uninstalls cloud security products from Linux machines

      After removing the cloud security, the malware then proceeded to mine the monero cryptocurrency on its hosts.

    • Linux Virus Removes Security Software to Mine Monero [Ed: Bogdan Popa, "Microsoft News Editor" (basically the Microsoft PR/propagandist of Softpedia), only ever writes about GNU/Linux to attack it. Here too he uses a misleading title, a provocative headline and picture. These are already-compromised machines. It's not a "Linux" issue per se. So yeah... Microsoft loves Linux... Linux FUD.]
    • Hackers Wield Commoditized Tools to Pop West African Banks

      Symantec says. Attackers also used an open source, remote administration tool for Windows called UltraVNC, then infected systems with Cobalt Strike malware, which can also provide backdoors onto PCs and download additional malware. “Communication with the C&C server was handled by dynamic DNS infrastructure, which helped shield the location of the attackers.”

    • Huawei and Apple smartphones are both made in China, so what is the difference?

      Do Huawei phones really pose that much more of a security risk than iPhones in the face of China’s potential espionage threat? A

    • Google Play malware used phones’ motion sensors to conceal itself

      Malicious apps hosted in the Google Play market are trying a clever trick to avoid detection—they monitor the motion-sensor input of an infected device before installing a powerful banking trojan to make sure it doesn’t load on emulators researchers use to detect attacks.

    • New Android Malware Uses Motion Sensors To Stay Hidden

      ecurity measures are not the only ones seeing improvements! Malicious apps are also figuring out new ways to enhance its working, and one such Android malware proves this.

    • Security updates for Monday
    • Break free from traditional network security

      From a security stance, the network is becoming perimeterless, and rather than a hard network barrier, the corporate network needs to be porous; security inside the network has to be zero-trust.

      The experts Computer Weekly contacted regarding perimeterless network security generally agree that such an architecture is not easy to achieve, but software-defined networking (SDN) and containerisation offer network security architects a sound foundation on which to implement a perimeterless network security strategy.

    • State agency exposes 3TB of data, including FBI info and remote logins

      Oklahoma’s Department of Securities (ODS) exposed three terabytes of files in plain text on the public internet this month, which contained sensitive data including social security numbers, details of FBI investigations, credentials for remote access to computers, and the names of AIDS patients.

      Researchers at security company UpGuard found the files using the Shodan search engine, which indexes internet-connected devices. In this case, they ran across an unsecured rsync server registered to ODS.

      Rsync is a utility commonly found on Unix and Linux systems that enables administrators to synchronize files between different computers. It is used for ‘delta’ syncing, in which one computer copies to another only the parts of files that have changed, enabling them to maintain identical copies of the files in different locations.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #195

      As part of the Debian Long Term Support (LTS) effort it was noticed that an old package was failing to build beyond ~2015.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Autonomous weapons and the new laws of war

      Acknowledging the long, unpleasant history of devices which kill indiscriminately, or without direct human command, is crucial to any discussion of the risks, and morality, of autonomous weapons. It should not mask the fact that their capabilities are increasing quickly—and that although agreements to limit their use might be desirable, they will be very difficult to enforce. It is not that hard to decide if a landmine fits the criteria that ban such weapons under the Ottawa treaty. But whether a Harop is an autonomous robot or a remote-controlled weapon depends on the software it is running at the time.

    • War game: If China or Russia downed an ISR aircraft, how would the US really respond?

      Will the rise of drone warfare unintentionally drag the world into more conflicts?

      That’s what some pundits and policymakers have cautioned in the past, arguing that the absence of human pilots will allow military leaders to take on riskier missions without suffering political blow-back from losing crewmembers if a mission goes awry.

      A war game held at MIT Lincoln Labs and Harvard University in September 2017, however, challenges that assumption.

      The study makes the case that drone warfare could decrease the likelihood of conflict between states, as military planners will avoid the trap of escalating military options if an aircraft is lost.

    • ‘New IRA’ Suspected in Northern Ireland Car Bomb Blast

      olice in Northern Ireland said Sunday they suspect Irish Republican Army dissidents were behind a car bombing outside a courthouse in the city of Londonderry. Two men in their 20s have been arrested over the attack, which caused no injuries.

      Attackers hijacked a pizza delivery vehicle, loaded it with explosives and left it outside the city-center courthouse on Saturday evening, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The device exploded as police, who had spotted the suspicious vehicle, were evacuating the area.

      The force said a warning call was made to a charity in England and passed on to police minutes before the explosion.

      Police released surveillance camera footage of the car being parked in front of the courthouse, and of the driver sprinting away. Images also showed a group of young people walking past the car shortly before it blew up.

    • The US War Against the Weak

      War Against the Weak is a well-documented book of more than half a thousand pages, written by Edwin Black. It describes a criminal operation planned by the United States from the beginning of the twentieth century and put into practice between the 1930’s and 1960s with the purpose of creating a dominant superior race.

      That U.S. campaign, virtually ignored in the world today because of the media cover up to which it has been subjected, served as a model for the Holocaust of the Jewish population carried out by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

      Characters and institutions in politics and the economy that today are presented as respectable champions of democracy and respect for human rights, were involved in this genocide.

      The book tells us that, in the first six decades of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of Americans labeled as feeble minded –because they did not conform to Teutonic patterns– were deprived of their right to reproduce.

      Selected in prisons, asylums and orphanages because of who their ancestorswere, their national origin, ethnicity, race or religion, they were sterilized without their consent, and prevented from procreating and getting married. They were separated from their partners by governmental bureaucratic means.

      This pernicious white collar war was conducted by philanthropic organizations, prestigious professors in elite universities, wealthy businessmen, and senior government officials who formed a pseudoscientific movement called Eugenics Its purpose, beyond racism, was to create a superior Nordic race that would impose itself at global level.

    • Confronting the Culture of Death

      The issue before us is death. Not only our individual death, which is more imminent for some of us this morning than others, but our collective death. We have begun the sixth great mass extinction, driven by our 150-year binge on fossil fuel. The litany of grim statistics is not unfamiliar to many of you. We are pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at 10 times the rate of the mass extinction known as the Great Dying, which occurred 252 million years ago. The glaciers in Alaska alone are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year. The oceans, which absorb over 90 percent of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, are warming and acidifying, melting the polar ice caps and resulting in rising sea levels and oxygen-starved ocean dead zones. We await a 50-gigaton burp, or “pulse,” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost on the east Siberian arctic shelf which will release about two-thirds of the total carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Era. Some 150 to 200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal are going extinct every 24 hours, one thousand times the “natural” or “background” rate. This pace of extinction is greater than anything the world has experienced since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Ultimately, feedback mechanisms will accelerate the devastation and there will be nothing we can do to halt obliteration. Past mass extinctions on earth were characterized by abrupt warming of 6 to 7 degrees Celsius. We are barreling toward those numbers. The mathematical models for this global temperature rise predict an initial 70 percent die-off of the human species, culminating with total death.

      The corporate forces that have commodified the natural world for profit have also commodified human beings. We are as expendable to global corporations as the Barrier Reef or the great sequoias. These corporations and ruling elites, which have orchestrated the largest transference of wealth upward in human history, with globe’s richest 1 percent owning half the world’s wealth, kneel, and force us to kneel, before the dictates of the global marketplace. They have seized control of our governments, extinguishing democracy, corrupting law and building alliances with neofascists and authoritarians as the ruling ideology of neoliberalism is exposed as a con. They have constructed pervasive and sophisticated systems of internal security, wholesale surveillance and militarized police, along with criminalizing poverty, to crush dissent.

    • New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon

      That section of the 1996 anti-Cuban Helms-Burton Act known as Title III allows Cuban exiles or their families and a few U.S. companies to seek remedies in U.S. courts for properties they lost in Cuba due to nationalization by the revolutionary government. Ever since, the U.S. government at six month intervals has announced that Title III would not be taking effect during the following six months. But on January 16 U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo indicated that suspended implementation that begins on February 1 will last only 45 days and not the usual six months.

      He explained that during that time a “careful review” would take place in order “to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.” He cited “the Cuban regime’s brutal oppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms and its indefensible support for increasingly authoritarian and corrupt regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua,”

      Title III enables U.S. courts to impose financial burdens on foreign individuals or businesses that once utilized land and buildings in Cuba, or are doing so now. The former owners would be compensated. The possibility that the U.S. government will put Title III into effect troubles Cuban leaders deeply. Anything approaching implementation would render existing foreign investments and loans precarious. Future investments and access to loans would be questionable. Very likely, the flow to Cuba of desperately needed foreign capital, never bountiful, would contract.

      Cuba’s economy continues to lag, as indicated by low rates of growth – 1.2 percent in 2018, necessity to import 80 percent of its food, difficulties in repaying loans, and persistently low levels of personal income.

    • Sales Slump, Political Shifts Cast Shadow Over Gun Industry

      When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the industry’s largest annual conference, they will be grappling with slumping sales and a shift in politics that many didn’t envision two years ago when gun-friendly Donald Trump and a GOP-controlled Congress took office.

      Some of the top priorities for the industry — expanding the reach of concealed carry permits and easing restrictions on so-called “silencers” — remain in limbo, and prospects for expanding gun rights are nil for the foreseeable future.

      Instead, fueled by the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the federal government banned bump stocks and newly in-charge U.S. House Democrats introduced legislation that would require background checks for virtually every firearm sale, regardless of whether it’s from a gun dealer or a private sale.

    • Call for Global Ban as Poll Shows Overwhelming Public Opposition to ‘Horrifying’ Killer Robots

      World leaders have shown little leadership in moving to ban autonomous weapons that would require no human involvement when selecting and killing targets, but a new survey shows that the global population overwhelmingly opposes the development of such “killer robots.”

      Commissioned by the Campaign to Ban Killer Robots, a new poll released Tuesday by Ipsos MORI asked between 500 and 1,000 people in each of the 26 countries it surveyed whether they approved of autonomous weapons, and found that three in five respondents were vehemently against the proposal.World leaders have shown little leadership in moving to ban autonomous weapons that would require no human involvement when selecting and killing targets, but a new survey shows that the global population overwhelmingly opposes the development of such “killer robots.”

      Commissioned by the Campaign to Ban Killer Robots, a new poll released Tuesday by Ipsos MORI asked between 500 and 1,000 people in each of the 26 countries it surveyed whether they approved of autonomous weapons, and found that three in five respondents were vehemently against the proposal.

    • Passenger on Russian flight arrested after demanding pilots turn toward Afghanistan

      A passenger on a flight from Surgut to Moscow has been arrested in the town of Khanty-Mansiysk after demanding that the flight leave its assigned route and head toward Afghanistan, Russia’s Investigative Committee announced in a press release.

      The Committee indicated that the passenger was drunk at the time of the incident. During the flight, he told the airplane’s crew he was armed, threatened to attack crew members, and attempted to enter the plane’s cockpit in an attempt to force a change in the flight’s route. He has been charged with hijacking an aerial vehicle, which carries a sentence of up to 12 years in Russia. The man is known to be 41 years old and has a criminal record.

    • Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall

      As of January 20, 2019, the United States government remains partially shutdown for one month due to President Donald J. Trump’s insistence of $5.7 billion from Congress to fund his racist and medieval border wall. When it comes to this ongoing debate, Trump, along with his Republican cronies, suffers from selective amnesia: he forgets what doesn’t benefit him and remembers what’s in his best interest. While Trump agreed, on air, to take credit for a potential government shutdown on December 11, 2018, in an official meeting with Speaker of the HouseNancy Pelosiand Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, should the leading Democrats not support his wall fetish, he keeps blaming Democrats for the shutdown. Also, he conveniently “forgets” that he promised the American public and his “deplorable” supporters during his presidential campaign, especially at massive neo-Nazi simulated rallies, that Mexico would pay for it. Now that Mexico didn’t deliver on the billions of pesosto build this stupid wall, especially with the new leadership under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), Trump wants the American tax-payers to build his medieval “solution” to a 21stcentury problem.

      As part of his failed plan to partially shutdown the government in order to secure his $5.7 billion ransom for his promised wall of which keeps changes the type of material, from concrete to fence to steel to “peaches” (CNN, January 11, 2019)—Trump, along with his immoral surrogates, like Mike Pence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Mick Mulvaney and Kirstjen Nielsen, keeps lying about the so-called emergency at the border. While border crossings by undocumented immigrants have been declining over the years, according to the New York Times (June 20, 2018) and many other sources, Trump and fellow liars erroneously claim that we’re experiencing a “crises” at the southern border. In fact, according to reporter Timothy Noah of POLITICO (November 2, 2018), in 2017, border arrests had dropped so low that “…to find a year with fewer border arrests, you have to go back all the way to 1971.” From 1971 to 2017, that’s almost 50 years!

    • Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars

      Beginning to fill in his declaration of last year about turning space into a war zone and establishing a U.S. Space Force, President Trump was at the Pentagon last week promoting a plan titled “Missile Defense Review.”

      As The New York Times said in its headline on the scheme:: “Plans Evoke 1983 ‘Star Wars’ Program.” Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, called it “provocative and destabilizing and basically insane.”

      As Trump stated at the Pentagon on January 17: “We will recognize that space is a new war-fighting domain with the Space Force leading the way. My upcoming budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer technology. It’s ultimately going to be a very, very big part of our defense and obviously of our offense.”

      The new United States space military plan comes despite the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that designates space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes. The U.S., the United Kingdom and then Soviet Union worked together in assembling the treaty. It has been ratified or signed by 123 nations. The release of the 100-page “Missile Defense Review” follows the Trump announcement, also at the Pentagon, in June, that he is moving to establish a U.S. Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces. He stated then: “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space.”

    • US Taxpayers Have Been Funding Big Business’s Wars for 233 Years

      Since 1786, Congress has authorized subsidies to Big Business’s demand that US troops protect their unending drive to seize and exploit a weaker country’s raw resources or to monopolize overseas marketing.

      This centuries-old arrangement started in the US after the Revolutionary War in 1784 when heated complaints from business interests about bribes demanded by North Africa’s Barbary States pirates reached Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France. Shippers were too cheap to either use cargo space for cannon or hire pirate brigantines. Yet overland-based merchants voiced no demands for federal protection to deal with pirates hijacking cargoes and passenger plunder. These merchants hired “shotguns” to ride with drivers of wagons and stagecoaches to protect their goods.

      But in shippers’ views, piracy was somehow different from highway robbery in principle, seemingly only because of business size and degree of loss. Ergo, large companies working the Mediterranean coast had a greater right to demand taxpayer protection because of those familiar claims of contribution to the US economy — jobs, raw-material purchases, expansion, import trade. That somehow made shippers’ interests “national interests” requiring taxpayer protection — cost-free to the shippers themselves, of course.

      Just how that was to be accomplished with no navy or standing army was ignored. So was the fact that taxes had just started to fill the Treasury of an infant nation prostrated by the Revolution’s costs and a public with near-empty pocketbooks. The whiskey excise tax was not the only revenue-raiser that set off protests.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • BuzzFeed Writer Fails Again

      Chalk up another failure for a rabid media desperately trying to prove the Russia-gate story, this time a piece by a reporter with a history of failure, as Joe Lauria reports.

      [...]

      Guardian reporter Luke Harding, desperate for proof to back up his bestseller “Collusion,” reported in Nov. 2018 that Paul Manafort, briefly Trump’s campaign manager, had met three times with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuador embassy in London in a story that provided zero evidence and hasn’t been confirmed by anyone else.

      In Nov. 2017, reporter Jason Leopold reported for BuzzFeed that Moscow had sent $30,000 to the Russian embassy in Washington “to finance [the] election campaign of 2016,” only for it to be revealed that the money was to pay for Russian citizens in the U.S. to vote in the 2016 Duma elections. Now Leopold has done it again. His report last week, with Anthony Cormier, that Trump had told his lawyer to perjure himself before Congress was refuted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

    • Buzzfeed, Question Time and the Purpose of Fake News

      Last week BuzzFeed published a front page story, under a “BREAKING” banner, headlined: President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About The Moscow Tower Project

      In the article, Buzzfeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier claim to have been told, by two anonymous sources, that Robert Mueller’s “Russiagate” investigation had evidence Donald Trump had instructed his lawyer to lie to Congress. That would be a felony, and obviously an impeachable offence.

      The reaction of the news media and associated twitterati was as quick as it was predictable. MSNCBC, CNN, the BBC, The Guardian…the usual suspects. They were all over it within hours.

    • Our Whistleblowing Laws Must Change

      The world has never needed more whistleblowers more. And yet whistleblowers have never face greater fear and uncertainty for speaking out against governments and corporations.

      One of the most high-profile whistleblowing cases, that of Julian Assange, is regarded by a wide range of UN experts as unlawful persecution. Assange cannot access his fundamental rights for fear of immediate extradition. This is despite an ostensible detente between Assange and the new Ecuadorean government.

      This horrifying precedent stands against the history of the ‘Samizdat’ press, an underground publishing network that held critical opinions on Soviet policy and eventually stoked the atmosphere for Glasnost and Perestroika. Their fearless journalism, published at the risk of their lives, shone a light on the moral abyss of the totalitarian state. While official media like Pravda indicated that everything was OK, the Samizdat press spoke to the needs and concerns of ordinary people that they were forbidden to acknowledge in public.

    • By Working to Free Julian Assange We are Fighting for Justice…

      Thank you to the New York chapter of the Ecuadorian Confederation of Journalists for organizing this celebration of journalism and thanks to the consulate for hosting this event. It is an honor to have been invited and to take part of this discussion. For me it’s a discussion about people of courage, people who are doing the unbelievable work of uncovering information and bringing it to the public at large.

      What is information? What is it that we are calling news? The most important news is about issues that powerful people don’t want the general population to know. If we talk about something that everyone knows, no one will be interested.

      I can’t be here today in this Ecuadorian Consulate in Queens , talking to you, my friends and fellow journalists and not talk about the dear situation faced by Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks and currently under asylum jail in the Ecuadorian Consulate in London. It has been almost 7 years since Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy to escape extradition by the British authorities. If he steps outside the embassy door, he will be immediately arrested and most likely extradited to the United States, where he would face a long prison sentence, or worse.

    • Does Journalism Have a Future?

      Facebook launched its News Feed in 2006. In 2008, Peretti mused on Facebook, “Thinking about the economics of the news business.” The company added its Like button in 2009. Peretti set likability as BuzzFeed’s goal, and, to perfect the instruments for measuring it, he enlisted partners, including the Times and the Guardian, to share their data with him in exchange for his reports on their metrics. Lists were liked. Hating people was liked. And it turned out that news, which is full of people who hate other people, can be crammed into lists.

      Chartbeat, a “content intelligence” company founded in 2009, launched a feature called Newsbeat in 2011. Chartbeat offers real-time Web analytics, displaying a constantly updated report on Web traffic that tells editors what stories people are reading and what stories they’re skipping. The Post winnowed out reporters based on their Chartbeat numbers. At the offices of Gawker, the Chartbeat dashboard was displayed on a giant screen.

      In 2011, Peretti launched BuzzFeed News, hiring a thirty-five-year-old Politico journalist, Ben Smith, as its editor-in-chief. Smith asked for a “scoop-a-day” from his reporters, who, he told Abramson, had little interest in the rules of journalism: “They didn’t even know what rules they were breaking.” In 2012, BuzzFeed introduced three new one-click ways for readers to respond to stories, beyond “liking” them—LOL, OMG, and WTF—and ran lists like “10 Reasons Everyone Should Be Furious About Trayvon Martin’s Murder,” in which, as Abramson explains, BuzzFeed “simply lifted what it needed from reports published elsewhere, repackaged the information, and presented it in a way that emphasized sentiment and celebrity.” BuzzFeed makes a distinction between BuzzFeed and BuzzFeed News, just as newspapers and magazines draw distinctions between their print and their digital editions. These distinctions are lost on most readers. BuzzFeed News covered the Trayvon Martin story, but its information, like BuzzFeed’s, came from Reuters and the Associated Press.

    • Oregon Lawmaker Wants Public Records Requesters To Tell Gov’t Agencies What They Plan To Do With Released Documents

      It actually isn’t reasonable to ask this question. There may be an extremely tiny subset of records requesters who seek to extract personal info from public records to engage in harassment or some other form of criminal activity. But it seems someone doing this wouldn’t be honest about their intentions even if required to inform a government agency about their plans for the requested documents.

      What it will do is allow agencies to unilaterally refuse to release documents to requesters who give them reasons they don’t like. The bill doesn’t even hint at what would be considered unacceptable use for public records, which means agencies are free to explore the outer limits of the undefined term, leaving requesters with little recourse but lengthy appeals and expensive litigation.

      Even better (from the perspective of public servants who dislike serving the public), agencies will be able to compile secret blacklists from which to serve up request rejections, claiming the requester’s stated reason for seeking documents is not one of the ones they find acceptable.

    • ‘Sex trainers’ who leaked Deripaska yacht footage are unexpectedly released from Moscow jail

      On January 22, a Moscow court unexpectedly freed the “sex trainers” Anastasia Vashukevich (also known as “Nastya Rybka”) and Alexander Kirillov (“Alex Leslie”). The two were arrested on January 17 at Sheremetyevo Airport in connection with a prostitution investigation.

      According to lawyer and human rights activist Pavel Chikov, prosecutors brought no charges against either Vashukevich or Kirillov, and the two were promptly released on their own recognizance. “They were just released, and we’re waiting for the investigator to inform us when they need to appear again in court,” Kirillov’s lawyer, Svetlana Sidorkina, told reporters.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Twitter threats, abuse, murder: what women face defending the environment

      Isabel Cristina Zuleta is a human rights activist in Antioquia, northern Colombia, where she works for the Ríos Vivos Movimiento de Afectados por Represas (movement of people affected by dams). According to the NGO Global Witness, 27 activists were murdered in this country in 2017 alone.

      Since 2010, Zuleta has opposed the construction of the Hidroituango hydroelectric dam on the river Cauca, Colombia’s second most important. Ríos Vivos is trying to raise awareness of problems the dam could cause – including environmental damage, forced evictions, and the impoverishment of local residents whose livelihoods rely on the river.

      Because of her activism, Zuleta has faced threats, harassment, attempted forced disappearances, criminal charges as well as sexual violence. In 2013, she said she was kidnapped by agents of the government’s so-called Mobile Anti-Disturbance squad who also photographed her “partes íntimas” (‘private parts’) while she was in detention.

      According to a 2018 report by the Fondo de Acción Urgente (Urgent Action Fund Latin America and the Caribbean, or FAU-AL) human rights network, when Zuleta reported this treatment to the Attorney General, she was told that it “was not the important thing”, and instead she was accused of promoting attacks against the company building the dam.

      In August, Zuleta told 50.50 that activists had received a myriad of recent threats, including: people approaching them to say they cannot protest, or threatening to kill them; people tailing them on the streets; and death threats via text messages, phone calls and Twitter. The next month, two family members of activists from her organisation were murdered.

    • ‘We Are Watching the Ice Sheet Hit a Tipping Point’: Greenland Melting Even Faster Than Feared

      Using data from satellites and GPS stations across Greenland, his team found that by 2012, Greenland was losing ice at four times the rate it was in 2003, and that acceleration was focused in the southwest region. The cause of this unprecedented ice loss, they concluded, was global atmospheric warming from human activities coupled with a natural phenomenon that brings warmer air to West Greenland.

      “Global warming has brought summertime temperatures in a significant portion of Greenland close to the melting point,” Bevis explained, “and the North Atlantic Oscillation has provided the extra push that caused large areas of ice to melt.”

      This new study follows several others published in the past few months that show across the globe, but especially near the poles, ice is melting and oceans are warming even more rapidly than experts once feared, which could lead to worldwide sea level rise of more than 10 feet within this century alone.

      Given the ongoing ice loss in Greenland and elsewhere, what’s clear, according to Bevis, is that “the only thing we can do is adapt and mitigate further global warming—it’s too late for there to be no effect.”

      However, the degree of devastation is still variable. The more rapidly that world leaders comply with mounting public demands for bold climate action and implement the systemic changes that scientists say are necessary to avert climate catastrophe—most notably, immediately phasing out fossil fuels—the better off we will be.

      As Bevis put it, “Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?”

      Responding to the study, Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir declared, “We must fight climate change together, the threat is real and we are reaching the tipping point.”

    • The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination

      Changing plant communities at the local scale are symptomatic of the changing climate globally. Patterns of temperature, precipitation and seasonal timing are shifting, and with them, the patterns of birth, growth, reproduction—and survival—of all living creatures.

      One widely observed syndrome is “season creep,” in which Spring has been arriving progressively earlier in the calendar year. This does not mean that every Spring starts sooner than the year before, but that an overall trend has been observed. For example, a survey of leafing, flowering and fruiting records from 1971-2000 for 542 plant species in 21 European Union countries showed advanced timing for 78% of the plants. According to other sources, “Spring events, such as blooming, frog breeding and migrant bird arrivals, have advanced 2.3 days per decade.” Winter snow cover duration—as measured from Fall to Spring—has decreased throughout the Northern Hemisphere since 1978. The earlier the snow melts, the less water is available during the hot summer, which affects a wide range of plants, animals and other life.

      Winters have been warming. For example, the average February maximum temperature in the US rose by 0.3 F per decade from 1895-2016. This general rise in the “floor” has been accompanied by an increase in “extreme” events, such as “false Springs” when temperatures warm up enough to trigger life cycle stages in a variety of species. When more “normal” weather arrives later—or another extreme event follows, but this time on the cold side—a plant can be injured or even killed. A common example is when a hot spell causes fruit trees to flower, and then a frost—even just a “normal” one—zaps the flowers, thereby taking out that year’s harvest.

    • Polar ice loss speeds up by leaps and bounds

      In the last few decades the speed of polar ice loss at both ends of the planet has begun to gallop away at rates which will have a marked effect on global sea levels.

      Antarctica is now losing ice mass six times faster than it did 40 years ago. In the decade that began in 1979, the great white continent surrendered 40 billion tons of ice a year to raise global sea levels. By the decade 2009 to 2017, this mass loss had soared to 252 billion tons a year.

      And in Greenland, the greatest concentration of terrestrial ice in the northern hemisphere has also accelerated its rate of ice loss fourfold in this century.

      Satellite studies confirm that in 2003, around 102 billion tons of ice turned to flowing water or broke off into the ocean as floating bergs. By 2013, this figure had climbed to 393 billion tons a year.

    • ‘A Bright Future’ Offers a Not-So-Bright Idea for Solving the Climate Crisis

      According to a new book, A Bright Future by Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist, the answer is an energy technique the Swedes call “kärnkraft,” which the book’s cover copy proclaims is “hundreds of times safer and cleaner than coal.”

      What is kärnkraft, you ask? Well, the description of the book doesn’t say.

      Neither does the table of contents.

      You also won’t find the answer in the foreword, by the popular science writer and psychologist Steven Pinker, although he does call A Bright Future “the most important book about climate change since An Inconvenient Truth.”

      How about the book itself? The first two chapters take a similarly vague approach. In fact it takes until page 27, at the bottom of a graph depicting kärnkraft capacity in the United States, to get the definition of this mystery word.

    • Copenhagen to be 1st Carbon Neutral City by 2025 and other Wind Energy Good News Stories

      Wind power is falling rapidly in cost, with turbines becoming bigger and more efficient.

      Alexandre Jeanblanc at Investor’s Corner explains that Copenhagen plans to become the first carbon neutral city in the world by 2025! Denmark is blessed with abundant wind energy sources, which is part of the explanation for the capital’s ability to put forward such an ambitious goal. Some 22% of Denmark’s electricity is produced by wind turbines, but the country intends to increase that proportion to 50% by 2025, only six years from now. But Jeanblanc points out that the city has greatly increased the efficiency of its public and older residential buildings. (A lot of buildings still don’t have proper insulation, a simple fix that significantly reduces carbon dioxide production). Copenhagen is also addressing transportation, making the city bicycle-friendly and hoping to account for 75% of trips inside the city by bicycle. The remaining automobiles and buses will be electric or hydrogen.

      Some ten percent of greater Copenhagen’s households will be powered by wind turbines set up on 9 artificial islands off its coast, with the complex to be named Holmene. Holmene will itself be net carbon zero, and a major new center of industry, including pharmaceuticals. It will have 5 huge wind turbines, each producing 6 megawatts.

    • Desalination plants are on the rise—so is their salty, chemical waste

      The rise of desalination plants, now almost 16,000 worldwide, has led to a glut of brine waste—much of which is dumped into oceans, which can raise salinity to dangerous levels and put toxic chemicals in the marine environment threatening ocean life, according to a new study.

      The study is the first to update estimates of desalination plants’ discharge since the sharp increase in facilities over the past few decades and suggests there is an urgent need to find ways to deal with the huge amount of waste created at the plants, which remove salts from water in areas where freshwater is scarce.

      “Improved brine management strategies are required to limit the negative environmental impacts and reduce economic cost of disposal, thereby stimulating further developments in desalination facilities to safeguard water supplies,” the authors wrote in the study, published today in Science of the Total Environment.

      The researchers found desalination plants are discharging more than 37 billion gallons of chemical-laden brine every day, which is a 50 percent increase over previous estimates. The authors note that amount is enough in a year to cover Florida under one foot of brine.

      Most desalination plants are in the Middle East and Africa and the paper found just four countries—Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar— are responsible for about 55 percent of the world’ total brine waste.

    • Legal challenge to Barrier Reef shark cull

      Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef shark culling program is to be challenged in court by the Humane Society.

    • Energy Department Hires a Top Cheerleader for Petrochemical Hub Before Issuing Report Favoring It

      Near the end of 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hired the leading promoter within academia of a massive and multi-faceted petrochemical complex proposed for West Virginia. A month later, the agency issued a report favoring the construction of such a complex.

      On November 9, the Energy Department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) named as its new director former West Virginia University Professor Brian Anderson.

      NETL, which spearheads federal energy-related research and development (R&D) efforts, is currently deciding whether to grant $1.9 billion in R&D money toward building out the proposed petrochemical complex, known as the Appalachian Storage Hub.

    • Jump-Starting the Dam Removal Movement in the US

      New eras often start with a bang. That was the case in September when explosives blasted a hole in a concrete dam that had barricaded Maryland’s Patapsco River for more than 110 years.

      Like so many defunct and outdated dams in the United States, Bloede Dam’s impact on the Patapsco far outweighed its usefulness. Bloede produced electricity for less than 20 years. By then, so much sand and rock clogged its turbines that the dam became impossibly expensive to maintain. Instead, the power company shut it down. But for more than 100 years, Bloede stood as a monolith, blocking migrating fish, costing taxpayers millions in upkeep and drowning at least 10 people who couldn’t escape the underwater whirlpool at its foot.

      Excavators are currently removing Bloede’s last vestiges. Soon, native shad, alewives and herring will migrate from the Chesapeake Bay to the shoals where their ancestors have spawned for millennia. Boaters and swimmers will reconnect with their local river. The Patapsco River will come alive and boost the entire Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

      Removing unused dams, like Bloede, is one of the most important things we can do for rivers and the ecosystems they support.

      “Think of rivers as the veins and arteries of our country,” says Bob Irvin, president and CEO of American Rivers, a national river conservation organization, which also employs this writer. “Just like in our bodies, our veins and arteries work best when they are free and clear of obstructions.”

    • 2019 is the year to embrace energy democracy – or face social and climate breakdown

      2018 was a thunderous year for the climate which gave us a glimpse of the new normal: record-breaking heat, a blazing Arctic, the northern hemisphere seemingly on fire. These, alongside a clanging alarm about the disastrous impacts of 1.5°C of global warming from the UN in October, contributed to growing public recognition that climate breakdown is very real and its effects serious.

      2018 also saw growing momentum for climate movements in confronting political inaction. From the Extinction Rebellion movement in the UK, to thousands of school children on strike in Australia (and similar movements elsewhere). Climate demonstrations in Europe bigger than ever. A record 5,000 people joined civil disobedience to protest coal mines in Germany. A number of laws were also passed that pointed in the right direction: Ireland and a number of cities divested from fossil fuels; the EU gave backing to citizen and community-owned renewable energy, and Spain lifted the controversial ‘sun tax’. The costs of renewable energy and energy storage also fell.

    • Nuclear sunset overtakes fading dreams

      Once hailed as a key part of the energy future of the United Kingdom and several other countries, the high-tech atomic industry is now heading in the opposite direction, towards nuclear sunset.

      It took another body blow last week when plans to build four new reactors on two sites in the UK were abandoned as too costly by the Japanese company Hitachi. This was even though it had already sunk £2.14 billion (300 bn yen) in the scheme.

      Following the decision in November by another Japanese giant, Toshiba, to abandon an equally ambitious scheme to build three reactors at Moorside in the north-west of England, the future of the industry in the UK looks bleak.

      The latest withdrawal means the end of the Japanese dream of keeping its nuclear industry alive by exporting its technology overseas. With the domestic market killed by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, overseas sales were to have been its salvation.

    • Trudeau Should Consider Buying GM and Making Electric Cars

      Long after the last factory has left Ontario, one can imagine Doug Ford still sporting a full-on Cheshire grin as he puts up billboards proclaiming the province “Open for Business.”

      Certainly, the premier didn’t seem even slightly embarrassed that he’d posted his billboards along the American border just before America’s biggest automaker announced plans last November to permanently shut down business at its flagship Ontario plant.

      [...]

      It’s hard to imagine such a speedy transition — but then, it was probably also hard in 1910 to imagine Henry Ford’s futuristic Model T replacing the ever-popular horse-and-buggy. (Back then, the Model T was far too expensive for ordinary people. But within a dozen years, its price plunged by 70 per cent, and in 1925, almost two million Model Ts were sold.)

      The IMF researchers point out that a transition to 90 per cent electric cars by 2040 “would meet the conditions to keep global temperature rise below 2C.”

      They also note that such a transition would disrupt the auto industry. Since an electric car has fewer parts, they maintain that “on-shoring” — that is, assembling cars in advanced economies rather than “offshoring” them to low-wage countries — is likely.

      This suggests that a Canadian automaker building electric cars could lead to future jobs here.

      Of course, any decision to invest billions of taxpayer funds would have to be made with utmost care.

      Yet, oddly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed no such careful consideration when he promptly jumped in with 4.5 billion taxpayer dollars to purchase the leaky, 65-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline last spring, declaring it “in the national interest” to ensure the pipeline’s expansion after the corporate owner threatened to back out of the project.

    • Russia’s Attorney General sides with Gazprom against Chechen officials

      Officials in Moscow are urging the Chechen authorities to walk back a recent court decision that forgave 9 billion rubles ($135.3 million) in debt owed to a Gazprom subsidiary by local customers. The Grozny court’s ruling granted a request by Chechen prosecutors to cancel the debt on the grounds that its statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors also warned that the debt “had created social tensions and could provoke protests.”

  • Finance

    • Teachers Are Rising Up to Resist Neoliberal Attacks on Education

      Hannah Arendt once argued that, “Thinking itself is dangerous to all creeds, convictions, and opinions.” In the current political climate, the institutions that nurture critical thinking are similarly seen as dangerous and threatening to our increasingly authoritarian social order. These institutions include public and higher education along with almost any form of progressive media.

      As a result, purveyors of neoliberal ideology and policy have been working relentlessly to undermine public education in order to define it in strictly economic terms. Taking an instrumentalist approach obsessed with measurement and quantification, they have aggressively attempted to turn education into a business, faculty into devalued clerks and students into consumers.

      Fortunately, teachers and students are refusing to participate in the destruction of US education. The historic strike initiated on January 14 by 33,000 teachers in Los Angeles — the nation’s second-largest school district — is the latest evidence of a nationwide trend in which public school teachers and students have increasingly gone on strike and engaged in walkouts.

    • The Trump Tax Cut Is Even Worse Than They Say

      Jim Tankersley had a nice piece in the New York Times last week pointing out that the tax cut pushed through by the Republicans in 2017 is leading to a sharp drop in tax revenue. While this was widely predicted by most analysts, it goes against the Trump administration’s claims that the tax cut would pay for itself.

      Looking at full-year data for calendar year 2018, Tankersley points out that revenue was $183 billion (5.6 percent) below what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had projected for the year before the tax cut was passed into law. This is a substantial falloff in revenue by any standard, but there are two reasons the picture is even worse than this falloff implies.

      The first is that we actually did see a jump in growth in 2018 pretty much in line with what the Trump administration predicted. The tax cut really did stimulate the economy. It put a lot of money in the economy (mostly going to those at the top) and people spent much of this money. The result was that the growth rate accelerated from around 2.0 percent the prior three years to over 3.0 percent in 2018. (We don’t have 4th quarter data yet, which may be delayed by the shutdown, but growth should be over 3.0 percent.)

    • On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess

      Government, parliament and parts of the media are obsessed by Brexit, almost to the exclusion of all else. The last few weeks have produced a cascade of apocalyptic warnings about the calamity facing Britain if it fails to depart the EU, or does so with or without a deal. These forebodings may or may not be true, but does this sense of crisis reflect the feelings of the British people as a whole?

      Are there identifiable signs of popular rage and division similar to those that accompanied the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14, the Great Reform Bill of 1832 or even, as one cabinet minister claimed a few days ago, the English Civil War in the 17th century, in which at least 84,000 died on the battlefield? So far there is no evidence of anything like this, though that is not to say the confrontation over Brexit might not one day erupt into violence.

      The media furore over a single MP being verbally abused outside parliament shows, contrary to overheated reportage, how quiet things have been on the streets up to the present moment.

      A striking feature of news reporting and commentary in the final weeks before the British withdrawal from EU on 29 March is how narrowly focused it is on Westminster and on the sayings and doings of the political establishment.

      Commenters have largely ignored what was supposed to be one of the lessons of the 2016 referendum, which was that London-based television, radio and newspapers were out of touch with the feelings of the country – a lack of understanding which led them to being surprised and shocked by the outcome of the vote.

    • The ‘Uberfication’ of education: warning about commercial operators

      Gavrielatos said Bridge International provides educators with scripted lessons developed in the US loaded onto a tablet. He says the introduction of technology platforms compensates for not having qualified teachers “who literally read word for word from a tablet”.

      “This is Uberification of education and there are plans to scale it up in the global north,” he says.

      “These staff are not trained teachers. They are high school graduates who instruct kids for a fraction of the price that it costs to employ a qualified teacher.

    • Global use of AI on the rise, but talent in short supply: report

      Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise around the world according to a new global study that found the number of enterprises implementing artificial intelligence (AI) grew 270% in the past four years and tripled in the past year.

    • The Cab Ride That Nearly Killed Me Changed How I Think About Ride-Hailing Apps

      In the months that followed, my journalistic curiosity took over. I began to wonder not only about my driver but also about all those who’ve poured into ride-hailing cars on the streets of Singapore and around the world. Were these companies doing enough to protect passengers from negligent drivers? Maybe Grab’s growth and its perceived triumph over Uber the day before my accident had come at a cost. Was it possible that, for all the convenience ride-hailing services offered, they were making cities less safe?

    • Amazon warehouse workers are getting utility belts that ward off robots

      Amazon has more than 100,000 robots in its warehouses, and so, naturally, needs to ensure that the machines play nice with human employees. The company’s latest solution to keep robo-human relations ticking over smoothly is what it calls the “Robotic Tech Vest” — a bit of kit that warehouse workers can wear to make them visible to nearby machines.

    • Amazon built an electronic vest to improve worker/robot interactions

      Over the course of the last year, Amazon began rolling out a new worker safety wearable to 25+ sites. From the looks of it, the Robotic Tech Vest is really more like a pair of suspenders attached to an electronic utility belt. The Amazon Robotics-designed product was created to keep workers safe when they need to enter a space in order to fix a robotic system or retrieve fallen items. Built-in sensors alert Amazon’s robotic systems to the wearer’s presence, and they slow down to avoid collision.

    • The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like

      With the New Year and the US recovery soon to be record-breaking in duration, many are asking when the next recession is likely to come and what will cause it. While none of us has a crystal ball that gives a clear view of the future, there are a few things we can say.
      First, and most importantly, the next recession will not look like the last recession. The last recession was caused by the collapse of a massive housing bubble that had been the driving force in the previous recovery. While economists like to pretend this was an unforeseeable event, that is not true.
      There was an unprecedented run-up in nationwide house prices. It was clear that this was not being driven by the fundamentals of the housing market, as there was no remotely corresponding increase in rents, and vacancy rates were hitting record levels.
      Furthermore, it was easy to see the housing bubble was driving the economy. Residential construction was hitting record shares of GDP, more than two full percentage points above its long-term average of 4.0 percent of GDP.

    • Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests

      According to Vincent Brengarth, a lawyer at the Paris Bar, in recent years we have been witnessing a disturbing drift in police repression in France, more specifically since November 2015 when the state of emergency was pronounced and extended several times, before being integrated into common law. We would henceforth be under “a state of emergency that does not say its name,” with preventive arrests only based on suspicion, without concrete evidence of an offence.

    • Oracle Paid Women $13,000 Less Than Men, Analysis Finds

      Oracle allegedly paid some female employees more than $13,000 less per year, on average, than male employees in similar roles, according an analysis of Oracle’s own pay data revealed Friday as part of a gender bias lawsuit against the company. The analysis was performed by economist David Neumark, a professor at UC Irvine, who claims the likelihood of such a disparity occurring by chance is less than one in 1 billion.

    • Two Snap Executives Pushed Out After Probe Into Inappropriate Relationship

      The Snapchat parent late last year fired its head of global security, Francis Racioppi, after an investigation by the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher into his relationship with the contractor, these people said.

      The probe, initiated by the company, found that Mr. Racioppi had a relationship with the woman, whom he had hired, and then terminated her contract after the relationship ended, these people said.

    • Two Snap execs forced out after probe into relationship with outside contractor

      The company’s head of global security Francis Racioppi was fired by the Snapchat parent company late last month after an investigation found that he had an undisclosed relationship with a woman he hired as a contractor, according to the Journal. He reportedly ended her contract after their relationship came to a close.

    • The DeVos and the Defrauded

      Most investors couldn’t have seen it coming, but those in the business were thrilled. The day after The Trump was given the keys to the best playroom he’d ever had, the stock in Strayer Education, Inc., the company that owns the for-profit Strayer University, jumped almost 20%. Stock in other for profit universities enjoyed a similar increase. Investors were prescient. Betsy DeVos was named Secretary of Education.

      A fan of school choice, charter schools, and a major supporter of the Republican party, Betsy was a great choice for the position, even though she had no experience in the realm of education, other than her passionate support for the reportedly less than successful charter schools in Michigan.

      After Betsy was confirmed by the Senate, she made up for her own lack of knowledge about the world of education by hiring people who had been closely identified with the for-profit college business. Among them was Julian Schmoke, who was placed in charge of the unit that investigates fraud in higher education. From 2008 to 2012 Mr. Schmoke was associate dean of the College of Engineering and Information Sciences at DeVry University. That university engaged in assorted fraudulent activities, for which it paid more than $1 million in fines and penalties.

      Another Betsy hire was Robert Eitel who, prior to joining the Department, had been at Bridgepoint Education. That institution was fined $30 million on account of deceptive student lending practices.

    • Facing Populist Assault, Global Elites Regroup in Davos

      As the world’s financial and political elites convene here in the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum, their vision of ever-closer commercial and political ties is under attack — and the economic outlook is darkening.

      Britain’s political system has been thrown into chaos as the country negotiates a messy divorce from the European Union.

      Under President Donald Trump, the United States is imposing trade sanctions on friend and foe alike, and the government is paralyzed by a partial shutdown over immigration policy that forced Trump and a high-level U.S. delegation to cancel the trip to Davos.

    • As New Analysis Shows Global Elite’s Wealth Surge, Davos Forum Urged to Address Climate Crisis

      The global elite are getting ready to gather in the Swiss Alps for the World Economic Forum (WEF), and while the backdrop may be one of “deepening gloom over the global economic and political outlook,” a new analysis reveals that for at least some of the attendees, the outlook is sunnier than ever.

      Released by Bloomberg just ahead of the gathering in Davos, it shows how the net worth of some of the “gold-collar executives” that will be attending have surged in the ten years since the financial crisis.

      JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, for example, now holds $1.5 billion—a threefold increase over the decade. Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of private equity giant Blackstone, meanwhile, saw his wealth urge sixfold, as his net worth is now $12.3 billion. Rupert Murdoch’s wealth similarly went up nearly sixfold, with his fortune now at $18.3 billion. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, for his part, is now worth $6.5 billion—a more than ninefold increase.

    • #ChiMayor19—Episode 2: Megaprojects For The Rich, Crumbs For The People

      In conjunction with reporting from journalist Aaron Cynic on the Chicago mayoral election, Shadowproof is producing a limited podcast series, “#ChiMayor19,” featuring Aaron.

      A new episode will be posted after each of Aaron’s reports on issues, which grassroots groups believe candidates for mayor must address if they are elected.

      The second episode in the podcast series is on megaprojects for wealthy developers in Chicago that are approved at the expense of struggling communities in the city. It ties in to Aaron’s report published on January 14.

    • 35,000 Hit Streets of Berlin to Demand Agricultural Revolution

      “With over €6 billion that Germany distributes every year as EU farming monies, environmental and animal-appropriate transformation of agriculture must be promoted,” said protest spokesperson Saskia Richartz.

      Slow Food Europe captured some of the scenes on social media, and stated in a Twitter thread: “We believe that instead of propping up agro-industries, politicians should support the determination of small-scale farmers to keep climate-friendly farms, which are the future of agriculture.”

    • The Radical Worker Politics of the Los Angeles Teacher Strike

      Depending on one’s capacity for optimism, 2018 either foretold the rebirth of labor militancy in the United States or, conversely, suggested the last gasp of a movement that has been in near-terminal decline since the 1970s. Two key events took place last year, which, per one’s analysis, have led to opposing predictions for workers in the US.

      First, in February 2018, after years of austerity under Republican control, West Virginia teachers and school personnel decided to go on strike. But this was no conventional work stoppage. In West Virginia, teachers are considered providers of “essential services”, making any strike action illegal. Of course, this is part of the reason why neoliberal politicians have been able to walk all over the backs of West Virginia teachers for decades, making them third-last in the nation in terms of pay.

      However, it also did not help that their unions — the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the West Virginia School Service Personnel — were all dead set against any risk-taking, never mind an illegal disruption of work.

      But against all expectations, West Virginia teachers captivated the nation when they decided to go on strike nonetheless, drawing inspiration from a long history of radical strikes in the state’s dying coal-mines. Their wildcat action brought out over 20,000 teachers shutting down schools in all 55 West Virginia counties.

    • The Deep-Pocket Push to Deep-Six Public Schools

      Back during the 1960s and 1970s, in cities, suburbs, and small towns across the United States, teacher strikes made headlines on a fairly regular basis. Teachers in those years had a variety of reasons for walking out. They struck for the right to bargain. They struck for decent pay and benefits. They struck for professional dignity.

      Now teachers in Los Angeles, America’s second-largest school district, are striking, the latest high-profile walkout in a new surge of teacher strikes that began last year. L.A. teachers are striking for the same dignity and decency teachers sought in the mid-20th century. But the L.A. struggle, many observers believe, amounts to much more than a battle over how school officials treat teachers.

      Teachers in L.A. are striking, in a most fundamental way, against how unequal America has become. They’re striking against our billionaire class.

      In Los Angeles, our billionaires have been up to no good. They’ve essentially staged an unfriendly takeover of the L.A. board of education, shoveling mega millions into the campaigns of school board candidates pledged to advancing an agenda that funnels public tax dollars to “charter schools” that have next to no accountability to the public.

      The newly elected billionaire-friendly board majority then proceeded to hire as superintendent a billionaire investment banker with no background in education. That billionaire proceeded to go about making L.A. a model for privatizing big-city school districts the nation over. Teachers in Los Angles are striking to stop him.

      The demands of striking L.A. teachers “for smaller classes, more support staff, safer schools, community schools, and charter school oversight,” explains Peter Greene, a long-time union activist with 39 years experience teaching, “are not about making their working conditions a little better, but about keeping public education alive and healthy.”

    • Guatemala in crisis after president bans corruption investigation into his government

      For months, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has been trying to stop a United Nations-backed anti-corruption investigation into his government.

      Morales, a stand-up comedian who ran for president in 2015 with the slogan “Not corrupt, nor a thief,” is accused of campaign finance violations. His administration is under investigation by the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, an influential international corruption panel called “CICIG” in Spanish.

      Last September, Morales told CICIG investigators they were no longer welcome in Guatemala and denied a visa to lead prosecutor Ivan Velasquez. The courts quickly ruled that Velasquez must be allowed to re-enter Guatemala to continue his work, but Morales has refused.

      On Jan. 6, immigration officers sent by Morales arrested Velasquez’s deputy prosecutor at the Guatemala City airport. The Constitutional Court ordered his release and reiterated that the government must let the CICIG continue its investigation.

    • Pain From the Government Shutdown Spreads. This Time It’s Food Stamps.

      Antoinette Martinez was relieved when she heard she would receive her food stamps for February about two weeks early. Her cabinet was nearly empty after the holidays, and now she could stock up on groceries to feed her family.

      But Martinez also feared she wouldn’t be able to make the funds last. “I know I’m gonna spend them and I’m gonna be struggling next month,” 31-year-old Martinez said late Wednesday as she loaded her car with bags from a Food 4 Less market in Los Angeles.

      The pain from the federal government’s partial shutdown is spreading in sometimes unexpected ways to millions of people who don’t work for the federal government.

      The roughly 40 million people who depend on federal food assistance will get their February benefits early, because the government shutdown means the money will be unavailable later, state and federal officials said. All 50 states and the District of Columbia issued the benefits this week, or plan to do so by Sunday, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Normally, they would be distributed on or after Feb. 1.

      It is unclear whether funding for the program will be available in March if the shutdown continues. The benefits for February cost the federal government approximately $4.8 billion.

    • It’s Time to Heed King’s Call for the Abolition of Poverty

      As long as what’s called “Western civilization” has existed, people have been punished for being poor. This isn’t something the Western world invented, but it’s been a consistent characteristic of it. In Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. … The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct, and immediate abolition of poverty.” Through this call to abolish poverty, King put forth an indictment of Western civilization and of capitalistic society.

      The abolition of poverty contains the radical admission that the unacceptable doesn’t deserve repair or reform. It’s an honest approach to problems that can be so big and intimidating that they may tempt us to deny what’s plainly true. King was pointing out the mistaken perception that racial capitalism is civilized or advanced. Those who benefit most according to the logic of everyday terror say that we must accept the violence of capitalistic accumulation and the ruthlessness of money. They would have us believe this is as good as it can get. It’s not.

      From furloughed workers to the unemployed and others facing dire circumstances, we live in a time that has made crowdfunding a regular go-to for people who are struggling to meet their basic needs. The lack of a universal safety net has forced people to try to create their own. The fundamental basis of solutions that many on the left are arguing for — such as socialism — can be explained with this crowdfunding trend. We are saying that it’s completely absurd to work and pay taxes, yet still not have health care, functioning schools and all the needed resources for our communities that tax revenues are supposed to pay for. Our rights should not be made into luxuries, and we should not have to crowdfund for necessities that should be paid for with the wealth our labor generates.

    • Shutdown Exposes How Many Americans Live Paycheck to Paycheck

      Today marks the two-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, and we have learned some hard lessons in the interval. The ongoing, historically unprecedented shutdown of the federal government has exposed Trump as one of the worst deal-makers ever to stand up in two shoes.

      It has further exposed the Republican Party’s bottomless disdain for marginalized people through its craven refusal to contain the man who has unleashed all this misery. It has exposed deep fissures in Trump’s once-unbreakable base as more and more of his supporters — battered by tariffs and now the shutdown — come to correctly believe they’ve been played for chumps.

      The shutdown has exposed something else far more personal and uncomfortable, something most folks don’t like to talk about because it is too frightening to contemplate, something they can’t see an easy way to fix. It is this simple, terrible truth: A great many people in the US are one missed paycheck away from complete financial calamity.

      This has proven true for many of the federal workers and contractors furloughed by the shutdown. The end of the month is less than two weeks away, and those furloughed workers will collectively owe more than $400 million in mortgage and rent payments, to say nothing of utility bills and child care expenses. Throw in food and gasoline, and the math becomes grim in a big hurry.

      This crisis is not limited to furloughed federal workers, however. According to a report by Forbes Magazine, a full 78 percent of all US workers are living paycheck to paycheck. One quarter of workers are financially unable to set aside any money for savings after each pay cycle. Three quarters of workers are in debt, and half of those believe they always will be. Most minimum wage workers are required to work multiple jobs to make ends meet.

    • Enough “Free Trade.” We Need Solidarity Economies and Reparations.

      “Free trade” is the modern form that imperialism takes: It is a system that protects and expands inequalities of power both between and within countries. “Free trade” empowers global North multinational corporations to continue — with minimal interference and tacit approval from global South governments — the unequal trade they developed with the global South during colonialism. Further, it allows global North multinationals (with their junior partners, global South multinationals) to increase inequality around the world by pitting working class people in the global North and global South against one another.

      Another way is possible. In order to build a progressive international political economy that produces material dignity and freedom for all the world’s people, we need to engage three distinct yet interrelated projects. We can build each project, piece by piece, advancing all three at the same time. The vision for what the three projects become can help us continue to build popular support as we advance each of the projects toward creating a transformed and democratic world economy.

      First, we need trade agreements that include strong labor, environmental and antitrust regulation in all countries, and agreements that end offshore tax havens for the wealthy and create fair access to markets for global South producers. These agreements can allow us to rapidly address some of the worst multinational corporate abuses. They can also create space for us to continue to build the other two projects, especially the solidarity economy institutions that can become the base for popular progressive power that we will need in order to organize to create a transformed world economy.

      Second, we need democratic international institutions that transfer technology and productive wealth from the global North to the global South so that we can begin to undo the ongoing violence of centuries of colonialism and imperialism. We can also use these institutions to coordinate investment in a just transition — led by Indigenous people and the mostly Black and Brown people who are on the front lines of the climate crisis — to a renewable energy economy, a program that can become an international version of a Green New Deal.

    • New York City Could Pave Way for More Paid Leave in US

      Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed an ordinance this month that would make New York City the first city in the country to mandate paid time off for its workers. His proposal would guarantee almost all the city’s workers at least two weeks a year of paid leave. (The smallest businesses are exempted.)

      This is a big step in bringing the country more in line with the rest of the world. Workers in every other wealthy country can count on some amount of paid time off. The European Union requires that all its members give workers at least four weeks a year of paid vacation. Several countries give more than five weeks a year of paid leave.

      While many better-educated and better-paid workers in the United States do get paid vacation, as do most union workers, many lower-paid workers get zero time off. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. Mayor de Blasio’s proposal is a first step toward changing this situation.

      Unfortunately, people in the United States tend to view the length of the work week and work year as being largely fixed. This is a large part of the story behind the bizarre fear that robots will take all the jobs. This fear is bizarre first and foremost because we are seeing extremely low rates of productivity growth. This weak growth is expected by almost all forecasters to persist into the indefinite future.

    • A ‘Fundamentally Inhuman’ Economy: 26 Billionaires Own as Much as World’s 3.8 Billion Poorest People

      Titled “Private Good or Public Wealth?” and conducted by Oxfam, the new analysis found that 26 billionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.8 billion people combined.

      According to Oxfam, the number of billionaires has doubled since the global financial crisis of 2008, even as average families have struggled mightily to recover.

      In contrast to the soaring fortunes of the global financial elite, the wealth of the world’s poorest fell by $500 million each day in 2018—an overall decline of 11 percent.

      “The economy we have today is fundamentally inhuman,” Paul O’Brien, vice president for policy and campaigns at Oxfam America, said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

    • Capitalist-Style Wealth Gap: 1 Tech Guy = 1,000,000 Teachers

      Bill Gates may be a knowledgable man, but for starters he was lucky and opportunistic. In 1975, at the age of 20, he founded Microsoft with high school buddy Paul Allen. This was the era of the first desktop computers, and numerous small companies were trying to program them, most notably Digital Research, headed by software designer Gary Kildall, whose CP/M operating system (OS) was the industry standard. Even Gates’ company used it. But Kildall was an innovator, not a businessman, and when IBM came calling for an OS for the new IBM PC, his delays drove the big mainframe company to Gates, who provided an OS based on Kildall’s CP/M system. Kildall wanted to sue, but intellectual property law for software had not yet been established. David Lefer, a collaborator for the book They Made America, summarized: “Gates didn’t invent the PC operating system, and any history that says he did is wrong.”

      To a large extent Mark Zuckerberg also took his ideas from others. Zuckerberg developed his version of social networking while he was at Harvard. Before he made his contribution, Columbia University students Adam Goldberg and Wayne Ting built a system called Campus Network, which was much more sophisticated than the early versions of Facebook. But Zuckerberg eventually prevailed because of the Harvard name, better financial support, and the simplicity of Facebook. A possible fourth reason: it was alleged that Zuckerberg hacked into competitors’ computers to compromise user data.

    • We’re Headed Towards Economic Apartheid Just as MLK Warned

      Most known for his famous “I Have Dream Speech,” King envisioned a future in which deep racial inequalities — including deep economic inequality — were eradicated. He worked tirelessly towards that mission.
      Over 50 years after his assassination, sensational media stories have focused heavily on the black unemployment rate, which has reached historic lows.
      President Trump was quick to claim credit for this improvement last year, tweeting: “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!” (The rapper had recently criticized the president for a racist statement about African countries.)
      These headlines (and boasts) don’t tell the whole story, though. Most importantly, they exclude data on overall wealth — a critical measure of financial security. Wealth buffers families from the ups and downs of income changes and economic cycles, and allows households to take advantage of opportunities.
      A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies takes a more holistic look at where the country is in terms of racial economic parity. It reveals deep, pervasive, and ongoing racial economic division.
      The study shows that wealth is concentrating into fewer and fewer hands over time. And though working white people also struggle, the hands at the very top are overwhelmingly white. Far from closing, America’s polarizing racial wealth divide is continuing to grow between white households and households of color.
      Over the past three decades, the report notes, “the median black family saw their wealth drop by a whopping 50 percent, compared to a 33 percent increase for the median white household.”
      King foreshadowed that if we maintain our exploitive economic and political systems, then we’d get not only racial apartheid, but economic apartheid as well.

    • 26 Billionaires Have as Much Wealth as the World’s Poorest Half, Oxfam Reports

      This week, in Davos, Switzerland, the world’s wealthiest and most powerful politicians and business leaders meet at the World Economic Forum to discuss the state of the global economy. In advance of this annual gathering, the anti-poverty charity Oxfam performs an annual tradition of its own, what The Guardian calls “an annual wealth check” that examines the extent of the gap between the assets of the world’s richest and poorest. According to the 2018 version, titled “Public Good or Private Wealth?,” the world’s 26 richest billionaires own as much as the world’s 3.8 billion poorest people.

      In 2018, billionaire wealth rose by $2.5 billion per day, a 12 percent increase over the previous year, while the poorest half of the world had an 11 percent decline in its already meager wealth.

      The Oxfam report analyzed the assets of more than 2,200 billionaires around the world, using data from the Credit Suisse global wealth data book to calculate the wealth gap, and Forbes’ billionaire list from March 2018 to determine the wealth of individual billionaires.

      Among the report’s findings is that Amazon owner Jeff Bezos—currently the world’s richest man—has a $112 billion fortune. As The Guardian observes, “Just 1% of his fortune is equivalent to the whole health budget for Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.”

    • Trump’s shutdown is a historic opportunity for real change

      This week, the White House Council of Economic Advisers doubled its estimate of how much the shutdown – the longest in US history – will cost the economy. Others are warning that it could push the US towards a recession. Families across the country are scrambling to feed their children, keep their homes, and pay for expensive medications. As hundreds of thousands of federal and contract workers continue without pay, Trump has demanded that workers return to their jobs, stating that the shutdown will continue indefinitely – for months or even years – until his racist, multibillion-dollar border wall is approved.

      Despite Trump’s claims that what he is doing is for the safety of everyday Americans, this moment could not make it plainer that he does not care about any of us – not even the working class white people he claims to represent. The wall’s aim is not to protect ordinary Americans, but to rile up Trump’s base using racism.

      This is a classic divide-and-conquer tactic, aiming to get poor white people to blame people of colour and not the political and corporate elite, for poverty. The wall will also make loads of money for an ever-growing corporate defence industry, who are deep in Trump’s pockets, and see militarised borders, surveillance, deportation, war and incarceration as opportunities to make cash.

      But polling shows that Trump’s plan is backfiring. By refusing to back down, Trump is actually losing support among his base. This carves out a path for leftists to present a new vision for this country, one that sees the fate of everyday people – both within and outside the US border – as deeply connected. We have an opportunity to present a political pathway where there is enough for all of us. We have an opportunity to actually win more people towards our side, and away from Trump, the fascist far right, and the political and corporate elite.

    • We should call it treason! They betrayed the country!

      What are the economic and fiscal costs of corruption in South Africa?

      The economic costs of corruption include lower levels of GDP growth, inefficient public investment, reduced investment, reduced entrepreneurial innovation, higher rates of inflation and inequality.

      Corruption drains the fiscus while lowering tax revenue.

    • Classroom deficiencies spilling over into protests on the street

      Have you ever faced a group of 20-plus children who have not yet been schooled in workable classroom etiquette? Who have never “lined up”, “kept quiet”, “sat still” to attend to announcements or addresses”? Who have not learned polite interaction with others in groups, nor experienced pragmatic turn-taking?
      Diverse temperaments, language skills and the social maturity levels of pupils require educated class management of staff.

    • The Fall of Davos Man

      The annual confab of the captains of global industry, finance, and wealth is underway in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.

      Meanwhile, Oxfam reports that the wealth of the 2,200 billionaires across the globe increased by $900 billion last year – or $2.5 billion a day. Their 12 percent increase in wealth contrasts with a drop of 11 percent in the wealth of the bottom half of the people of the world. In fact, the world’s 26 richest billionaires now own as much as the 3.8 billion who comprise the bottom half of the planet’s population.

      If Davos’s attendees ignore all this, and blame the rise of right-wing populism around the globe on racism fueled by immigrants from the Middle East and from Central America, they’re deluding themselves.

    • Why Did Socialism Fail?

      Back then, the globe was commonly divided into three worlds: the developed capitalist nations became known as the first world; the second world encompassed the self-proclaimed “socialist” nations of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; and the third world included Europe’s former colonies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In China and other third world countries, communist-led national liberation movements were driving out Western imperialism and endeavoring to transform their backward peasant economies into modern socialist states.

      However, even then, there were clear signs that genuine democratic socialism had failed to materialize. While the Marxist leaders of the second world claimed to be building socialism, the authoritarian, centrally planned industrial societies they ruled bore little resemblance to the egalitarian, working class democracies Marx and Engels had in mind. By the latter half of the 20th century, working people throughout the second world, from Hungary and Czechoslovakia to Poland, were openly rebelling against the “socialist workers’ states” that claimed to represent them.

    • Not Yet a Strike But a ‘Work Stoppage Nonetheless’: Unpaid TSA Agents Calling Out at Unsustainable Rates

      “TSA experienced a national rate of 10 percent of unscheduled absences compared to a 3.1 percent rate one year ago on the same day, Jan. 20, 2018,” the agency said in a statement on Monday. “Many employees are reporting that they are not able to report to work due to financial limitations.”

      At some airports across the country, the shortage of TSA agents has resulted in security checkpoint closures and longer-than-normal wait times. In response to initial reports of a rise in TSA agent absences earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton called the uptick in absences “fake news.”

      Houlton has yet to respond to the TSA’s latest figures.

      Ahead of the TSA’s Monday announcement, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa wrote on Twitter that two senior Republicans close to the White House told him the only way for a real breakthrough in shutdown negotiations “is if TSA employees stay home and Americans get furious about their flights.”

    • Putting Tax Rates and Billionaire ‘Excess’ in Moral Terms, Ocasio-Cortez Asks ‘What Kind of Society Do We Want to Live In?’

      Appearing on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Monday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) once again brought to American households a discussion of the economic system which has allowed an extreme wealth gap to widen in the United States, explaining her proposal to impose a far higher tax rate on the wealthiest Americans in order to even the playing field.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • WhatsApp limits message forwarding in fight against misinformation

      WhatsApp initially limited messages to being forwarded 20 times in July, with the five time forwarding limit being tested out in India. Before that, you could forward a message to up to 256 people. WhatsApp began labeling forwarded messages around that time, too. The initial limits were prompted by a series of mob attacks and killings in India, set off by the spread of false information about child kidnappings.

    • Facebook’s WhatsApp limits users to five text forwards to curb rumors

      Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) WhatsApp is limiting worldwide the number of times a user can forward a message to five, starting on Monday, as the popular messaging service looks to fight “misinformation and rumors”, company executives said on Monday.

    • WhatsApp limits text forwards to 5 recipients to curb ‘misinformation, rumors’

      “We’re imposing a limit of five messages all over the world as of today,” WhatsApp’s Vice President for Policy and Communications Victoria Grand said at an event held in Jakarta.

      The cap on message forwarding was first introduced in India after the spread of rumors on social media led to killings and lynching attempts. Now the management has decided to extend this for users across the world.

    • Facebook adding 1,000 jobs in Ireland to help crack down on abuse
    • Facebook to add 1,000 new jobs in Ireland by year-end

      Facebook began work late last year on a new office campus in Dublin, which it said would quadruple its footprint in the city and allow it to more than double its current staff of over 4,000.

      In a speech in Dublin on Monday, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the new roles would primarily be assigned to its crackdown on abuse taking place on its site.

    • Sandberg admits to Facebook stumbles, says ‘we need to do better’ after rough year

      On Sunday, Sandberg outlined five things Facebook is doing as it “reflects and learns.” Those steps include: Investing in safety and security; protecting against election interference; cracking down on fake accounts and fake information; making sure people feel like they control their own information; and increasing transparency at Facebook, she said.

    • GOP Rep. Seeks to Block Tlaib Palestine Congressional Delegation

      Ordinarily, the wealthy and powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (which ought to have to register as a foreign agent but doesn’t because it is so wealthy and powerful) pays for a trip of these Federal representatives to Israel, where they are introduced to Israeli politicians and given the Israeli story about the Palestinians. This is like visiting Columbia, South Carolina in the 1950s and asking the white state legislators there why Black South Carolinians are so poor and have such bad education and health statistics.

      As a result of such successful boondoggles and lobbying, the US is now giving $23,000 to each Israeli family over the next 10 years, $38 billion in total, at a time when Federal employees are not being paid at all and are losing their mortgages and people in Flint, Michigan, are still expected to drink lead-poisoned water. Israel is a wealthy country with a per capita income of $40,000 a year in nominal terms, slightly better than that of France. The only reason that the American public is forking over that kind of cash to the Israelis is that the Israel lobbies have given significant campaign contributions to many in Congress and expect them to put massive aid to Israel into the US budget as a quid pro quo.

    • The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros

      The glass tower that houses George Soros’s office in Manhattan is overflowing with numbers on screens, tracking and predicting the directions of markets around the world. But there’s one that’s particularly hard to figure out — a basic orange chart on a screen analyzing sentiment on social media.

      The data, updated regularly since 2017, projects the reactions on the internet to the name George Soros. He gets tens of thousands of mentions per week — almost always negative, some of it obviously driven by networks of bots. Soros is pure evil. A drug smuggler. Profiteer. Extremist. Conspiracist. Nazi. Jew. It’s a display of pure hate.

      The demonization of Soros is one of the defining features of contemporary global politics, and it is, with a couple of exceptions, a pack of lies. Soros is indeed Jewish. He was an aggressive currency trader. He has backed Democrats in the US and Karl Popper’s notion of an “open society” in the former communist bloc. But the many wild and proliferating theories, which include the suggestion that he helped bring down the Soviet Union in order to clear a path to Europe for Africans and Arabs, are so crazy as to be laughable — if they weren’t so virulent.

      Soros and his aides have spent long hours wondering: Where did this all come from?

      Only a handful of people know the answer.

      On a sunny morning last summer, one of them could be found standing in front of the huge buffet in the Westin Grand Hotel in Berlin. George Birnbaum is built like a marathon runner — tall and slender, his head and face shaved clean. Elegant horn-rimmed glasses frame his piercing blue eyes.

      Birnbaum — a political consultant who has worked in the US, Israel, Hungary, and across the Balkans — had agreed to talk for the first time about his role in the creation of the Soros bogeyman, which ended up unleashing a global wave of anti-Semitic attacks on the billionaire investor. But he also wanted to defend his work, and that of his former mentor and friend, Arthur Finkelstein.

    • Caroline Lucas pressures Prime Minister on need for People’s Vote

      Following her meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss Brexit this morning, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said:

      “I’ve just come out of Downing Street having had a robust discussion with the Prime Minister.

      “I urged her to take no deal off the table and stop using it to blackmail MPs. It would be a catastrophe for the country and no responsible government should even contemplate it.

      “I raised the rights of the three million EU citizens who’ve made their homes here and British people living in Europe, and the Prime Minister agreed to do more to reassure people whose lives have been turned upside down by Brexit. I got an update on the situation with those countries which have yet to guarantee citizens’ rights in the event of no deal.

    • ‘Run Bernie Run’: Grassroots Coalition Holding Weekend of Action to Make Case for Sanders 2020

      As a growing number of Democratic contenders announce their 2020 presidential campaigns, a coalition of grassroots groups hoping Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will also run are not waiting for an official declaration as they expand their organizing efforts and continue to make the case for why the senator would be the best candidate.

    • ‘For the People’: California Sen. Kamala Harris Announces 2020 Run

      Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Monday morning became the latest Democrat to announce a 2020 presidential run, choosing Martin Luther King Jr. Day to tell the country that “we know America can be better than this” and call on potential supporters to come “together” in order to “fight for our American values.”

      “Let’s do this, together. Let’s claim our future. For ourselves, for our children, and for our country,” Harris declares in a campaign video shared on social media and posted to her campaign website at KamalaHarris.org.

      [...]

      According to Politico’s reporting, based on interviews with “a half-dozen confidants and strategists,” the belief is that her “background will allow [Harris] to project toughness against Donald Trump, and contrast what they call her evidence-based approach to law and politics with the president’s carelessness with facts and legal troubles with the special prosecutor.”

      In the mind of Harris skeptics, however, the hurdles for Harris might be higher than she knows.

      Last week, a widely-circulated New York Times op-ed written by Lara Bazelon, a law professor and the former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent in Los Angeles, argued that Harris cannot be considered a “progressive prosecutor” given her record as attorney general in California.

      “Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent,” wrote Bazelon.

    • Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent

      The level of absurdity in US politics has now reached such vertigo inducing levels as to render all manner of things permissible. Contact with the unwashed implies collaboration; discussion with the enemy implies assent. To go to a dinner party with a perceived hostile force in the context of business of diplomacy has become a child’s condemnation of misplaced loyalties. Yet everyday, thousands of engagements are made between powers and interests where nothing other than a hello is exchanged, or a pleasantry. Perhaps the more relevant question to ask here is that businessmen and women in power suggest the limits of the nation state and representation: to what extent can such figures claim to be legitimate as figure who think outside the logic of money and finance?

      In the impoverished, manic era of Donald Trump, the accusers have mimicked the man they wish to destroy. Mimicry replaces originality; the copycat cat reigns with derivative accusation and complaint. It is with ironic semblance that the individuals accuse him of mendacity, a dislike of evidence, and an aversion to the record, should be happy to throw all convention out as they take ring seats in speculation. Trump, the spy, the man of treason, the sell-out, runs the stables of the addled and confused.

      CNN was particularly busy on this dithering foolishness, demonstrating yet again that newfangled point that no news is worthy unless it can be made into a confection of some heft. The president demands this because of his character, the sensationalist figure, the man of game shows and the reality television persona. He must be sensationalised.

      Such theatre leads to such levels of gabbing as to be moronic. The president might be a Russian agent, because the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation in 2017 on Trump. Pause for laughter. The President was investigated by that glorious agency of record, the FBI, for suspected links. Pause for befuddlement. The Washington Post then ran a story claiming that Trump had gone to extensive lengths to conceal, even from his own aides, his interactions with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Tax payers’ funds, it seems, are being used for the most notable of ends.

    • [Reposted in another site now] Facebook Made a Lot of Money Tricking Children

      A trove of hidden documents detailing how Facebook made money off children will be made public, a federal judge ruled last week in response to requests from Reveal.

      A glimpse into the soon-to-be-released records shows Facebook’s own employees worried they were bamboozling children who racked up hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars in game charges. And the company failed to provide an effective way for unsuspecting parents to dispute the massive charges, according to internal Facebook records.

      The documents are part of a 2012 class-action lawsuit against the social media giant that claimed it inappropriately profited from business transactions with children.

      The lead plaintiff in the case was a child who used his mother’s credit card to pay $20 while playing a game on Facebook. The child, referred to as “I.B.” in the case, did not know the social media giant had stored his mom’s payment information. As he continued to play the game, Ninja Saga, Facebook continued to charge his mom’s credit card, racking up several hundred dollars in just a few weeks.

      The child “believed these purchases were being made with virtual currency, and that his mother’s credit card was not being charged for these purchases,” according to a previous ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Freeman.

      When the bill came, his mom requested Facebook refund the money, saying she never authorized any charges beyond the original $20. But the company never refunded any money, forcing the family to file a lawsuit in pursuit of a refund.

    • U.K. Leader’s Brexit Plan B Looks a Lot Like Plan A

      British Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled her Brexit Plan B on Monday — and it looks a lot like Plan A.

      May launched a mission to resuscitate her rejected European Union divorce deal, setting out plans to get it approved by Parliament after securing changes from the EU to a contentious Irish border measure.

      May’s opponents expressed incredulity: British lawmakers last week dealt the deal a resounding defeat, and EU leaders insist they won’t renegotiate it.

      Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party accused May of being in “deep denial” about her doomed deal.

      “This really does feel a bit like ‘Groundhog Day,’” he said, referring to the 1993 film starring Bill Murray, in which a weatherman is fated to live out the same day over and over again.

    • Nine Years After Citizens United, Calls to Overturn ‘Horrendous’ Decision and Pass Pro-Democracy HR1

      With Monday marking the ninth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, campaign finance watchdogs say it’s more urgent than ever to address “the degradation of our democracy” and overturn the 2010 decision which opened the floodgates to unlimited spending by corporate interests and the super wealthy.

      That decision by the high court further corrupted the democratic process by opening the floodgates to unlimited corporate political spending.

      Among its critics is the advocacy group Public Citizen, which argued in a Twitter thread that “Until #CitizensUnited is overturned, the corporate oligarchy will maintain the power to block the policies favored by the majority of Americans—from raising the minimum wage to addressing catastrophic climate change, breaking up Wall Street banks to winning #MedicareForAll.”

      With President Donald Trump pushing the Supreme Court rightward, Public Citizen says the best hope lies in a successful push for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. The group sees hope in a new piece of far-reaching legislation—House Resolution 1 (HR1)—and the fact that is has 223 cosponsors.

      That legislation, as outlined in a statement from Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who introduced the measure this month, “shines a light on dark money in politics” and “levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, creating a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics.”

    • Trump’s Russian Pop Star Pal Cancels U.S. Tour Over Probes

      Emin Agalarov, the Moscow pop star who arranged the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting in New York at the height of the 2016 election campaign, abruptly canceled his U.S. tour, citing the risk of being detained.

      Agalarov said he’s ready to answer any question as part of U.S. probes into alleged Russian election meddling but couldn’t get assurances regarding freedom and safety before his now-abandoned swing through the U.S. He’d been due to perform in New York on Jan. 26, followed by shows in Toronto, Miami and Los Angeles.

    • No, Trump didn’t break open the Pizzagate scandal in 2011

      Ever since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015, Donald Trump has been ascribed mythical properties by his adoring fan base. According to the most conspiracy-obsessed diehards, when Trump’s not playing three-dimensional chess against his political enemies, he’s spending his spare time taking down the deep state and revealing a pedophilia ring at the highest level of power.

      The last one has been a particular fixation of those in the far-right nether reaches of the internet, who became enamored with “Pizzagate,” the theory that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was secretly running a child sex trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor in Northwest D.C.

      Now, an old clip of Trump saying the word Pizzagate had become fodder for the president’s fans, again claiming he’s truly a god among men.

      [...]

      Unfortunately for those who believe the president can see the future, Trump’s Pizzagate reference was not about a child sex ring, but about a scandal of Trump’s own making. In 2011, Trump was photographed eating pizza with Sarah Palin in New York City, where he used a knife and fork.

    • ‘Fake news’ is okay if it’s about #RussiaGate: Top 7 fake ‘collusion’ stories the media pushed

      BuzzFeed’s ‘bombshell’ claim last week that Donald Trump told ex-lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to congress is just the latest in a long line of ‘Russiagate’ stories that have later turned out to be false.

      But BuzzFeed’s rubbished article is part of a phenomenon of what could be termed ‘acceptable fake news’ — fake news that gets a pass from the media because it serves a certain narrative. In this case, it furthers the ‘Russiagate’ narrative, which the mainstream media has been pushing breathlessly for two years. Lacking hard proof that Trump ‘colluded’ with Russia to win the 2016 election, they have clung to anything shred of fake evidence they can find.

      Last week, one astute Twitter user compiled a list of a whopping 42 Russiagate stories which were billed as bombshells but which ended up needing to be retracted or corrected. Here are seven of the most scandalous instances.

    • Trump’s Assault on the Rule of Law

      The “rule of law” distinguishes democracies from dictatorships. It’s based on three fundamental principles. Trump is violating every one of them.

      The first principle is that no person is above the law, not even a president. Which means a president cannot stop an investigation into his alleged illegal acts.

      Yet Trump has done everything he can to stop the Mueller investigation, even making Matthew Whitaker acting Attorney General – whose only distinction to date has been loud and public condemnation of that investigation.

    • Trump-Russia story keeps changing as lawyer Giuliani speaks again

      US President Donald Trump’s Russia problem is not going anywhere and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani spent the weekend making new bizarre revelations about the relationship.

      The former New York mayor said Mr Trump was involved in discussions about building a Trump Tower Moscow throughout his 2016 presidential campaign.
      “It’s our understanding that they went on throughout 2016 — there weren’t a lot of them, but there were conversations,” Mr Giuliani told NBC’s Meet The Press.

      He told The New York TimesMr Trump had said negotiations to build a hotel in Russia were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won”.
      That’s a major step forward from previous claims by the President’s associates that he was minimally involved in talks of a deal and that it was cancelled far earlier.

      It would mean Mr Trump was still involved in a Russian deal when he called for an end to economic sanctions against the nation imposed by Barack Obama, gave interviews questioning the legitimacy of NATO, and called on Russia to release hacked Democratic emails.

    • The Double Bind of Human Senescence

      Why isn’t innovative political thinking taken more seriously by more people? Why aren’t authentically new ideas considered as a way to alter the current dismal state of affairs in the world? The political cemetery is full of freshly dug graves. There are representatives of the Left and the Right residing in their sepulchers. Why are they so consigned?

      The two-term U.S. presidency of Barack Obama began with promises of hope and change but morphed almost immediately into a campaign of Wall Street bailouts, a milquetoast Keynesian stimulus, a continuation of the “War on Terror,” an attempt at slashing entitlement programs, and Rube Goldberg healthcare reform. In 2015, the SYRIZA rebellion in Greece against the austerian rulers of the European Union was systematically compromised and then crushed. The 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton was done in by the treachery of the presiding apparatus of the Democratic Party. Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn likewise has been relentlessly attacked by the media, the opposition parties, and even members of his own party; Corbyn appears to be neutralized as a result.

      The Right has fared no better. The triumph of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was quickly followed by the ejection of Trump’s populist advisors and replacement by members of the neoconservative movement. The rebellion in Italy led by Matteo Salvini against the EU’s austerians seems to have been stymied. In France, the nationalist Marine LePen has not been able to survive past the second round of presidential elections in either 2012 or 2017.

      While many on the Left attribute humanity’s dire predicament to capitalism or the neoliberal order, I am convinced that evolutionary biology provides the most accurate explanation for our current predicament. This insight came to me after listening to a discussion involving Bret Weinstein, the noted theoretical evolutionary biologist. In this discussion, Dr. Weinstein proposed that the reason for humanity’s impasse is that we are up against what biologists call an Evolutionary Stable Strategy, or ESS.

    • We-Are-Not-Them Exceptionalism

      Halfway through 2018, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski hurled a mother-to-mother dagger at Ivanka Trump. How, during the very weeks when the headlines were filled with grim news of child separations and suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border, she asked, could the first daughter and presidential adviser be so tone-deaf as to show herself hugging her two-year-old son? Similarly, six months earlier, she had been photographed posing with her six-year-old daughter in the glossiest of photos. America had, in other words, found its very own Marie Antoinette, gloating while others suffered. “I wish,” Brzezinski tweeted at Ivanka, “you would speak for all mothers and take a stand for all mothers and children.”

      The problem, however, wasn’t just the heartlessness and insensitivity of the first daughter, nor was it simply the grotesque disparity between those mothers on the border and her. The problem was that the sensibility displayed in those photos — that implicit we-are-not-them exceptionalism — was in no way restricted to Ivanka Trump. A subtle but pervasive sense that this country and its children can remain separated from, and immune to, the problems currently being visited upon children around the world is, in fact, widespread.

      If you need proof, just watch a night of television and catch the plentiful ads extolling the bouncy exuberance of our children — seat-belted into SUV’s, waving pennants at sports events, or basking in their parents’ praise for doing homework. If you think about it, you’ll soon grasp the deep disparity between the image of children and childhood in the United States and what’s happening to kids in so many other places on Earth. The well-ingrained sense of exceptionalism that goes with such imagery attests to a wider illusion: that the United States can continue to stand apart from the ills plaguing so much of the world.

    • Why Leslie Evans Must Resign

      It is no secret that feminism is Nicola’s passion. A gender-balanced Cabinet, all-female shortlists for SNP Holyrood candidates, gender balance on boards of public authorities, these and many more are results of Nicola’s feminist activism in government, much of it admirable. Leslie Evans is close to her and a key ally in driving forward that agenda.

      Leslie Evans has built a career out of promoting PC identity politics within local authorities and the civil service. In this story of her dishonesty when an officer at Edinburgh City Council, that appears to be her motivation against the project she sought to penalise. Evans frequently states her feminist principles.

    • The Next US-North Korea Summit

      The second meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un is scheduled for next month. The most likely location will be Vietnam. The agenda is much the same as before: how to get North Korea to denuclearize and the United States to dismantle its sanctions regime. The question remains: which side will make the first substantial move?

      The summit comes at a particular difficult time for Trump. The partial shutdown of the federal government is nearing the end of its third week, and most Americans blame the president. Pentagon chief James Mattis resigned over Trump’s insistence on withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria, a policy that other administration officials have attempted to reverse. The president faces fresh criticism of his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And the House of Representatives, now in the hands of the opposition Democratic Party, is getting ready to launch a slew of investigations into Trump’s affairs and policies.

      Kim Jong Un, on the other hand, has been busy consolidating his position. He visited China for the fourth time this month and began making arrangements for Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first visit to North Korea this spring. Relations with the South are proceeding more-or-less smoothly, with the groundbreaking ceremony for a new inter-Korean railroad taking place late last year.

    • The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High

      On Friday, January 17, 2019, a sordid modern day short-lived tragedy unfolded in close proximity to the Lincoln Memorial. A national site that serves as an aide mémoire to the most divisive time in the nation’s history and the subsequent slow healing process, the Lincoln Memorial is a hallowed tiny piece of ground that stands as a remarkable testimony to the courage of those who stood and fought for decency.

      This ignoble tragedy included protagonists, antagonists, and an out-of-control chorus.

      Hebrew Israelites, well over 100 Covington Catholic High (Park Hills, Kentucky) students on a politically indoctrinating outing as part of the annual Washington, DC, March for Life (that brings Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians and Catholics in a joint effort to spew their venom), and several leaders of Native America organizations attempting to bring attention to the plight and disregard of Native Nations’ concerns that include land theft, exploitation of natural recourses that have a detrimental impact on the environment, and the passage of legislation that protects Native American women from violence and murder.

      While the narrative, including the charges and counter-charges, are an evolving cut and paste of facts provided by witnesses, video recordings, and those involved in this loathsome circus of odious behavior, the online reports have thus far demonstrated how two years of Donald Trump have legitimized hatred and given license to racist, bigoted, and misogynist rhetoric and vituperative of the worst kind.

    • “I Was Absolutely Afraid”: Indigenous Elder on “Mob Mentality” of MAGA Hat-Wearing Students in D.C.

      On Friday, thousands took part in the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. The next day, video went viral of an interaction that took place soon after the march ended between an indigenous elder and a group of Catholic high school students from Kentucky who had attended a March for Life protest the same day. In the video, Omaha elder Nathan Phillips is seen peacefully playing his drum and singing while being encircled by the students—some of whom were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats. The video appears to show the students taunting and mocking Phillips. Some of the students are seen making a tomahawk-chop motion with their arms. One student wearing a red MAGA hat is seen standing directly in front of Phillips while grinning and smirking. The videos sparked widespread outrage, but some commentators walked back their critique of the students after more videos were posted online. We speak to Nathan Phillips about what happened. He is a Vietnam-era veteran and previous director of the Native Youth Alliance.

    • Is Pence as Unfit for Office as Trump?

      In the last two years, the press has spilled a Niagara of ink to describe President Donald Trump’s lies, flipflops, personal weirdness, and sheer unsuitability for office. As for Vice President Michael Richard Pence, despite his hectoring insistence on being the chosen instrument of the Almighty, many observers have resignedly noted that at least he has had the relevant experience in state and federal government his boss lacks, and remains (if barely) within the spectrum of behaviors of the typical American officeholder. Some have even identified him as the anonymous author of the September 2018 New York Times op-ed blasting Trump.

      But his January 16 speech announcing ISIS’s defeat should dispel any notion that Pence has the competence and good judgment necessary to govern. With his characteristic combination of smugness and robotic stiffness, he declared, “We are bringing our troops home. The caliphate has crumbled, and ISIS has been defeated.”

      One need not even engage in the argument over whether U.S. forces must withdraw from Syria or not—one could line up arguments on either side of the case—to recognize the fallacy of the vice president’s pronouncement. Conventional military force can seize territory from a group like ISIS and kill its adherents, but it cannot kill an ideology. Nor can military means alone “defeat” terrorism, which is a method, rather than a discrete and countable armed contingent with an order of battle. At best, military force can contain terrorism—but with the significant risk of stimulating local disaffection and terrorist recruitment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Student addresses ‘misinformation’ and ‘outright lies’ about incident with Native American man

      Reason, a libertarian magazine, in an article on Sunday reported that full-length footage of the event shows Phillips placed himself between the students and the African-American protesters, who appeared to be yelling at the students.

    • Twitter suspends account that helped incident with Native American man go viral

      Additional footage and reports emerging later appeared to show that Phillips approached Sandmann after other protesters started hassling the students. It remains unclear whether Phillips was intervening on behalf of either group.

    • Twitter suspends account that helped ignite controversy over viral encounter

      McDonagh said he found the account suspicious due to its “high follower count, highly polarized and yet inconsistent political messaging, the unusually high rate of tweets, and the use of someone else’s image in the profile photo.”

    • [Older] Four years after Charlie Hebdo attacks, satirists bemoan the loss of reason

      Many saw the violence as an attack on free speech and freedom of the press, and as a warning of the dangers of intolerance and extremism.

      Four years later, the paper’s leadership says things have only gotten worse.

      [...]

      “The hostility no longer only comes from religious extremists but now also from intellectuals,” he observed.

    • How the Charlie Hebdo attack has changed free speech in France and the US

      Despite these rights, the majority of U.S. news organizations refused to publish Charlie Hebdo’s front page in the wake of last year’s attack, Corn-Revere said. This ultimately leads to a disparity in how the First Amendment is perceived and how it’s actually interpreted and put into action by newsrooms.

    • [Older] Paris honors attack victims at Charlie Hebdo, kosher market
    • [Old] Turkish mufti threatens opposition news site reminding Charlie Hebdo attack

      Reporters Without Borders director to Turkey, Erdol Önderoğlu, condemned the statements which “back Charlie Hebdo massacre” and called officials to take legal actions against it.

      Dissident journalist Fatih Portakal, a well-known figure on TV who President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently targeted for his opponent comments, also criticised the statements. ” This is a systematic policy of ‘if you are not on my side, don’t talk, shut up’. Threats, orders, frightening, suppression efforts,” Portakal said.

    • India’s Plan to Curb Hate Speech Could Mean More Censorship

      New rules proposed by the Indian government to rein in tech giants and combat fake news could have a profoundly chilling effect on free speech and privacy online. The proposed changes involve Section 79 of the IT Act, a safe harbor protection for internet “intermediaries” that’s akin to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the US. Current law protects intermediaries such as internet service providers and social media platforms from liability for the actions of their users until they are made aware of a particular post; intermediaries also must only censor content when directed by a court.

      The proposed amendments attempt to curb the spread of misinformation on platforms like Facebook and Twitter by effectively forcing internet companies to censor a broad swath of user content. They also require secure messaging services like WhatsApp to decrypt encrypted data for government use, which could affect the security of users around the globe. The rules also would require internet companies to notify users of their privacy policies monthly.

    • Leaked audio records allegedly show how Oleg Deripaska’s associates plotted the arrest of the ‘sex trainers’ who claimed to have ‘RussiaGate’ dirt on him

      Opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny announced on Monday that he has learned about recordings of telephone calls apparently involving Oleg Deripaska and some of Deripaska’s associates. Navalny says an anonymous source contacted him “a couple of months ago” with several tapes uploaded to YouTube. Navalny says he believes the recordings are authentic, arguing that the voice on file sounds like Deripaska’s. He also points out that Deripaska filed a lawsuit in the town of Ust-Labinsk (where the billionaire is registered) demanding that Russian Internet service providers block access to this data.

      There are three different audio recordings: one about the seizure of a water bottling plant, and two about Anastasia Vashukevich (“Nastya Rybka”), including one call that includes people named “Tatiana,” “Georgy,” and “William” talking about Vashukevich’s arrest in Thailand. In the recording, Georgy insists that everyone in Vashukevich’s group needs to be “locked up,” while William points out that Thai law doesn’t imprison “sex trainers.” Georgy then says Vashukevich’s group could be charged with illegal business activities, instead.

    • Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation wants felony charges against Oleg Deripaska, saying the billionaire bribed police to prosecute a ‘sex trainer’

      Opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has asked Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee to press felony charges against the billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In a statement shared online on Tuesday, Navalny’s organization said Deripaska and several of his associates are responsible for “ordering” and “bankrolling” a prostitution case against the “sex trainers” Anastasia Vashukevich (also known as “Nastya Rybka”) and Alexander Kirillov (“Alex Leslie”). According to FBK, Deripaska and his associates committed bribery, while the police officers pursuing the case accepted bribes and unlawfully prosecuted Vashukevich and Kirillov.

      Navalny’s team also wants a new prostitution investigation launched against Deripaska, arguing that the billionaire organized the “systematic casting, logistics, accommodations, and prostitution services” for himself and his associates, “including state officials for the purposes of bribery.”

    • Washington Post Tries to Take Down Parody Site Announcing Trump’s Resignation

      If you were in Washington, D.C. last week, you had a chance to be one of the lucky recipients of a parody newspaper spoofing the Washington Post and crowing about the “Unpresidented” flight of Donald Trump from the Oval Office as he abandoned the presidency. The spoof, created by activist group the Yes Men, is also visible on the website democracyawakensinaction.org.

      The Washington Post’s lawyers were not amused, calling the parody an act of trademark infringement and raising copyright threats. We have responded to explain why the parody is protected by the First Amendment and fair use law.

      Dated May 1, 2019, the parody features a series of increasingly unlikely articles, including a mea culpa by the media for Trump’s rise to power and a story pointing out that the paper’s date is several months in the future in case the reader missed it.

      The fictional timeline of the paper credits protests like the Women’s March with Trump’s abdication, and includes a link to an action guide for people who want to pursue progressive causes.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Outsourcing Police Investigations to Google Risks Privacy and Justice

      In December, Jorge Molina was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Joseph Knight, an airport worker who was shot dead as he cycled home in the early hours of March 14, 2018, in Avondale, Arizona. The United States witnesses around 17,000 murders a year, but what made Knight’s case different was that police were led to their suspect only after asking Google to send Global Positioning System (GPS) data on all the mobile phones passing through Knight’s cycling route.

      The data revealed that a suspect vehicle, captured on surveillance footage, had taken the route. In receiving data from Google on all the devices that passed through it, the Avondale Police Department not only provided another example of what’s becoming an increasingly common practice in law enforcement, it also set a new precedent for other police departments elsewhere in the US. Even though it’s now a common and familiar practice for police to exhaustively trace the digital footprints of already identified suspects, it’s a relatively new development for them to actually gather the digital footprints of numerous people in order to home in on a suspect in the first place.

      That the Avondale Police Department was able to identify Molina using aggregated, area-based Google data is certainly an impressive feat. However, it required the filing of a “reverse search warrant,” which involves applying for information on a group of people in order to narrow down the search to specific persons of interest. And because this entailed the handing over of data belonging to individuals with no connection to Knight’s death, it raises some alarming questions about privacy. It also raises questions about the reliability of the arrests and convictions police secure, given that there is at least one case on record of an individual being wrongly imprisoned as a result of phone-sourced location data.

    • How is cyber-protection evolving to meet NIS requirement in the utility sector?

      The utility sector is a prime example of a service the directive has been laid down to cover, and one in undisputed need of protection. Society’s reliance on water, electricity and gas means a cyber-attack or cyber-physical attack would be damaging on multiple levels. From the risk of damage to individuals’ welfare to the financial losses – as well as the impact on the UK’s infrastructure and economy as a whole – a breach of systems could be catastrophic.

      As the time for implementing the directive moves onwards – the UK gas sector has a self-assessment deadline of February 2019– the need for UK-based utilities to deliver on the requirements becomes more pressing, not only to protect against attacks but to also avoid financial penalties for non-compliance.

    • Government urged to name and shame companies that fail to protect customer data

      The government has been urged to publicly name and shame British businesses with sloppy cybersecurity measures that could put customer data at risk.

      A new report released by the Cyber Security Research Group and the Policy Institute at King’s College London on Tuesday called on the government to do more to encourage businesses to improve their computer security.

      The report’s authors suggested that the National Cyber Security Centre expands its focus to include private businesses as well as public sector organisations.

      One way to do that, the report suggested, is to publicly identify businesses with poor cybersecurity. The report stopped short of calling on the government to publicly rate businesses according to their defenses, however.

      The NCSC, a division of British spy agency GCHQ, has publicly debated what more it can do to protect the public when it comes to cybersecurity.

      The agency said last year in a paper that it is “not clear what we should do about this, apart from calling out the companies who consistently fail to take fraud and security seriously.”

      The NCSC also said that it is “willing to intervene if particular infrastructure owners are intransigent in fixing their networks.”

      However, Matt Lock, director of sales engineers at cybersecurity business Varonis, cautioned against the government publicly naming companies which have been hacked.

    • France Hits Google With $57 Million Fine for Violating EU’s New Consumer Privacy Rules

      Responding to the €50 million penalty levied against Google, Ailidh Callander of Privacy International said, “This fine should serve as a wake-up call for all companies whose business models are based on data exploitation to take data protection and individuals’ data rights seriously.”

      France’s digital privacy watchdog, the National Data Protection Commission (CNIL), charges that although Google took some steps to comply with GDPR, it still fails to make data processing information “easily accessible for users” and does not validly obtain consent for showing users personalized ads.

      “The infringements observed deprive the users of essential guarantees regarding processing operations that can reveal important parts of their private life since they are based on a huge amount of data, a wide variety of services, and almost unlimited possible combinations,” a statement from CNIL said.

      “This is the first time that the CNIL applies the new sanction limits provided by the GDPR,” the statement noted. “The amount decided, and the publicity of the fine, are justified by the severity of the infringements observed regarding the essential principles of the GDPR: transparency, information, and consent.”

    • First sanction against Google following our collective complaints

      On May 28, La Quadrature du Net, on behalf of 12.000 people, has filed five complaints before the CNIL (the French Data Protection Authority) against Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. Since then, the CNIL has decided that it was competent to handle the complaint against Google, while other complaints were directed in front of the Irish and Luxemburg authorities. Another complaint has been submitted before the CNIL by our friends from the Austrian association NOYB, against Android.

      Today, the CNIL has just decided to sanction Google with a 50 million Euros fine, stating that the advertising targeting on its operating system Android does not comply with the GDPR, the new European regulation that came into effect on May 25. However, this sanction is only the beggining of the answer to our complaint against Google, which denounced above all the advertising targeting imposed on Youtube, Gmail and Google Search in violation of our consent.

      The CNIL explains the amount of its sanction, which is very low in comparison of the annual turnover of nearly 110 billion dollars of Google, that the scope of its control was limited to the data processing covered by the privacy policy presented to the user when creating his account on his Android mobile phone. We therefore expect the CNIL to quickly answer to the rest of our complaint, regarding Youtube, Gmail and Google Search, by issuing a fine commensurate with this company and the extent and the duration of the violation of ours rights (the maximum amount possible, that we hope for, is 4 billion of euros, 4% of the global turnover).

    • France Uses New EU Privacy Law to Fine Google $56.8 Million

      The EU rules took effect across the 28-nation bloc on May 25, and gave national privacy regulators equal powers to fine companies as much as 4 percent of global annual sales for the most serious violations. Google has come under CNIL’s scrutiny many times before, but under the old rules, fines couldn’t exceed the maximum of 150,000 euros. While this is the first time CNIL has benefited from the new rules, several other countries have issued fines.

      The decision can be appealed. It was triggered by two complaints, one from noyb, a group created by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems. Google was accused of forcing users to agree to new privacy policies.

    • France hits Google with €50m fine for GDPR violations

      Google has been hit with a €50 million (US$56.8 million) fine by the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) for violations of the GDPR following complaints by the organisations None Of Your Business and La Quadrature du Net, the latter representing 10,000 people.

    • Facebook fears no FTC fine

      Reports emerged today that the FTC is considering a fine against Facebook that would be the largest ever from the agency. Even if it were 10 times the size of the largest, a $22.5 million bill sent to Google in 2012, the company would basically laugh it off. Facebook is made of money. But the FTC may make it provide something it has precious little of these days: accountability.

    • F.T.C. Is Said to Be Considering Large Facebook Fines

      The investigation, which began in late March, is continuing, and the commissioners and staff have not reached a final conclusion, including how much the agency might seek in fines, the people said. Consumer-protection and enforcement staff members have provided updates on what they believe is evidence of privacy violations, but they have not submitted a final report.

    • Why Silicon Valley’s “growth at any cost” is the new “unsafe at any speed”

      Months earlier, Soltani had given similar testimony before a US Senate subcommittee, where he unequivocally said: “No other single company has done more to erode consumer privacy than Facebook.”

      [...]

      It’s impossible, he explained, for most people to keep track of the ins and outs of APIs and other data-sharing practices.

    • Behaviour can be known with a little help from your friends: claim

      A study conducted jointly by the University of Adelaide and the University of Vermont claims that the behaviour of an individual can be predicted using social media data from eight or nine of their friends.

    • Home Office vetoes privacy campaigner from senior post in surveillance watchdog

      Plans by the intelligence services watchdog, the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), to appoint a former privacy campaigner and one of the UK’s leading experts on surveillance law to a senior role overseeing the intelligence services have been vetoed by the Home Office.

      Eric King, former director of Don’t Spy On Us – which campaigned for reforms to the UK’s controversial Investigatory Powers Act 2016, known as the “Snoopers’ Charter” – and former deputy director of Privacy International, had been due to become the watchdog’s first head of investigations in 2018.

      But King revealed that the Home Office refused him security clearance for the job because of his “previous work and associations”, despite high-level support from IPCO and current and former members of the police and the intelligence services for the role.

      The decision will be seen as is a setback for the IPCO and its head, Adrian Fulford, who actively courted the opinions of privacy groups critical of the UK’s mass surveillance regime so their views could inform the work of the regulator.

    • Deep fakes: how immutable blockchain-based life logs could combat them, and the implications for privacy

      It doesn’t matter how well someone protects details about their personal life. Deep fake technology is not limited by the facts, and so can simply create invented incidents apparently involving the victim. As AI technology advances, and hardware prices fall, so it will become more difficult to disprove convincing deep fake videos, especially for ordinary people of limited means and technical ability.

    • Dismantling the “Nothing to Hide” Argument

      When talking about privacy in the modern world, we are often faced with a common dismissive argument. Someone in the group always drags out the “I don’t have anything to hide, so it doesn’t bother me” argument. Privacy activists usually take offense to this, get agitated, or get flustered and go into a tirade about how they want the person to give them their full browsing history on all of their devices.

      When we encounter this form of thinking, it is important to understand that it isn’t really a position on the issue. It is the path of least resistance. Most people, when talking about technology, politics, or any intermixing of the two, do not want to put a large amount of effort or thought into the debate. They’ll hear a salient point or two from both sides and then shut down and stop listening.

    • As cash goes extinct in Sweden, the church moves to adapt

      Many banks and business no longer handle cash and refuse to deal with it. Consumers instead must pay with card or mobile applications.

      [...]

      The churchwarden said it’s very hard to handle cash donations as no bank in the area accepts it.

    • We need to own our data as a human right—and be compensated for it

      Personal data needs to be regarded as a human right, just as access to water is a human right. The ability for people to own and control their data should be considered a central human value. The data itself should be treated like property and people should be fairly compensated for it.

    • near match fast lockout

      My phone decided it didn’t like my face and wouldn’t let me log in. Unusually, instead of giving me some retries, it immediately locked me out, requiring a passcode. At first I thought this might be a security measure, but I’m pretty sure it was just a glitch. However, it’s an interesting possibility for an authorization system. Fast lockout after a near match.

    • Life after social media: What I discovered after deleting all of my accounts

      The whole perfect storm of disgust came right around the time I went on vacation. After a week away with my family and books and getting the day’s news in more reasonably spaced doses, I knew I didn’t want to go back. I deactivated my Facebook account and, two weeks later, deleted it entirely. Then I did the same on Twitter. Even Instagram, which I generally enjoyed and had less beef with, went next, because it’s a Facebook property. And just like that, more than a decade of my online life was gone. Images from exotic adventures. Conversations with friends who’ve passed away. Poof.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Kansas city pays $2.3 million to family of teen slain by police officer

      The family of John Albers had tried for a year to extract information about their son’s death by an Overland Park officer. Now a citizens’ group will try to unearth the police reports.

    • The US Celebrates King’s Nonviolence But Not His Antiwar Politics

      US jets bombed villages. US soldiers machine-gunned combatants and civilians. The Vietnam War had hit a fever pitch of death when Martin Luther King Jr. stepped onto the podium at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, and said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

      The speech, “A Time to Break the Silence,” cost him. Newspapers damned him. Friends distanced themselves. President Lyndon Johnson, angered by what he thought was betrayal, reportedly called King, “that goddamn n***** preacher.”

      King risked isolation to speak hard truths. The US’s endless war had depleted the money needed to end poverty. The war was in support of a corrupt, authoritarian regime that suppressed a peoples’ desire to be free. The US was poisoned by its militarism; it was not the beacon of democracy but its destroyer.

      The King of “A Time to Break the Silence” is more relevant today than ever. The US’s war on the world has been ongoing. Poverty has deepened. The body count has only grown.

    • The Resurrection of Dr. King

      Over the last fifty years, there have been thousands of nonviolent movements for peace and justice that have made huge strides, and at the heart of every one of those movements stands the life, death and teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the global apostle of active nonviolence.

      Because of his legendary work in the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King’s stand against systemic poverty, institutionalized racism, permanent war and nuclear weapons, and his steadfast insistence on Gospel nonviolence as the best methodological tool for political change and the bottom line for human decency, thousands of nonviolent movements have sprung to life around the world. Dr. King’s courageous life and life-giving death have born tremendous fruit around the world in new unparalleled breakthroughs for justice and peace.

    • The Part About MLK White People Don’t Like to Talk About

      At the time of his death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most reviled men in the United States. Today, we remember him as the beloved Dr. King, and many of us refer to him as such.

      But as we read mainstream articles and hear reports and speeches about how far we’ve come on this federal holiday honoring him, it is important that we remember some of the most hateful things that have been said about Dr. King and what he stood for by leaders of and in this country—Black and White—then and now. Why? Many of the conditions that he marched, boycotted, and spoke out against still exist today—racism, materialism, militarism. We celebrate him now, even while condemning today’s activists the same way Dr. King was condemned 60 years ago.

    • Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali

      Here’s some good news. Louisville International Airport in Kentucky, Muhammad Ali’s hometown, will be renamed the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.

      Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer of all-time, a sport that has many features that readers may abhor. Airports are also great stains on the environment, with aircraft spewing tons of CO2 into the environment. But with those considerations noted, there was the long-distance runner of boxing, Ali, who became a symbol of resistance to the war in Vietnam. The observation made at the time was that Ali was at the pinnacle of his success in the ring and that boxing was one of the few places that a black man could defeat a white man and not risk death for his effort.

      On April 28, 1967, Ali refused induction into the U.S. Army, citing his religion, Muslim, and had his heavyweight boxing title taken away. He said he would not go half-way around the world to kill people who had not insulted or degraded his race, and that observation must have earned him the ire of hordes of militant haters across the U.S. Ali said: “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”

      The controversy lasted decades after Ali won his case before the Supreme Court. In 2004, baseball pitcher Bob Feller, a World War II veteran and baseball hall of fame member said: “I object very strongly to Muhammad Ali being here to throw out the first pitch… [Ali] changed his name and changed his religion so he wouldn’t have to serve his country, and to me, that’s disgusting.”

    • An MLK Day Reflection: The Racial Wealth Gap Is Killing the Middle Class

      Fifty years after co-founding the Poor People’s Campaign, a multiracial campaign for economic justice, the state of King’s dream of racial equity and freedom from poverty is far from attained.

      On the positive side, the U.S. Black unemployment rate reached historic lows in 2018. There’s also been a modest recent uptick in median household wealth for Black, Latino, and white families alike. We could easily conclude that the racial economic divide is closing.

      But we took a closer look in Dreams Deferred, a new report for the Institute for Policy Studies. And it revealed we have a long way to go.

      While income statistics provide a valuable window into the annual fortunes of a family, an analysis of wealth tells us a more in-depth story about financial security and well-being.

      Over the past three decades, a polarizing racial wealth divide has grown between White households and households of color.

    • Suspected American spy Paul Whelan loses his first appeal in Moscow, as his lawyer confirms ‘classified intelligence’ charges

      The Moscow City Court has rejected suspected spy Paul Whelan’s attempt to appeal his arrest. On January 22, in a closed hearing, prosecutors revealed that Whelan was apprehended in possession of classified information. His lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, later confirmed to journalists these allegations, also stating that Whelan has met with diplomats from the U.S., Ireland, and Canada, where he has citizenship. Whelan is also a British subject.

      According to Zherebenkov, Whelan accepted a flash drive containing secret intelligence, thinking the USB stick held only photographs of churches. “He’s interested in cultural information,” Zherebenkov explained.

    • The 11 most anti-capitalist quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.

      Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To be fair, I guess I should wish “Sorry it’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” to the people who don’t believe it should be a holiday and the politicians who voted against making it one. I’m talking to you, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA).

      While both parties attempt to claim Dr. King, the Republicans have a much harder time doing so without distorting history and the truth. But the truth is, most politicians would distance themselves from Dr. King’s stunning (and spot on) indictments of capitalism. There are, of course, a few exceptions, here and there.

      As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, let’s look at some of the things he said challenged capitalism and are left out of most history books.

    • To Fulfill MLK’s ‘Revolutionary’ Vision, Sanders Says Corrupt, Divisive, and ‘Racist’ Trump Must Be Defeated

      In his address on Monday, Sanders made clear that Trump’s bigotry is far from the only obstacle in the way of the kind of equal society King envisioned in his “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

      From mass incarceration to staggering levels of wealth, education, housing, and healthcare inequality, Sanders noted that racism is “alive” in the U.S. and can only be defeated with a transformative political agenda and bold collective action.

      “What he reminded us is courage of conscience, that we stand up, no matter what the odds, and take on the power, to fight for economic justice, to fight for social justice, to fight for racial justice, and to fight for environmental justice,” Sanders said of King.

      “This country has suffered too long from discrimination,” the Vermont senator continued. “We are not going backwards, we are going forwards, to a non-discriminatory society.”

    • MLK Holiday Offers Stage for Democratic 2020 Hopefuls

      As Americans commemorated Martin Luther King Jr., Democratic presidential hopefuls fanned out across the country to honor the civil rights leader and make themselves heard on the national stage.

      Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., used the holiday to launch a presidential campaign that, if successful, would make her the first woman and the second black candidate to become president. Former Vice President Joe Biden accepted responsibility for his part in the passage of 1980s legislation that toughened sentences for crack cocaine possession, “a big mistake” because of its damage to the black community.

      New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand lashed out at President Donald Trump for inspiring “hate and darkness” in a fiery speech in Harlem. South Carolina, a critical early-voting state in the Democratic primary, hosted two senators expected to seek the White House in 2020: Cory Booker of New Jersey and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

    • ‘Preaching Is More Than Words’: Rev. William J. Barber II Delivers Soaring Sermon in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

      To mark what would be the 90th birthday of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. this year, Rev. Dr. William Barber II—architect of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina and co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign—delivered a sermon on Monday about what is means to preach and why, as Dr. King exemplified, good people of all backgrounds and beliefs “must march, organize and fight” against injustice wherever it is found.

    • Why Martin Luther King, Jr., would Support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

      Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, at 29, has become a lightning rod. She was recruited to run against a corporate Democrat by activists of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which has become a significant caucus within the Democratic Party. Her advocacy of a higher marginal tax rate (no, she doesn’t want to raise taxes on you) and of a host of practical measures for addressing the exponentially increasing inequality and injustice in American society, has attracted the attention of the capos of the billionaires– the hatchet men working for the odious Rupert Murdoch and the mindless minions of the mountebank Trumps.

    • Critics to Mike Pence, US Marine Corps, and the CIA: Sorry, Martin Luther King Jr. Does Not Belong to You

      The family of Martin Luther King Jr. was among those who pushed back Monday amid the annual sanitization of the civil rights leader’s message, as the nation marked what would have been King’s 90th birthday—with Vice President Mike Pence drawing particular rebuke for attempting to co-opt his legacy.

      Martin Luther King III, King’s son, denounced Pence for invoking King’s words in an interview on CBS the previous day. Calling it his favorite line by the civil rights leader, Pence quoted King by saying, “Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy,” and argued that is what Donald Trump is doing by trying to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

    • All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition

      The annual King Day celebrations provide a great opportunity to defend Dr. King’s revolutionary legacy against The System’s efforts to white wash and degrade his frontal challenge to its crimes. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the great revolutionaries in U.S. and world history. He was a leader of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movement, a fierce internationalist, anti-imperialist, and Pan Africanist, a Black militant, pro-communist socialist, and part of The Movement that was far to the left of and in opposition to the Democratic Party.

      Since 1980, with the rise of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, The Two Party System, aka U.S. imperialism, has waged a Counter-revolution against the Great Victories of the Revolutionary Sixties. In that the revolutionary left won so many of the ideological battles against U.S. hegemony, The System has understood that a counter-revolution must include a ferocious battle over the historical record. In the past 40 years, in particular, it has been profoundly painful to witness, and very difficult to combat, the lies and slanders against the historical, and political achievements of the Black and Third World led movements. This includes an epidemic of recantation literature written by depressed and disillusioned former radicals denigrating the great achievements of the U.S. Communist Party, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Black Panther Party, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Nation of Islam, the New Communist groups such as the League of Revolutionary Struggle, and the great communist led revolutions in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and Vietnam. It has also included character assassinations, arrests, and murders of those with the most vivid and irrepressible revolutionary memories. As just one terrifying reflection of the impacts of this campaign, I have heard young Black and Latino organizers, with such militant intentions, repeat without grasping the sources “this is not your grandfather’s civil rights movement” caricaturing the heroic and historic work of visionary leaders like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    • We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth

      As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

      Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest, the promotion of individualism at the expense of a mass movement for radical institutional change.

      “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” warned Dr. King, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

      How true those words. For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service. It is what you are not supposed to know. It is what Thomas Merton, as quoted by James W. Douglass, called The Unspeakable: “It is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said; the void that gets into the language of public and officials declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss. It is the void out of which Eichmann drew the punctilious exactitude of his service.”

      The word service is a loaded word; it has become a smiley face and vogue word over the past 35 years. Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly, activities that are good in themselves but far less good when used to conceal an American prophet’s radical message. After all, Martin Luther King’s work was not volunteering at the local food pantry with Oprah Winfrey cheering him on.

    • Martin Luther King Was a Radical, Not a Saint

      It is easy to forget that in his day, in his own country, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was considered a dangerous radical. He was harassed by the FBI and vilified in the media. The establishment’s campaign to denigrate King worked. In August 1966 – two years after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35—the Gallup Poll found that 63 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of King, compared with 33 percent who viewed him favorably.

      Today Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is viewed as something of an American saint. The most recent Gallup Poll discovered that 94 percent of Americans viewed him in a positive light. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. Americans from across the political spectrum invoke King’s name to justify their beliefs and actions.

      [...]

      As he did in his own day, King would be calling for dramatic cuts in the military budget to reinvest public dollars in jobs, education and health care. He would surely be marching with immigrants and their allies in support of comprehensive immigration reform. He would no doubt travel to the US-Mexico border to protest the mistreatment of children and their parents seeking asylum and refuge. He would be joining hands with activists seeking to reduce racial profiling by police and ending the mass incarceration of young people. Like most Americans in his day, King was homophobic, even though one of his closest advisors, Bayard Rustin, was gay. But today, King would undoubtedly stand with advocates of LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, just as he challenged state laws banning interracial marriage. We don’t know what King’s views were on abortion, but in 1966, he was pleased to receive Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award in Human Rights. Accepting the award, he wrote: “There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. … Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision.”

    • Remembering Martin Luther King Jr., the Organizer

      Martin Luther King Jr. is rightly celebrated as a transformative political and moral leader who championed racial equality, but he is less often credited as a brilliant strategic and tactical organizer who led cutting edge campaigns to deliver the rights for which he is known. As an organizer, I am struck by the mastery of the organizing craft that infuses King’s writing, so on this holiday remembering his legacy, I’ll share several of King’s lessons that all activists can benefit from today.

      [...]

      Some of King’s tactics evolved from his failures. When Albany ended without major victories due to what King called “vague” campaign goals, King designed the Birmingham campaign to focus on the desegregation of downtown stores.

      The famous 1963 March on Washington was a tactic with a particular goal in mind: Show white Americans what the civil rights movement looked like. For millions of white Americans tuning in on national television, the march’s well-dressed crowds and remarkable oratory ran completely counter to the fabrications they’d long been told about the Black civil rights movement, thus shifting their opinions on civil rights.

      King even had a knack for employing celebrity support as a tactic. In a memo dictated from a Selma jail, King asked deputy Rev. Ralph Abernathy “to call Sammy Davis and ask him to do a Sunday benefit in Atlanta to raise money for the Alabama project. I find that all of these fellows respond better when I am in jail or in a crisis.”

      [...]

      While politics is understandably distasteful to many activists, King’s political savvy was essential to his success. He conversed regularly with Vice President Richard Nixon during the Eisenhower administration and built a direct line to the Kennedy and Johnson White Houses. And while he was never afraid to criticize even his closest political allies, he also was always quick to issue a telegram of appreciation whenever a politician did the right thing.

      King’s understanding of politics also informed his campaign tactics. Recognizing the movement’s lack of political power pre-voting rights, he focused on the economic pressure of boycotts or social pressure of direct action. While King famously wrote that direct action campaigns are never “well timed” in the view of the oppressor, he was actually quite savvy in his own timing. He delayed the start of the Birmingham campaign, for example, so that the campaign’s activism would not be detrimental to Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor’s more moderate electoral opponent. Regarding political compromise, King recognized that victories, however small, are needed to “galvanize support and boost morale” in furtherance of a long-term movement. Of course, King was the ultimate disruptor, from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the Poor People’s Campaign, and while he could work with politicians, his confrontational tactics never yielded to conventional politics.

    • Remembering the Real Martin Luther King Jr.

      Years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr., one of the great prophets of American democracy, has been reduced to little more than a lifeless statue. Yet his courageous call for peace and criticism of his government at a time of war must not be lost to history.

      Toward the end of his life, King turned his attention to poverty and the war in Vietnam. After giving the speech below, in which he called America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” King was dropped from Gallup’s annual list of the most admired Americans and was ridiculed by The New York Times, among too many others. Soon after, he was murdered.

      King said that America “can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.” Those words were echoed years later by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a man who served his nation in uniform, who devoted his life to the welfare of his community, but was dismissed as a kook and a racist and a hater of his country for challenging its moral impenetrability.

      America, apparently, does not take well to criticism. Thus it seems an appropriate time to let King, not the statue but the patriot, say his piece.

    • An MLK Day Reflection: The Racial Wealth Gap Is Killing the Middle Class

      Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been 90 on January 15, so it’s time for a progress report.

      Fifty years after co-founding the Poor People’s Campaign, a multiracial campaign for economic justice, the state of King’s dream of racial equity and freedom from poverty is far from attained.

      On the positive side, the U.S. Black unemployment rate reached historic lows in 2018. There’s also been a modest recent uptick in median household wealth for Black, Latino, and white families alike. We could easily conclude that the racial economic divide is closing.

    • What Activists Today Can Learn From MLK’s Bold Anti-War Stance

      In the year leading up to his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr. became a prominent member of the movement against the Vietnam War. His April 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” was so bold that it was condemned by 168 major newspapers and ended his working relationship with President Lyndon B. Johnson.

      He could not have known the extent of the atrocities committed in the conflict. Weeks before the civil rights leader’s death, American soldiers killed hundreds of civilians at My Lai in what is now thought to be just one of many massacres during the war. King, facing public pressure to support the war, set an example for progressives by doing just the opposite.

      “The March on Washington was a powerful speech,” said Georgia congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis. “It was a speech for America, but the speech he delivered in New York, on April 4, 1967, was a speech for all humanity—for the world community. I heard him speak so many times. I still think this is probably the best.”

      After his Beyond Vietnam speech, King and Robert Scheer, now Truthdig’s editor in chief, spoke at a press conference together about the anti-war movement’s Vietnam Summer. The plan, according to The Harvard Crimson, had three steps: canvassing door to door, forming discussion groups to learn more about the war, and then carrying out political actions such as “pressing Congressmen to hold open hearings on the war in the community or petitioning to place a statement opposing the war on the ballot in local elections.”

      Today, King’s powerful anti-war legacy endures. At Time magazine, novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen endorsed King’s “ever expanding moral solidarity” and argued that the most radical part of King’s Beyond Vietnam speech was the idea that moral conviction should not be limited by race, class or nationality. That solidarity should even extend to the supposed enemy.

    • Here’s how the ‘sex trainers’ who claimed to have ‘RussiaGate’ dirt on Oleg Deripaska went from a Thai jail to a Russian jail

      “Nastya Rybka” gained notoriety in February 2018, thanks to an investigative report by Alexey Navalny. After several women staged a bizarre demonstration at its Moscow office, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation went looking on social media to identify its unwelcome visitors. One of these people turned out to be a 27-year-old Belarusian citizen named Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka. In September 2017, the same woman announced a “Navalny hunt,” vowing to honeytrap the anti-corruption activist and post the sex video online. Searching Vashukevich’s Instagram account, Navalny’s researcher also discovered photographs showing her on billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s yacht, together with a man journalists recognized as Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko. When the Anti-Corruption Foundation reported this information, reposting the images, Deripaska got a court to order Russian Internet providers to block Navalny’s website.

    • The Stupidity of Evil: Teens Shouting ‘Build that Wall’ at Native American Vet

      Some high school young men from a private Catholic school in Kentucky had been encouraged to attend an anti-abortion “March for Life” near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on Friday. Nearby, Native Americans were rallying for their rights.

      Vietnam Vet Nathan Phillips saw a mean crowd of white teens in Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” caps harassing four African American young men. He was beating his drum and chanting, and came forward, drawing the attention of the young thugs, realizing the danger, he said.

    • Jeff Sessions and the Federalists

      And thus did former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions warm up a Boston audience at his 2018 Federalist Society talk on the rising threat of “vigorous secularism.”

      I was inside, instead of outside with the protesters, to scratch an itch. Having worked against the War on Drugs for years, I appreciated the fact that such natural enemies as William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and the Koch brothers shared my views on drug policy. As a former graduate student in philosophy and sophomore for life, I remain intrigued by the conflict between deeply held values expressed as competing legal rights. I sought a glimpse into the intellectual and ideological architecture that resulted in such episodic agreement between myself and said conservatives. How do we land on one side or another of these issues? I would “audit” this talk to catch that glimpse.

      Sophomore for life.

      “… it still okay for us to say ‘Hail Mary’?“

      Sessions added coyly, sharing a naughty wink with an adoring audience of white men in suits and a sprinkling of white women in work dress, implicitly defining them as victims of political correctness and the existential threat to Christianity.

      They didn’t look like victims, these well heeled acolytes of the Federalist Society (except perhaps those who hadn’t yet made partner). Indeed, Sessions bragged about the number of Supreme Court justices they had groomed, but it is the genius of the political Right to socialize and embrace the gritty motivations of victimhood.

      Sessions began by expressing genuine disgust at the killings in the Pittsburgh Synagogue, calming my ethnic paranoia that was fanned by his Hail Mary (read: War On Christians) remark. He then provided a litany of affronts to religious individuals and groups who had been silenced, coerced, or treated as second-class citizens: pastors “fearful” to stand in their own pulpits, small businesses and nuns forced to pay for “other people’s birth control,” and, at length, a sincerely devout baker forced to create a wedding cake for a gay marriage, an activity he finds morally offensive.

    • ‘Literally What Jesus Told People to Do’: In Arizona, Possible Prison Time for Leaving Food and Water for Migrants

      U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco on Friday convicted Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco—all volunteers with the organization No More Deaths—for entering the Cabeza Prieta refuge without a permit and leaving the items, which “erode the national decision to maintain the refuge in its pristine nature.”

      The volunteers—who face up to six months behind bars and a fine of up to $500—and other critics of the Velasco’s decision argued that the women were simply trying to save lives.

      “This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country,” declared Catherine Gaffney, another of the group’s volunteers. “If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?”

      Professor Katherine Franke, faculty director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project at Columbia Law School, challenged the outcome on legal grounds.

      “Velasco’s guilty verdict in the case mirrored the government lawyers’ trivialization of the defendants’ religious liberty claims, describing them as ‘a modified Antigone defense,’” she said in a statement (pdf). “He failed to undertake even a minimal legal analysis of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as the law required.”

      Bill McKibben, a co-founder of 350.org who has talked openly about how his faith has driven his environmental activism, tweeted, “This is literally—literally—what Jesus told people to do.”

    • Fighting for Black Lives in Schools and Unions

      Jesse Hagopian is a Seattle teacher, anti-racist activist and co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives who helped organize the founding actions of “Black Lives Matter at School.” He talked to Danny Katch about the importance of this year’s BLM at School week of action, set for February 4-8, as the initiative spreads around the country.

      Black Lives Matter at School issued a statement declaring solidarity with the strike by United Teachers Los Angeles, concluding: “It is no coincidence that the cities and districts most targeted for divestment in public education and investment in privatization are communities with majority Black and Brown students and families. We urge all those involved in the Black Lives Matter at School movement to support the just demands of the UTLA community.”

    • Central America Needs a Marshall Plan

      Even U.S. border agents cruelly firing tear gas at women and children hasn’t deterred a newer caravan from forming in Honduras.

      The president has used the situation to amplify his calls for a border wall, even though the number of unauthorized immigrants has been steadily falling and comes mainly from overstayed visas rather than illegal crossings.

      More recently, an agreement that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico has created turmoil in Tijuana and other border cities. Mexico and the United States have also proposed a bilateral investment program to curb migration from Central America. Disagreement over the border wall led directly to a U.S. government shutdown and a threat to cancel U.S. support to the region.

      Overall, the crisis in Central America is having a dramatic impact on U.S. politics.

      All this follows an earlier determination by the Trump administration that removed temporary protected status granted to tens of thousands of Hondurans after a 1999 hurricane had ravaged their country. The administration claimed that conditions had improved sufficiently in Honduras to warrant suspension of protected status, despite the fact that Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. (In fact, its rampant corruption from the drug trade has been investigated in detail by the U.S. government’s own Drug Enforcement Administration.)

      [...]

      A hundred years ago, American businessmen basically took control of Central America.

      With the mostly white, Spanish-speaking aristocracy in the region, they set up subservient governments that strongly supported U.S. commercial interests at the expense of the indigenous populations. The U.S. government turned a blind eye to, or abetted, this repressive commercial domination of “banana republics.”

      The situation was exacerbated by the Cold War against Soviet communism. Unfortunately, that struggle was given such overwhelming priority in foreign policy that the United States often supported brutal autocrats so long as they were anti-communist. In Central America, this intensified existing U.S. support for its repressive governments.

    • Henry Giroux: Trump’s Enabling of Violence and Hate Is a Form of State Terrorism

      In this edition of Forthright Radio, we welcome back Professor Henry Giroux, who holds the McMaster University’s Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department, and who is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. He is a prolific author and journalist. His books -more than 65 – include America at War With Itself; Disposable Futures: Violence in the Age of Spectacle; Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror; Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism, and The Violence of Organized Forgetting.

    • The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?

      As a young activist in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, I heard plenty of Marxist dogma from left-wing sects that proselytized in major colleges and cities about how “monopoly capitalism is entering its final crisis.” The warnings of apocalyptic collapse were constant. They sounded absurd, more so as years passed with nothing close to a final crackup – no more convincing to me than the Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door with their articles of faith.

      Back then, up through the early 1970s, our country’s economy was expanding, the middle class was growing and industrialists largely tolerated unions. US-style capitalism went on to spread globally.

      But lately I’ve been wondering whether those Marxists were correct after all, if only a few decades premature. Take a deep look at two pillars of Western capitalism—the United States and the United Kingdom – and you see that there is something graver in today’s political crises than in most past ones.

      Both countries are locked in governing crises of historic proportions. On the surface, the issues are Brexit in the UK and Trump’s ego and wall in the US. Yet the roots of the problem go deeper. The problems are structural, starting now from the base of society where you find unprecedented anger, division and despair among the working classes after decades of economic neoliberalism have concentrated wealth toward the top.

    • The Irish Revolution’s overlooked history of nonviolent resistance

      This month marks the 100th anniversary of Dáil Éireann, Ireland’s Parliament. Amid the better-known events of a century ago that led to Ireland’s independence from its union with Britain, such as the Easter Rising or the island’s partition with the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the significance of Dáil Éireann’s founding on January 21, 1919 is often underappreciated. This is unfortunate, since it played a crucial role in the Irish Revolution’s outcome and was a path-breaking event in the emergence of nonviolent civil resistance methods over the last century.

      The usual story of Ireland’s independence struggle runs something like this: Revolutionary movements such as Wolfe Tone’s United Irishmen in 1798 or the Fenians in 1867 staged a series of violent “risings” against British rule that, while creating romantic nationalist heroes, were easily suppressed (Google “the battle of Widow McCormack’s cabbage patch” to get a sense of how they often turned out). These “physical force nationalists” were opposed by “constitutional nationalists” such as Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell who instead pursued a nonviolent reformist agenda within the British political system that gradually proved more successful.

    • Protestors arrested outside Japanese Embassy amid ongoing dispute over Kuril Islands

      With negotiations between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin set to take place today, 11 protestors have reportedly been arrested outside the Japanese Embassy in Moscow. The activists, who are associated with the Left Front movement and the Russian Communist Party, were protesting in opposition to the possibility that the Kuril Islands would be transferred from Russian to Japanese control. Sergei Udaltsov, the coordinator of the Left Front movement, posted on Twitter about the arrests and claimed that approximately 100 people participated in the protest.

    • Russian lawmakers pass legislation making it harder for university grads to dodge the draft

      The new law would cancel an existing exemption whereby young men can avoid military summons by obtaining temporary residence permits.

    • MS-13 Member Who Secretly Helped Police Is Deported

      Henry was twice forced to join the brutal gang MS-13, first in El Salvador and then on Long Island. Twice, he tried to escape its violence. He became an informant, helping law enforcement arrest other MS-13 members.

      But his FBI gang task force handler broke a promise to help him, and immigration authorities revealed his identity, as we reported last year. This month, Henry was deported to El Salvador, despite warnings that MS-13 members there would hunt him down and kill him. He’s now gone into hiding.

      In an unusually emotional decision, a copy of which was recently obtained by ProPublica, an immigration judge, Thomas Mulligan, wrote that he was “very sympathetic” to Henry and found the 19-year-old’s testimony “truthful.” Nevertheless, Mulligan ruled that he had no choice but to deport him under U.S. and international law, because Henry had admitted to participating, albeit under duress, in two MS-13 murders when he was 12 years old, and because his chances of being tortured in El Salvador were less than 50 percent.

      Henry “had a very difficult childhood and was roped into a gang life from a very young age,” Mulligan wrote in his Nov. 27 decision. Yet the court “does not have the discretionary authority to take such humanitarian factors into its consideration.”

    • Who Is Kevin Cooper?

      Throughout my life, people have speculated about who Kevin Cooper is, or who they think I am. This is especially true since I was first sought, then arrested, and then wrongly convicted of what was dubbed by the mainstream media as the Chino Hills Murders. It is this horrific crime that sent me to California’s death row and for which I was almost executed in 2004.

      It is an odd experience to become part of the American historical narrative, to have words spoken and written about oneself in such a way that it strengthens the storyteller’s version of the subject, often falsely or to the degradation of the person about whom they are writing or speaking.

      This has happened to me, and it will, in all probability, happen again in the future.

    • Your Kids Are Watching

      This year’s Martin Luther King Day comes with the usual dose of cognitive dissonance. Can we get any more grotesque than smarmy, other-hating Mike “I Am Not A Bigot I Just Sound Like One” Pence co-opting King by noting he “inspired us to change” just like his fuehrer? Who thought that would fly? Judging from social media, they miscalculated. Many prayed for lightning to strike Pence; an Alt Fed employee cheered the comparison by juxtaposing King and Trump quotes – MLK: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” DT: “Grab them by the p**sy. You can do anything.” MLK: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” DT: “These aren’t people. These are animals,” etc; others cited King’s 1964 Berlin speech speech on the subject of walls, “a symbol of the divisions of men on the face of the earth… For here on either side of the wall are God’s children, and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.” One-upping Pence in mind-boggling tone-deafness, the NRA also pointed out King really liked guns. No words.

    • The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner

      Any discussion of the detention of journalist Marzieh Hashemi must begin in the historical context that all presidents have used the Department of Justice for constitutionally prohibited personal ends. The calculated seizure and political intimidation of Mrs. Hashemi and her family in the United States is but the most recent flagrant instance.

      Whether it’s the deportation of political enemies during the Palmer Raids of the early 1900’s, or the COINTELPRO attacks a half a century later upon dissidents of color through assassination, mock show trials and indefinite detention of political prisoners, or the post 9-11 hysteria that drove hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the United States, or the targeted attack on whistle blowers and construct of the surveillance state by the last president, all have seen their executive power as essentially boundless, and their thirst to use it . . . largely unrestrained.

      Yet none before has been so public, indeed brazen, as is the current one in his utter contempt for the settled rule of law and procedure. Indeed in Trump’s view the Department of Justice exists as but a mere extension of his own political thirst and agenda and may be employed as a tool to implement personal and political reprisal. In this light, the lawless seizure of Marzieh Hashemi was as predictable as it is ominous in both process and substance.

      The history of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) has largely lain dormant with few prosecutions, if any, for violations and none before that have triggered the seizure of an American journalist pursuant to the subterfuge of a material witness order, here employed as little more than political handcuffs.

    • Chase Iron Eyes: Trump’s Mocking of Native Americans Gives License to Others to Denigrate My People

      As we continue to look at the video that has gone viral showing a group of Catholic high school students apparently mocking an indigenous tribal elder near the Lincoln Memorial, we speak to Chase Iron Eyes, an activist and lead attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project. He is a spokesperson for the Indigenous Peoples March.

    • How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement

      In the United States’ heated national debate about immigration, two views predominate about Central American migrants: President Donald Trump portrays them as a national security threat, while others respond that they are refugees from violence.

      Little is said about the substantial contributions that Central Americans have made to U.S. society over the past 30 years.

      For one, Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants have helped expand the U.S. labor movement, organizing far-reaching workers rights’ campaigns in migrant-dominated industries that mainstream unions had thought to be untouchable.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Re-decentralizing the Web, for good this time

      Originally designed as a decentralized network, the Web has undergone a significant centralization in recent years. In order to regain freedom and control over the digital aspects of our lives, we should understand how we arrived at this point and how we can get back on track. This chapter explains the history of decentralization in a Web context, and details Tim Berners-Lee’s role in the continued battle for a free and open Web. The challenges and solutions are not purely technical in nature, but rather fit into a larger socio-economic puzzle, to which all of us are invited to contribute. Let us take back the Web for good, and leverage its full potential as envisioned by its creator.

    • It’s Time To take back Our Internet

      Tim Berners Lee was recently awarded the Turing Award (The ACM A.M. Turing Award is an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to “an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community”). On receiving the award Berners Lee gave two message to the users of his invention that we all use every day. The World Wide Web needs a complete rethink to prevent spying and the spread of “nasty, mean ideas” on social media websites.

      You may have noticed the web has drastically changed since we first started using it. Advertising pop-ups are around every corner. Tailored directly at you because of the content you access online. Worms, trojans and viruses are spread by these advertising companies to infect our devices so that their ads get seen by more people. What Berners Lee was telling us is that corporations have muscled in on our free internet.

      But that was not the only message he conveyed as he received his well deserved and long overdue award.

    • Trump Hotel Fracas Highlights How T-Mobile’s Consumer-Friendly Brand Schtick Is Wearing A Little Thin

      To be clear, T-Mobile initially had an indisputably-positive impact on the wireless sector. The company’s decision to eliminate consumer pain points like long-term contracts and early termination fees was quickly mirrored by other carriers thanks to a strange concept known as “competition.” And CEO John Legere’s relentless attacks on giants like AT&T and Verizon have proven to be immensely entertaining over the years. All told, T-Mobile has built its entire brand on the back of the idea that it was a polar opposite of the type of ethically-dubious giants that have dominated telecom for a generation.

      In more recent years the company’s “uncarrier” branding schtick has started to look a little worn around the edges. From supporting efforts to kill net neutrality to weirdly attacking the EFF, the company occasionally lets its mask slip, showing it’s not all that different from the companies it professes to be better than. This shift has been particularly obvious as the company has tried to sell the press, public, and Trump administration on the company’s job and competition killing merger with Sprint (like that time it hired Corey Lewandowski to “consult” despite his comments mocking a kid with Down Syndrome).

      As it rushes to consolidate the wireless sector from four to three carriers, T-Mobile’s increasingly engaging in behavior it used to mock AT&T and Verizon for. Not least of which being the company’s empty promises to police the sale of user location data to dubious third brokers and aggregators, something T-Mobile was perfectly happy to do in lock-step with other carriers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • EU Council seeks to further justify SPC “Manufacturing Waiver” on grounds already rejected by WTO

      As discussed in our blog of 30 May 2018, the EU Commission has proposed an amendment to Regulation (EC) 469/2009 concerning the supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products (“SPC Regulation”) aimed at introducing a “manufacturing for export exception.” The purpose of the amendment is to allow the manufacture of generic and biosimilar medicines within the EU for export to countries where there are no patent rights in force. The proposal included some “safeguards” aimed at assuring transparency (for example, prior notice to the national authority that granted the SPC) and preventing re-entry of the exported products into the EU market (basically stamping an “EU export” logo to the outer packaging).

      One of the issues raised by the proposal is whether or not it is compatible with the obligations assumed by both the EC and its Member States in the context of the TRIPS Agreement. In the Explanatory Memorandum that sought to justify the proposal, the Commission simply took it for granted that the “Manufacturing Exception” was in line with the TRIPS Agreement. Hence, it wrote that “The proposal is consistent with existing international trade agreements, such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) between members of the World Trade Organization as well as those free trade agreements that the EU has concluded with non EU-countries and that include supplementary protection-like provisions.” However, no reasons were given to justify the alleged “consistency”.

    • The Fortnite lawsuits: why performers stand a fighting chance to beat the game

      Last month, the company Epic Games was sued by three celebrities for reproducing in their video game what the claimants argue to be their dance moves. Since then, the question of copyright in dance has been the subject of much attention. Whilst most experts have cast their doubts on the success of the Fortnite cases (here), this Kat is inclined to think that the three claimants may still have a shot (considering past US precedents).

    • Patent Litigation 2019

      We are only 21 days into 2019, but trajectories in patent infringement lawsuits appear to be following the same patterns as 2018 — with the top-four venues staying in the same almost identical rank-order:

      D.Del
      E.D.Tex.
      C.D.Cal.
      N.D.Cal.

    • Supreme Court: Secret Sales are Still Prior Art

      The Supreme Court has affirmed the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of the “on sale bar” — holding that “Congress did not alter the meaning of ‘on sale’ when it enacted the AIA.” The particular focus here was whether “secret” sales continue to qualify as prior art under the revised Section 102. Here, the court says yes — “an inventor’s sale of an invention to a third party who is obligated to keep the invention confidential can qualify as prior art under §102(a).”

    • Trademarks

      • CHEESE for (cannabis) seeds not a valid trade mark, says EUIPO First Board of Appeal

        In one way or another, cheese has been at the centre of IP news lately. Not long time ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that the taste of a spreadable cheese could not be protected by copyright (see here).

        Now, cheese – though of a different kind (keep reading!) – is also at the centre of some trade mark developments in Alicante in an interesting decision recently rendered by the EUIPO First Board of Appeal.

      • he Name’s the Thing

        Much to my chagrin, my kids like to waste their time not just playing video games, but also watching videos of others playing video games. This is a big business. Apparently the top Fortnite streamer made some $10 million last year. Whaaaaat? But these services aren’t interchangeable. The person doing the streaming is important to the viewer.

        But what if two streamers have the same name, say Fred, or Joan, or…Kardashian. Should we allow someone to lock others with the same name out? Under what circumstances? And what if the service is simply being famous-for endorsements, etc.

        Bill McGeveran (Minnesota) has posted an article that discusses these issues called Selfmarks, now published in the Houston Law Review.

    • Copyrights

      • Torrent Paradise Is The New Decentralized ‘Pirate Bay’ With IPFS

        BitTorrent protocol has been around for years, and its decentralized nature is what makes it so popular. However, it comes with its own set of disadvantages when it comes to Torrent Sites using centralized search engines which are prone to outages and takedowns.

        To address this issue, a developer who goes by the handle ‘Urban Guacamole’ has launched a torrent index called Torrent-Paradise. It is powered by InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) — a decentralized network where the users make files available among each other just like BitTorrent.

      • Copyright negotiations hit a brick wall in Council

        A total of 11 countries voted against the compromise text proposed by the Romanian Council presidency earlier this week: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Slovenia, who already opposed a previous version of the directive, as well as Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal. With the exception of Portugal and Croatia, all of these governments are known for thinking that either Article 11 or Article 13, respectively, are insufficiently protective of users’ rights. At the same time, some rightsholder groups who are supposed to benefit from the Directive are also turning their backs on Article 13.

        This surprising turn of events does not mean the end of Link Tax or censorship machines, but it does make an adoption of the copyright directive before the European elections in May less likely. The Romanian Council presidency will have the chance to come up with a new text to try to find a qualified majority, but with opposition mounting on both sides of the debate, this is going to be a difficult task indeed.

Software Patents Are a Dying Breed, So Marks & Clerk and Other Legal Monoliths Promote the EPO’s Buzzwords (Loopholes)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anything to promote bunk/junk patents

Marks & Clerk

Summary: Patents that courts would almost certainly reject (and invalidate) are routinely promoted as “AI”, “SDV” and similar acronyms and buzzwords, either misleading or intentionally misplaced (nowadays “AI” is often just a synonym for “machine” or “algorithm”)

THE atmosphere of buzzwords worries us. Everywhere one looks in the media, especially technology media, it’s all buzzwords. Maybe that’s because real journalism is dying and reporters get replaced by the marketing/PR industry and by extension law firms looking to market their services in the respective domains. Readers who are technical quite likely know what those buzzwords are and some of these were covered here before.

“This patent litigation giant, Marks & Clerk, is helping the EPO promote software patents on computer vision (my area)…”Here in Techrights we no longer keep track of all the software patents tweets (they don’t say “software patents” explicitly but instead use buzzwords) that have been far more abundant and frequent since António Campinos took over as President. Yesterday we saw this new article from Marks & Clerk’s Philip Cupitt (the patent maximalists if not extremists*). Weeks ago we explained how the European Patent Office’s (EPO) corruption — and avoidance of the law in general — nowadays helps the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) similarly dismiss the courts/caselaw, proceeding to grant software patents that aren’t legally solid (courts would almost certainly can these).

Then, also as recently as yesterday, we saw another Marks & Clerk article, this one with the “self-driving vehicle (SDV)” buzzword that the EPO has been promoting.

This patent litigation giant, Marks & Clerk, is helping the EPO promote software patents on computer vision (my area), never mind if that’s in clear defiance of the EPC, violating the fundamentals of patent scope; buzzwords to bypass the law basically…

With investment announcements coming thick and fast, and testing taking place on ever more roads, might 2019 be the year of the self-driving vehicle (SDV)?

A recent statistical release from the European Patent Office (EPO) might suggest so, or at the very least suggest that momentum is building in this important sector. In 2017, the last year in which figures are available, the EPO saw nearly 4000 patent applications related to self-driving vehicles – up from 922 applications in 2011.

This is a staggering 330% increase in just 6 years! To put it into context, filing in this area has grown more than 20 times as fast as patent applications generally at the EPO.

They are just reclassifying patents. We recently saw a similar article in the US — one in which they basically classified many patents on algorithms as “AI”, then crafted headlines claiming that in recent years there were hundreds of thousands of patents on “AI”; the EPO and the USPTO both use this trick — a subject covered here several times towards the end of last year.
_____
* Among the articles we previously wrote about Marks & Clerk (loud proponents of patent maximalism in Europe, including the UPC):

  1. Marks & Clerk is Still Pushing Patent Maximalism Agenda in Europe and Britain, Including UPC/UPCA/Unitary Patent (UP)
  2. Marks & Clerk Blames Battistelli’s Victims, the Boards of Appeal, Whose Job Guarded Patent Quality
  3. UPC Puff Piece in the Scottish Media is Just an Advertisement by Marks & Clerk

01.21.19

A Fortnight After His Diplomatic Immunity Ends Outgoing EPO Vice-President Željko Topić is in Court in Zagreb, Croatia

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last month: EPO Vice-President Željko Topić in New Article About Corruption in Croatia

Kuterovac Topić WIPO 2010

Summary: Court minutes for a Željko Topić case heard 5 days ago

THE case of Željko Topić is well known within the European patent sphere. We’ve been covering it since 2014. As European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President, for example, Željko Topić played a major role in crushing staff. Prior to that he had done many bad things in Croatia. Why did Battistelli bring him to the EPO in the first place?

We’ve managed to get court minutes (in Croatian and in English) for the first court appearance for a Željko Topić case, which took place on January 16th, 2019, after 8 years of silence from the court. The judge indicated that, because Vesna Stilin had provided a lot of documentation, he plans to make a final decision on April 8th, 2019.

Here it is in English:

REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

MUNICIPAL CIVIL COURT IN ZAGREB

10000 ZAGREB – Ul. grada ​​Vukovara 84

Mailbox 303

Case Number: 48 Pn-532 / 11-20

Minutes

from January 16, 2019

on the main hearing at the Municipal Civil Court in Zagreb

Presiding Judge: Joško Jurišić

Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant: Željko Topić

Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor: Vesna Stilin

Referee: Mateja Golemović

Regarding: compensation for damages

 

The judge begins the main hearing at 9.00 am and announces the subject of the hearing. The discussion is public.

 

It is established that the following have attended:

For the Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant: Imon Choudhury, Attorney in the Attorney’s Office of Mladen Prka

For the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor: Personally

 

The prosecutor remains in the lawsuit and the allegations made so far.

The defendant remains in response to the lawsuit and the allegations made so far and the counter-lawsuit.

 

It is established that the filing of the case of the Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant dated 28.11.2018 was received in the file, a copy was sent to the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor.

 

It is established that the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor files a submission, of which a copy is delivered to the Prosecutor-Counter -Defendant’s representative.

 

The Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant’s representative, and also for the purpose of expediting the proceedings, proposes to withdraw or renounce his lawsuit and not claim any compensation for these civil proceedings, and proposes to do the same regarding the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor with her counter-lawsuit.

 

Regarding the question of the court, the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor states that she does not agree to such a proposal of the Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant. And she doesn’t want her counter-lawsuit to be withdrawn or renounced but wants to obtain a meritorious decision.

 

The Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant’s representative requests a shorter deadline for the response to the present-day submission by the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor.

 

The court brings the following:

Decision

The Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor is requested to specify her petit in the counter-lawsuit from 4.3. 2011 and provides a 30-day deadline for the Prosecutor-Counter-Defendant’s representatives to respond to today’s submission of the Defendant-Counter-Prosecutor, for which the present hearing is postponed and the next hearing is scheduled for:

 

April 8, 2019 at 9.00 am

 

the present parties are aware of this and are required to attend without a special invitation.

Completed: 9.09

 

Recorder Judge Parties

Here is the original in Croatian:

REPUBLIKA HRVATSKA

OPĆINSKI GRAĐANSKI SUD U ZAGREBU

10000 ZAGREB — Ul. grada Vukovara 84

Poštanski pretinac 303

Poslovni broj: 48 Pn-532/11-20

Zapisnik

od 16. siječnja 2019. godine

o održanoj glavnoj raspravi kod Općinskog građanskog suda u Zagrebu Prisutni od suda:

Joško Jurišić Tužitelj-protutuženik: Željko Topić

Sudac

Tuženica-protutužiteljica: Vesna Stilin

Mateja Golemović

zapisničar Radi: naknade štete

Sudac započinje glavnu raspravu u 9,00 sati, i objavljuje predmet raspravljanja. Rasprava je javna.

Utvrđuje se da su pristupili:

Za tužitelja-protutuženika: Imon Choudhury, odvjetnik u zamjenu za odvjetnika Mladena Prku Za tuženicu-protutužiteljicu: Osobno

Tužitelj ostaje kod tužbe i dosadašnjih navoda.

Tužena ostaje kod odgovora na tužbu i dosadašnjih navoda te kod protutužbenog zahtjeva.

Utvrđuje se da je u spis zaprimljen podnesak tužitelja-protutuženika od 28.11.2018., primjerak dostavljen tuženici-protutužiteljici.

Utvrđuje se da tuženica-protutužiteljica predaje u spis podnesak, od čega se primjerak uručuje punomoćniku tužitelja-protutuženika.

Punomoćnik tužitelja-protutuženika, a vezano i u svrhu što bržeg okončanja postupka, predlaže da on povuče svoj tužbeni zahtjev ili se odrekne od tužbenog zahtjeva te ne potražuje nikakve troškove pamičnog postupka, a da isto to napravi i tužena-protutužiteljica sa svojim protutužbenim zahtjevom.

Na upit suda, tužena-protutužiteljica ističe da na ovakav prijedlog tužitelja-protutuženika ne pristaje, odnosno ne želi svoj protutužbeni zahtjev povlačiti niti se od istog odricati, već želi donošenje meritorne odluke.

Pun. tužitelja-protutuženika moli kraći rok radi očitovanja na danas zaprimljeni podnesak tužene­protutužiteljice.

Sud donosi

Nalaže se tuženici-protutužiteljici da svoj protutužbeni zahtjev od 4.3.2011. u petitu specificira te se punomoćniku tužitelja-protutuženika podjeljuje rok od 30 dana radi očitovanja na danas zaprimljeni podnesak tužene-protutužiteljice, radi čega se današnje ročište odgađa, a slijedeće zakazuje za dan:

8. travnja 2019. godine u 9,00 sati

što prisutni primaju na znanje, i obvezuju se pristupiti bez posebnog poziva.

Dovršeno: 9,09

Zapisničar Sudac Stranke

 

EPO immunity sure helped Željko Topić, who often failed to even attend court hearings (we covered this before). Will justice be served less than one decade late?

01.20.19

Links 20/1/2019: Exo 0.12.4 and Libhandy 0.0.7 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Should You Run Linux Apps on Your Chromebook?

      The Linux apps’ performance on Chromebook in its current Beta phase seems to be much more reliable and stable than the Android apps integration initially was. Linux apps on Chromebook will get even better as Crostini gets more developed.

      Chrome OS 71 brings considerably more improvements, according to various reports. One of those changes will let the Linux virtual machine be visible in Chrome OS’ Task Manager.

      Another expected improvement is the ability to shut down the Linux virtual machine easily.

      An even better expected improvement is folder-sharing between the Linux VM and Chrome OS. That should resolve the inconvenience of the isolated Linux files folder.

      Is it justifiable to get a new “qualified” Chromebook in order to run Linux apps on it? If you are primarily a Linux distro user and have settled for using a Linux-less Chromebook as a companion portable computer, I can only say, “Go for it!”

      I do not think you will regret the splurge.

    • Elementary OS Challenge Day 2: We Need To Talk About Minimizing Windows

      Several years ago elementary OS founder Daniel Foré visited his grandparents in California, and noticed a habit that probably inspired this radical way of viewing windows and workflows. His grandfather, who had a Windows XP computer hooked up to their TV, would open a browser, minimize it when he was finished, and then open a new instance of the browser by double clicking on the desktop icon.

      “He had upwards of 12 separate web browser windows open and had no idea,” Foré writes. “For most of us, it can be fairly obvious when multiple windows are open and sucking up system resources, but this information was lost on a user who only understood that clicking the ‘-’ made the app go away and double clicking the app icon on the desktop is what made the app show up again.”

      Foré says that ultimately, the minimize button is just another way of making users do manual memory management. He also says that hey, this concept isn’t much different than what Android and iOS have been doing for years.

    • How did you get started with Linux?

      The Linux mascot is a penguin named Tux, so we thought it appropriate to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day for the conservation of penguin habitats and talk a little bit (more) about Linux.

      A few fun penguin facts: These furry creatures are flightless yet part of the bird family. Some are large, like the Emperor penguin, and some are small, like those found in New Zealand. And, the Gentoo penguin is known to swim up to a speed of 21 miles per hour!

      Now, for the Linux bit. I asked our writer community to describe the moment they learned about Linux or the moment they got it up on running on their machine. Here’s what they shared.

  • Server

    • ON Semiconductor Increases Support for Idaho State University Department of Electrical Engineering

      ON Semiconductor continues its support of, and collaboration with, the Idaho State University Department of Electrical Engineering by recently donating an industrial-grade Linux server, eight state-of-the-art computer workstations and associated design software.

      The new workstations will be used to train ISU electrical engineering students, and eventually to provide professional graduate-level education to ON Semiconductor employees.

      “We have already started using the donated equipment for current coursework related to semiconductor design. In addition to the equipment and software donation, ON Semiconductor design engineers are working with us to create a new course that they will also help teach this spring.” said Steve Chiu, director of the ISU electrical engineering program.

    • How running websites has changed in the last two decades (for an Ars IT guru)

      I was a true nerd growing up in the 1980s—not in the hipster way but in the 10-pound-issue-of-Computer-Shopper-under-my-arm way (these things were seriously huge). I was thoroughly addicted to BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) by the time I was 10. Maybe it’s no surprise I ended up as a technical director for a science and tech site.

      In fact, I’d actually draw a direct line between the job of managing your own BBS (aka SysOping) to managing a modern Web infrastructure. And with everyone around Ars looking back given the site’s 20th anniversary, let’s make that line a bit clearer. It won’t be an exhaustive history of websites, but here’s how my own experiences with managing websites have evolved in the past two decades—plus how the tools and thinking have changed over time, too.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • XGI Display Driver Finally On The Linux Kernel Chopping Block

      XGI Tech, the nearly two decade old spin off from SiS that was short-lived and once aimed to be a competitor to ATI and NVIDIA, still has a Linux driver within the mainline kernel. But this frame-buffer driver is slated to soon be removed.

      There’s long been the “xgifb” driver within the mainline Linux kernel staging area. This has served for display purposes with XGI hardware without any hardware acceleration, but the driver was limited in scope and hasn’t received any real maintenance in years. Plus with being an FBDEV driver while all modern Linux display drivers make use of the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) infrastructure, it’s really outdated.

    • Livepatching With Linux 5.1 To Support Atomic Replace & Cumulative Patches

      With the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle that should get underway in just over one month’s time, there will now be the long in development work (it’s been through 15+ rounds of public code review!) for supporting atomic replace and cumulative patches.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wayland’s Weston Moving Towards Its Next Release Soon

        Longtime Wayland developer Derek Foreman is working on coordinating the next release of the Weston reference compositor. Here are those early details and his hope to ship this next feature release in March.

        Derek is tentatively proposing a February feature freeze and for this next Weston update to debut in March. At this time there are no plans for an updated Wayland release with there being no pressing changes on the horizon.

    • Benchmarks

      • AMDGPU-PRO 18.50 vs. ROCm 2.0 OpenCL Performance

        When recently publishing the PlaidML deep learning benchmarks and lczero chess neural network OpenCL tests, some Phoronix readers mentioned they were seeing vastly different results with using the PAL OpenCL driver in AMDGPU-PRO (Radeon Software) compared to using the ROCm compute stack. So for seeing how those two separate AMD OpenCL drivers compare, here are some benchmark results with a Vega GPU while testing ROCm 2.0 and AMDGPU-PRO 18.50.

  • Applications

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • Wine 4.0 To Be Released In The Next Few Days

        With yesterday’s release of Wine 4.0-RC7, the regression/bug count is low enough and the situation looking good that the stable Wine 4.0.0 release should be tagged in the next few days.

        Wine 4.0-RC7 should be the final release candidate and the stable 4.0 release tagged and issued in a short period of time. Wine founder Alexandre Julliard who manages the releases commented today, “Things are looking good for 4.0, we’ve made quite a bit of progress on the regressions, thank you to everybody who helped! rc7 should be the last release candidate, please give it a good last check. If no last minute issues are found, I’ll release final 4.0 in a couple of days, and lift code freeze :-)”

    • Games

      • Valve put out another Steam Beta Client with minor Steam Play changes

        Valve are pushing out updates rather often to the Steam client lately, with the fourth this month now out.

        On top of removing Steam Play options for Mac and Windows, along with a Steam Input bug fix we also saw these updated to the Steam Play integration on Linux…

      • itch A Gaming Platform For Indie Games Lovers

        itch is another gaming platform that is similar to Steam and is available for multiple operating systems including Linux. This platform provides users with the latest indie games instead of AAA games. If you are open to creativity and likes playing/trying out different games, I guarantee you’ll love itch platform too. Similar to steam, itch also provides both free and non-free games, indicates game system requirements (except without the specifications), and some other common features. Read on below to learn more about this app.

      • Render game scene with Panda 3D

        Today we will continue to explore Panda 3D, after a day of searching online for the method to export the whole mesh created with Blender which can then be used in Panda 3D’s game I have found two of them. 1) Exporting the mesh in the Direct (x) format 2) Using YABEE to export the mesh in the egg file format

      • Mesa 19.0 Can Cut In Half The Amount Of Memory For Team Fortress 2

        Timothy Arceri of Valve’s open-source Linux graphics driver team has landed patches in Mesa 19.0 that drastically reduce the amount of system memory used when firing up the Team Fortress 2 game.

        Arceri started off with a patch on Friday to ensure GLSL IR optimizations are run during the initial shader compilation process. That patch partially reverts work done a year ago that delayed some of these optimizations since it would speed-up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided start times by about twenty seconds. So games with a ton of shaders like Deus Ex will go back to starting up slower on initial shader compiles until optimized and cached, but applying these optimizations reduced the memory use in Team Fortress 2 from 1.5GB to 1.3GB.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 54

        This week in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative, something big landed: virtual desktop support on Wayland, accompanied by a shiny new user interface for the X11 version too. Eike Hein has been working on this literally for months and I think he deserves a round of applause! It was a truly enormous amount of work, but now we can benefit for years to come.

      • KDE Now Has Virtual Desktop Support On Wayland

        KDE landing virtual desktop support on Wayland this week is certainly quite exciting while also a new UI was added for the X11 virtual desktop support too. Some of the other KDE improvements that landed this week and relayed by Nate Graham include the digital clock widget now allowing adjustments to the date formatting, the KDE Information Center’s USB devices section will now actually display all USB devices, wallpaper chooser view improvements, and various other improvements.

    • GNOME/Xfce/GTK

      • Starting on a new map rendering library

        Currently in Maps, we use the libchamplain library to display the bitmap map titles (based on OpenStreetMap data and aerial photography) that we get from our tile provider, currently MapBox. This library is based on Clutter and used via the GTK+ embed support within libchamplain, which in turn makes use of the Clutter GTK embed support. Since this will not be supported when moving along to GTK+ 4.x and the Clutter library is not maintained anymore (besides the copy of it that is included in the GNOME Shell window manager/Wayland compositor, Mutter) eventually Maps will have to find a replacement. There’s also some wonky bugs especially with regards to the mixing of event handling on the Clutter side vs. the GTK+ side.

        So to at least get the ball rolling a bit, I recently decided to see how hard it would be to take the code from libchamplain and keep the grotty deep-down internals dealing with tile downloading and caching and such and refocus the top-level parts onto new GTK+ 4 technologies such as the Snapshot, GSK (scene graph), and render node APIs.

      • Exo 0.12.4 Released

        Exo 0.12.4 is now available with an improved icon view, better icon rendering, and reduced disk usage.

      • My Name is Handy, Lib Handy

        Libhandy 0.0.7 just got released!

        [...]

        A common pattern in GNOME applications is lists, which are typically implemented via GtkListBox. More specific patterns arose, where rows have a title at the start, an optional subtitle below it, actions at the end and an icon or some other widget like a radio button as a prefix. These rows can also be expanded to reveal nested rows or anything else that fits the need.

        So far every application using these patterns implemented the rows by hand for each and every row. It made using these a bit cumbersome and it led to inconsistencies in sizing, even inside a single application. To make these patterns easier to use, we implemented HdyActionRow, HdyComboRow and HdyExpanderRow.

      • Libhandy 0.0.7 Released For Building Adaptive/Mobile GTK Applications

        Libhandy is the library backed by Purism for use on their Librem 5 among other potential use-cases for allowing adaptive GTK+ widgets depending upon screen real estate. It’s still a ways out from version 1.0, but libhandy 0.0.7 was released this weekend as the latest achievement.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • LibreELEC (Leia) v8.95.3 BETA

        LibreELEC 9.0 (Leia) Beta 3 has finally arrived after a long gestation period. Based upon Kodi v18 RC5.2, the 9.0 Beta 3 release contains many changes and refinements to user experience and a complete overhaul of the underlying OS core to improve stability and extend hardware support. Kodi v18 also brings new features like Kodi Retroplayer and DRM support that (equipped with an appropriate add-on) allows Kodi to unofficially stream content from services like Netflix and Amazon.

      • IPFire 2.21 – Core Update 127 is available for testing

        New year, new update ready for testing! We have been busy over the holidays and are bringing you an update that is packed with new features and many many performance improvements.

        This is quite a long change log, but please read through it. It is worth it!

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Introducing the Lubuntu Council

              The Lubuntu community has grown exponentially since our switch to LXQt. With new users, contributors, and Lubuntu enthusiasts among many other people who have decided to join our community, we are finding the need to scale the project further than the unwritten technically-led oligarchy that we currently have in the Lubuntu project. Therefore, we are pleased to announce the Lubuntu Council.

              Not much will change; the same people will be working to put together a high-quality Lubuntu release every six months. However, this ensures that Lubuntu’s processes stay structured and resilient for years to come.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Get started with HomeBank, an open source personal finance app

    There seems to be a mad rush at the beginning of every year to find ways to be more productive. New Year’s resolutions, the itch to start the year off right, and of course, an “out with the old, in with the new” attitude all contribute to this. And the usual round of recommendations is heavily biased towards closed source and proprietary software. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Here’s the eighth of my picks for 19 new (or new-to-you) open source tools to help you be more productive in 2019.

  • LibreOffice

    • Help to spread the word about LibreOffice!

      Millions of people around the world use LibreOffice every day – but there are still some people who haven’t heard about our free, powerful, open source, Microsoft-compatible office suite.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Journal column

      As of the January issue, the FreeBSD Journal will be free. You can access it, and all back issues, through a browser. You’ll need to register for it–the Foundation is still using it for fund-raising, but in a less direct manner.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Kernel sources for the Nokia 8 Sirocco and Xiaomi Redmi Note 2/2 Pro/Note 3 (MediaTek) are now available

      Xiaomi’s kernel source release policy, as per my conversation with senior officials as well as official statements made by them, is that the company would aim to release the kernel source of a device within three months after its launch. This policy decision was to apply prospectively and not retrospectively, though the company did show interest in providing kernel sources for older devices as well as it was still bound by the GPL.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Keeping casual open source contributors happy and more news

      In this edition of our open source news roundup, we look at how scholars are bringing medieval literature into the digital age using open source software, keeping casual contributors to open source projects happy, the release of the Fifth Internet Edition of The Linux Command Line, and more.

  • Programming/Development

    • Best 10 Git GUI Clients for Ubuntu

      I know most of the people reading this article are developers on Linux or Linux enthusiasts and don’t need any introduction to the Git. But for the noobs out there, Git is one of the most popular and most widely used version control systems available for software development and other similar kind of work. Basically Git is tool which can be managed and used through command line and it is one of the most easy to use command line version control tools available for Linux developers and users.With most of the developers nowadays using graphical tools for programming and development, there is no surprise they are also seeking for GUI tools which could prove to be efficient alternatives to Git command line tool. There are many Git GUI clients available for Linux and its distros like Ubuntu which offer most of the features of Git command line tool with more efficiency and reliability.

    • GNU Binutils 2.32 Branched Ahead Of Release With New Features

      A new release of the GNU Binutils programming tools will soon be available. The upcoming Binutils 2.32 release is primarily made up of new CPU ports.

      GNU Binutils 2.32 is bringing a MIPS port to the Loongson 2K1000 processor and the Loongson 3A1000/3A2000/3A3000 processors, all of which are based on the MIPS64r2 ISA but with different instruction set extensions. These new GPUs are exposed via -march=gs264e, -march=gs464, and -march=gs464e flags. With Binutils 2.32, the utilities like objdump and c++filt now have a maximum amount of recursion that is allowed while demangling strings with the current default being 2048. There is also a –no-recurse-limit for bypassing that limit. Objdump meanwhile allows –disassemble to specify a starting symbol for disassembly.

    • Building Qt apps with Travis CI and Docker

      I recently configured Travis CI to build Nanonote, my minimalist note-taking application. We use Jenkins a lot at work, and despite the fact that I dislike the tool itself, it has proven invaluable in helping us catch errors early. So I strongly believe in the values of Continuous Integration.

      When it comes to CI setup, I believe it is important to keep your distances with the tool you are using by keeping as much setup as possible in tool-agnostic scripts, versioned in your repository, and making the CI server use these scripts.

    • PyPI Security and Accessibility Q1 2019 Request for Proposals Update

      Earlier this year we launched a Request for Information (RFI) followed by the launch of a Request for Proposals (RFP) in November to fulfill a contract for the Open Technology Fund (OTF) Core Infrastructure Fund.

      The initial deadline for our RFP was December 14th. We had hoped to begin work with the selected proposers in January 2019, but ultimately fell short of the ability to do so.

    • GStreamer 1.15.1 Released With Work On AV1, V4L HEVC Encode/Decode

      GStreamer 1.15.1 was announced on Friday as the first development release in the trek towards GStreamer 1.16 for this powerful open-source multimedia framework.

    • GStreamer 1.15.1 development release

      The GStreamer team is pleased to announce the first development release
      in the unstable 1.15 release series.

      The unstable 1.15 release series adds new features on top of the
      current stable 1.14 series and is part of the API and ABI-stable 1.x
      release series of the GStreamer multimedia framework.

      The unstable 1.15 release series is for testing and development
      purposes in the lead-up to the stable 1.16 series which is scheduled
      for release in a few weeks time. Any newly-added API can still change
      until that point, although it is rare for that to happen.

    • Is C++ fast?

      A library that I work on often these days, meshoptimizer, has changed over time to use fewer and fewer C++ library features, up until the current state where the code closely resembles C even though it uses some C++ features. There have been many reasons behind the changes – dropping C++11 requirement allowed me to make sure anybody can compile the library on any platform, removing std::vector substantially improved performance of unoptimized builds, removing algorithm includes sped up compilation. However, I’ve never quite taken the leap all the way to C with this codebase. Today we’ll explore the gamut of possible C++ implementations for one specific algorithm, mesh simplifier, henceforth known as simplifier.cpp, and see if going all the way to C is worthwhile.

    • Python Counters @PyDiff
    • Report: (clxi) stackoverflow python report
    • Regular Expressions in Python
    • Create equalizer feature for video editing program

Leftovers

  • Netflix Calls Fortnite a Bigger Competitor Than HBO

    In the report, Netflix discussed its penetration into overall screen time, which includes TVs and mobile devices that are used for television and movie viewing, video games, and more. Netflix said, “We earn consumer screen time, both mobile and television, away from a very broad set of competitors. We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO.”

  • Organized crime is laundering money through Fortnite’s in-game currency

    Criminals are using stolen credit cards to buy Fortnite V-bucks, then selling the in-game currency for bitcoin at a discount on the [black market] as a way to launder money.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Shutdown Will Harm the Health and Safety of Americans, Even After It’s Ended

      With the US federal government shutdown now the longest in history, it’s important to understand what a shutdown means for the health and safety of Americans.

      The good news is that in the short run, the consequences are relatively few. But, as a researcher who studies natural disaster planning, I believe that Americans should be worried about the federal government’s long-term ability to ensure good public health and protect the public from disasters.

      As the shutdown draws on, it increasingly weakens the government’s ability to protect Americans down the road, long after federal workers are allowed to go back to work. Many of these effects are largely invisible and may feel intangible because they don’t currently affect specific individuals.

      However, the shutdown poses a very real threat to preparedness for future emergencies, such as natural disasters and disease outbreaks. It also damages the government’s ability to recruit and retain the experts needed to work at the cutting edge of public health.

    • Computer program that could bypass patents to produce synthetic drugs

      Researchers in Poland and South Korea have developed a computerised method that could be used to synthetically produce essential drugs, bypassing patent-protection.

      In the global industry, some of the best kept secrets are those necessary to make life-saving medication and other pharmaceutical products.

      “When we started this project, I was somewhat skeptical that the machine would find any viable synthetic alternatives – after all, these are blockbuster drugs worth gazillions of dollars, and I was sure that the respective companies had covered the patent space so densely that no loopholes remained,” said Professor of Chemistry at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (South Korea) and the Polish Academy of Sciences, Dr Bartosz Grzybowski.

      “It turns out that the loopholes are there, and we can find new retrosynthetic pathways that circumvent the patents entirely.”

    • Study: This computer program makes pharma patents airtight — (Details)

      Those pharmaceutical patents protect the company’s intellectual property while also preventing competitor companies from using certain key synthetic solutions — developed painstakingly by experiment to maximize yield, increase purity, and reduce costs — when attempting to produce desired compounds. To get to viable unpatented options, the researchers “froze” challenging portions of each target molecule, forcing the computer to substitute unconventional yet chemically plausible approaches on the basis of mechanistic rules. They tested their system out on three notable commercial medicines with different chemical hurdles: linezolid, a last-resort antibiotic; sitagliptin, an antidiabetic drug; and panobinostat, a multiple myeloma treatment.

    • Synthetic Biology Rewrites the Rules of the Genome

      Synthetic biology (SB) is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of scientific applications. In this article, we focus on the DNA alphabet; Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C), Thymine (T) and newly synthesized letters – the X-Y base pair (bp) that hope to expand the genetic alphabet. We also focus on newly implemented methods to both write a new gene faster than ever before, and store information in DNA. We interviewed two prominent scientist/entrepreneurs in the field; Emily Leproust PhD, CEO of Twist Bioscience and Floyd Romesberg PhD, a Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Institute. The discussions provided us first-hand insights on cutting-edge advancements in SB relative to genetics and chemistry. The transcripts were edited and condensed for clarity.

  • Security

    • Bo Weaver on Cloud security, skills gap, and software development in 2019

      Bo Weaver, a Kali Linux expert shares his thoughts on the security landscape in the cloud. He also talks about the skills gap in the current industry and why hiring is a tedious process. He explains the pitfalls in software development and where the tech is heading currently.

      Bo, along with another Kali Linux expert Wolf Halton were also interviewed on why Kali Linux is the premier platform for testing and maintaining Windows security. They talked about advantages and disadvantages for using Kali Linux for pentesting. We also asked them about what they think about pentesting in cybersecurity, in general. They have also talked about their stance about the role of pentesting in cybersecurity in their interview titled, “Security experts, Wolf Halton and Bo Weaver, discuss pentesting and cybersecurity”

      [...]

      I laugh and cry at this term. I have a sticker on my laptop that says “There is no Cloud…. Only other people’s computers.” Your data is sitting on someone else’s system along with other people’s data. These other people also have access to this system. Sure security controls are in place but the security of “physical access” has been bypassed.

      You’re “in the box”. One layer of security is now gone.
      Also, your vendor has “FULL ACCESS” to your data in some cases. How can you be sure what is going on with your data when it is in an unknown box in an unknown data center? The first rule of security is “Trust No One”. Do you really trust Microsoft, Amazon, or Google? I sure don’t!!! Having your data physically out of your company’s control is not a good idea. Yes, it is cheaper but what are your company and its digital property worth?

      [...]

      In software development, I see a dumbing down of user interfaces. This may be good for my 6-year-old grandson, but someone like me may want more access to the system. I see developers change things just for the reason of “change”. Take Microsoft’s Ribbon in Office. Even after all these years, I find the ribbon confusing and hard to use. At least, with Libre Office, they give you a choice between a ribbon and an old school menu bar. The changes in Gnome 3 from Gnome 2. This dumbing down and attempting to make a desktop usable for a tablet and a mouse totally destroyed the usability of their desktop. What used to take 1 click now takes 4 clicks to do.

    • Security experts, Wolf Halton and Bo Weaver, discuss pentesting and cybersecurity [Interview]
    • Cloud security products uninstalled by mutating malware [Ed: Affects already-compromised servers]

      Linux is more prevalent than one might think, Microsoft Azure is now predominantly run on Linux servers – it’s not just the Chinese cloud environments being hosted via Linux, it’s likely that your business is running at least one cloud service on a Linux server too.

    • Google Play still has a clone problem in 2019 with no end in sight

      A fake app tries to clone another app in name, looks, and functionality, often also adding something like malware. Despite Google’s best efforts, both types of apps were fairly common in 2018.

    • Designing the future of cybersecurity in Europe

      I have been appointed the European Parliament’s rapporteur, so I will be leading the negotiations on the Parliament position. Read my draft report here.

      Cybersecurity is the process of enhancing the security of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It is important to understand that security cannot be improved by buying a product, like a virus scanner or a firewall, for example.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Colombia Blames ELN for Bomb, Presses Cuba to Arrest Leaders

      Colombia called on Cuba to arrest 10 National Liberation Army commanders currently in Havana for stalled peace talks after a car bombing blamed on the leftist rebels killed 21 people and injured dozens at a police academy in Bogota.

      President Ivan Duque said late Friday that he had revoked a decree suspending arrest orders against leaders of Colombia’s last remaining rebel group, known as the ELN for its Spanish initials, who have been living on the communist-run island.

      “It’s clear to all of Colombia that the ELN has no true desire for peace,” Duque said in a televised address, citing a long list of 400 terrorist attacks attributed to the guerrillas since peace talks began in 2017.

    • At Least 66 Killed as Pipeline Explosion Rocks Central Mexico

      Local residents were advised to take precautions from a lingering toxic cloud on Saturday as authorities in the central Mexican state of Hildalgo said the death toll from a gasoline pipeline explosion had risen to 66.

      The deadly fireball on Friday night in the town of Tlahuelilpan left another 76 wounded, seven of whom were less than 18 years old, said Gov. Omar Fayad.

      The cause of the explosion, said state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), was a rupture caused by illegal tapping of the pipeline.

    • What Trump’s Syrian Withdrawal Really Reveals

      President Trump was wrong in asserting that the United States destroyed the Islamic State’s territorial statehood in a large part of Syria—Russia and its allies accomplished that—but he is right in proposing to withdraw some 2,000 American forces from that tragically war-ravaged country. The small American contingent serves no positive combat or strategic purpose unless it is to thwart the Russian-led peace negotiations now underway or to serve as a beachhead for a US war against Iran. Still worse, its presence represents a constant risk that American military personnel could be killed by Russian forces also operating in that relatively small area, thereby turning the new Cold War into a very hot conflict, even if inadvertently. Whether or not Trump understood this danger, his decision, if actually implemented—it is being fiercely resisted in Washington—will make US-Russian relations, and thus the world, somewhat safer.

      Nonetheless, Trump’s decision on Syria, coupled with his order to reduce US forces in Afghanistan by half, has been “condemned,” as The New York Times approvingly reported, “across the ideological spectrum,” by “the left and right.” Analyzing these condemnations, particularly in the opinion-shaping New York Times and Washington Post and on interminable (and substantially uninformed) MSNBC and CNN segments, again reveals the alarming thinking that is deeply embedded in the US bipartisan policy-media establishment.

      First, no foreign-policy initiative undertaken by President Trump, however wise it may be in regard to US national interests, will be accepted by that establishment. Any prominent political figure who does so will promptly and falsely be branded, in the malign spirit of Russiagate, as “pro-Putin,” or, as was Senator Rand Paul, arguably the only foreign-policy statesman in the senate today, “an isolationist.” This is unprecedented in modern American history. Not even Richard Nixon was subject to such establishment constraints on his ability to conduct national-security policy during the Watergate scandals.

      Second, not surprisingly, the condemnations of Trump’s decision are infused with escalating, but still unproven, Russiagate allegations of the president’s “collusion” with the Kremlin. Thus, equally predictably, the Times finds a Moscow source to say, of the withdrawals, “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving” to Putin. (In fact, it is not clear that the Kremlin is eager to see the United States withdraw from either Syria or Afghanistan, as this would leave Russia alone with what it regards as common terrorist enemies.) Closer to home, there is the newly reelected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who, when asked about Trump’s policies and Russian President Putin, told MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “I think that the president’s relationship with thugs all over the world is appalling. Vladimir Putin, really? Really? I think it’s dangerous.” By this “leadership” reasoning, Trump should be the first US president since FDR to have no “relationship” whatsoever with a Kremlin leader. And to the extent that Pelosi speaks for the Democratic Party, it can no longer be considered a party of American national security.

    • That Time a CIA Spyplane Had to Dodge a Spear During the Cold War

      As drones become more common in the sky, so to do the ways to knock them down.

    • The “Congolese SAM” and other lesser-known dangers of aerial reconnaissance

      As we’ve written about before, the Central Intelligence Agency’s archives abound with examples of the more unorthodox challenges of aerial espionage. One such incident, discussed in a SECRET article by Dino Brugioni in the Fall 1979 issue of the Agency’s Studies in Intelligence quarterly magazine, describes an unusual example of small arms fire: the “Congolese SAM” …

    • Previously secret CIA report documents spear attack against surveillance plane

      In the 1960s, during the civil wars and political upheaval that rocked what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United States Air Force flew frequent low-level reconnaissance missions over missionary outposts to check on their condition and safety. One flyover in 1964 drew an attack from the ground that was captured in part by an aerial photograph: a thrown spear.

    • Hmong Exiles Reach End of Road in Suit Against Laos

      The Ninth Circuit on Monday tossed a Hmong woman’s proposed class action accusing Laos and several of its highest-ranking government officials of trying to exterminate Hmong people who fought in the Vietnam War as part of the CIA’s “secret army.”

      In an unsigned memorandum, the three-judge panel affirmed findings that the unidentified woman failed to establish subject-matter jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute because her allegations weren’t connected with events in the United States.

    • Bidding war for US government cloud contract heats up

      Sometime soon, the US Department of Defense (DoD) will make its decision on where to award the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud computing contract.

      The successful bidder will walk away with the biggest cloud customer in the world, as 3.4 million government users and four million devices are due to be migrated from private servers into the cloud.

    • Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending?

      October 4th, 2018, was a busy news day. The fight over Brett Kavanuagh’s Supreme Court nomination dominated the cycle. The Trump White House received a supplemental FBI report it said cleared its would-be nominee of wrongdoing. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens meanwhile said Kavanaugh was compromised enough that he was “unable to sit as a judge.”
      #NationalTacoDay trended on Twitter. Chris Evans told the world production wrapped on Avengers 4.
      The only thing that did not make the news was an announcement by a little-known government body called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board — FASAB — that essentially legalized secret national security spending. The new guidance, “SFFAS 56 – CLASSIFIED ACTIVITIES” permits government agencies to “modify” public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows federal agencies to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered.

    • The Soviet scientist who disappeared in 1980s Madrid

      It’s March 31, 1985 and the countercultural scene known as “La Movida” is in full swing in Madrid. One of the most important scientists from the Soviet Union, Vladimir Alexandrov, has just arrived from Córdoba after participating in the Assembly of Non-Nuclear Cities on the invitation of the city’s mayor, Julio Anguita of the Spanish Communist Party.

      Alexandrov, 47, had been in Spain for three days and was reportedly drunk throughout that time. But the night that he arrived back in Madrid from Córdoba, he disappeared and nobody has seen him alive ever since.

    • ‘The End of Truth’: Politics, mercenaries and conspiracies

      At the world premiere of his new political thriller “The End of Truth,” DW spoke with director Philipp Leinemann about mercenaries, foreign intervention and secret CIA operations in Germany.

    • Yemen: The Very Phony Ceasefire

      The government is at a disadvantage here because the rebels have been stealing and stockpiling (on their northwestern Yemen homeland) or selling much of the food and other aid. Their core supporters were taken care of but the majority of Yemenis in need of that foreign aid were not. Major damage to Hodeida port facilities would mean delays in getting aid in from the two major southern ports (which do not have the capacity Hodeida has). Rebuilding Hodeida port facilities would take over a year although some unloading could begin within a month or so of an end to the violence around the port that would allow repair equipment and personnel to get in. The rebels could be really nasty and leave Iranian naval mines in the waterways the port depends on. That would make it more times consuming to restore use of the port. The rebels have already planted thousands of landmines and explosive traps in and around the port area. The government forces have been clearing those as they advanced and that did slow the advance. But the rebels could not stop the advance and the rebels know they will eventually lose and all these obstructions are mainly to encourage the government and neighboring Saudi Arabia to leave the Shia tribes with some autonomy and little retaliation for all the mess this failed rebellion has caused.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • BuzzFeed’s stumble is highest-profile misstep at a time when press is under greatest scrutiny

      BuzzFeed News’ apparently mistaken story about Michael Cohen and President Donald Trump is the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny…

    • CIA Historical Review Panel Put on Hiatus

      The Historical Review Panel that advises the Central Intelligence Agency on declassification of historical intelligence records said this week that its planned December 2018 meeting was canceled by CIA, and that no future meetings were scheduled.

      But CIA said yesterday that the Panel would be reconvened following some administrative changes.

      “We have recently been informed that the Panel is being restructured and will not meet again until this has been done,” said the Panel of independent historians, chaired by Prof. Robert Jervis of Columbia University, in a January 14 statement published on H-DIPLO. “The reasons for this remain unclear to us, and no schedule for resumed meetings has been announced.”

      Upon further investigation, it appears that changes may be made regarding composition of Panel membership, term limits, and similar issues but that the scope of the Panel’s activities will be unaffected. The reconstituted Panel is expected to meet again sometime this year.

    • Alleged Football Leaks Hacker Seeks “Whistleblower” Protection After Arrest In Hungary

      Since its inception in 2015, Football Leaks, a website that publishes documents obtained from the hacking of various powerful soccer clubs and organizations, has been the bane of European soccer. The website has helped surface scandals ranging from Cristiano Ronaldo’s rape case and Jose Mourinho’s tax evasion, to more mundane leaks like the transfer agreement between Manchester United and Monaco for Anthony Martial. It also leaked the plans by top European clubs to create an exclusive “super league,” a proposal that has been met with much resistance throughout the continent.

      As for who was behind Football Leaks, there wasn’t a Julian Assange-level personality in the public eye, but rumors dating back to 2016 pegged then-27-year-old Rui Pinto, a Portuguese national, as the website’s owner.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Earth’s #10YearChallenge Is Grim

      And on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, people are now using the hashtag to share side-by-side comparisons of Amazon deforestation, melting glaciers, polluted waterways, and other environmental woes.

  • Finance

    • Google announces first ever price hikes for G Suite

      The price rises aren’t small – 20 per cent in some cases, but this only applies to the Basic and Business editions. Enterprise customers will be subject to more bespoke arrangements, it was ever thus.

      Monthly prices will go up from $5 to $6 per seat on the basic plan and from $10 to $12 per seat on the business tier. Google says that there will be “equivalent” rises in local currencies which will mean that UK users can expect prices to rise from the current £6.60 to around £7.50 for business users, and £3 to £4 for basics.

    • What’s Next for Public Education in 2019

      Day after day this week, the streets of Los Angeles hosted an increasingly familiar sight: a wave of striking teachers and their supporters clad in red, marching to strengthen public education by demanding smaller classes, reductions in high-stakes testing, better pay and more support staff. Defying the rain for multiple days of their strike, they held signs declaring themselves “ON STRIKE FOR OUR STUDENTS,” implicitly affirming that the #RedForEd movement revived by striking teachers in 2018 remains alive and well in 2019, too.

      From surges in teacher organizing to Trump administration attacks on students’ safety and dignity, 2018 offered examples of both the best and worst in public education. On the hopeful side, last year, teachers – particularly in states long beset by anti-union policies, chronic underfunding and low pay – launched powerful and effective strikes. Although in its Janus v. AFSCME decision the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority rewarded decades of corporate attacks on public sector unions, teachers and other public employees in many places are sticking to the union. Nevertheless, the Trump administration continued to weaponize the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against the very youth whose rights OCR exists to protect, bringing the culture war to schools by serving up marginalized students’ rights and dignity at school as red meat for Trump’s political supporters. Under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the administration has also given cover to predatory for-profit colleges and had to be sued in order to begin forgiving student loans held by borrowers who’d been scammed by such institutions.

      But important opportunities exist amid the cruelty and chaos imposed by Trump, DeVos and like-minded people around the country. It’s worth remembering that the Trump administration does not wield absolute control over our country’s schools, and they’ll be out of power in the less-distant-than-it-feels future. Though we’re still in the earliest days of 2019, Election 2020 is already heating up, which offers a chance to make sure federal candidates know we demand their full support for education justice. Our next president must not only pledge to respect America’s diverse student body but prove it by appointing a well-qualified and compassionate education secretary who’s ready to shred every page of DeVos’s bad policies as soon as humanly possible. We need to elect senators who will confirm that person, too.

    • Washington Post Forgets to Mention, Scott Walker Misled Fifth Graders About Taxes

      Ocasio-Cortez is right on this point and Walker is wrong. He either does not understand how our income tax system works or is deliberately lying to advance his agenda. Either way, the Post should have pointed out that Walker was wrong.

      Many people are confused about the concept of a marginal tax rate (the higher tax rate only applies to the income above a cutoff). Opponents of high marginal taxes on the rich try to take advantage of this confusion in the way Scott Walker did with his class of fifth graders. It is the media’s responsibility to try to inform people about how the tax system works and to expose politicians who misrepresent the issue.

    • Let’s Honor MLK’s Fight for Economic Justice by Expanding Social Security

      We live in a divisive time, where the president of the United States focuses on our differences instead of our common humanity. Though Dr. Martin Luther King was controversial, he sought to unite us, to appeal to our better angels. Dr. King believed strongly in the dignity of all of us. He understood that we are all created equal.

      Because of these beliefs, he pushed not just for racial justice, but for economic justice, understanding that they are inextricably linked. He worked tirelessly for worker security, economic equality, and social justice.

      Indeed, when Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, he was there to support sanitation workers who were on strike for decent wages, safer working conditions and the recognition of their union. For weeks before his death, he spent time planning a Poor People’s March on Washington.

    • How relatives of Moscow’s deputy mayor earned billions on city contracts, amassing a fortune in real estate

      Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov’s relatives bought a massive penthouse in the “Legend of Tsvetnoy” complex. These apartments typically sell for about 1.5 billion rubles ($22.7 million).
      December 22, 2015, was a good day for the sales managers at the elite “Legend of Tsvetnoy” residential complex in Moscow. That day, somebody bought nine of the ten apartments on the top two floors of the central tower — enormous homes with panoramic glass windows and a view of the Kremlin that (in the developer’s words) “erases the boundaries between man and city, opening up the possibility of enjoying an unlimited view of the capital.” The total value of the apartments, according to Russia’s public registry, is more than 820 million rubles ($12.4 million). Based on the prices of similar penthouses in the Legend of Tsvetnoy, their market value could be as high as 1.6 billion rubles ($24.2 million).

      Meduza has learned that all nine of the penthouses were purchased by family members of Moscow Deputy Mayor Pyotr Biryukov, who has managed the city’s municipal services system for more than a decade. According to Federal State Registration Service records, four of the apartments belong to Biryukov’s oldest daughter, 46-year-old Irina Biryukova; two are registered in the name of his 41-year-old son, Alexander Biryukov; and another three belong to Alexander’s wife, 31-year-old Ekaterina Biryukova. Put together, the Biryukovs’ penthouses cover more than 17,220 square feet (twice as much as the palatial Eliseevsky store on Tverskaya Street in Moscow).

    • Why I Stand With UTLA’s Fight for Teachers, Families and Children

      I walked the line in ’89. I was a teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District when the teachers’ union (UTLA) led the last teachers’ strike. Now I’m a professor of education, seeing things from a different angle. I’m happy to report one big difference between 1989 and now: LA teachers are asking for much more than a modest and well-deserved pay raise for themselves. They are advocating for the rights of children and families in a public education system that has been severely eroded over the years since I left the classroom.

      In 1989 conditions in schools were challenging too, but those problems weren’t up front and center in the strike rhetoric. Then, one of the biggest issues was overcrowding. I worked in a multi-track, “year-round” school, where three classes shared two classroom spaces, rotating between them – and shuffling all our materials – as each class came on for two months and then off for one throughout the year. Then, as now, we were short-staffed on support services. Once a week we had access to a school psychologist, whose main job was to conduct testing, not secure services for kids who had experienced multiple traumas in the new-immigrant, high poverty school where I worked. There was only one part-time nurse on duty to serve a school of 2700 kids. Students were not allowed to run on the asphalt playground for fear of the scraped knees that could result. (And in schools with high levels of trauma, nurses play important roles in terms of providing kids some respite from psychosomatic illnesses.)

      Thirty years later, overcrowded schools are not the biggest problem LA schools face. That is in large part due to gentrification and the exodus of students from public to private or charter schools – the continuation of a long process of “white flight” and a growing abandonment of everything public by those with the means to buy services. But overcrowded classrooms are a real and growing problem, with upwards of 45 students squeezing into many classrooms. And support staff has shrunk even more.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘No Wall. No Deals.’ Rights Groups Urge Congress to Reject Trump Plan for Trump-Created Crisis

      Confirming earlier reports, President Donald Trump on Saturday announced a proposal to end his shutdown that includes $5.7 billion for his “border wall” in exchange for temporary protections for DACA and TPS recipients—a proposal one advocacy group deemed a “cynical ploy” issued by “a president who makes false claims about violence at the border and demonizes immigrants, regardless of status, at every opportunity.”

      In his address from the White House, which began just after 4pm ET, Trump said the nearly $6 billion would allow for “steel barriers” in “high priority areas,” and asserted that “walls are the opposite of immoral.” In addition to the three-year reprieve for TPS recipients and uncertainty extension for Dreamers, his proposal includes over $800 million in “drug detection technology” and over 2,700 agents to further militarize the southern border.

      “Trump’s cynical ploy to get his $5.7 billion for his vanity wall in exchange for temporary relief for DACA and TPS recipients is a non-starter and should be immediately rejected by congressional leaders,” Richard Morales, policy and program director for Faith in Action’s immigrant rights campaign.

      The partial government shutdown, Morales argued, “exists because of Trump’s white supremacist agenda.” Moreover, “Even if the shutdown were to suddenly end, the deeper crises created by Trump at the border and in the interior would still need to be addressed by Congress.”

    • President Donald Trump and Political Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

      Back in August 2016, Angel M. Castillo, based on what was being said and done on the campaign trail, proposed as an analogy from psychiatry that Donald Trump and his supporters were suffering from a collective case of political Munchausen Syndrome. Boiled down, this means that although they were leading reasonably good lives, they acted in the political sphere like they were somehow marginalized victims being done harm by other social groups.

      This political diagnosis is close, but it misses a key point of President Trump’s behavior as a leader that recent developments have made clear. Trump and his followers are not the victims here, nor are they any longer pretending to be. The victims are the American people as a whole. The correct analogy is to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (hereafter MSP), also known as Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA).

    • Facebook employees busted leaving 5-star reviews for Portal on Amazon

      Facebook’s Portal smart displays have had an uphill battle, trying to convince people to willingly give the notoriously security-lax social media company another avenue into their homes. But it seems some people are pretty happy with their Portals: Facebook employees, who were just caught leaving five-star reviews for their own product on Amazon.

    • Digital First Media is reportedly planning to make an offer to buy USA Today publisher Gannett

      MNG and its hedge fund backer and largest shareholder Alden Global Capital LLC have a reputation for slashing costs at its media investments leaning on a strategy of layoffs and zero-based budgeting, demanding that operators justify their annual expenses.

    • Netflix Sees Fortnite as a Bigger Rival Than HBO

      AT&T plans to make HBO an anchor for a set of new streaming services, Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson has said. A trio of platforms is due to arrive later this year, with different prices and features. The question then is whether HBO will be as easy to downplay.

    • Belonging and Social Change: A Critique of the Politics of Wokeness

      We are in an amazing and dangerous time, where the chronic social problems which have caused so much trauma over so many years are coming to be seen as urgent and in need of attention by a rapidly increasing number of people. As so many people become “woke” to these problems, it is important that we develop a culture of social change that is ready to hold those people in a positive and supportive community.

      And yet, in many social justice circles, and especially online, the world of social justice is in danger of becoming a circular firing squad, where people fight to see who is the most woke, and where they see activism as primarily about challenging the lack of wokeness in others. If we want to make real progress in fighting the forms of domination that are destroying our lives and the habitability of the planet, we need to find ways to support each other in learning how to work together for social change. Some of that has to do with having empathy for people who are just coming to consciousness. Some of it has to do with seeing what we are facing as related to institutional structures that need challenging, as opposed to simply being about identity and interpersonal interactions.

      As people get woke about what is wrong with the world they begin to see the hidden patterns and structures of power underlying social reality. Hopefully, after that they find a way to take that understanding and turn it into action to build a better world. And when all is really going well, that engagement becomes a positive aspect of a person’s life. Challenging the mainstream, having the audacity to believe that one can make a difference, and committing time to challenging power are not easy. People stay in that game and are successful in making a difference when they feel that they are part of a larger team of millions of people who are building a world that worlds for us all.

      That’s what happened for me. I got politicized in 1980 around opposing U.S. support for the dictatorship in El Salvador. I became engaged right away, and through that engagement, discussed, read, and analyzed. I ended up simultaneously doing work to change the world, deepening my consciousness, and coming into contact with amazing people who became close friends and allies, and who enriched my life.

    • What You Need to Know About the 2020 Democratic Primary Changes

      The 2020 Democratic primaries are upon us now that Elizabeth Warren, Obama administration alum Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard have announced. And there are rumors that Kristen Gillibrand is also a likely contender, among others.

      It looks like it’s going to be the year of the woman, but it’s also going to be a very different election than 2016 — especially because Democrats have made some changes to the way their run their primaries. Here’s what you need to know about those changes and how they might influence the shape of the election.

      California, Texas and a number of other states are switching up their primary schedules, holding these elections much earlier in the year. This could dramatically change the game for candidates hoping to stick it out through the early stages of the primaries. Now they’ll need to spend more money on political advertising and make more trips to big-ticket states like California. And that means those states will play a more active role in selecting the 2020 Democratic ticket.

    • Can the Swamp Drain Itself? Key Challenges for Anti-Corruption Reform

      Voters across the political spectrum want policymakers to enact anti-corruption legislation, and Democrats responded by making corruption a signature issue in the 2018 election. This month, they followed through on that promise by introducing the For the People Act, an ethics and government reform package. The bill is the first real movement in Congress on government corruption since the Watergate era, and it includes important reforms to voting rights and campaign finance law that will help reclaim elections from the wealthy and powerful and give them back to the American people. However, the bill falls short in one key area: curbing corruption in government via the influence of money in policymaking.

      Money’s influence in our elections typically receives far more attention than its sway on the legislative and administrative policy processes that follow once elected officials take office. Last year, Rohit Chopra and I released a report examining how our country’s current patchwork of ethics laws guard against corruption and conflicts of interest. We found that the wealthy and well-connected are able to buy influence over the policymaking process in many ways, including providing financial incentives to public servants, hiring lobbyists who maintain cozy relationships with government officials, and even buying up think tanks to produce favorable research. Though subtle, this stacking of the deck tilts policy decisions toward the interests of those who can afford to buy influence: big corporations and the very affluent. As a result, corruption in policymaking stands in the way of addressing nearly every issue on the progressive agenda, from wealth inequality to climate change.

    • Feds Confirm Jailed Iranian TV Anchor Not Charged With Crime

      Federal officials confirmed Friday that a prominent American-born anchorwoman on Iranian state television was jailed in the U.S. as a material witness and has not been charged with any crime, according to court papers.

      Marzieh Hashemi has appeared twice before a U.S. district judge in Washington and has been appointed an attorney. U.S. government officials expect her to be released immediately after her testimony before a grand jury.

      The order to unseal some parts of her case came days after she was first detained. It did not include details on the criminal case in which she was named a witness. Her son Hossein Hashemi did not comment on details of the case outside court on Friday.

    • Unauthorized Washington Post offers a fantasy grounded in movement wisdom

      On Wednesday morning, as commuters in Washington D.C. made their way to work, the front page of what appeared to be the Washington Post had people stopping in their tracks. The headline read: “UNPRESIDENTED: Trump hastily departs White House, ending crisis.”

      Upon closer inspection, a few things about this free “special edition” didn’t seem quite right. For starters, the paper was dated May 1, 2019, and the tagline read “Democracy awakens in action” instead of the Post’s usual “Democracy dies in darkness.” Meanwhile, the paper itself was filled with stories about a tidal wave of creative resistance — led mainly by women — that had ousted Donald Trump from office.

      “Can I get some more copies?” asked one man passing by distributors near the White House. “I’m a federal employee, and my colleagues will love this.”

      From a colorful quinceañera dress blockade opposing the border wall to parents and young children engaging in “sippy cup sit-ins” at Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office to protests of Twitter forcing the deactivation of Trump’s account, the stories paint a picture of a potential future without Trump — and the strategic, creative ways to make that happen.

    • Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 Campaign May Be Over Before It Starts

      Though Gabbard has fashioned herself as an anti-Trump progressive, this past weekend was filled with revelations that could set her back in a crowded 2020 race that won’t afford candidates much margin for error. The latest came Sunday night when CNN reported that in the early 2000s Gabbard touted working for her father’s anti-gay organization, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage. The group supported legislation against same-sex marriage and promoted conversion therapy. Gabbard cited how she worked for the ATM — which described homosexuality as “unhealthy, abnormal behavior that should not be promoted or accepted in society” — as she was running for a seat in the Hawaii state legislature. She was 21 at the time.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Zimbabwe Government explains reason for blocking social media

      The government says following the well planned violent demonstrations that rocked the country early this week, it was necessary to close the internet to reduce further harm that has so far cost the nation millions of dollars.

      Deputy Chief Secretary – Communications in the President’s Office, Mr George Charamba, who is accompanying President Mnangagwa on EURASIA tour, said the internet, particularly social media was used to coordinate the violence and the government had to step in.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Don’t underestimate Americans’ knowledge of Facebook’s business model

      All of these stories are accurate — but I tend to view this data more optimistically. A high school career spent staying up late and catching “Jaywalking” segments on The Tonight Show (don’t @ me) instilled a healthy skepticism that a large group of Americans could ever be assumed to know anything. As recently as 2017, a majority of Americans could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment. If these fellow countrymen of mine are still catching up to the vicissitudes of online ad platforms, I can forgive them.

    • Playing Fortnite? Be careful as the game allows [crackers] steal your data

      If exploited, the vulnerability would have given an attacker full access to a user’s account and their personal information as well as enabling them to purchase virtual in-game currency using the victim’s payment card details. The vulnerability would also have allowed for a massive invasion of privacy as an attacker could listen to in-game chatter as well as surrounding sounds and conversations within the victim’s home or other location of play. While Fortnite players had previously been targeted by scams that deceived them into logging into fake websites that promised to generate Fortnite’s ‘V-Buck’ in-game currency, these new vulnerabilities could have been exploited without the player handing over any login details.

    • Woman sues T-Mobile after employees allegedly snoop on racy private video

      A New Jersey woman has sued T-Mobile in state court last week for sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, and other counts. She claims that, when she went to trade in her iPhone 7 at a store, two male employees rifled through her photos without her consent.

    • A Twitter bug exposed some Android users’ protected tweets for years

      If you’ve used Twitter on your Android phone anytime since 2014, you might want to double-check your settings. Twitter disclosed on its Help Center page today that some Android users had their private tweets revealed for years due to a security flaw. The issue caused the Twitter for Android app to disable the “Protect your Tweets” setting for some Android users who made changes to their account settings, such as changing the email address associated with their account, between November 3rd, 2014 and January 14th, 2019.

    • In defense of smart TV snooping

      Speaking to The Verge’s Nilay Patel, Baxter acknowledged that Vizio can monitor everything users are watching, then anonymize that data and sell it to marketers or use it to show targeted ads. Those methods, along with the occasional movie rental or TV show purchase, help Vizio make money long after selling the television itself. A dumb TV without internet features, Baxter said, would probably cost more than a comparable smart TV due to the hardware’s slim profit margins and inability to pull in extra revenue down the road.

      If you have a few minutes, try to find another example of a TV vendor executive describing “post-purchase monetization” in such a straightforward way to a consumer publication. You won’t, because the truth doesn’t sound pretty. Vizio itself was slapped with an FTC fine two years ago for obscuring its data collection practices, and still faces a class-action lawsuit over the issue, which might explain why Baxter is now being so forthright.

    • Judge unseals trove of internal Facebook documents following our legal action

      A glimpse into the soon-to-be-released records shows Facebook’s own employees worried they were bamboozling children who racked up hundreds, and sometimes even thousands, of dollars in game charges. And the company failed to provide an effective way for unsuspecting parents to dispute the massive charges, according to internal Facebook records.

      The documents are part of a 2012 class-action lawsuit against the social media giant that claimed it inappropriately profited from business transactions with children.

    • U.S. regulators have met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook for privacy violations
    • Facebook Could Be Slapped With A ‘Record-Setting’ Fine By FTC

      A report by The Washington Post has indicated that the Federal Trade Commission is planning on punishing Facebook with a “record-setting” fine for failing to protect users’ data. The information to the post came from three anonymous people who are familiar with the proceedings of FTC.

    • FTC reportedly considering record fine for Facebook

      The Washington Post reported Friday that the five FTC commissioners have met in recent weeks to discuss the potentially record-setting fine and its findings on whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent agreement requiring it to be transparent about its handling of user data.

    • Facebook may be hit with “record-setting fine” by FTC, report says

      Ashkan Soltani, a former FTC chief technologist, and current independent privacy researcher, reminded Ars that the agency does have the ability to impose an injunction that would mandate certain practices.

    • Privacy activist files EU complaints against Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube

      Max Schrems, a noted privacy advocate who leads the group None of Your Business (NOYB), filed 10 complaints on Friday with the Austrian Data Protection Authority against eight companies for allegedly not following the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    • Sen. Marco Rubio wants to ban states from protecting consumer privacy

      Rubio’s announcement Wednesday said that his American Data Dissemination (ADD) Act “provides overdue transparency and accountability from the tech industry while ensuring that small businesses and startups are still able to innovate and compete in the digital marketplace.”

      But Rubio’s bill establishes a process for creating rules instead of issuing specific rules right away, and it allows up to 27 months for Congress or the Federal Trade Commission to write the actual rules.

    • The FBI ‘Can Neither Confirm nor Deny’ That It Monitors Your Social Media Posts`

      The six other federal agencies we submitted the FOIA request to haven’t produced a single document. The request, filed last May, seeks information on how the agencies collect and analyze posts from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

      Today we sued the agencies to get some answers, because the public has a right to know about the exact nature of social media surveillance — especially whether agencies are monitoring and retaining social media posts, or using surveillance products that label activists and people of color as threats to public safety based on their First Amendment-protected activities.

    • EU Member States willing to retain illegal data retention

      This puts the European data retention situation at a stalemate. Member States refuse to even think of alternatives to their current blanket data retention regimes, but they cannot have blanket data retention, at least not legally, because the CJEU has ruled that it is illegal under EU law. The European Commission is the “guardian of the Treaties”, but appears unwilling to start infringement proceedings against Member States even if it is “monitoring” them. Legal action at the national level against data retention laws is, of course, a potential way out of the stalemate. Litigation is currently being pursued in some Member States, and in the past has been successful in a number of Member States.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • No End in Sight: The Perils of Trump’s Guantánamo

      From the Muslim ban to the continuing proxy war in Yemen, the new era of the “war on terror” under the Trump administration has kept Guantánamo largely invisible. But two years since Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a host of cruel measures implemented under his leadership, despite his emphasis on other problematic policies.

      Rather than becoming a relic of the war on terror, Trump has instead attempted to revive Guantánamo as a legitimate facility to incarcerate Muslim prisoners. As an institution that has long set the precedent for the mistreatment of Muslims suspected of terrorism, the urgency of addressing the perils of Guantánamo cannot be overstated. Moreover, 17 years after the first prisoners were brought to Guantánamo, it now risks becoming a permanent fixture of the endless war on terror, where human rights abuses remain unabated and where accountability is nonexistent.

      Having detained a total of about 780 prisoners from when it opened to incarcerate terror suspects, the number has now dwindled to 40 after prior administrations released many of Guantánamo’s prisoners. Under Trump, however, rather than closing, Guantánamo may very well be expanding.

    • A Global Battle of Values and Ideals

      With each day that passes the conflict and animosity between the conservative reactionary forces and the global movement for progressive change becomes more acute, uglier and increasingly dangerous; wherever one looks in the world the battleground between groups on either side of the divide rages. In essence it is a battle of values and ideas, of what kind of society we want to live in, but as the extremes, particularly those on what is commonly called the ‘right’, assert themselves, the space for rational, open debate is being crushed and a febrile intolerant atmosphere fueled.

      Decades of systemic failure, environmental vandalism and social injustice have caused widespread discontent and anger among people in many countries, injustice made more severe by policies of crippling austerity following the 2008 banking crash. Among the 38 members of the wealthy OECD nations it is said that 50% of the population feel disenchanted with the political-economic system.

      Consistent with the times we are living in – times in which the forces of the past are receding and the energies of the new are increasing in potency, the reaction to such discontent has been polarized. While large numbers of people recognize systemic change is needed and are calling for greater levels of cooperation between people and nations, others, in many cases equally great in numbers, blame external forces and immigration, and retreat into a narrow form of nationalism, seeking security.

      Antagonisms have been enflamed by politicians who either fail to understand the impact of their poisonous rhetoric or simply don’t care what effect they have. The resulting political divisions are acute and, in many cases, compromise between groups on either side of the debate appears impossible as, for example, the government shut down in America and the Brexit deadlock demonstrate. Brexit has become the burning issue of conflict in the UK, fueling fractious, volatile political debate and entrenched national divisions. As one pro-EU protestor told The Observer, “this is civil war without the muskets…it is appalling.”

      Throughout Europe and America a huge increase in hate crimes against immigrants and other groups is one of the consequences of these tensions, as is distrust of the mainstream media and the abuse of MPs, particularly of women: a report (surveying 55 female MPs from 39 countries) from the Inter-Parliamentary Union reveals that 44.4% of all women elected to office have received threats of either “death, rape, beatings and/or abductions.” In Britain, the BBC relates that, “Labour MP Jess Phillips said in one night she received 600 rape threats and was threatened with violence and aggression every day.” Other female members of parliament in the UK, especially those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, have consistently been the victims of such disturbing attacks, and on the 7th January online abuse spilled on to the streets when MP Anna Soubry, a pro-Europe member of the Conservative party, was verbally attacked and physically intimidated by a group of far right activists who support the UK leaving the European Union. The men surrounded her outside the House of Commons, called her a ‘Fascist’ and a ‘Nazi’, and blocked her way as she tried to enter Parliament; these men are “not protestors” said Soubry, “they are thugs.” And, as the murder of the MP Jo Cox on 16th June 2016 so tragically showed, in the hands of such people, vile words can easily become violent actions.

    • The racial injustice of the government shutdown

      Rank of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown ordered by President Trump — an effort to get congressional funding for an unpopular $5.7 billion wall along the Mexican border — among the longest in U.S. history: 1

      Total number of federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay because of the shutdown: 800,000

      Number of these workers who earn less than $50,000 a year: almost 111,000

      Amount in pay the average affected federal worker has already missed as a result of the shutdown: $5,000

      Number of shutdown-affected federal workers in the 13 Southern states*: 153,200

      Percent of the U.S. population that’s black: 12

    • Ocasio-Cortez Delivers Powerful Call for Justice as Third Women’s March Kicks Off

      “Justice is about the water we drink. Justice is about the air we breathe. Justice is about how easy it is to vote. Justice is about how much ladies get paid. Justice is about if we can stay with our children after we have them for a just amount of time.”

      So declared Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday, as the third annual Women’s March brought thousands of women to the streets of cities across the globe, though tensions within the movement have created rifts.

      The freshman lawmaker was among the speakers at a march in New York City.

    • Those Nazi Rallies Are Not for the Left. They’re for Centrist Journalists.

      In November, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States made an appearance in Little Rock, Arkansas. But if you heard any details about the rally and counterprotest, it probably wasn’t from any mainstream media outlets.

      About 20-30 members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group, rallied on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol. Nearly every one of them was from out of town. They chose this location because, in their own words, “There’s a lot of support here.”

      For locals who are familiar with some of the far-right extremist movements in this state, that statement certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable. After all, the town of Harrison is still known as a hub of white supremacist activity in Arkansas: It is home to the national headquarters of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and its director, Thomas Robb. Billy Roper, an outspoken neo-Nazi and former member of a skinhead gang, organized a similar rally for “South African rights” in Little Rock in 2012. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) “Hate Map” reports several other far-right and white supremacist extremist groups in central Arkansas alone.

      “We’re not here for you,” said the NSM’s then-outreach coordinator, Matthew Heimbach, to an audience of more than 100 counterprotesters as they tried to drown him out with noise-makers and chants.

      It seems clear that the NSM traveled here not to change the hearts and minds of leftists and liberals, but to show solidarity with other white supremacists and far-right extremists, or so it seems

    • Portraits From the Women’s Wave

      Thousands of protesters persevered through finger-numbing weather at Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza for the third annual Women’s March. Adorned with pink “pussy hats” and handcrafted picket signs, an estimated 10,000 gathered to march, rally and lend their ears to select speakers. This year’s protest, deemed the #WomensWave, takes strong issue with the Trump administration while encouraging women to exercise their political rights.

      The movement, which prides itself on inclusivity, recently came under scrutiny after accusations of anti-Semitic remarks and connections to black nationalist Louis Farrakhan by some of the Women’s March leaders were brought forward. Despite these allegations, the movement continued to speak on the importance of diversity and inclusivity when it comes to religion, race, gender and sexual orientation. Such ideals remained a key aspiration espoused by speakers and march-goers alike. Nevertheless, protesters had varying opinions on how close the Women’s March was to achieving this goal.

    • A Scaled-Down, but Still Angry, Women’s March Returns

      Amid internal controversies and a capital city deeply distracted by the partial government shutdown, the third Women’s March returned to Washington on Saturday with an enduring message of anger and defiance aimed directly at President Donald Trump’s White House.

      The original march in 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration, flooded the city with pink-hatted protesters. The exact size of the turnout remains subject to a politically charged debate, but it’s generally regarded as the largest Washington protest since the Vietnam era.

      This year was a more modest affair for multiple reasons. An estimated 100,000 protesters packed several blocks around Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House, holding a daylong rally. The march itself took about an hour and only moved about four blocks west along Pennsylvania Avenue past the Trump International Hotel before looping back to Freedom Plaza.

      Organizers submitted a permit application estimating up to 500,000 participants even though it was widely expected that the turnout would be smaller. The original plan was to gather on the National Mall. But with the forecast calling for snow and freezing rain and the National Park Service no longer plowing snow because of the shutdown, organizers on Thursday changed the march’s location and route.

    • Students in ‘MAGA’ Hats Mock Native American After Rally

      A diocese in Kentucky has apologized after videos emerged showing students from an all-male Catholic high school mocking Native Americans outside the Lincoln Memorial after a rally in Washington.

      The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

      Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man singing and playing a drum.

    • McClatchy: CIA Chief Gina Haspel Ran Guantánamo Black Site

      This comes as McClatchy is reporting that CIA Director Gina Haspel ran a secret agency black site for prisoners at Guantánamo. The claim is based on a partially redacted transcript of a secret hearing at Guantánamo last November. Haspel was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. But she was previously not known to have operated out of Guantánamo.

    • The Mystery of the Disappearing Security Clearance

      President Trump tried to unilaterally strip a CIA director’s security clearance, but it’s still unclear whether he actually did.

    • The Soviet Experience in Afghanistan: Getting History Right

      President Trump’s justification of his foreign policy often draws on bizarre theories and bad history.

    • Pompeo Refuses To Say If He Knew About FBI Investigation of Trump As Russian Agent

      Awkward. Trump’s Secretary of State won’t say if he knew about the investigation, which began while he was CIA Director.

    • CIA Director Gina Haspel may have run ‘black site’ at Guantánamo Bay, court docs reveal

      CIA Director Gina Haspel, confirmed by the Senate last year amid accusations of involvement in torture, may have run a so-called ‘black site’ at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Haspel did not mention this role in her confirmation hearing.

      Haspel’s apparent involvement in the site was revealed in the partially redacted transcript of a secret hearing held at Guantánamo last November. Haspel’s name was mentioned in court by a terror suspect’s defense lawyer, who argued that the CIA Director must testify before the court on classification guidelines for reports from the apparent black site.

    • Mike Pompeo Lied About the U.S. and the Middle East. Here’s the Truth.

      So said Mike Pompeo in Cairo on Thursday. Donald Trump’s hawkish secretary of state delivered a speech at the site of Barack Obama’s famous 2009 address to the Muslim world, but Pompeo denounced the former president for “wishful thinking,” partnering “with enemies,” and a reluctance “to wield our influence” in the region.

      Pompeo claimed that the United States was “a force for good in the Middle East” and referred to “America’s innate goodness.” His 3,500-word address at the American University in Cairo contained only one passing reference to “democracy” and zero references to “equality” or “human rights.” There were more than 20 references, however, to “malevolent” and “oppressive” Iran.

      Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy, described it “as one of the worst foreign policy speeches I’ve witnessed from a senior U.S. official,” calling it “cynical, petty, incoherent, small, and, well, silly.” Paul Danahar, former BBC Middle East bureau chief, referred to the speech as “simplistic,” noting that “its theme was the goodness of Israel and evil of Iran.”

      The pompous Pompeo told his audience in Cairo that he was going to be “very blunt and direct” and that he wanted to speak about “a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world.” He went on to offer a litany of lies, delusions, and exaggerations. Below, however, is the (fantasy) speech that I wish the secretary of state could have delivered on Thursday, if he truly wanted to be “blunt” and “honest” about U.S. involvement in the Middle East since 1945.

    • Ex-CIA Chief Brennan: ‘Mike Pompeo Should Be Ashamed’ of Comments in Cairo Speech

      “Remember it was here, here in this city that another American stood before you,” Pompeo said in a speech, clearly alluding to Obama.

    • On his 2nd day in office, George H.W. Bush told the CIA he wanted more jokes in his secret intelligence briefings

      President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.

    • Some of the best jokes the CIA wrote for President H.W. Bush

      President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.

    • Women This Week: Saudi Arabia Stops “Secret Divorces”
    • Amnesty International’s Troubling Collaboration with UK & US Intelligence

      Amnesty International, the eminent human-rights non-governmental organization, is widely known for its advocacy in that realm. It produces reports critical of the Israeli occupation in Palestine and the Saudi-led war on Yemen. But it also publishes a steady flow of indictments against countries that don’t play ball with Washington — countries like Iran, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea and more. Those reports amplify the drumbeat for a “humanitarian” intervention in those nations.

      Amnesty’s stellar image as a global defender of human rights runs counter to its early days when the British Foreign Office was believed to be censoring reports critical of the British empire. Peter Benenson, the co-founder of Amnesty, had deep ties to the British Foreign Office and Colonial Office while another co-founder, Luis Kutner, informed the FBI of a gun cache at Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s home weeks before he was killed by the Bureau in a gun raid.

      These troubling connections contradict Amnesty’s image as a benevolent defender of human rights and reveal key figures at the organization during its early years to be less concerned with human dignity and more concerned with the dignity of the United States and United Kingdom’s image in the world.

    • Controversial torture of 9/11 terror suspects explored in radical new Edinburgh theatre project

      A SCOTTISH theatre company are exploring the secret abuses and torture carried out by the US government in their rendition programme in the aftermath of 9/11.

      The rendition programme was one of the most controversial and highly secret acts of recent times, and involved the CIA’s kidnap, detention and torture of terror suspects from across the globe.

      The play, aptly named Rendition, is presented by Edinburgh-based visual theatre company, Tragic Carpet and produced through the visualisation of research findings from The Rendition Project – a unique collaboration of academics and human rights proponents exposing the human rights violations of the US in their ‘War on Terror’ years.

      Using an innovative mix of puppetry, soundscapes and visual theatre, Rendition will feature prisoner testimonies, declassified documents, flight records and court documents, to create an immersive work that tells the story of one man’s nightmare experience as the first suspect to be taken into the CIA’s detention programme.

    • How Not to Smooth Things Over With the CIA

      The president’s strained relationship with the intelligence community goes back to his visit to Langley just a day after his inauguration.

    • Sen Burr should release the full torture report

      I left North Carolina for Washington, D.C ., roughly 16 years ago as a naive 20-something, determined to change the world. I set out to play a small role in making policies that would improve American communities and defend American values. I never imagined I would have to debate whether torture should be used in the name of those values. And yet throughout the 15 years I worked in Congress and the Pentagon, that exact debate has raged.

      Four years ago, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a landmark report detailing the CIA’s post-9/11 use of torture against detainees, its misrepresentations of those activities to Congress and the public, and the utter ineffectiveness of torture. I count myself privileged to have had the opportunity, while serving then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to contribute to the report. Yet four years later, key elements of the CIA remain unaccountable — and the debate rages on.

    • CIA agent turned Batman writer will give away comics to government workers amid shutdown
    • Senator Lindsey Graham Says Saudi Prince Must Be ‘Dealt With’ for U.S- Saudi Ties to Progress

      U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has made a veiled criticism of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

      After he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Graham said in Ankara on Saturday that the U.S. Congress will reintroduce sanctions against those implicated in the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    • Report: 2 killed, 40 detained in new gay purge in Chechnya
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Leaked Emails Reveal New Reason Apple, Qualcomm Parted Ways

      The exchange suggests that Qualcomm and Apple were arguing over software, rather than the licenses at the center of their bruising legal battle. Still, the emails only offer a small window into the negotiations. It’s common for dueling litigants to carefully select slices of evidence that support their arguments. Although this email exchange hasn’t been submitted in the FTC trial so far. And Williams said in court this week that he spoke with Mollenkopf about the chip supply issue over the phone. The details of that conversation aren’t known.

    • Apple must pay patent troll $440m after losing appeal in FaceTime lawsuit

      What’s more, the fine has since risen to $440m due to interest, enhanced damages and unspecified “other costs”, Reuters reports.

    • Apple loses bid to undo $440 million judgment in VirnetX patent case

      A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld a judgment worth $440 million that was won by intellectual property [sic] licensing firm VirnetX Inc against Apple Inc in a patent infringement case.

    • Qualcomm temporarily switched into settlement mode on Day 7 of FTC trial with unhelpful arbitration proposal

      Yesterday (Friday, January 18) was the first full day of Qualcomm’s case-in-chief as it is seeking to defend itself against the FTC’s apparently very strong antitrust case. Of course, Qualcomm’s legal team consisting of one of the most prestigious firms of the United States (Cravath Swaine & Moore), a firm very well-respected for its representation in Bay Area jury trials (Keker, van Nest & Peters), and a firm with a particular strength in patent matters (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius), previously had other opportunities to make its point: in an opening statement, through cross-examination, and the first few hours of Qualcomm’s case-in-chief (on Tuesday).

      Good lawyers–and these are partly absolutely great lawyers–can sow the seeds of doubt about pretty much anything; if necessary, even about the Earth being round. It’s not that they don’t score any points or have nothing to say that might give the court some pause, but let’s always remember the legal standard as well as who the fact finder is. In a criminal defense trial with a layperson jury and the beyond-reasonable-doubt standard, Qualcomm would have a decent chance of finding at least some jurors who would vote for acquittal, even if only because it’s easy to create smokescreens in a context that requires a certain degree of expertise to understand.

      But the fact finder here is none other than Judge Koh. On the first six trial days, she didn’t ask questions during testimony except in one case where it wasn’t clear to her how Qualcomm was seeking to impeach a witness with a certain cross-examination strategy. Yesterday, however, Qualcomm was at some point basically trying to relitigate through testimony some subissues of her summary judgment on rival chipset licensing (though, to be fair, the related subissues are technically relevant again in connection with the FTC’s position that any FRAND licensing obligation for SEPs gives rival chipset makers a right to a license). It was the first point–and so far still the only one–in this trial where Judge Koh indicated she didn’t see the point in something that was said.

    • Copyrights

      • Facebook Sued For Refusing to Remove Copyrighted Photo

        Photographer Kristen Pierson Reilly has filed a lawsuit against Facebook for failing to respond properly to a DMCA notice. The social network refused to remove a copy of her photo, stating that it wasn’t clear whether its use was infringing. In a complaint filed in a federal court in New York, Pierson now demands compensation for the damage she suffered.

      • Singapore Prepares Ban on Piracy-Configured Media Devices & Software

        New laws set to be tabled in Singapore this year will target the sale of piracy-configured media devices and software. The proposals also seek to prevent individuals from installing piracy software on devices for a fee, post-sale.

      • Brazilian Police Shut Down Private Torrent Site in ‘Operation Copyright’

        Officers from Brazil’s Federal Police have launched a broad anti-piracy operation targeting the illegal distribution of music, movies, TV shows, and games. Operation Copyright saw the execution of several warrants in five key regions. Several torrent sites are reportedly down.

      • Now EVERYBODY hates the new EU Copyright Directive

        After all, this is the first refresh on EU copyright since 2001, and so the Directive is mostly a laundry list of overdue, uncontroversial technical tweaks with many stakeholders; the last thing anyone wanted was a spoiler in the midst.

        Anyone, that is, except for German newspaper families (who loved Article 11, who could charge Big Tech for the privilege of sending readers to their sites) and the largest record labels (who had long dreamed of Article 13, which would force the platforms to implement filters to check everything users posted, and block anything that resembled a known copyrighted work, or anything someone claimed was a known copyrighted work).

        These were the clauses that Voss reinserted, and in so doing, triggered a firestorm of opposition to the Directive from all sides: [...]

      • Anti-Piracy Group BREIN ‘Dealt With’ 339 Pirate Sites Last Year

        Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is among the most active civil copyright enforcement groups in the world. This week the group announced its 2018 achievements, which includes the shutdown of pirate sites and IPTV vendors, as well as settlements with uploaders. These efforts will continue in the year to come, when BREIN also plans to ramp up its efforts against uploaders.

JUVE Creates English Site, Promotes Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mathieu Klos‏

Summary: The generally good press outlet has taken a turn for the worse; it looks like it’s doing more lobbying than reporting nowadays

BACK in October we complained that JUVE was rewarding proponents and advocates of patent trolls, such as Intellectual Ventures. We don’t generally focus on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and that’s intentional for reasons we explained before. But when JUVE spoke about Intellectual Ventures it was referring to its presence in Europe; Team UPC is boosted by Intellectual Ventures and the likes of it, salivating over the possibilities UPC would open up to them.

“They very rarely mention us as if our views are illegitimate; having said that, many so-called ‘IP’ blogs are like that and we can almost take that as a compliment.”We generally find JUVE informative (e.g. polls within their echo chambers and occasional insights from courts). They do some solid journalism, especially Mathieu Klos (in the photograph above) and his colleague Christina Schulze, who wrote a lot about the scandals (Schulze is very good too!). The main issue is that they completely ignore actual industry or people who aren’t in litigation. They very rarely mention us as if our views are illegitimate; having said that, many so-called 'IP' blogs are like that and we can almost take that as a compliment.

A new person’s name has emerged under the name/brand “JUVE” and it’s in this UPC puff piece pinned in or penned for a site called juve-patent.com. I hadn’t seen it until Benjamin Henrion (FFII) mentioned it this morning, linking to Team UPC tweets. The site, as it turns out, is quite new. Running whois from my GNU Bash shell I get:

   Domain Name: JUVE-PATENT.COM
   Registry Domain ID: 2285031549_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
   Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.psi-usa.info
   Registrar URL: http://www.psi-usa.info
   Updated Date: 2018-07-13T10:14:39Z
   Creation Date: 2018-07-13T10:14:39Z
   Registry Expiry Date: 2019-07-13T10:14:39Z
   Registrar: PSI-USA, Inc. dba Domain Robot
   Registrar IANA ID: 151
   Registrar Abuse Contact Email: domain-abuse@psi-usa.info
   Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +49.94159559482
   Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited https://icann.org/epp#clientTransferProhibited
   Name Server: A.NS14.NET
   Name Server: B.NS14.NET
   Name Server: C.NS14.NET
   Name Server: D.NS14.NET
   DNSSEC: unsigned

The article in question is classic Team UPC fluff. We never saw the author’s name before, so maybe she isn’t familiar with the antics and lies of Team UPC. There’s so much wrong with this article. Missing the greater barriers to UPC and still repeating the infamous lies (the article at least parrots these lies, directly sourced from and attributed to Team UPC) would be harmful to the reputation of JUVE. Thus far it hasn’t been a mere megaphone that relays popular (among Team UPC) lies… instead it investigated, e.g. by contacting the courts. The errant reader is led to believe that UPC would be desirable to the UK and ‘unitary’ patents being a matter of time (as if the German court is just a bunch of jokers).

“It is a tad worrying that JUVE has expanded to English coverage in an English domain. More so if the writers for that site of JUVE are with litigation firms.”As we said at the start, the main problem with JUVE is that it will never speak to actual UPC sceptics or — GASPbusinesses that actually make something. Legal ‘representatives’ and their front groups are quoted to make up paragraphs, painted as “media” or “press” or “journalism” (Schulze was closest to actual reporting).

It is a tad worrying that JUVE has expanded to English coverage in an English domain. More so if the writers for that site of JUVE are with litigation firms. Whenever JUVE gives a platform to liars from Bristows and other UPC liars it reduces itself to the same level as Kluwer, which hardly even pretends to be objective (if even deletes comments that talk down the UPC). Bristows isn’t merely misguided; it’s intentionally lying; these people engage in UPC 'necrophilia' and typically they don’t manage to interject their lies into bigger media/publishers. Until JUVE comes along…

It was already bad enough that much of today’s media that covers patents is basically composed directly by law firms, not real reporters or investigative journalists. Whose side is JUVE on? Lobbying or information?

“…there’s lots of dirty stuff going on and instead we have JUVE, presenting itself as a press outlet, engaging in pure lobbying for Team UPC.”Speaking of law firms writing ‘the news’, watch Keith O’Donnell, Oliver R. Hoor and Samantha Schmitz-Merle (“ATOZ Tax Advisers”), who only days ago sought to attract patent trolls and other shells pretending to be stationed in Luxembourg for tax evasion purposes. This is pure marketing (shameless self-promotion disguised as ‘news)’. This is how the European Patent Office (EPO) attracts patent trolls and other parasites (thorough Luxembourg, akin to Eastern Texas in the US). To quote this ‘advert: “On 4 August 2017, the text of the draft law introducing the new Luxembourg BEPS-compliant Intellectual Property (IP) regime was released. As from 1 January 2018, Luxembourg taxpayers will be able to benefit, under certain conditions, from an 80% exemption regime applicable to income related to patents and copyrighted software. In addition, IP assets which qualify for the 80% (corporate) income tax exemption will be fully exempt from net wealth tax.”

‘Legalised’ tax evasion in Luxembourg is a widely-covered topic (same for Monaco and Switzerland, sometimes the Netherlands and London as well). The point is, there’s lots of dirty stuff going on and instead we have JUVE, presenting itself as a press outlet, engaging in pure lobbying for Team UPC.

The Indian Ministry of Commerce Tries to Bend Patent Law in Favour of Foreign Monopolies

Posted in Asia, Patents at 3:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monopolies and monopolists have long attempted to accomplish this

India hand

Summary: There’s an attempt to tilt patent law against the interests of India; but vigilant few are observing and reporting it, even in English

THE ISSUE or the subject of software patents in India — like software patents in the EPO, the USPTO and China — is central to this site. We’ve long written on the matter, seeing that the EPO increasingly grants such bogus patents, the USPTO drifts further away from courts (35 U.S.C. § 101 caselaw) [1, 2] and patent trolls’ front groups try to compel India to allow such patents. The patent microcosm and the patent ‘industry’ (patent offices included) is eager to grant yet more fake patents which would be invalidated if challenged in courts such as the Federal Circuit or the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The way they see it, that’s not their problem and the price will be paid by scientists and technologists, who are basically being ‘taxed’ by law firms.

“The monopoly of patents is often justified as an incentive to promote R&D. But in practice, patents are used to control competition and give fewer options to consumers.”
      –The Wire
“The government’s new proposals on patents may increase frivolous patents,” warned this new article (from last week), noting a recent proposal:

The Ministry of Commerce has floated proposed changes to the rules of the Indian patent Act.

Two of the proposed changes are very concerning. It proposes a new mechanism which will expedite decisions on patent applications. This proposed fast-track process seems to come with various other compromises on the functioning of India’s patent architecture and for protecting access to medicines, for example.

The monopoly of patents is often justified as an incentive to promote R&D. But in practice, patents are used to control competition and give fewer options to consumers. Towards this purpose, big corporations are known for obtaining multiple patents claiming minor changes on the same technology or molecule. This practice of creating patent-fences adversely impacts the industrial and technological development of countries like India, by preventing their firms from catching up with the latest technology.

India is a relatively poor country (if measured per capita), so patent maximalism never made sense for it. Some patents may be fine, but those which price medicine out of reach (for those in most desperate need) would be fatal. Since one of India’s biggest exports is software (code), software patents make no economic sense, either. Let alone purely practical sense…

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