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01.09.19

Links 9/1/2019: Qubes OS 4.0.1, Bash 5.0

Posted in News Roundup at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Taking machine learning to the birds

    The Cacophony Project’s broad vision is to bring back New Zealand’s native birds using the latest technology to monitor bird populations and humanely eliminate the introduced predators that are endangering them.

    The project started in our founder’s backyard to measure the effectiveness of his efforts to protect the birds on his property. From this simple beginning, the project has quickly grown into a system that includes two edge devices, a cloud server, and automatic identification of animals using machine learning. The project has been completely open source from the beginning and sees regular contributions from a wide variety of volunteers.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 73 Enabling The Mojo Video Decoders For Linux

        The upcoming Chrome 72 release enables the “Mojo Video Decoders” by default on Windows while that milestone is set to be realized for Linux systems with the following Chrome 73 web-browser update.

        Mojo Video Decoders? This work hasn’t been talked about by Google as much as many of their other web browser efforts. In fact, I wasn’t even familiar with it until a Phoronix reader (h/t Tim R) pointed out a patch enabling this next-gen video decode code for Linux desktop systems. Since just before the holidays, the Chrome/Chromium code enabled Mojo Video Decoders by default on Linux systems.

    • Mozilla

      • Our Letter to Congress About Facebook Data Sharing

        Last week Mozilla sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee concerning its investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices. We believe Facebook’s representations to the Committee — and more recently — concerning Mozilla are inaccurate and wanted to set the record straight about any past and current work with Facebook. You can read the full letter here.

      • Mozilla Firefox 65 Promises Enhanced Security for Linux, Android, and macOS

        A new major Firefox version is expected to land at the end of January 2019 with some interesting changes and new features as Mozilla continues to improve the security and reliability of its open-source web browser.

        That’s right, we’re talking here about Firefox 65, the next major release of the popular open-source web browser used by millions of computer and mobile users worldwide. With the Firefox 65 release, Mozilla adds support for the WebP image format for all platforms, the ability to change the UI’s display language in the Options page, as well as AV1 video codec support for Window users.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Alibaba invests in open source tech with data Artisans

      Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has acquired German startup data Artisans (dA) to build an initiative around Big Data open source technologies.

      The move is also aimed at developing stream processing, batch processing and machine learning for developers to leverage in areas like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and other real-time processing applications.

      As per local media reports, the deal has been valued at EUR 90 million. While both firms issued official statements, the details of the deal were not disclosed.

  • LibreOffice

    • Marketing in Vendor Neutral FLOSS Projects #4

      The commercial ecosystem around LibreOffice is an un-necessarily tough environment to operate in. Companies contribute a large proportion of the work, and yet get very little acknowledgement – which in turn makes it hard for them to invest. This also creates an un-necessary tension with companies marketing – which has to focus on building their own brands. Companies should not fear the arrival of the LibreOffice brand to squash, claim credit for, and present their work as created by someone else – thus effectively depriving them of leads. This is unsustainable.

      The LibreOffice project should give a new focus to promoting and celebrating all participants in its community – including ecosystem companies. This is far from a problem unique to companies. It is routinely the case that individual community members feel under-appreciated – they would like more recognition of their work, and promotion of their own personal public brands as valued contributors. This is something that TDF should re-balance its marketing resource into, in preference to product marketing.

      The LibreOffice project should explicitly create space for enterprise distributions by explicitly pointing out the weaknesses of LibreOffice for enterprises on its hot marketing properties. This would have a positive effect of encouraging companies to acknowledge and build the LibreOffice brand safe in the knowledge that anyone visiting LibreOffice will get an accurate and balanced picture of their skills and contribution.

      We badly need to increase diverse investment into our ecosystem by building an environment where deep investment into LibreOffice is a sound economic choice: economics ultimately drives ecosystem behavior. By creating the right environment – often not by acting, but by clearly and deliberately not acting in a space – we can build a virtuous circle of investment that produces ever better software that meets TDF’s mission.

    • Next C++ workshop: 10 January 2019 at 19:00 UTC

      Yes, we’re running another C++ workshop, where you can watch a video about a specific feature of the language, then join our community of developers for a live discussion!

  • CMS

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Bash 5.0 released
    • Bash-5.0 release available
    • Bash 5.0 Released with New Features

      The mailing list confirmed the release of Bash-5.0 recently. And, it is exciting to know that it comes baked with new features and variable.

      Well, if you’ve been using Bash 4.4.XX, you will definitely love the fifth major release of Bash.

      The fifth release focuses on new shell variables and a lot of major bug fixes with an overhaul. It also introduces a couple of new features along with some incompatible changes between bash-4.4 and bash-5.0.

    • Bash 5.0 is here with new features and improvements

      GNU project made version 5.0 of its popular POSIX shell Bash ( Bourne Again Shell) available yesterday. Bash 5.0 explores new improvements and features such as BASH_ARGV0, EPOCHSECONDS, and EPOCHREALTIME among others.

      Bash was first released in 1989 and was created for the GNU project as a replacement for their Bourne shell. It is capable of performing functions such as interactive command line editing, and job control on architectures that support it. It is a complete implementation of the IEEE POSIX shell and tools specification.

    • GitHub Announces that Free Accounts Now Can Create Private Repositories, Bash-5.0 Released, iPhone Apps Linked to Golduck Malware, Godot Game Engine Reaches 3.1 Beta, NSA to Open-Source Its GHIDRA Reverse-Engineering Tool

      Bash-5.0 was released yesterday. This release fixes several bugs and introduces many new features. From the release announcement: “The most notable new features are several new shell variables: BASH_ARGV0, EPOCHSECONDS, and EPOCHREALTIME. The `history’ builtin can remove ranges of history entries and understands negative arguments as offsets from the end of the history list. There is an option to allow local variables to inherit the value of a variable with the same name at a preceding scope. There is a new shell option that, when enabled, causes the shell to attempt to expand associative array subscripts only once (this is an issue when they are used in arithmetic expressions). The `globasciiranges’ shell option is now enabled by default; it can be set to off by default at configuration time.”

    • Radeon GCN Compiler Back-End Might Still Be Merged For GCC 9

      The AMD Radeon “GCN” compiler back-end to the GCC open-source code compiler might still be merged ahead of the GCC 9 stable release due out in April.

      Over the past year CodeSourcery / Mentor Graphics has been working on the AMD GCN back-end to GCC so that OpenMP/OpenACC code-bases can run on the latest Radeon/FirePro GPUs using this common C/C++ compiler. While right now there is just the “AMDGPU” LLVM compiler back-end, this work would finally open up OpenACC/OpenMP GPU offloading for the GCC compiler with recent Radeon graphics cards.

    • GNU MDK 1.2.10 released

      This new release fixes some long standing bugs and adds compatibility with Guile 2.2 and Flex 2.6.

  • Public Services/Government

    • NSA will open source a tool for malware disassembly and reverse engineering

      Dubbed GHIDRA, the tool will allow folks au fait with cyber security to pick apart binaries for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS, and turn them into code that can then be perused to figure out what malware has been up to, or take a deep dive into seemingly legit software carrying out eyebrow-raising activity.

      The tool will be showcased at the 2019 RSA Conference in March, a San Francisco haven for cyber security smart Alecs. And while it’s targeted at security pros, the tool will be open to anyone to have a meddle with.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Asus Zenfone Max M2 update brings EIS to the front camera, Max Pro M2 gets an update too

      So far, there have been mixed feelings about these two phones as the specs and price are impressive, but then the company ended up releasing the kernel source code for them that was encrypted. It’s required for an Android OEM to release the kernel source for their devices but releasing an encrypted file without proper means of decryption is pointless. This still ends up with ASUS violating the GPL and it’s not a good sign for the enthusiast community that was starting to swell around these two devices.

    • Nokia 7.1 and Nokia 6.1 Plus kernel source code now available for download

      HMD’s source code for Nokia Android smartphones is licensed under GPL or LGPL which allows source code distribution. And by distributing the source code the company also contribute to the open source community which in turn is beneficial to the end users. Visit Nokia’s official download page where you can find the source code for both the smartphones, Nokia 6.1 Plus and Nokia 7.1.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Science

    • UK is testing self-driving Mars rovers

      Despite the fact that landing on Mars is hard, robotic rovers and landers have now become a regular feature of Mars exploration. These advanced exploratory machines are sending back unprecedented information about this fascinating red world. One limitation, however, has been that rovers and landers are still, for the most part, controlled by human operators back on Earth. On January 2, 2019, the U.K. government announced the testing of new software that’ll help make future rovers more autonomous – “smarter” and more capable of making their own decisions, such as deciding where to go and how to get there – i.e. self-driving.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • New York Mayor Proposes Sweeping New Health Care Plan

      The future of the Affordable Care Act and comprehensive health care coverage remains uncertain nationally. Republicans have made multiple attempts to repeal all or part of the law, and President Trump cut the advertising budget for the last open-enrollment period, although enrollment numbers were still higher than expected, as PBS reported in December. Amid these conflicting events, some states and cities have taken matters into their own hands, expanding Medicaid coverage, or, as California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday on his first day in office, unveiling plans to expand health care for undocumented immigrants and give California the power to negotiate drug prices.

      New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, may have the most ambitious and wide-ranging plan to offer residents medical care. In a move that NBC New York called “historic,” de Blasio announced on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that the city will spend $100 million to provide comprehensive health care to both undocumented immigrants and any low-income New Yorkers who don’t have health insurance.

      The New York Times suggests that making his announcement on national television may reflect de Blasio’s desire to position himself beyond New York, “as a progressive leader on issues like health care and as a bulwark against the policies of President Trump, particularly on immigration.”

    • ‘Huge Step in Right Direction’ as de Blasio Unveils Guaranteed Healthcare Plan for All NYC Residents

      Described by de Blasio as a bold healthcare initiative that “has never been done before in this country in this kind of comprehensive way,” NYC Care would build upon the city’s existing MetroPlus insurance system and spend an estimated $100 million per year to provide physical and mental health coverage, pediatric care, and other necessities to all residents.

      While NYC Care will not provide free coverage to everyone in the city, the program will be priced on a sliding scale according to individuals’ ability to pay.

      “When this plan is fully implemented, every New Yorker who needs a doctor will have an actual doctor with a name and a place, they’re going to have a card that will empower them to go to that doctor whenever they need,” de Blasio said during Tuesday’s press conference. “A primary care doctor, an actual person that you can turn to that’s your doctor, and the specialty services that will make all the difference. You name it. The things that people need will be available to them.”

    • Democrats Don’t Just Support Medicare for All, 84% in New Poll Want Party Leaders to Make It ‘Extremely Important Priority’

      That was the question posed by healthcare justice advocates to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—and potential Democratic presidential candidates as well—after another new poll showed overwhelming support for Medicare for All by Democratic Party voters.

    • Drug Ads Surge as U.S. Medical Marketing Hits $30 Billion

      Ads for prescription drugs appeared 5 million times in just one year, capping a recent surge in U.S. medical marketing, a new analysis found.

      The advertisements for various medicines showed up on TV, newspapers, online sites and elsewhere in 2016. Their numbers soared over 20 years as part of broad health industry efforts to promote drugs, devices, lab tests and even hospitals.

      The researchers estimated that medical marketing reached $30 billion in 2016, up from $18 billion in 1997. Spending on consumer-focused ads climbed fastest. But marketing to doctors and other health professionals still grabbed the biggest share with the bulk of it paying for free drug samples.

    • Center for Science in the Public Interest Greg Jaffe Cornell and GMOs

      The Center for Science in the Public Interest is known in public interest circles as one of the premiere food safety public interest groups in Washington, D.C.

      But that reputation has suffered over the years because of the group’s stance on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – including its opposition to mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

      That GMO stance aligns CSPI with pro-GMO organizations and against other consumer groups – including Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union and US Right to Know.

      In 2015, CSPI refused to debate Consumers Union’s Michael Hansen on the question of mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

      “Why is CSPI defending a technology that has health and environmental risks but nearly no consumer benefits?” asked Gary Ruskin of US Right to Know at the time. “CSPI has done a lot of good work over the years. But on the issue of GMOs, they have lost their way.”

      Now, Greg Jaffe, the head CSPI’s Biotechnology Project, has publically aligned himself with one of the most pro-GMO groups in the country – the Cornell Alliance for Science.

      Jaffe works part time as the Cornell Alliance for Science associate director of legal affairs.

      “CSPI contracts with Cornell for part of his salary to have Greg provide expert technical assistance to the Alliance for Science,” said CSPI’s Jeff Cronin. “The Alliance for Science, like CSPI, takes no donations from corporations and discloses its donors on its website.”

      Cronin would not say how much Cornell is paying Jaffe.

      (The Cornell Alliance for Science primary donor is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But the Alliance does list as one of its funders a corporation – Blue Mountain Capital, a hedge fund with $21 billion under management.)

    • Land Grabbers: the Threat of Giant Agriculture

      In the 1980s, I met a retired general at a Borders bookstore in northern Virginia. He used to buy tons of military history books. I used to buy environmental and classics books. We started talking about books. But, slowly, in our discussion of Latin America, I criticized American policies, especially the immoral support of landlords against landless peasants.

      “If I knew you a few years ago, I would take you outside the town and shoot you,” he said to me.

      I dismissed this vicious threat as a sign the old man was crazy. But the threat, nevertheless, mirrors the invisible war around farming, food, and the environment. I felt the tension of that ceaseless war for decades.

      [...]

      Giant agriculture has been having similar effects on us and our civilization.

      I caught a glimpse of that scary reality during my tenure at the US Environmental Protection Agency. I studied American agriculture in depth.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Bases, Bases, Everywhere…

      The U.S. military is finally withdrawing (or not) from its base at al-Tanf. You know, the place that the Syrian government long claimed was a training ground for Islamic State (ISIS) fighters; the land corridor just inside Syria, near both the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, that Russia has called a terrorist hotbed (while floating the idea of jointly administering it with the United States); the location of a camp where hundreds of U.S. Marines joined Special Operations forces last year; an outpost that U.S. officials claimed was the key not only to defeating ISIS, but also, according to General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, to countering “the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue.” You know, that al-Tanf.

      Within hours of President Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, equipment at that base was already being inventoried for removal. And just like that, arguably the most important American garrison in Syria was (maybe) being struck from the Pentagon’s books — except, as it happens, al-Tanf was never actually on the Pentagon’s books. Opened in 2015 and, until recently, home to hundreds of U.S. troops, it was one of the many military bases that exist somewhere between light and shadow, an acknowledged foreign outpost that somehow never actually made it onto the Pentagon’s official inventory of bases.

    • The Hypocrisy of the ‘Liberal’ Foreign Policy Establishment Knows No Bounds

      If anyone else were president, the “liberals” would be celebrating. After all, pulling American soldiers out of a couple of failing, endless wars seems like a “win” for progressives. Heck, if Obama did it there might be a ticker-tape parade down Broadway. And there should be. The intervention in Syria is increasingly aimless, dangerous and lacks an end state. Afghanistan is an unwinnable war – America’s longest – and about to end in outright military defeat. Getting out now and salvaging so much national blood and treasure ought to be a progressive dream. There’s only one problem: Donald Trump. Specifically, that it was Trump who gave the order to begin the troop withdrawals.

      Lost in the haze of their pathological hatred of President Trump, the majority of mainstream liberal pundits and politicians can’t, for the life of them, see the good sense in extracting the troops from a couple Mideast quagmires. That or they can see the positives, but, in their obsessive compulsion to smear the president, choose politics over country. It’s probably a bit of both. That’s how tribally partisan American political discourse has become. And, how reflexively hawkish and interventionist today’s mainstream Democrats now are. Whither the left-wing antiwar movement? Well, except for a few diehards out there, the movement seems to have been buried long ago with George McGovern.

      Make no mistake, the Democrats have been tacking to the right on foreign policy and burgeoning their tough-guy-interventionist credentials for decades now. Terrified of being painted as soft or dovish on martial matters, just about all the “serious” baby-boomer Dems proudly co-opted the militarist line and gladly accepted campaign cash from the corporate arms dealers. Think about it, any Democrat with serious future presidential aspirations back in 2002 voted for the Iraq War – Hillary, Joe Biden, even former peace activist John Kerry! And, in spite of the party base now moving to the left, all these big name hawks – along with current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – are still Democratic stalwarts. Heck, some polls list Biden as the party’s 2020 presidential frontrunner.

    • Multifaceted Attack Against Venezuela on Eve of Maduro Inauguration

      Venezuelan President Nicholás Maduro’s inauguration for his second term on January 10 is targeted by the US, the allied Lima Group, and the hardline Venezuelan opposition. They have demanded that Maduro refuse inauguration. A multifaceted attack aimed at regime change is underway using sanctions, military threats, and a campaign of delegitimization to replace the democratically elected president.

      Since President Hugo Chávez began his first term as president in 1999, the Bolivarian Republic has promoted regional integration and independence, resisted neoliberalism, opposed “free trade” agreements that would compromise national autonomy, and supported the emergence of a multipolar world. On account of these policies, Chávez (1999-2013) and now Maduro, have faced relentless attacks by the colossus to the north. Today the Maduro administration faces the challenges of defending national sovereignty from imperial domination and overcoming crippling US sanctions that have exacerbated a severe economic crisis.

      The US has brazenly announced its consideration of a “military option” against Caracas and has assembled a coalition of the willing in Colombia and Brazil to prepare for an eventual “humanitarian” intervention. Most alarming is that the US seems indifferent to the consequences of such an invasion, which could easily become a regional and global conflagration involving Colombia, Brazil, and even Russia and China.

    • Is There Still Hope for Rojava?

      As the U.S. foreign policy establishment grapples with President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, officials in Washington are overlooking what could be the biggest impact of his decision: the effect on the revolution in Rojava, the most promising democratic experiment in the Middle East.

      Since Trump announced on December 19 that U.S. forces in Syria are returning home, most of the foreign policy establishment has lapsed into a kind of collective panic about the geopolitical implications for U.S. power and influence in the Middle East. Although some U.S. officials support Trump’s decision, arguing that a direct U.S. military presence in Syria is no longer necessary, most foreign policy experts portray Trump’s move as a victory for U.S. enemies and a sacrifice of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the U.S.-backed forces who are fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

      “A precipitous U.S. troop withdrawal will undermine critical U.S. interests in Syria,” argues former U.S. official Mona Yacoubian, who is now a senior advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

      Throughout the debate, U.S. officials have done little to consider the ramifications of Trump’s decision for the revolution in Rojava. Without U.S. forces positioned in Rojava, the Kurdish-led region in northeastern Syria, the Syrian Kurds who are leading a social revolution there face an imminent attack from Turkey, which has repeatedly threatened to eradicate them and their revolution.

    • Living on a Quagmire Planet: This Could Get a Lot Uglier

      Sixty-six million years ago, so the scientists tell us, an asteroid slammed into this planet. Landing on what’s now Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, it gouged out a crater 150 kilometers wide and put so much soot and sulfur into the atmosphere that it created what was essentially a prolonged “nuclear winter.” During that time, among so many other species, large and small, the dinosaurs went down for the count. (Don’t, however, tell that to your local chicken, the closest living relative — it’s now believed — of Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

      It took approximately 66 million years for humanity to evolve from lowly surviving mammals and, over the course of a recent century or two, teach itself how to replicate the remarkable destructive power of that long-gone asteroid in two different ways: via nuclear power and the burning of fossil fuels. And if that isn’t an accomplishment for the species that likes to bill itself as the most intelligent ever to inhabit this planet, what is?

      Talking about accomplishments: as humanity has armed itself ever more lethally, it has also transformed itself into the local equivalent of so many asteroids. Think, for instance, of that moment in the spring of 2003 when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and crew launched the invasion of Iraq with dreams of setting up a Pax Americana across the Greater Middle East and beyond. By the time U.S. troops entered Baghdad, the burning and looting of the Iraqi capital had already begun, leaving the National Museum of Iraq trashed (gone were the tablets on which Hammurabi first had a code of laws inscribed) and the National Library of Baghdad, with its tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts, in flames. (No such “asteroid” had hit that city since 1258, when Mongol warriors sacked it, destroying its many libraries and reputedly leaving the Tigris River running “black with ink” and red with blood.)

    • Trump’s Withdrawal Plans Are a Mess, But Poll Shows Americans Ready to Bring Troops Home

      While President Donald Trump is by no means an anti-war president, new polling shows that the American people are ready to see significant numbers of U.S. troops come home from foreign war zones that have existed for years, if not decades.

      Peace advocates celebrated reporting last month that Trump wanted to imminently withdraw troops from Syria and cut those deployed to Afghanistan by half, and a Politico/Morning Consult poll (pdf) demonstrates a large portion of Americans agree, even as military leaders and warhawks in both major political parties continue to raise alarm about scaling back U.S. military occupation or operations in those nations.

      The poll found that more than half (56 percent) of those surveyed—at least “based on what [they] know”—support Trump’s recent order to bring home about half of the troops in Afghanistan, or about 7,000 people, “in the near future,” compared with 27 percent who oppose it.

      Although support for an immediate withdrawal of the more than 2,000 troops in Syria is a bit lower, a plurality of 48 percent back that plan—again, based on what they understand about it—versus the 35 percent who oppose it.

    • Longtime Reporter Leaves NBC Saying Media Is “Trump Circus” That Encourages Perpetual War

      “Prisoners of Donald Trump.” That’s how longtime NBC reporter and analyst William Arkin described the mainstream media in a scathing letter last week announcing he would be leaving the network, accusing the media of warmongering while ignoring the “creeping fascism of homeland security.” He issued the blistering critique after a 30-year relationship with NBC, calling for “Trump-free” media days and a reckoning about how the network encourages a state of perpetual warfare. We speak with Arkin, whose award-winning reporting has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post. He is the author of many books, including “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • 2019 Will Be a Big Year for Water

      In the last few weeks of 2018, the Trump administration set the stage for a big battle over water in the new year. At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration seeks to roll back important protections for wetlands and waterways, which are important to drinking water and wildlife.

    • These Countries Are Actually Taking Climate Change Seriously

      There are countries that are in earnest about the way humans are overheating the planet, the climate change resisters; and there are others that give what is one of the most fundamental problems facing the world only scant attention.

      Annually over the past 14 years a group of 350 energy and climate experts from around the globe has drawn up a table reflecting the performance of more than 70 countries in tackling climate change.

      Together this group of nations is responsible for more than 90% of total climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

      In the just published index looking at developments in 2018, Sweden, Morocco and Lithuania are the top performers in combatting global warming. At the other end of the scale are Iran, the US and – worst performer by a significant margin – Saudi Arabia.

    • Democratic Leaders Already Failed Their First Big Climate Test

      The science on climate change is clear: All countries desperately need to restructure fossil fuels out of their economies.
      Naturally, the Trump administration has recklessly ignored this evidence. In every way, it’s tried to make it easier to extract and burn fossil fuels — and harder to hold polluters of all stripes accountable.
      But what about the other side in Washington? Unfortunately, Democratic leaders are also acting like they don’t understand the urgency of the problem.
      After the election, youth activists occupied the offices of Democratic leaders to demand a special congressional committee to plan for a Green New Deal.

    • Satellites can be sustainable monitors

      High tech answers using satellites and sound recorders could contribute to solving the global information crisis. To check on progress towards world development and conservation goals, researchers could exploit the highest technology of all.

      Satellite data and number-crunching computer analysis could identify the world’s poorest households, and those on the way to new hope. And subtle listening devices planted in primal rainforest and near human settlements could provide a low-cost, high-speed check on biodiversity loss and conservation efforts in the developing world.

      In effect, researchers argue in two entirely separate studies, the look-and-listen approach could deliver effective levels of information at relatively low expense, and keep nations and international monitoring organisations informed on issues ultimately inseparable from climate change driven by human appropriation of the planet’s resources.

      At the heart of each is the search for a sustainable way of monitoring sustainable development. The governments of 93 nations have committed themselves to the UN’s sustainable development goals, to help lift their citizens out of poverty while maintaining the natural resources on which they must rely.

    • Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal

      “For Sale” signs have replaced “Dairy of Distinction” on the last two dairy farms on the road I drive to town. The farm crisis of the 1980’s that never really went away has resurfaced with a vengeance. In 2013, aggregate farm earnings were half of what they were in 2012. Farm income has continued to decline ever since. The moment is ripe for the movement for a sustainable agriculture to address the root causes.

      Just as in the 80’s, a brief period of high commodity prices and cheap credit in the 2010’s resulted in a debt and asset bubble. Then prices collapsed. Meanwhile, ever larger corporations have consolidated their dominance in the food sector resulting in shoppers paying more, and a shrinking portion of what they pay going to farmers. At first this mainly hit conventional farms, but in 2017, processors started limiting the amount of milk they purchased from organic dairies and cut the price paid below the cost of production. As a result, family-scale farms of all kinds are going out of business. Reports of farmer suicides are increasing dramatically. Despite the shortage of farm workers, their wages remain below the poverty line. People of color and women are often trapped in the lowest paying food system jobs and many are forced to survive on SNAP payments. The tariff game of #45 is only making things worse. The farm consolidation that has taken place has grave consequences for the environment and for climate change as well. The newly passed Farm Bill barely touches the structural and fairness issues that led to this on-going disaster for family-scale farms and the food security of this country.

      An alliance of social movements and members of Congress led by newly elected Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) are proposing a Green New Deal that would initiate an emergency mobilization to address economic inequities and reverse our blind march toward catastrophic climate change, attracting much more attention than the Green Party version. In adraft resolution, Ocasio Cortez proposes the formation of a Select Committee to develop a plan to transition the US to a carbon neutral economy within ten years, together with a comprehensive package including guaranteed living wage jobs, public banks, and a “Just Transition” for all workers. As of this writing, 43 members of the House have signed on to the concept.

    • The Trump Administration Is Courting Ecological Disaster in Alaska

      At the spot where a rugged chain of islands breaks away from the Alaska Peninsula, a secluded national refuge protects millions of seabirds, grizzly bears and caribou.

      Framed by snow-capped mountains and smoky volcanoes, the refuge holds an irreplaceable underwater grass forest, where the world’s population of a tuxedo-colored sea goose – 150,000 of them – fattens up before a nonstop 60-hour migration to Mexico.

      For six decades, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, tucked along the coast of the Bering Sea, has been protected as one of the wildest nature spots on Earth, remote enough to escape development.

    • Climate Change and National Security Through the Lens of Key Federal Publications

      As I write, the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has concluded. COP24 was held at Katowice, Poland from December 3-17, 2018 and brought together representatives from 200 governments to adopt guidelines for the Paris Agreement. The foundational document for COP24 was IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Global Warming of 1.5°C, with 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F) as a goal set by Paris. The IPCC report was approved by representatives from 195 nations, including the U.S.; during COP24, the U.S., Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, however, failed to endorse the report arguing that IPCC’s study should be “noted” not “welcomed.”

      [...]

      In 1977, scientist and founder of the Worldwatch Institute, Lester Brown, wrote the prescient Redefining National Security. In his essay, Brown suggests that the “overwhelmingly military character” of national security ignores natural threats to human societies and ecosystems. Brown observed these “new threats to national security will challenge the information-gathering and analytical skills of government” (p. 36). More importantly, Brown notes

      the purpose of national security deliberations should not be to maximize military strength but to maximize national security. If this latter approach were used, public resources would be distributed more widely among the many threats to national security – both the traditional military one and the newer, less precisely measured ones.

    • The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace

      We must capitalize and act on the opportunity presented by the abrupt departure of “mad dog” Mattis and other warrior hawks. Another move toward demilitarization is the unprecedented Congressional challenge to Trump’s support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And while the president’s disturbing proposals to walk out of established nuclear arms control treaties represents a new danger, they are also an opportunity.

      Trump announced that the US is withdrawing from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty(INF),negotiated in 1987 by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, and warned that he has no interest in renewing the modest new START treaty negotiated by Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev. Obama paid a heavy price to secure Congressional ratification of START, promising a one-trillion-dollar program over ten years for two new nuclear bomb factories, and new warheads, missiles, planes and submarines to deliver their lethal payload, a program that is continuing under Trump. While the INF limited the US and Russia to physically deploying up to a maximum of 1,500 bomb-laden nuclear missiles out of their massive nuclear arsenals, it failed to make good on the 1970 US promise made in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to eliminate nuclear weapons. Even today, nearly 50 years after those NPT promises were made, the US and Russia account for a staggering 14,000 of the 15,000 nuclear bombs on the planet.

      With Trump’s US military posture in seeming disarray, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fashion bold new actions for disarmament. The most promising breakthrough for nuclear disarmament is the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, negotiated and adopted by 122 nations at the UN in 2017. This unprecedented treaty finally bans the bomb, just as the world has done for biological and chemical weapons, and won its organizers, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Nobel Peace Prize. The treaty now needs to be ratified by 50 nations to become binding.

    • Despite Shutdown, Trump Is Pushing Forward Plans to Drill in Arctic

      The Bureau of Land Management has confirmed that it is moving forward with public meetings to rework management plans for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite many other Interior Department activities remaining frozen, according to Alaska Public Media.

      The Trump administration is thus ensuring that many other employees within the Interior Department continue working toward opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, even as national parks remain closed.

      In April 2018 the Trump administration took the first step toward oil and gas drilling in the wildlife refuge by officially launching a 60-day review process for holding a lease sale in the pristine area.

      Since then, the administration has worked consistently toward opening the wildlife refuge to drilling, even despite the government shutdown that Trump himself caused.

      Opponents of the efforts to push drilling forward have criticized the move, pointing out how obvious the contrast is between this and the lack of staffing at national parks that is leading to overflowing garbage, vandalism and unattended public toilets.

    • 14 New Massachusetts State Reps Support 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

      With the swearing in of new members last week, the Massachusetts legislature, not unlike the U.S. Congress, is receiving an infusion of brand-new state representatives who already are pushing an aggressive agenda focused on addressing climate change and transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.

      So far, 14, or over half of the 24 new recruits, have formed an informal but unified group known as GreenTeamMA. Their initiatives are straightforward. They’ve agreed to refuse campaign contributions from fossil fuel PACs, they support carbon pricing, and they’ll be working with constituents to drive higher demand for wind, solar, and hydropower in the Bay State, where today almost one-sixth of electricity comes from renewable sources.

      “It’s a bottom-up approach that may well work,” said newly elected State Rep. Patrick Kearney of the South Shore’s 4th Plymouth District. “It’s a bipartisan effort we’re undertaking because the climate affects the health and well-being of every community.”

    • ‘Scary’: Warming of Oceans Is Equivalent to 1.5 Atomic Bombs Every Second Over Past 150 Years

      Carbon emissions are affecting life in all of Earth’s ecosystems—contributing to drought, flooding, and the melting of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. But a new study by researchers at Oxford University details how the planet’s oceans are by far the climate crisis’s biggest victim, with implications for the global population.

      Researchers examined changes in ocean heat going all the way back to 1871, looking further into the past than many other studies of global and ocean warming. The research suggested that with carbon emissions accelerating dramatically since then, the average heating of the oceans over the nearly 150-year period was equivalent to the dropping of 1.5 atomic bombs per second since 1871.

    • Why are We Still Logging Our Forests?

      Anyone who accepts true science realizes that today’s big forest fires are driven far more by climate warming than by a lack of “active forest management” as claimed in previous editorial opinions.

      Active forest management, more honestly called “logging,” has always been the timber industry’s cure-all for every perceived problem in our forests.Until science confirmed the amazing diversity and value of our old forests, they were deemed to be “decadent,” badly in need of logging and replacement with more efficient tree farms. When there were budworm or bark beetle breakouts, industry said our forests were being decimated and needed logging to “restore” them. Science disagreed, noting that insects and disease were important components of healthy forest ecosystems. When our forests burn, industry claims quick logging and replanting is necessary to salvage their value. Science again exposed their myths, showing the value of leaving burned forests as critical habitat and how forests reseed and recover naturally from fires like the Biscuit.

      I kept a cabin within the huge weather-caused and weather-extinguished Biscuit Fire in Oregon. It was years of cutting and burning non-merchantable understories that saved my cabin, not logging. In the aftermath, I witnessed how little difference commercially thinned stands made to fire spread or intensity. I photographed sites where flames consumed thinned stands only to lie down when they hit the cooler, moister, unthinned forest.

    • Climacide: Survival Rebranding

      A 15-year old Swedish girl bitch slapped the world’s representatives at the recent climate conference in Poland. She stood before them and called them frauds and fakers, while they sat in limp silence. She said they’d had their chances to do something effective about the climate crisis, and they had failed. It was time for them to get out of the way and leave the solution to the next generation, whose future was at stake.

      The delegates applauded lamely and resumed their assignment of crafting an intricate rule book for implementing the earlier Paris climate accords, which were admittedly voluntary, unenforceable and insufficient to the magnitude of the crisis. The American contingent in Poland even staged an event glorifying the burning of more coal—but “clean” coal with some carbon capture to make such operations benign.

      This scene repeats a familiar pattern now reduced to a ritual. Professed experts and interests gather to assess what has been done. They concede their efforts have been earnest but inadequate. Some among them, plus intruders, pitch a fit about how little has been accomplished. All pledge to do better—and then go home and continue doing much the same as before.

      These rituals apparently have the endurance to continue while the seas rise into the conference halls, the forests burn down around them and the people are rioting in the surrounding streets.

  • Finance

    • AT&T eliminated more than 10,000 US jobs in 2018, union says

      CWA estimated that AT&T has eliminated 10,700 jobs across the country, saying the cuts have come by way of closing or shrinking dozens of call centers. The union said AT&T is replacing U.S. workers with low-wage contractors overseas.

    • The Big Economic Switcheroo

      The biggest untold story about how we pay for government involves a big switcheroo by America’s wealthy.

      Decades ago, wealthy Americans financed the federal government mainly by paying taxes. Their tax rate was far higher than what it is today.

      Now, wealthy Americans finance the federal government mainly by lending it money, and collecting interest payments on those loans, profiting when the rest of us pay them back.

      Follow the money: As the debt continues to grow, interest payments are becoming huge. Taxpayers could soon be paying more in interest on the federal debt than we spend on the military or on Medicaid.

    • Ethereum Classic cryptocurrency suspended after attackers steal nearly $1.1M

      Coinbase delisted Ethereum Classic (ETC) after detecting “a deep chain reorganization of Ethereum Classic blockchain.” Put another way, nearly $500,000 was spent twice. As pointed out by ZDNet, Bitfly confirmed there had been a successful 51 percent attack on ETC. Coinbase later updated the post, saying, “The total value of the double spends that we have observed thus far is 219,500 ETC (~$1.1M).”

    • Almost $500,000 in Ethereum Classic coin stolen by forking its blockchain

      The heist was the result of carrying out what’s known as a rollback attack, which allowed the attackers to reorganize the Ethereum blockchain, Coinbase security engineer Mark Nesbitt said in a blog post. From there, the attackers were able to “double spend” about 88,500 ETC, meaning they were able to recover previously spent coins and transfer them to a new entity. As a result, the coins were effectively transferred from the rightful recipients to new entities chosen by the attackers.

    • Tax the Rich? History Proves Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez May be Correct

      Taxes impede economic growth and high taxes kill the economy, right?. This is the belief among many who criticize Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to 70% or more. But what does the evidence really tell us?

      Do high taxes really hurt the economy as much as they believe, and will lowering them have much of an impact on stimulating it? The economic literature is clear — tax breaks to encourage economic relocation or investment decisions are inefficient and wasteful. Hundreds of studies reach this conclusion. When businesses are surveyed regarding factors important to their investment decisions, taxes often come in behind proximity to markets, suppliers, and the quality of the labor force. These other factors occupy a larger percentage of a business’s budget than do taxes, and all of them are far more critical to long-term success than are taxes. Businesses occasionally admit this. Nearly 62 percent of those interviewed in a California study on hiring tax credits indicated that they had never or rarely affected their decision to employ individuals.

      Anecdotal stories and illustrations also confirm the tax fallacy. High tax states such as Minnesota have generally fared better in terms of economic growth, unemployment, median family incomes, and location of Fortune 500 companies than low tax ones such as Mississippi and Alabama. In many situations high taxes, and with that, government expenditures on education, workforce training, and infrastructure, correlate positively with income, low unemployment, and business retention. One needs to look not just a one side of the equation—taxes—but the other side too—what taxes buy—to see what value businesses get out of them in terms of educated workforces and infrastructure investments. Most debates fail to do this.

    • “Invasions”: the Desperate Need to Distract From the Brexit Shambles

      In these days of the 24/7 news cycle– with virtually instantaneous spin on the part of politicians and their slick media gurus, and ever-gullible segments of social media– it’s become easy to plant stories that can soon be shown to be false flags.

      One of these false flags occurred in the UK in the recent holiday season. As I mentioned in a CounterPunch article a couple of weeks ago, Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport, located 30 miles south of London and serving 43 million passengers a year, was closed for a nearly two days during the busiest travel period of the year when multiple drone sightings were reported over its runways throughout that time.

      As a result, 140,000 passengers had flights delayed, cancelled, or rerouted to other airports, and 11,000 people were stranded at the airport, which was not prepared for such an emergency, as airport eateries ran out of food.

      The British army was summoned to deal with this “emergency” after a meeting of Theresa May’s cabinet.

      According to The Guardian, the military deployed the Israeli-developed Drone Dome system, which can detect drones using radar. It can also jam communications between the drone and its operator, enabling authorities to take control of the drone.

    • Is the Historical Subject Returning, Wearing a Yellow Vest?

      If someone were to ask me the meaning of politics, I would say that it is concerned with the contestation of power; that it is agonistic, even antagonistic. And that it has to be, because what it contests is the balance of power wielded by different class interests. As Marx recognised, the underlying purpose of the social, political, economic and even legal institutions of capitalist society is to preserve the monopoly of power enjoyed by the capital-owning class. And, consequently, any attempt to challenge that monopoly, in whatever sphere, is going to be countered, as the yellow-vested protesters are currently experiencing on the streets of Paris.

    • Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan Slams LA Teachers for Strike

      The closer we get to a strike, the more pressure is put on us to call it off. In a recent article in The Hill, pro-charter/anti-union former Education secretary Arne Duncan criticizes United Teachers of Los Angeles, citing the Los Angeles Unified School District’s alleged financial problems. Yet the neutral, state-appointed factfinder on the dispute contradicts many of LAUSD’s (and Duncan’s) claims.

      For example, Duncan tells us LAUSD “is headed toward insolvency in about two years if nothing changes…It simply does not have the money to fund UTLA’s demands.” But arbitrator David A. Weinberg, the Neutral Chair of the California Public Employment Relations Board fact-finding panel, while noting the challenges LAUSD faces, found that the District’s reserves skyrocketed from $500 million in 2013-2014 to $1.8 billion in 2017-2018. Three years ago LAUSD projected that their 2018-2019 reserve would be only $100 million—it’s actually $1.98 billion. We’ve heard these alarming claims for many years–for LAUSD, the sky is always falling, but somehow it never falls.

      Duncan tells us LAUSD “has an average of 26 students per class. Of the 10 largest school districts in California, only one has a smaller average class size than Los Angeles.” These numbers are disputed by UTLA. Moreover, even if 26 is correct on paper, Duncan should know that student-to-teacher ratios count special education and other specialized teachers who normally have much smaller classes than regular classroom teachers. Class sizes are significantly larger than standard student-teacher ratios indicate.

    • Los Angeles Teachers Are Ready for First Strike in 30 Years

      Teachers in Los Angeles, whose 640,000 students make it the nation’s second-largest school district, are ready to strike Thursday over a contract dispute that follows teacher walkouts in other states that emboldened organized labor after a critical defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court.

      United Teachers Los Angeles said its 35,000 members would walk off the job for the first time in 30 years if a deal wasn’t reached on higher pay and smaller class sizes. The Los Angeles Unified School District says the union’s demands could bankrupt the school system, which is projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers.

      Negotiations are continuing, but little progress is evident. The two sides rejected Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s offer to broker a deal.

    • Abolish Wage Slavery: Productivism as an Extractive Industry

      The alienation of labor takes many forms, including the outright ownership of slaves. When big mills and factories were introduced under systems of waged labor, elements of judgment and craft were still preserved among workers because otherwise the machinery would not run at all. Streamlining assembly lines became one of the innovations of the Ford factory system, and his best paid workers were able to buy the basic model cars. In this sense, Fordism was already emerging as an industrial model concurrently with the time and motion studies of the Taylor System.

      Taylor died in 1915, and by 1913 the Ford system reduced the production time on the Model T chassis assembly line from 12.5 hours to 1.5 hours. Ford was able to reduce the price per car, raise wages for workers, and expand the market for the product. There is a tendency in ruling class ideology to attribute all innovation to the “job providers” and leading entrepreneurs. But workers on the job deserve plenty of credit as well, since they were closer to problems and discussed possible solutions. The actual market value of their solutions was not commensurate with their actual wages.

    • What Is a Marginal Tax Rate? The Rich Are Misleading You

      When new Congressional phenom Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently floated a 70 percent marginal tax rate to help pay for the Green New Deal, the panicked response from Americans exposed an important truth: most people don’t understand how tax rates work, and the wealthy are exploiting that lack of knowledge.

    • ’5-Star Award for Idiocy’ as Trump Threatens to Cut Off FEMA Funds to California in Wake of Deadliest-Ever Wildfire Season

      As California works to recover from the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season in its recorded history, President Donald Trump declared in a tweet on Wednesday that he has “ordered” the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cut off federal funding unless the state’s officials “get their act together.”

      Misspelling the word “forest” twice in the same tweet, Trump wrote: “Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forrest [sic] fires that, with proper Forrest [sic] Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives and money!”

    • Workers Ran Their Own Strike and Beat Marriott

      The most successful social movements are highly organized, not spontaneous upsurges.

      An inside look at the recent victory of hotel workers in San Francisco shows that a very democratic process, controlled by the workers themselves, was combined with multicity coordination to win substantial wage increases, workload reductions and job protections.

      In the reflections below, which were drawn from an exclusive interview with UNITE HERE Local 2 President Anand Singh and UNITE HERE Local 2 organizer and Marriott campaign coordinator Kevin O’Connor, two organizers offer an inside account of the campaign that lays bare the strike’s strategy and history.

    • Photo Essay: Marriott Workers Celebrate Victory on the Picket Line

      For 61 days members of UNITE HERE Local 2 struck at seven Marriott hotels in San Francisco during a national campaign targeting the world’s largest hotel corporation. The San Francisco union was the last to settle and go back to work.

      Room cleaners won a $1.75 per hour raise retroactive to last August, and significant raises in the next three years, while fully employer-paid health care is guaranteed for the life of the contract. Housekeepers won workload reductions. The new contract strengthens workers’ rights around the introduction of technology in the workplace, the “Green Choice” program, sexual harassment of room cleaners by guests, employee safety, and immigration. The strike stopped Marriott from contracting out room service and food service in a number of hotels. In San Francisco, workers won unprecedented job protections — if they’re laid off their names go into a pool where they’ll receive preference for rehiring at other hotels.

      The agreement was the result of the strike’s meticulous planning and the participation of workers in the seven hotels. In four hotels, not one Local 2 member crossed the picket line. Only a few did in the other three hostelries at which workers were on strike.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Amid an [Internet] blackout, Congo delays election results

      With the [Internet] and text-message services turned off across the country for more than a week it is difficult to get reliable information in Congo. Radio France Internationale (RFI), a popular news source, has also gone quiet. Its French correspondent was sent packing and its transmissions were blocked when the Congolese authorities accused it of reporting the results before they were officially released.

    • At last! We May Finally Get a Good Reason to Impeach the Racist Presidential MoFu!

      Liberals have been calling for the new Democratic House to file articles of impeachment against Donald Trump ever since winning the House in the Nov. 8 election in 2016, but there has been this obstacle: Nobody believes that Republicans who control the Senate will allow a House impeachment to move to a trial in the Upper House of Congress, much less contribute the needed two-thirds of the vote to convict and remove him from office.

      But now Trump may be handing both the House Democrats and Republicans frustrated with Trump’s madness the issue that could go all the way: the President’s stated intent to bypass Congress with its Constitution-enshrined power of the purse by declaring a “national emergency” so he can build his wall along the whole Mexican border on his own dubious authority as Major Domo.

      Here’s the problem for Trump aka the MF. As “national emergencies” go, illegal immigration across the border from Mexico just doesn’t cut it. Trump can claim, as he has been doing since he began campaigning for President in 2016, that “rapists, murderers, gangs and drug dealers” are “pouring across” the unguarded border with Mexico, not to mention hordes of illegals stealing jobs from Americans, but it just ain’t the reality.

    • Rep. Rashida Tlaib: I Won’t Apologize for My Comments About Trump—I Still Want to Impeach Him

      Newly elected Democratic Congressmember Rashida Tlaib of Michigan made headlines last week for declaring, “We’re going to go in there, and we’re going to impeach the motherf***er,” in reference to President Donald Trump. Tlaib made the comment at a Washington, D.C., bar, days after she made history last week when she and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became the first Muslim women sworn in to Congress. Tlaib is part of the most diverse and most female class of representatives in U.S. history. We speak with Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, Michigan.

    • How the Shutdown Is Affecting Air Travelers

      The partial government shutdown is starting to affect air travel.

      Over the weekend, some airports had long lines at checkpoints, apparently caused by a rising number of security officers calling in sick as they face the prospect of missing their first paycheck this week.

    • Cyberwar: #RussiaGate Is US

      Since November 2016, the US “news” chatterati – pundits and poets, priests, prognosticators and politicians – have repeated this statement ad nauseum. The #RussiaGate story has become a commonly-accepted article of faith amongst the US neoliberal faithful – disgruntled Clintonistas, bereaved “Bernie Bros,” US news flaks, and anyone else who dislikes the current occupant of the White House. If the “Russia hacked the 2016 US election” meme warriors had a high-viz US standard bearer, it would probably be popular MSNBC performance artist Rachel “All Russia, All The Time” Maddow, who serves up the #RussiaGate sauce with reckless abandon to high TeeVee viewer ratings, earning somewhere between $30 and $40 K daily in salary. (LINK to RM mashup here).

      And now, we have a scholarly book published by Oxford University Press with an epic title – Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect A President – What We Don’t, Can’t, And Do Know – that purports to prove that Russia’s cyber-meddling helped sabotage the HRC campaign, swinging the 2016 US presidential election in favor of DJT.

      [...]

      To be fair, Cyberwar is an engaging read. Jamieson is a fine scholarly writer, and she has a field day digging into the aesthetics of individual Russian troll farm memes – complete with pictures. (The “Army Of Jesus” Facebook page, purportedly created by Russian trolls, features a boxing glove clad HRC sporting devil horns engaged in a fierce arm-wrestling match with Aryan Jesus himself. Hilarious.) KHJ also does a credible job tracing the evolution of the US news narrative around HRC in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, showing how pivotal moments may have influenced voter perceptions about both HRC and DJT.

      However! Individual Russian troll farm memes and evolving US “news” media coverage negatively impacting HRC do NOT a strategic Kremlin-led messaging campaign make.

      Cyberwar continually flirts with a central question (which has become a story routinely told by US “news” media outlets) – “Was Russian troll farming some sort of Kremlin-staged strategic cyber-op?” – without ever really answering it. The result is a book-length begging of this very important question, and here we come to the primary problem with Cyberwar– and it’s a whopper. Jamieson build her case for the Russian “tanking” of HRC’s candidacy on two central assumptions, both unproven.

    • ‘Trump Is the National Crisis’: Primetime Address Denounced as ‘Bigoted, Childish Con Job’ on American People

      Among the progressive organizations responding, People for the America Way (PFAW) characterized the address as nothing more than a “bigoted, childish con job” by the president.

      The White House, said PFAW president Michael Keegan, “has repeatedly humiliated itself this week by trying to manufacture bogus statistics about immigration and national security—an attempt so brazen that even FOX News hosts refused to go along with it. None of the president’s lies have been able to generate meaningful public support for his bigoted demands, with only 25 percent agreeing with his reckless, bigoted efforts to build a wall.”

      Nothing the president said in Tuesday night’s address, added Keegan, “will put food on the table or pay the rent for the eight hundred thousand Americans and their families about to miss their federal paychecks. Nothing he said will help Americans who count on the government to do its job. Trump created this mess and has been enabled by the GOP Senate every step of the way. Enough. Trump must drop his ignorant and ridiculous demands for a border wall and get our federal workers back to work—with pay.”

    • Paul Manafort’s big, accidental reveal: He shared Trump campaign data with Russians

      President Trump gave his first prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday evening, and it was as wooden and predictable as expected. He’s not a good teleprompter reader and his speechwriters rarely offer up any lines worth remembering. This speech was especially vapid since it basically just reiterated what he’s been saying in rallies and press avails for three years now — unauthorized immigrants and refugees are flooding into our country, bringing violent crime and disease with them, and we have to build a great big wall to stop them. These charges are either outrageously misleading or outright false, which the networks dutifully reported — after the tens of millions of people who had watched the speech changed the station to watch something else.

    • Professors Protest the CCRI J-Term: a Symptom of What is Changing in the Democratic Party

      For some time now, I have argued that neoliberalism as a system of governance has a talent for co-opting the vocabulary and grammar of Left-leaning projects so to further their own designs for those they govern. This was brought home to me on January 2, 2019 at a picket line held by the faculty of the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) expressing their opposition to J-Term, a project forced on the college by the administration that broke norms of shared governance, involved dubious processing of paperwork in relation to the Curriculum Review Committee, and portends an erosion of an educational institute in Rhode Island that has been a major pillar for working class, African American, and Latinx students for decades.

      This all began in early 2017 when Gov. Gina Raimondo began to crib a line from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ recent presidential campaign and started talking about giving Rhode Islanders free college tuition, the Rhode Island Promise program.

      A little precision is required here. In Rhode Island, there are three public colleges that are completely different from one another. CCRI is a multi-campus community college known for job training as well as preliminary Associates Degrees that can serve as a bridge to matriculation into Baccalaureate program. Many graduates from CCRI go on to Rhode Island College (RIC), my own alma mater, or University of Rhode Island (URI), where one of my brothers earned his degree. The degree I earned at RIC was different from the one my brother earned not just because of the obvious difference in major, the difference is manifest in the character of the institution. RIC began as a teacher training school before expanding into a wider number of subjects. Their class sizes are limited to below 35 students and the pedagogy is defined by more traditional liberal arts norms. By contrast, URI is a research institution with much larger class sizes. Over the past semester, I took two classes in the public system for professional development reasons, one at RIC and one at CCRI. The cost difference between RIC and CCRI was pronounced, with the former costing just over $1,100 and the latter costing just over $600. And because of an inter-institutional agreement that extends across the three public colleges, the cost-savvy student can arrange to take credits at two or more institutions that will all be validated on a single transcript at the end of the semester.

    • Democrats: Trump Using Misinformation, Malice in Wall Debate

      The Democrats’ prime-time remarks were something of a debut for the newly empowered opposition. Less than a week after Democrats seized control of the House, Pelosi and Schumer stood side-by-side at a lectern in a joint appearance that appeared designed to emphasize their party’s unity.

      They spoke moments after Trump warned of a “growing humanitarian and security crisis” at the border with Mexico. He said it was “immoral” for politicians “to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized” by the drugs and criminals he claims are streaming across the boundary.

      Trump and the Democrats have been dueling during a partial government shutdown over his demands for — and their opposition to — $5.7 billion to begin building a border wall with Mexico. Some 800,000 federal employees are working without pay or have been furloughed at dozens of federal agencies, and each side is blaming the other for the closure.

    • At Last! A Workable Reason to Impeach the MFer

      Liberals have been calling for the new Democratic House to file articles of impeachment against Donald Trump ever since winning the House in the Nov. 8 election in 2016, but there has been this obstacle: Nobody believes that Republicans who control the Senate will allow a House impeachment to move to a trial in the Upper House of Congress, much less contribute the needed two-thirds of the vote to convict and remove him from office.

      But now Trump may be handing both the House Democrats and Republicans frustrated with Trump’s madness the issue that could go all the way: the President’s stated intent to bypass Congress with its Constitution-enshrined power of the purse by declaring a “national emergency” so he can build his wall along the whole Mexican border on his own dubious authority as Major Domo.

      Here’s the problem for Trump aka the MF. As “national emergencies” go, illegal immigration across the border from Mexico just doesn’t cut it. Trump can claim, as he has been doing since he began campaigning for President in 2016, that “rapists, murderers, gangs and drug dealers” are “pouring across” the unguarded border with Mexico, not to mention hordes of illegals stealing jobs from Americans, but it just ain’t the reality.

    • The Return of Constitutional Government?
    • Corporate Media Condemned for Handing Trump Megaphone to Spout Racist ‘Stream of Lies’

      “Trump just launched his 2020 re-election campaign with, essentially, the same speech he used at Trump Tower in 2015, when he first ranted about Mexican rapists and murderers. And the media paid for it,” wrote progressive radio host Thom Hartmann, capping off his tweet with the hashtag #Suckers.

      As some critics accused the corporate networks of getting “played” by Trump into airing the primetime speech—particularly after they refused to carry a 2014 immigration address by former President Barack Obama—Vox’s Matt Yglesias argued that media executives are not being duped at all.

      Rather, Yglesias wrote on Twitter, they are acting in a way that advances their material self-interest by pursuing whatever is best for ratings.

      “The view that rich powerful media executives continually get ‘played’ like this seems to me to be a seriously weak analysis of the situation. They derive concrete material benefits from Republican Party election wins,” Yglesias noted.

    • In Western media, publishing fake news about Russia is a good career move… with no consequences

      Fighting “Russian disinformation” in the West has become a lucrative business. But, in reality, you’re far more likely to encounter deceitful agitprop directed at Russia.
      MOSCOW – CP Scott remains a towering figure in the annals of British journalism. Editor of the then “Manchester Guardian” for an astonishing 57 years, he celebrated his paper’s centenary by laying down a set of legendary principles.

      “Comment is free, but facts are sacred,” Scott intoned in the missive. Sadly, almost a hundred years later, facts are free and the right to spread disinformation is becoming sacred, as far as his successors are concerned. Particularly when it comes to coverage of Russia.

      Yet another example came over the New Year break. Following a few weeks out of the spotlight after peddling an obviously fake story about Julian Assange/Paul Manafort meetings in London, Luke Harding reappeared. And he came armed with his particular brand of bulls*** and sloppiness.

    • US Senate confirms top-level political “fixer” as ambassador to Australia

      The US Senate last week confirmed the Trump administration’s selection of Arthur B. Culvahouse, a highly-connected member of the political-intelligence establishment, with a long track record of involvement in the acute political crises of successive governments, as ambassador to Australia.
      The Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Culvahouse on January 2 is another warning of Washington’s determination to ensure there is not the slightest deviation by the Australian ruling class from its commitment to a front line role in the US-led economic and military conflict with China, Australia’s largest export market.
      Culvahouse has for four decades advised US administrations on the most sensitive intelligence and war-related questions, from Richard Nixon’s Watergate crisis to the Iran-Contra affair under Ronald Reagan and the upgrading of nuclear weaponry under Vice President Dick Cheney.
      He will take charge of the US embassy under conditions of intensifying political instability in Australia. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s faction-riddled Liberal-National Coalition government is the seventh since 2007 and faces likely defeat at an election due before May. Washington clearly favoured last August’s removal of Morrison’s predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, who was loyal to the US alliance but had sought to mend relations with Beijing.
      Unlike Admiral Harry Harris, whom the White House initially nominated for the sensitive Australian post last February, before shifting him to the key front line location of South Korea, Culvahouse is not a military commander. But no less than Harris, he is an outspoken proponent of an aggressive stance toward Beijing.
      Moreover, Culvahouse is much more of a political insider and backroom operator than Harris, and acutely aware of the mounting discontent globally over social inequality and the drive to war. In Australia, as elsewhere, this disaffection has been compounded by the catastrophic US-led wars in the Middle East and the exposures provided by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden of US and allied war atrocities, political plots and mass surveillance.

    • Donald Trump Is the Damn Emergency

      Donald Trump still has vast power at his immediate disposal. He can hire the worst people to fill vital posts. He can sign Executive Orders that allow the dumping of toxic chemicals into aquifers. He can continue to rip families apart at the southern border. He can ruin longstanding international relationships and cuddle up with despots and dictators. He can ignore the climate even as it comes crashing down around him. He can order an airstrike against any point on the map. He can peel the crust off the Earth with nuclear weapons if he so chooses.

      That is an emergency.

      Trump’s Oval Office address last night was yet another national humiliation. The administration will grind on until Congress finally locates its purpose and the rule of law has its turn. The man himself, however, has been exposed — more so than ever before — as a desperate liar, injudicious, petty, a dangerous small fraction of a president who will say anything to please that dwindling slice of the population which, somehow, still doesn’t wince when he opens his gob.

      That is also an emergency.

    • Highlighting Systematic ‘Violation of International Human Rights’, Ocasio-Cortez Shreds Trump Address

      Vehemently rejecting President Donald Trump’s Tuesday evening address on immigration, in which the president was allowed by every major news network to once again portray immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border as drug dealers and rapists, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” to call attention to the harm Trump’s xenophobic agenda has done to immigrants and communities across the country.

      Saying Congress should refuse to give Trump more funding for immigration enforcement in order to end the government shutdown, now in its 18th day, Ocasio-Cortez denounced the numerous human rights violations the Trump administration has committed at the border, including the family separation policy which the president was forced to end last spring after it provoked international outcry and the treatment of families by border agents.

      “The president should not be asking for more money to an agency that has systematically violated human rights,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The president should really be defending why we are funding such an agency at all, because right now what we are seeing right now is death, right now what we are seeing is the violation of human rights.”

    • Bernie Sanders Rebukes Trump for Stoking ‘Fear and Hatred’ With Lie-Soaked National Address

      In the wake of pronounced calls for a boycott of President Donald Trump’s primetime immigration address Tuesday night—which every major corporate television network agreed to air despite widespread pushback—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered a response to Trump’s Oval Office speech that was streamed live on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

      “We do not need to waste billions on an unneeded wall so that Trump can appease right-wing extremists,” Sanders wrote on Twitter ahead of Trump’s speech, which—as critics predicted—contained a slew of fact-free, xenophobic claims about the necessity of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

      During his post-address response, Sanders denounced the president’s litany of lies and dehumanizing rhetoric while slamming Trump and the Republicans for allowing the shutdown to occur.

    • About Last Night…

      I come to you more from sorrow than from anger, President Trump seemed to be trying to say when he addressed the nation Tuesday night. But he was lying, of course, and the effect was more like that of the Big Bad Wolf dressing up in grandma’s nightgown than a person truly concerned with the fate of anyone other than himself.

      The speech was to be his big moment. Live from the Oval Office, he would make the case to the nation that a beefed-up southern border, with guns and drones and a wall—now of steel, not concrete—would ensure our superiority and purity, a goal more than worthy of a government shutdown.

      No doubt Trump’s deputy chief of staff for communications, the ousted-for-turning-a-blind-eye-to-sexual-harassment-at-Fox-News exec Bill Shine screwed his TV skills to the sticking point trying to hone the presentation and create an image of compassion. This was one instance in which Trump’s inability to read convincingly from a Teleprompter almost paid off. It made him seem more subdued than usual, which some may have mistaken for thoughtfulness.

    • 50 Million Of Us

      There were potent responses aplenty to last night’s “stream of lies” and “racist pablum” oozing from a once-sacrosanct Oval Office – Ocasio-Cortez: “What we are seeing right now is death” – but we’ll add one roof-raising amen from the Blackish-star Jenifer Lewis, Brandy and Roz Ryan. Their fiery version of “In These Streets” was released two years ago to honor Martin Luther King Day and protest Trump’s taking office with his first spewing of vitriol about needing to wall out black and brown folks. Lewis has been here before, offering other outraged hymns to resistance: “They elected who?!?” This time, the three women share a quote from Nina Simone – “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times” – before launching into their fierce call to take to the streets, more resonant than ever. “Fifty million of us will march down south and we will tear down that wall,” they sing. “Fifty million of us will do what we have to keep our people free.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Politicians Cannot Block Critics On Social Media: US Appeals Court

      An appeal court in the U.S. has ruled that politicians cannot block their critics on social media platforms. This decision can affect the likes of politicians such as Donald Trump who is also involved in a similar case.

      It started with a lawsuit filed in 2016 by Brian Davison against the Board of Supervisors Chair, Phyllis Randall, for banning him from posting Facebook comments, which accused members of the county school board of having conflicts of interest.

    • Court: Politicians who block citizens on social media violate 1st Amendment

      A federal appeals court in Virginia ruled unanimously Monday that a county official who blocked a citizen from accessing her official Facebook page is in violation of the First Amendment.

      The case—which was heard before the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals—found that Phyllis Randall, the chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, improperly blocked a man named Brian Davison on Facebook for 12 hours back in February 2016.

    • Federal Court Says Oregon’s Unconstitutional Licensing Law Can’t Keep Local Engineer From Calling Himself An Engineer

      regon resident Matt Jarlstrom didn’t agree with the state’s traffic safety assessment, spurred on by his wife receiving a ticket from a red light camera. Using his background in engineering and his real-world experience with automatic cameras, he did some math and tried to present it to government officials. The government didn’t respond well. It fined Jarlstrom $500 for practicing engineering without a license. In the state of Oregon, certification is needed to call yourself an engineer, even if you’re not actually performing any engineering work. At least, that’s the way the state read the law when it chose to punish Jarlstrom for questioning its timing of yellow lights.

      Naturally, this stupid decision resulted in a lawsuit. Pointing out the unconstitutionality of using a licensing law to suppress protected speech, Jarlstrom sued the state in April 2017. A couple of months later, the state licensing board graciously agreed to temporarily stop violating Jarlstrom’s First Amendment rights.

      Six months later, the state board finally conceded defeat. It agreed it had misused the statute to punish Jarlstrom for engaging in protected speech and said he could call himself an “engineer” even without the state’s prize piece of paper as it was clear he wasn’t soliciting engineering work when offering up his critique of traffic light timing patterns.

    • Producers Of Movie About Falling In Love With Nazis Using DMCA To Silence Criticism

      Apparently the producers of the movie “Where Hands Touch,” which is being widely panned as terrible (NY Times calls it a “gut-wrenching misfire” and notes “by the end of the movie, my jaw felt unhinged from dropping so often.”), aren’t responding well to the criticism. While some of the criticism is about the “plodding” storyline, much of it is about the main plot, which is about a black woman in Nazi Germany — who appears to support the Nazi cause — falling in love with a Hitler Youth.

      The film got little attention in its theatrical release, but became available online recently, and apparently the producers decided that people tweeting negative things about it deserve to be hit with DMCA takedowns.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • If Your Privacy Is in the Hands of Others Alone, You Don’t Have Any

      If you think regulations are going to protect your privacy, you’re wrong. In fact they can make things worse, especially if they start with the assumption that you have no privacy besides what you get from other parties.

      Exhibit A: for how much worse things can get is the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). As soon as the GDPR went into full effect last May, damn near every corporate entity on the web put up a “cookie notice” requiring acceptance of terms and privacy policies that allow them to continue with business as usual, harvesting and sharing your personal data, and data about you.

      For websites and services in that harvesting business (a population that includes approximately the entire commercial web), these notices provide a one-click way to adhere to the letter of the GDPR while violating its spirit.

      There’s also big business in the friction that produces. To see how big, look up GDPR+compliance on Google. You’ll get 190 million results (give or take a few dozen million).

      None of those results are for you, even though you are who the GDPR is supposed to protect. See, to the GDPR, you are a mere “data subject” and not an independent and fully functional participant in the technical, social and economic ecosystem the internet supports by design.

      Or at least, that’s the interpretation that nearly every lawmaker, regulatory bureaucrat, lawyer and service provider goes by. Same for those selling GDPR compliance services, and who account for most of those 190 million results.

    • Samsung Users Shocked To Find They Can’t Delete Facebook

      If you’re a Samsung phone user, there are pretty good chances that you may have a hard time deleting the Facebook app.

      According to a report by Bloomberg, some Samsung smartphone owners are facing troubles uninstalling the Facebook app. While some users found that they could disable the app, deleting the app is still impossible for them.

      [...]

      At present, neither Samsung nor Facebook responded to the issue faced by Samsung users. However, Samsung told Bloomberg that the pre-installed Facebook app doesn’t run anymore once the user has disabled it.

      Whereas Facebook stated that a disabled version of their app behaves like a deleted one, and it doesn’t collect data or send any information back to its servers. But considering Facebook’s history, we really find it hard to believe any of it.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Why a Saudi woman can be arrested for disobeying her father

      The male guardianship system, the experts noted, was “the key obstacle to women’s participation in society and economy”.

      The system is said to be derived from the Saudi religious establishment’s interpretation of a Koranic verse that says: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means.”

    • Yellow vests: France to crack down on unsanctioned protests

      He said 80,000 members of the security forces would be deployed for the next expected wave of protests.

    • My Child Has to Show Her Entire School That She’s Failing With a ‘Scarlet Badge’

      A mother of an Arizona high school student responds to the school’s policy of publicly shaming students who are struggling academically.
      When my daughter Jordan began her junior year at Mingus High School in Cottonwood, Arizona, she immediately felt stigmatized. On her first day of school, the school’s administration forced Jordan to wear a bright red identification badge. Everyone on campus knows what this “scarlet badge” means. Upperclassmen at Mingus wear grey colored badges, but any junior or senior student with missing credits are given a red badge, and it doesn’t signify courage.

      Publicly shaming my child and countless of other students for falling behind academically is wrong. I know how hard my daughter is working to get her grades up, and I know how discouraged she feels when she walks into school every morning with the “scarlet badge.” Yet she knows that every time a teacher or fellow student sees her red badge they think less of her.

      In September, Jordan, her friend Jonah, and one other student took initiative and went directly to Mingus High’s school board. They shared how the “scarlet badge” was leading to an increase in bullying, harassment, and discrimination. The board listened to their comments and only revoked the badge for one student who has a learning disability. They did not change the policy.

    • ‘Historic Moment’: After Ballot Measure Victory Repeals Jim Crow Law, Voting Rights Restored for 1.4M Ex-Felons in Florida

      Responding to a request for comment on confusion over Amendment 4′s implementation in light of DeSantis’ support for a delay, the Florida Department of State said in a statement that the amendment takes effect Tuesday, but that the department “will abide by any future direction from the Executive Clemency Board or the Florida Legislature regarding necessary action or implementing legislation to ensure full compliance with the law.”

      “They’re trying to circumvent the will of the voter by put up all these roadblocks,” Melba Pearson, deputy director of the ACLU of Florida, told the Wall Street Journal of Republican opposition to allowing the amendment to be implemented on Tuesday without additional legislation. Pearson also promised the legal advocacy group is prepared to go to court if election officials fail to comply with the measure.

    • Two Native Women in Congress Isn’t Enough to End the Systemic Violence Native Girls Face

      A shifting power balance on the Capitol — including the first two Native women elected to the House — might change the political landscape for disenfranchised indigenous communities. For now, though, Washington remains gridlocked and native communities persevere as sites of resistance, struggling on their own for another generation’s survival.

      For a Native American girl growing up in Trump’s America today, there seem to be more paths to an early death than to a positive future. While the White House crusades to restore the nation to its supposed past greatness, the lost lives in Indian Country speak to how our history is still lived differently by the land’s first inhabitants.

      A new report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a federal advisory body on discrimination issues, traces the depth of inequality and deprivation faced by native communities. Indigenous women and girls are often exposed to poverty and violence more than any other group of women and girls in America, burdened by historical discrimination and structural segregation of their communities.

    • Sworn in With Hand on Children’s Favorite “Too Many Moose,” Arizona’s New Head of Public Schools Vows to Put Students and Teachers First

      After a series of education-related protests and victories last year in Arizona—infamous for outlawing ethnic studies classes and right-wing efforts to push school vouchers—the state’s new head of the public school system on Monday took the oath office on a children’s book and promised to continue the fight to improve conditions for both students and teachers.

      The first Democrat in more than two decades to serve as Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, Kathy Hoffman, a 33-year-old speech therapist, told a local television news reporter that “Too Many Moose!” has “a lot of sentimental value” to her as her students’ favorite book, and it also helped them develop their vocabulary and phonics skills.

    • After Pelosi and Schumer, Sanders Will Issue Live Rebuttal to Trump’s Primetime Plea for ‘Unneeded Wall’

      Amid growing calls for a boycott of President Donald Trump’s primetime immigration address Tuesday night—which every major corporate television network agreed to air despite widespread pushback—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced that he will deliver a response to Trump’s Oval Office speech that will be streamed on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

      “We do not need to waste billions on an unneeded wall so that Trump can appease right-wing extremists,” Sanders wrote on Twitter ahead of Trump’s speech, which critics expect to feature a slew of fact-free, xenophobic claims about the necessity of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    • Can the U.S. Military Build a Border Wall Even as It Struggles to Rebuild Itself?

      In late March 2018, President Donald Trump and then-Defense Secretary James Mattis discussed the idea that the U.S. military could help the president achieve one of his cherished aims: The Pentagon would build a wall across the country’s southern border.

      “Securing Americans and securing the nation is of paramount importance to the secretary,” the Pentagon press secretary at the time, Dana White, said of the discussions with Trump. “They have talked about it, but I don’t have any more details as to specifics.”

      In the weeks and months that followed, a variety of reports seemed to raise questions about whether the U.S. military was in any position to be dedicating money or personnel to a border wall. There was, for instance, an April 2018 Government Accountability Office report wondering whether the military even had adequate data to assess its own state of combat readiness.

      In October, there came a more sweeping report from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. In its 2019 “Index of U.S. Military Strength,” what the foundation bills as its comprehensive annual assessment of America’s military power, the organization concluded: “As currently postured, the U.S. military is only marginally able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.”

    • The UK Government Manufacture of False Sexual Allegations

      I want to give you a concrete example of how the UK government deliberately sets out to manufacture false sexual allegations against people it considers a threat. I do so to educate those who view this concept as an unthinkable “conspiracy theory”. I write of a case of which I have expert knowledge; it is my own case.

      I became an “enemy of the state” when, as British Ambassador, I protested against UK and US complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition in Uzbekistan. As detailed in Murder in Samarkand, I very quickly found myself suspended and subject to civil service investigation of disciplinary allegations against me, the worst of which was that I extorted sex from visa applicants. Blair’s No. 10 quickly leaked this allegation against me to the Daily Mail.

      I was in a state of complete shock. I had no idea at all what could have led to such allegations. The Kafkaesque nightmare deepened when I was presented with the evidence against me.

      The case was of a young woman named Albina Safarova. I was shown her visa application documents by the investigating officer. These included her passport photo, and she was a strikingly beautiful young woman. On the back of her visa application the Visa Officer had written “HMA (Her Majesty’s Ambassador, i.e. me) authorises issue”. The investigation had obtained a statement from the Visa Officer, in which she stated that she had issued the Visa after being informed by two British diplomats that Ms Safarova was a friend of mine. To complete the evidence, the original application was supported a letter by Ms Safarova’s sponsor, a Mr Dermot Hassett, who stated in the application that the circumstances of the application were known to the British Ambassador, Mr Craig Murray.

    • Mayor of Texas Border Town: There Is No Crisis Here, Trump’s Wall Is Pointless

      President Trump will give a prime-time address Tuesday evening to make his case that Congress should provide funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border. Trump’s Oval Office address comes on the 18th day of the government shutdown, which has incapacitated federal agencies and departments from the IRS to the National Parks to the food stamp program.

      Trump will follow up his Oval Office address by visiting the US-Mexico border town of McAllen, Texas, on Thursday. There, Trump will have to confront one of the biggest challenges in building support for his wall: The people who live on the border say there is no national emergency and they don’t want a wall.

      McAllen’s Mayor Jim Darling deals with the daily realities of immigration on one of Texas’s busiest border-crossing areas. Darling told the Texas Standard that while the media is hyper-focused on undocumented immigrants, the people he sees at respite centers are coming into the country legally to seek asylum.

      Darling could hardly disagree more with President Trump over the idea that his town is experiencing a crisis or “national emergency.” In fact, last year Darling called McAllen “the overall safest city in Texas and one of the safest in the US.”

      Moreover Mayor Darling points out that nearly 40 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue — the second highest in the state — comes from shoppers from Mexico, who cross the border peaceably and contribute to the local economy.

    • Here’s What a Real Strike Looks Like: 150 Million Say No to Despotism in India

      Indian cities never go silent. Sound is a constant feature—the horns of cars, the chirping of birds, the cries of hawkers, the steady hum of a motorcycle engine. On Tuesday, India is on strike. It is likely that about 150 million workers will stay away from their workplaces. Trade unions of the Left have called for the strike, a general strike in a country exhausted by rising inequality and a mood of dissatisfaction.

      The streets of Kerala—a state governed by the Left Democratic Front—are not quiet. Cars and motorcycles go their way. But the roads are quieter. Public transport is off the road, because the transport unions are behind the strike. Thiruvananthapuram sounds like it did about 20 years ago, when traffic was lighter and when the city was calmer. But there is nothing calm in the atmosphere. Workers are angry. The government in Delhi continues to betray them.

    • Recollections From Behind Bars: A Woman’s Tale

      I am sitting in a cheap plastic chair in the Bergen County Jail. The chair is the perk of having a dollar-a-day job watching suicidal inmates. The door clicks open. Automated lock system. I look up. I see an officer come in. I don’t see anyone behind her.

      “Farthing, you working constant watch?” the officer asks. “Intake’s kicking. She’s going to cell one.”

      “Come on, honey,” she says to the girl I still can’t see. “OK, take off all your clothes and put on this gown,” she says. “You’re on a constant watch until the psych clears you. You can’t have any property, just in case you try to hurt yourself with it. She’ll watch your stuff for you,” the officer adds, nodding to me. “Come on.”

      The officer puts the girl’s clothes in a bag.

      “Bra, panties, socks, too. Good God, honey, you’re skinny,” she says. “When’s the last time you ate? You hungry? Farthing—we got any bags out there?”

      I look in the cooler for a lunch bag filled with milk, juice and a bologna sandwich.

    • The Lethal Threat That Hangs Over India’s Reporters

      Early last October, the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi made headlines worldwide. By the end of that month, two Indian journalists also were killed—one shot and the other beaten to death. And that’s just a small part of the story for journalists in India: An internationally acclaimed editor was gunned down in front of his office last June. In March, three reporters died within 24 hours when they were run over by vehicles in what were believed to be deliberate attacks.

      The killing of journalists—whether by armed militants, right-wing extremists or corrupt officials—is a horrific upward trend in India. As the violence increases, it attracts little attention, and Indian officials refuse to join international authorities in addressing the issue.

      The country’s journalists continue to report on corruption and other wrongdoing, but they work amid a cloud of threat, fear and uncertainty.

      A democracy is only as good as its media. In this respect, the world’s largest democracy is resting on a dangerously shaky foundation because of the intense challenges that journalists must overcome to do their jobs.

    • The Silver Bullet to Stop the Corporate State Pillage

      Every year a certain number of our soldiers decide they’d rather not be involved in shooting people they don’t know so that ExxonMobil can have more oil or Lockheed Martin can make more cash or MSNBC / Fox News can give their hosts topics for their upcoming poetry books. Basically, these soldiers do something horrifying, something terrible, something often called “treasonous” … They — wait for it — think for themselves!

      (Glass shatters. Woman screams. Baby cries.)

      Nothing is more frightening for our endless war machine than a military grunt who thinks for him or herself. They’re supposed to do nothing more than follow orders. They’re supposed to ask a superior officer for permission to wear a different color pair of socks. That’s right — the biggest, toughest gladiators in our society have to get authorization to switch from boxers to briefs.

      I’ll get to what this has to do with our inverted totalitarian corporate pillaging in a moment.

      One of the more notable soldiers who stood up this year was Spenser Rapone — a second lieutenant discharged on June 18, 2018, for disparaging the U.S. war machine online and promoting a socialist revolution. (Clearly our enormous globe-spanning military complex can obliterate any possible enemies except independent thought, which promptly turns it to a mush akin to pea soup.) Apparently reading about the true story of Pat Tillman pushed Rapone toward the realization that he was a pawn in the middle of a massive lie.

    • A Look at Trump’s Biggest Border Lies

      Trump’s go-to lies about the border, fact-checked.

      On Tuesday night, President Trump will address the nation in a primetime speech in which he’ll make his case for a 1,000-mile border wall, followed by a trip to South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley on Thursday.

      But Trump’s characterization of the situation on the southwest border is driven not by facts but by his own nativist agenda and political obsession with building a wall. In advance of the speech, here are some things you might hear, fact-checked.

    • California Supreme Court Rejects Sheriffs’ Union’s Attempt To Block New Open Records Law

      There have been some pretty garbage responses to California’s amendment of its open records laws, which rolls back the extreme level of opacity shielding police misconduct records. The City of Inglewood gave its police force a zero-accountability parting gift by granting it permission to destroy hundreds of officer-involved shooting files just prior to the new law taking effect.

      Over in San Bernardino County, law enforcement — or at least their union reps — responded to the new law by petitioning the state Supreme Court for an injunction. The Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association wanted the law blocked until it could be determined whether or not the law was retroactive. The union claimed making pre-2019 records available to the public would “violate [its] members’ rights.”

    • Trump Links Drugs, Violent Crime to Lack of Border Wall

      Democrats in response accused Trump appealing to “fear, not facts” and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.

    • Wall or Watchtower? The real Threat is invasive Climate Crisis, and our Shield is Science

      Trump is very much like, not the real Yellow Emperor, but Borges’s imagining of him, obsessed with a security wall and eager to erase not just history but reality itself.

      Nowadays the emperor’s name is written Shihuangdi (259 – 210 BC), and although he did build a great wall, and he may have destroyed some subversive tracts, he did not destroy Chinese history. Borges was a writer of speculative fiction, and his China is as imaginary as Trump’s Mexico.

      Donald Trump’s fairy tales about the unicorn of mobs of terrorists invading San Diego and Brownsville, and his made-up statistics were intended to create a sense of dread and alarm among the white lower middle class (whom he is taking for a ride) and to shore up support for the government shutdown among increasingly restive Republican senators (Trump can only afford to lose a handful, and after that Chuck Schumer can shut down the shutdown).

      But there is an actual emergency, but not of Mexicans and Guatamalans, the vast majority of whom are perfectly nice, hardworking people who have immeasurably enriched the American tapestry.

    • Notoriously Corrupt Sri Lanka Police Force Arrests Citizens For Pretending To Bribe A Cardboard Cutout Cop

      Sri Lanka roads might be getting a little safer. Maybe. Along with raising fines for speeding, police agencies are also deploying fake cops. Cardboard cutouts of officers have been placed alongside roads as a deterrent.

      These cardboard replicants may be these agencies’ only honest cops. The State Department’s report on Sri Lanka says police in the country routinely engage in arbitrary arrests and “harass civilians with impunity.” This harassment often takes the form of soliciting bribes. Combine the two and you have officers wandering around with iron fists and open palms. Another report says the bribery is a two-way street, with officers sometimes paying off citizens to purchase their silence about other illegal police activities.

      The problem with solicited bribes is large enough the government has set up a portal for citizens to file complaints about bribes solicited/paid. Fortunately, anonymity is an option. Unfortunately, the government runs the website so collected data may help pinpoint where the complaints are originating from.

    • Sri Lanka police arrest two for bribing life-size cutout

      Sri Lankan police have arrested two people who posted a Facebook video showing one of them pretending to give a bribe to a traffic police cutout.

      In the footage, a motorcyclist is seen offering money to the life-size figure of an officer with a speed gun in the northern town of Vavuniya.

      The man in the video and his friend who filmed it have been released on bail.
      They are charged with damaging public property, and humiliating and creating a bad public image of the police.

    • “A Racist, Xenophobic Attack”: Immigrant Rights Activist Decries Trump Remarks About Southern Border

      President Donald Trump addressed the nation Tuesday night in his first prime-time speech from the Oval Office. He urged Congress to approve $5.7 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, but he opted not to declare a national emergency to force construction of the wall, in a xenophobic speech riddled with falsehoods. We speak with Oscar Chacón, executive director of Alianza Americas, an immigrant rights group based in Chicago.

    • Black Transgender Woman Who Survived Rape And Box Cutter Attack Sues California Prison Employees

      Candice Crowder, a 35 year-old black bisexual transgender woman, was violently raped, placed in solitary confinement, and attacked with a box cutter by her ex-boyfriend while incarcerated in California state prisons, according to a lawsuit filed against employees of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

      The lawsuit was filed on Crowder’s behalf by Medina Orthwein LLP, a queer-owned public interest law firm that is based in Oakland, California.

      Crowder alleges she was deprived of her right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. She also alleges that her due process rights were violated because prison staff failed to implement standards established by Congress under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003.

    • Despite Nationwide Effort to Insulate Deputy AG From Trump, Rosenstein Reportedly Has Exit Plan

      While an aggressive push by grassroots organizations and congressional lawmakers was made to ensure Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein was not improperly removed or forced out of his position at the U.S. Justice Department, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday morning that he has indicated to the White House his intention to leave within the coming weeks.

      Rosenstein, ABC News reports, “has communicated to President Donald Trump and White House officials his plan to depart the administration around the time William Barr, Trump’s nominee for attorney general, would take office following a Senate confirmation.”

    • Has the Ruling Class Finally Had Enough of Trump?

      As the United States lurches toward its 2020 presidential election cycle, it is useful to revisit the central tension of Donald Trump’s presidency. I’m speaking, of course, about his phony populism and the politico-financial establishment’s utter contempt for his political ascent. As the Democratic field slowly takes shape, the question now is whether the ruling class has finally had enough.

      This is not to suggest that these elites dislike Trump for the same reasons a Truthdig reader might. Those who stand atop the nation’s power structures have long been comfortable with American corruption, patriarchy, racism and outright sociopathy. For evidence, look no further than the disparate presidencies of the so-called American century.

      No, what’s different and problematic for our country’s oligarchs is that while the presidency has long served America’s imperial interests, it has typically done so while purporting to stand for something more noble. The U.S. government and, above all, its executive branch, are expected to masquerade as forces for “good”—democracy, liberty and peace, at least in the abstract, and an outwardly multilateralist management of world affairs.

      Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, both Ivy League law school graduates, were skilled and telegenic masters of that ruse. Even the comparatively dimwitted George W. Bush had the basic courtesy to cover his hideous machinations in Iraq with the rhetoric of freedom. “Dubya” knew better than to openly and theatrically boast of U.S. arms sales to the murderous and absolutist rulers of Saudi Arabia.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • No, BitTorrent’s Plan for Cryptocurrency-Fueled Speed Boosts Doesn’t Violate ‘Net Neutrality’

      The difference here is that users can choose to use another BitTorrent client if they’re not happy with what BitTorrent is doing. That’s not the case for broadband, where the lion’s share of Americans only have access to one ISP at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater. Net neutrality violations are just a symptom of this limited competition, which lets giant telecom operators like AT&T or Comcast abuse their roles as natural monopolies. Net neutrality rules were simply a telecom-specific stopgap measure until somebody, anybody, is willing to actually challenge these companies politically and embrace real, pro-competitive policies.

      Somehow, people take this telecom-specific paradigm and weirdly try to casually apply it to other sectors, as TorrentFreak does here. You’ll often see the same mistake made when folks like Mark Cuban call for “search neutrality” or “app neutrality.” Again, you can generally choose to not use a social media website or app store if you’re not happy with the business decisions they’re making. You can’t do that in telecom. That’s why net neutrality is a concept specific only to broadband and the lack of competition there that’s plagued consumers for the better part of two decades. In broadband, users often have no other choice.

      That’s not to say there aren’t valid criticisms for what TRON is doing here. But again, you can’t call this a net neutrality violation because the term applies specifically to core telecom networks, not software platforms where users have the option of numerous other clients. The monopoly-dominated dance of dysfunction in telecom is a very unique animal, resulting in the creation of a very unique term in “net neutrality.” It can’t just be thrown about casually every time you see someone engaging in dubious behavior. That’s not how any of this works.

    • Cable Industry Hypes Phony ’10G’ When 5G Isn’t Even Available Yet

      We’ve repeatedly noted how while fifth-generation (5G) wireless should someday deliver faster, more efficient wireless networks, the technology itself has been embarrassingly over-hyped, largely thanks to network vendor and cellular carrier marketing departments. It’s going to take years before users actually see a healthy selection of actual 5G devices in the wild (Apple’s 5G iPhone won’t launch until 2020 or later). And despite carrier promises, deploying these upgrades to traditionally ignored rural and less affluent urban markets will take years. 5G also won’t magically fix the vast dysfunction in the telecom sector.

      With 5G hype running amok, the cable industry thought it might be a good idea to inject another entire layer of confusion into the proceedings. At CES, cable operators have started marketing something they’re calling 10G, despite the fact that 10G isn’t actually a thing.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patent case: Astrazeneca v. Sandoz, the Netherlands

      For establishing inventive step it is not necessary that the prior art contains a pointer for combination, only that in the relevant prior art an incentive was present to combine the prior art.

    • Barcelona Court of Appeal confirms locus standi of non-exclusive licensees

      In short, the defendants alleged that according to paragraph 2, the Spanish subsidiary should have sent a letter to the German parent company (i.e. the patent holder) requiring the latter to take action, waited for three months, and in the event that within these three months the patentee failed to take action, the non-exclusive licensee would then have been entitled to file patent infringement actions on its own. The lack of locus standi was upheld by the Court of First Instance for considering that although the Spanish subsidiary was litigating hand-in-hand with the patent holder, it had not complied with the requirement set out in Article 124.2.

    • Huawei doesn’t want jury to hear Samsung’s argument and testimony regarding an alleged FRAND breach

      While Huawei’s testimony strongly supports the FTC’s case against Qualcomm (Day 2 report), and Huawei is not hypocritical with respect to the “no license-no chips” pressure tactics since it doesn’t (because it couldn’t even if it wanted to) capitalize on such leverage, Huawei’s claims that Qualcomm’s royalty demands (allegedly accounting, at least at some point, for 80%-90% of Huawei’s total patent licensing costs) are supra-FRAND are mirrored by Samsung saying the same (just not the 80%-90% thing) about what Huawei is seeking to extract from Samsung.

    • Coqui Technologies, LLC v. Gyft, Inc. (D. Del. 2018)

      In the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, a patent directed to electronic gift card distribution was found to be directed to patent-ineligible subject matter.

      [...]

      Defendants filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). According to Defendants, Coqui’s complaint fails to state a claim because the patents-in-suit are ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

    • Trademarks

      • Counterpoint: Maybe Athletes Should Rush To The Trademark Office… If They Play For Teams Like The Dallas Mavericks

        Over the past several years, we’ve covered the increasingly trendy practice of professional athletes rushing to the trademark office to register their nicknames and/or catchphrases. From Anthony Davis’ unibrow, to Bryce Harper’s flippant remarks, to Ryan Lochte channeling his inner bro-ness, up to and including Jeremy Lin’s claim on his portmanteau nickname, we’ve raised our eyebrows at this sort of theory of ownership and protectionism that often times looks to make exclusive money over the coined phrases created by others. This sort of locking up of language was never really the point of trademark law, as we’ve pointed out, and we’ve suggested that athletes engaging in this sort of thing probably isn’t the best thing for the public, the supposed beneficiary of trademark law.

        But perhaps we should introduce a caveat in our stance: if you play for the Dallas Mavericks, maybe you should rush to the trademark office. It seems that Luka Doncic, the rookie star of Mark Cuban’s team, has had the trademark rug pulled out from underneath him by his employer.

    • Copyrights

      • 10 Best Kodi Repositories For 2019 To Download Popular Addons

        With online streaming becoming popular by the day, there has been a rise in the portals and apps that allow you to stream content in a hassle-free manner. Now, to watch the content from different sources, you would need a centralized media player and this is where Kodi comes into the picture.

        Kodi has been one of the most popular and talked about open source media center and rightly so. The XBMC owned media center allows you to stream all types of content including videos, music, games, etc. on devices running on different platforms.

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