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01.30.19

Links 30/1/2019: Alpine 3.9.0 and Slax 9.7.0 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • System76 unveils ‘Darter Pro’ Linux laptop with choice of Ubuntu or Pop!_OS

      When people come to me for advice on buying a computer that comes with a Linux-based operating system pre-installed, my first suggestion is always System76. While other companies, such as Dell, also make great laptops running Ubuntu, for instance, System76 stands above the rest by also offering its own operating system — Pop!_OS (which is based on Ubuntu). In other words, System76 has better control over the overall customer experience. Not to mention, its contributions to both the Linux and open source communities are invaluable.

      Today, the company unveils its latest laptop, and it looks like a winner. The 15.6-inch “Darter Pro,” as it is called, is thin, but not overly so — it still has USB-A ports (thankfully). The computer is quite modern, however, as it also has a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port.

    • System76 Refreshes Their “Darter Pro” Linux Laptop to Offer Better Battery Life

      Dubbed to be System76′s “most portable machine,” the refreshed Darter Pro laptop comes with a larger battery, which means that customers should expect to see an increase of the work time with a few hours compared to the older model. System76 claims the new Darter Pro laptop will last a full workday without being charged, saying the battery lasted about 7 hours during their internal tests.

    • New System76 Darter Pro Coming Soon With Intel 8th Gen CPUs, 1080p Display
  • Server

    • Trying to log into Office 365 right now? It’s a coin flip, says Microsoft: Service goes TITSUP as Azure portal wobbles

      The day of week ends in “day” so, of course, Microsoft’s Office 365 has fallen over, and Azure portal is having a wobble, too.

      Right now, if you’re trying to login afresh into Microsoft 365, there is a 50-50 chance it will work. The outage appears to be worldwide, and Australia and New Zealand may as well give up, according to the latest Downdetector outage map. They are hardest hit right now as it’s their working morning.

    • 7 pieces of contrarian DevOps advice

      The road to DevOps failure is often paved with good intentions in the form of well-meaning advice that just doesn’t work. It’s the advice that sounds good in theory; in fact, it may even be advice that is hard to argue, like “silos are bad” and “automation is good.” But when put into practice, it simply falls short on delivering the outcomes DevOps teams want.

      Unintentionally bad advice could shoulder part of the blame in organizations that are struggling to scale their DevOps practices. The 2018 State of DevOps report noted that many teams that have been at DevOps for eight or nine years still feel like they are at the beginning of their journey.

    • Red Hat Summit 2018 rewind

      It’s hard to break down what makes Red Hat Summit the premier open source technology event but we’re going to give it a shot. Let’s start by looking at Red Hat Summit 2018.

      By the numbers, last year’s Red Hat Summit saw 315 breakout sessions and labs, 283 5k fun run participants, 125 sponsors, 110 customer speakers, 29 keynoters, a 20 percent increase in attendees, six middle-school age girls from our CO.LAB program on the mainstage, five Red Hat Innovation Award winners, two Women in Open Source Award winners and one Grammy Award-winning rock band.

    • Curse you choices! Kubernetes or Application Servers? (Part 3)

      This is the finale of a series on whether Kubernetes is the new Application Server. In this part I discuss the choice between Kubernetes, a traditional application server, and alternatives. Such alternatives can be referred to as “Just enough Application Server”, like Thorntail. There are several articles on Thorntail (previously known as Wildfly Swarm) on the Red Hat Developer blog. A good introduction to Thorntail is in the 2.2 product announcement.

    • Finding equilibrium in post-Kubernetes open-source computing

      Open source has long been the man behind the curtain in web-based computing. But with the meteoric rise of Kubernetes, the popular container orchestration system, the once-exclusive community has amassed a sizeable new membership.

      As Kubernetes is leveraged as the foundation for an increasing number of critical enterprise technologies and enables the new industry standard of hybrid cloud, open-source participants are reckoning with both the challenge and opportunity of working within a new collaborative digital economy.

      “The scale is coming from real adoption and businesses that are moving their applications into the cloud,” said Liz Rice (pictured), technology evangelist at Aqua Security Software Ltd. and program co-chair at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon. “The end users who want to be part of the community actually want to contribute to the community.”

    • The road to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta

      Now that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta is out in the wild, I wanted to describe the process that got us here. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta is the culmination of several years of feature development by Red Hat engineers and many others, in open source communities that we refer to collectively as “upstream.”

      In these upstream software projects, contributions from our hardware and software partners, community members, and even our customers are designed, developed and refined. Work from the Linux kernel, the GNOME community, and thousands of individual projects are then integrated in the Fedora distribution as a release such as Fedora 28, from which we branch to form the base of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

      All along this path, Red Hat engineers work closely in these upstream communities and Fedora, and must represent what is best for both our customers, our partners, and for the upstream project itself. It’s a delicate balance, which is one reason why we are very proud of the talent and integrity of our engineering teams.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Why Linux Is Spelled Incorrectly

      You ever see an injustice in the world—one so strong, so overwhelming—that, try as you might, you just can’t ignore it? A crime that dominates your consciousness beyond all others? That drives you, even in the face of certain defeat, to action?

      Mine is…Linux.

      Not the existence of Linux. Linux is amazing. Linux powers the world. Linux is, as the kids say, totally tubular.

      It’s the name. It’s the name that makes me Hulk out. Specifically, it’s that confounded “X”. It just plain should not be there.

      Linux should be spelled L-I-N-U-C-S. Linucs.

      Seriously.

    • HMM Gets New Features/Improvements, Nouveau Support Aligned For Linux 5.1

      Jerome Glisse of Red Hat has spent the past few years devoted to Heterogeneous Memory Management (HMM) that continues stepping towards taking on bigger roles within the Linux kernel. With the upcoming Linux 5.1 kernel cycle there are slated to be more additions to this code, which is the backbone of allowing the mirroring of process address spaces, system memory to be transparently used by any device process, and other functionality for GPU computing and other modern PCIe devices.

      The latest HMM additions are supporting hugetlbfs (huge pages) and DAX mirroring (mirror a file on a DAX-backed file-system) along with some API improvements. This latest work is part of a broader effort for adding RDMA ODP (On-Demand Paging) support to Heterogeneous Memory Management. However, that the ODP HMM support isn’t expected to be merged until the Linux 5.2~5.3 kernel.

    • Linux Kernel Seeing Thunderbolt Improvements That Will Help Older Apple Hardware

      A set of 28 patches posted today by Intel Linux developer Mika Westerberg would improve the kernel’s Thunderbolt software connection manager and particularly help older Apple hardware.

      The Thunderbolt software connection manager is used by systems with Light Ridge, Cactus Ridge, and Falcon Ridge Thunderbolt controllers for creating PCI Express tunnels when a device is connected. At present this software connection manager for these older Thunderbolt controllers on various Apple devices only supports creating a single PCI Express tunnel, but with these new patches there is full PCIe daisy chain support up to six devices. Additionally, tunneling is introduced for DisplayPort and P2P networking capabilities.

    • Linux Foundation

      • Hyperledger Kicks Off the New Year with Eight New Members

        Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, begins 2019 by announcing it has added eight new members to the consortium. In addition, Hyperledger has delivered some key technology updates and now has a total of 12 projects.

        Hyperledger is a multi-venture, multi-stakeholder effort that includes various enterprise blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Recent project updates include the release of Fabric v1.4 LTS, the first long term support version of the framework, as well as the addition of two new projects Hyperledger Ursa and Hyperledger Grid. Grid uses shared, reusable tools to accelerate the development of ledger-based solutions for cross-industry supply chain applications. Additionally, a detailed case study on Circulor’s Hyperledger Fabric-based production system for tracing tantalum mining in Rwanda adds to growing list of resources for guiding enterprise blockchain adoption.

        “We wrapped up 2018 with a successful and exciting Hyperledger Global Forum,” said Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger. “This first worldwide meeting of the Hyperledger community underscored the growing pace of development and deployment of blockchain in general and our tools and technologies in particular. We are seeing more signs of this accelerating pace of maturation and adoption here in early 2019. We welcome these newest members and look forward to their help in driving this growth.”

    • Graphics Stack

      • Open-Source NVIDIA X.Org Driver Updated With DP MST, DRI3 Improvements

        Longtime open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” developer Ilia Mirkin has released xf86-video-nouveau 1.0.16 as the latest version of this X.Org DDX driver.

        New xf86-video-nouveau releases are far and few in between due to all of the “magic” happening within the DRM/KMS kernel driver or Gallium3D on the 3D user-space side, but today’s Nouveau DDX release does have some key improvements and additions.

      • Intel’s Linux Driver Stack Continues Getting Plumbed For FP16 Visuals / Wide Color Gamut

        Among the recent projects by Intel’s open-source graphics driver crew for Linux has been supporting FP16 visuals for handling wide color gamut with a focus on Android support in particular. A big set of Mesa patches for this effort have now been posted.

        Some FP16 visuals patches were posted earlier this month for Mesa while on Monday a set of 13 more patches were published. These Mesa patches go along with yet-to-hit-mainline DRM driver patches for supporting the necessary formats as well as patches for Wayland/Weston to handle FP16 visuals.

      • Initial Allwinner H6 Video Decode Support Posted For The Cedrus VPU Driver

        Patches were posted on Monday wiring up support for the Allwinner H6 SoC within the Cedrus VPU driver for open-source video decode support.

        The Cedrus video decode driver was initially merged into the staging area with Linux 4.20, but has continued advancing since. After picking up H5 and A64 SoC support in the Linux 5.0 kernel, the latest target is on getting the H6 working.

      • RADV Lands Last Minute Improvements In Mesa 19.0, Introduces VK_EXT_memory_priority

        Mesa 19.0 is due to enter its feature freeze today, but the “RADV” Radeon Vulkan driver is seeing some last minute enhancements for this next quarterly feature release.

        First off, RADV now supports the VK_EXT_memory_priority extension that was introduced earlier this month in Vulkan 1.1.97 as a means of supporting a priority value at memory allocation time so apps/games could let the driver know what are higher priority allocations to try to keep those to device-local memory, etc.

    • Benchmarks

      • NVIDIA vs. Radeon Linux 5.0 + Mesa 19.0 Drivers – 14-Way Gaming GPU Comparison

        As is always the case at Phoronix ahead of any major graphics card launch, it means re-testing the collection of past graphics cards for comparison in order to have the newest data on the entire line-up with the very latest GPU drivers, operating system updates, and any game updates. For those curious what the very latest Linux gaming performance is looking like at the end of January, here are benchmarks of the NVIDIA Pascal and Turing graphics cards on their 415.27 latest driver release up against the Linux 5.0 Git kernel paired with the near-feature-frozen Mesa 19.0 built with the AMDGPU LLVM 9.0 back-end. These 14 graphics cards on the latest software stack was put through more than three dozen gaming tests.

  • Applications

    • Free Video Cutter LosslessCut Adds Multiple Cut Points, Video Merging Feature

      LosslessCut is a easy to use, ultra fast tool for lossless video (and audio) cutting, available for Windows, macOS and Linux.

      The tool is design to allow its users to quickly cut large video files taken with a video camera, GoPro, drone, etc., without losing any quality, while also making this process extremely easy.

      LosslessCut is based on Chromium, using the HTML5 video player for its playback functionality. For video processing, the application does an almost direct data copy (using FFmpeg), so it’s extremely fast.

      Since the HTML5 video player has limited codecs support, some files may need to be remuxed / encoded to a friendly format / codec. This can be done directly from LosslessCut, via the File menu. The following formats / codecs should work directly in LosslessCut: MP4, MOV, WebM, MKV, OGG, WAV, MP3, AAC, H264, Theora, VP8, and VP9.

    • HPLIP 3.19.1 Released with New Printers / Distro’s Support

      HPLIP 3.19.1, HP developed Linux drivers for HP inkjet and laser based printers, was released one day ago with new devices and Linux Distros support.

    • Olive is a new Open Source Video Editor Aiming to Take On Biggies Like Final Cut Pro

      Olive is a cross-platform, free and open source video editor in development and it aims to compete with the likes of Final Cut Pro.

    • marK – Starting the Development of a General Purpose Tool for Data Annotation

      In the end of October, I have decided to make a simple tool to help me with some annotation procedures in two projects that I am involved into. These projects are related to Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence applications. So I decided to evolve this idea, aiming to make this simple tool become a more complex application. It is called marK and will help people in the process of data annotation, specially with large datasets and multiple types of data such as images and texts.

    • Sparky Tube

      Sparky Tube downloads a video file from a web site and converts it to MP3 and MP4 output file.

    • Crow Translate – free desktop translation software

      Google Translate is a free multilingual machine translation service developed by Google, to translate text. It’s a popular service. We use Google Translate to offer translations on LinuxLinks (see the right hand column of every page).

      Crow Translate uses this API, along with similar APIs provided by Yandex and Bing. Crow Translate bills itself as a cross-platform, lightweight, translator supporting 117 different languages.

      It sports both a command-line interface and a graphical user interface. The software is written in C++ and uses the Qt cross-platform application framework and widget toolkit.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Eagle Island looks like a truly wonderful platformer which involves falconry

        Yes, falconry. In Eagle Island it seems you won’t be punching or kicking your way through it, you will be throwing your bird friends in the face of your enemies and it looks delightful.

        It’s actually one I completely missed from Kickstarter, which was fully funded back in May of 2017. Catching up with the developer recently, I asked about Linux support for it and they said pretty clearly that they “currently have the alpha running smoothly in Ubuntu and intend to have the full version ready for the launch date”. However, they did mention due to Linux being a little trickier for them it could see a small delay but hopefully not.

      • Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is going to get some fancy shaders

        Beamdog aren’t stopping with the updates to Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition, with some graphical improvements on the way. While it’s a good game, with tons of content to play through for RPG fans one thing about it is clear, graphically it does show its age.

        Announcing what’s to come on Twitter, they said they’ve been working on a new “shader pipeline” that will “eventually debut in the new renderer”. When probed a little further by me, they confirmed it will work across platforms (like Linux—just so we’re sure). You can see more information on it here, while it’s a demo right now it should make the game look quite a bit more modern when officially added in.

      • The peaceful building RPG ‘Littlewood’ now has a Linux demo, lots of stretch goals hit

        Littlewood, a peaceful town-building RPG from developer Sean Young now has a Linux demo available. I’ve spent a few hours playing and it’s really quite sweet.

        It’s hit will over thirty thousand dollars in funding, which means it’s completely smashed through a bunch of stretch goals and so it should get some interesting additional content. This includes new NPCs, new buildings, a card game, more character customisation and plenty more.

      • GOG have given the DOSBox treatment to Superhero League of Hoboken

        Superhero League of Hoboken, another classic game has been packaged up nicely by GOG with Superhero League of Hoboken.

        Originally released back in 1994, it gained some reasonably positive press at the time. The Linux build comes pre-packaged with DOSBox like a lot of classic games. So for those who missed out on it at the time, here’s your chance with a no-fuss option.

      • Godhood from Abbey Games will have you create your own religion, now on Kickstarter

        Abbey Games (Reus and Renowned Explorers) have now officially put up the Kickstarter for their new god-game Godhood and it does sound very interesting.

        Their previous games both support Linux and so it’s really pleasing to see them firmly commit to a Linux version, especially as it looks like my type of game. While it has the usual elements you would expect, with certain things outside of your control as you try to direct people with God Commandments it will also mix in some turn-based RPG combat. The combat, again, is not something you will directly control either, so I’m pretty curious about that too.

      • Sounds like the randomised dungeon feature for Albion Online is going to be great

        Albion Online, the MMO from Sandbox Interactive is set to get a fair bit more interesting with the Oberon update due out this Spring.

        We’ve mentioned it briefly before here on GOL, that the developers are going to be making some small steps towards a more interesting PvE experience. This is good, because the heavy PvP focus of the game right now put me off quite quickly.

      • Vigil: The Longest Night, a 2D action platformer that looks seriously good will support Linux

        Vigil: The Longest Night is a recent discovery that captured my interest instantly with the visual style and it’s coming to Linux.

      • gamingdirectional: Create the game background Part 2

        Hello and welcome back to part two of this chapter. In this chapter, we will finish up the background rendering process for our new pygame project. If you have missed out the first part of the tutorial then you can read it here. OK let us continue… In part one we have created two new classes, in this part, we will find out how to use them.

      • Unique steampunk survival game Volcanoids has erupted into Early Access

        If, like me, you grew tired of many survival games doing a lot of the same thing you will want to take a look at Volcanoids.

      • 5 of the Best Games on Ubuntu Snap Store

        There are plenty of great games for Linux, but it’s not always easy actually getting them to run. Package management systems like apt have made things easier, but not all games are available this way. Fortunately, Snap has come along as an easy way to run almost anything, including games, without hassle.

        Snap is Ubuntu’s solution to cramming everything an app needs to run into a single package. This isn’t the only software of its type, but since it is developed by Canonical, it’s the default on Ubuntu. Getting started is easy: just search for Snap Store in the Software Center and click install.

      • Create the game background part 1

        Hello, and welcome back, starting from today I will definitely use my time effectively which means less Youtubed and Googled around so I can concentrate most of the time on writing article, creating the game and managing my own shoe selling’s business. This year is make money online and offline year for me, wasting time on Youtube or surfing around must be stopped so those time can be used to do more meaningful stuff. Alright, so much for that let us get into the business.

        As the title has suggested, in this chapter we will create the game’s background for our new pygame project. As I have mentioned before we are creating a maze game project so you can expect something new as compared to the previous project. Before we start let us look at our strategy to create the background object first.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Get started with Budgie Desktop, a Linux environment

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

      Here’s the 18th of my picks for 19 new (or new-to-you) open source tools to help you be more productive in 2019.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Building and Distributing Kdenlive on Windows and Mac

        “Porting” Kdenlive to other platforms has been in the works for years now: old Qt4 version was in MacPorts, and we started looking at Windows version with our GSoC student back in Spring 2016. We anticipated we wouldn’t have much to change in the code, as Kdenlive relies on the portable Qt5/KF5 combo, and MLT, which is already embedded in Shotcut cross-platform editor.

        At that time, KDE didn’t have Windows & Mac build servers yet, and I had no Windows machine available. I thought it would be more efficient to use the Linux machines. Moreover, the young Craft lacked multimedia libraries (audio and video codecs, effects), while MXE cross-build system had several ready. I liked MXE’s use of GNU Make to resolve build dependencies, it’s automated version update, simple build option overrides… So we went for it and built all the stack up to our final application!

        The main difficulty has been deployment: build ends with several executables (kdenlive, melt used for rendering, ffmpeg for transcoding, dbus-daemon for notifications…), shared libraries, plugins (qt’s, mlt’s, frei0r’s…), data files… and it didn’t work out of the box! Finding a layout to please all these required several trials and tweaks, and that step didn’t allow for direct testing while developing & recompiling.

        At least with this work we could share Windows binaries, published in 2016 under “alpha” preview state, which rapidly found users despite of several shortcomings… And the situation remained so during more than a year, during which updates didn’t concern platform specific bugs.

      • Come Home to KDE at FOSDEM 2019

        This year we are jam-packing it with interesting stuff. The first thing you’ll see as you arrive is Krita’s demo. Wolthera van Hövell, a talented artist that regularly contributes to Krita, will be painting live at the booth, demonstrating all the new features on a large screen for everybody to enjoy. Then on Sunday, Camille Moulin will be demonstrating how to edit video using Kdenlive.

      • KDE Bugsquad – Back in 2019! Ark/Kcalc/Spectacle Bug Day on February 12th, 2019

        I hope everyone has had an enjoyable holiday season! The KDE Bugsquad is back in 2019, almost 50 members strong! How awesome is that? We have 11 months left in 2019, and will be continuing our every-other-week schedule as last year, with one event on a Tuesday, one on Saturday, with one project per month. Hopefully that provides you some opportunities to fit it into your schedule.

        Our first project this year will actually be a variety pack of smaller projects, each with less bugs than the usual targets. I wanted to start out with some easier ones, while still targeting some important utilities most KDE users use. So, without further delay:

  • Distributions

    • Linux Distro Spotlight: What I Love About elementary OS

      Welcome back to “What I Love About X Linux Distro,” a series that shines the spotlight on whatever Linux OS I’ve been tinkering with recently, and the features that distinguish it from the pack. It debuted with Ubuntu Budgie, but it won’t come as a surprise that this time around I’m focusing on elementary OS 5.

      Each article in this series will capture what I love most about a particular distro, and then you’ll hear directly from one of its team members about why they love working on the project. Let’s go!

    • Reviews

      • Exploring elementary OS

        Elementary OS is an elegant Linux with a long-term vision and a focus on good design.

        “Good design makes a product useful,” said the legendary industrial designer Dieter Rams. I couldn’t agree more. My productivity is directly proportional to how well designed the tool is. I care about the UI elements – fonts, icons, the spacing between elements, and so on.

        Unfortunately, when it comes to Linux on the desktop, the design is often an afterthought. Most projects don’t have a UI designer on the team (some projects are a one-man army). As a result, what you get is all too often a patchwork that stitches disconnected components together.

    • New Releases

      • Alpine 3.9.0 released

        We are pleased to announce the release of Alpine Linux 3.9.0, the first in the v3.9 stable series.

      • Alpine Linux 3.9 Released with ARMv7 Support, Switches from LibreSSL to OpenSSL

        After no less than five release candidates, the Alpine Linux 3.9 operating system is now ready for mass deployments as the development team lead by Natanael Copa announced the final release.

        Alpine Linux 3.9 comes six months after the 3.8 series to add new features and more enhancements to the musl/BusyBox-based security-oriented GNU/Linux distribution. Highlights of this release include support for ARMv7 architectures, the replace of LibreSSL with OpenSSL, and better support for the GRUB bootloader.

        “GRUB users should check if their config is generated correctly and have emergency boot media prepared,” reads the release announcement, which also notes the fact that the “moodloop” option for specifying when a SquashFS file system gets mounted to /.modloop is now signed in Alpine Linux 3.9.

      • Alpine 3.9 Brings ARMv7 Support, Switches Back To OpenSSL, Improves GRUB
      • Releasing Slax 9.7.0

        Good news, a new and improved version of Slax has been just released as Slax 9.7.0.

      • Slax Linux 9.7 Improves Compatibility with New USB Devices, Is Now Even Smaller

        Probably the biggest change of the Slax 9.7 release is that the tiny GNU/Linux distribution is now even smaller as the developer managed to compress the SquashFS filesystem using 1MB blocks instead of the older 512K block size, which is still supported for compatibility with old modules. Due to this small change, the ISO image is now with 10MB smaller than previous releases.

        Another interesting change implemented in Slax 9.7 is an updated “slax activate” command that’s now capable of copying modules to your computer’s RAM only if required, which means that Slax will no longer copy all activated modules, including those downloaded from Internet and stored in user’s Home directory, to RAM or to the USB flash drive when powers up.

      • Slax 9.7.0 Released With This Desktop Linux Distribution Down To 255MB

        In addition to Alpine 3.9.0 seeing the light of day on Tuesday, another lightweight Linux distribution out with a new release is Slax 9.7.0.

        Slax is the long-time Linux distribution long focused on delivering a small footprint that originally was based on Slackware but when work on the project restarted in 2017 shifted to using a Debian base and for its desktop also transitioned from KDE to Fluxbox+Compton.

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Using the latest 389-ds on OpenSUSE

        Thanks to some help from my friend who works on OBS, I’ve finally got a good package in review for submission to tumbleweed. However, if you are impatient and want to use the “latest” and greatest 389-ds version on OpenSUSE (docker anyone?).

    • Fedora

      • 5 quick tips for Fedora Workstation users

        Whether you are a new or long time Fedora Workstation user, you might be looking for some quick tips to customize, tweak or enhance your desktop experience. In this article, we’ll round up five tips to help you get more out of your Fedora Workstation.

      • Flatpak 1.2 Brings Improved Command Line Interface experience | What’s New

        Late in December 2018, Flatpak developer “Matthias Clasen” has announced some of the new features and functionalities that we would expect on the upcoming release of Flatpak. Let’s check the recent changes on Flatpak 1.2.

        Flatpak is package management solution with the advantage of using “Sandbox” technology to create isolated environments for installed applications. Flatpak supports many Linux distributions such as Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Red hat, Arch, Open SUSE, Raspian and more.

      • F29-20190129 updated isos Released

        The Fedora Respins SIG is pleased to announce the latest release of Updated F29-20190129 Live ISOs, carrying the 4.20.4-200 kernel.

        This set of updated isos will save considerable amounts of updates after install. ((for new installs.)(New installs of Workstation have 1.2GB of updates)).

      • Fedora Community Blog: Call for Projects and Mentors – GSoC 2019
    • Debian Family

      • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #196

        There was considerable progress towards making the Debian Installer images reproducible with a number of rounds of code review, a subsequent merge of Chris Lamb’s merge request and the closing of the corresponding bug report for the time being, pending further testing.

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 3.12 Anonymous OS Is Out with Linux 4.19, Tor Browser 8.0.5, and USB Image

          Tails 3.12 is a stable release that comes as an incremental update to the previous version, Tails 3.10, adding numerous many updated components from the upstream Debian repositories, security vulnerabilities, as well as other exciting changes. But the biggest news is that Tails can now be downloaded as a USB image along the standard ISO image.

          “In short, instead of downloading an ISO image (a format originally designed for CDs), you now download Tails as a USB image: an image of the data as it needs to be written to the USB stick,” reads today’s announcement. “We are still providing ISO images for people using DVDs or virtual machines. The methods for upgrading Tails remain the same.”

        • DebEX Budgie 190128 Run Through

          Today we are looking at DebEX Linux 190128 the Budgie edition.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Snapcraft 3.1 Snap Creator Tool with Various Improvements

            Snapcraft 3.1 is now available as a minor update to the Snapcraft 3.x series, adding build environment improvements to allow you to be once again able to clean parts using the “base” keyword while running the “snapcraft clean < part-name >” command, and offering you a more intuitive cleaning of steps from specific parts.

            The “cmake” and “rust” plugins have been updated as well in Snapcraft 3.1. While the “cmake” plugin gets two new features to allow you to package more applications in the Snap universal binary format, such as KDE apps, the “rust” plugin was revamped to work better with the non-legacy rustup tool.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 needs patching

            Ubuntu is a very popular Linux distribution for servers, clouds, and the desktop. So, when parent company Canonical announces it is moving Ubuntu 18.04, the latest long term support (LTS) edition, to a new Linux kernel, it’s time to pay attention and patch.

            This kernel, 4.15.0-44.47, contains 11 security fixes and other minor improvements.

            The most significant of these are four problems with Linux’s implementation of the ext4 filesystem. Ext4 is the most commonly used Linux filesystem, and it’s the Ubuntu Linux family’s default file system.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Kodi 18 is here!

    After another long gestation… the Kodi team is very pleased to announce the immediate availability of Kodi 18.0 “Leia” for all supported platforms (UWP for Windows Store and Xbox is working its way through the system as I type, so will be available shortly…). While we were planning to move more to a “release early, release often” model, this has some significant changes that really needed to be tested and bedded in before we launched it, so it did take a little longer than we’d hoped. It was, though, a worthwhile wait.

  • Kodi 18.0 Released! How to Install it in Ubuntu 18.04/16.04

    Kodi media center, formerly known as XBMC, released the new stable 18.0 “Leia” a day ago. Here’s how to install it in Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 18.04, Linux Mint 18.x, 19.x, and higher.

    Kodi 18.0 is a big release with almost 10,000 commits, 3000 pull-requests.

  • Thunderbird 60.5.0 Released, System76 Introduces New “Darter Pro” Linux Laptop, Kodi 18.0 “Leia” Now Available, Slax 9.7.0 Is Out and Systemd Vulnerabilities Proof of Concept Published

    Kodi 18.0 “Leia” is now available for all supported platforms. This is a major release, reflecting nearly 10,000 commits, 9,000 changed files and half a million lines of code added. This new release features support for gaming emulators, ROMs and controls; DRM decryption support; significant improvements to the music library; live TV improvements; and much more. See the changelog for more details, and go here to download.

    Slax 9.7.0 was released yesterday. You can download it for free or purchase a USB drive with Slax pre-installed from slax.org. New to this version: usb-modeswitch was added, the slax activate command now copies module to RAM only if necessary, and now Slax is even smaller—255MB compared to 265MB previously.

  • Kodi 18 Leia Released: Best New Features Of The Latest Kodi

    After a long wait of two years, XBMC-owned Kodi open source media player has finally released its Kodi 18 Leia with a host of important and new features and improvements over the previous version.

    Kodi 18 Leia was in beta for a long period of time, and the cord cutters were desperately waiting for the latest version of the media player. As the organization itself describes the long period as “another long gestation,” Kodi 18 is finally here and accompanies some of the features that would open up the new possibilities of playing content on Kodi.

  • Kodi 18 “Leia” Released with Support for Gaming Emulators, DRM Support, and More

    Dubbed “Leia” to honor the late Carrie Fisher, the Star Wars actress who played the iconic character Leia Princess in the acclaimed franchise, Kodi 18 is a major release that comes almost two years after the Kodi 17 “Krypton” series with numerous new features, improvements, and other noteworthy changes.

  • Kodi 18.0 Released With Reworked Wayland Platform, Retroplayer Gaming Support

    Kodi 18.0 “Leia” is now available as one of the biggest releases ever for this open-source, cross-platform multimedia/HTPC software.

    Kodi 18 has been in the works for two years now and comes with some gaming integration via RetroPlayer to enjoy some emulated console games within the HTPC software, completely reworked Wayland support, improved live TV capabilities, Google Assistant support, usability enhancements, better stability, DRM content support, better Blu-ray support, and quite a lot of other improvements throughout.

  • 5 social media alternatives to protect your privacy

    Social media isn’t what it used to be—especially since we started paying attention to the privacy implications of using the major platforms. After Facebook leaked around 87,000 users information in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and another 6.8 million users’ data in September 2018 when a third-party app gained access to user photos, the already growing #DeleteFacebook movement exploded. I am part of it; I’d had enough, and I knew if I wanted to protect my personal data, I would not be able to exist on Facebook any longer. Other people are doing the same with Twitter because it seems like bots have taken over.

    How though—in a world centered around social media, and especially Facebook (which also owns WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram)—do you replace these services and remain in contact with friends and family?

    Thankfully, there are open source, privacy-focused alternatives. In exploring them, I sought to separate the promising from the fringe and find the ones that were usable, fun, and easy to convince friends and family to join.

  • Before You Sign

    The first thing to know is that the noncompete clause in your contract might not be enforceable in your jurisdiction. (Check into this – don’t take my word for it!) It is also a good idea to stop and consider who you are bargaining with. A big company like IBM or Oracle probably has a standard contract, hammered out by a team of lawyers and tailored precisely to the company’s needs, and it will be difficult to get them to make a lot of changes just for little ol’ you (although you could always try). A smaller company, however, might be using a boilerplate contract, with a few customizations by a local attorney, and they might be more flexible about changing the terms.

    Some employers might balk at striking out the noncompete clause completely, but you might be able to talk them into reducing the duration or scope. For instance, if a clause tells me I can’t go work for another magazine, I might be able to negotiate a refinement that specifies I won’t work for another Linux magazine, and the employer might decide that their interests are adequately protected.

  • FOSS goals for 2019

    With the advent of 2019, Maddog makes a wish list and some resolutions for both himself and the FOSS community.

    I am writing this article on Christmas Eve of 2018. While (due to the workings of a print magazine) you may not see it for a while, I am going to use this as a combination of a 2019 Christmas wish list and some 2018 New Year’s resolutions for myself and (hopefully) some resolutions for the free software community.

    My Christmas wish list for next year is simple. I hope to have FOSS even more dominant in the world of computing than it is today.

  • Web Browsers

    • Microsoft decides Internet Explorer 10 has had its fun: Termination set for January 2020

      Microsoft has warned that it isn’t only Windows 7 for the chop in 2020. Unloved Internet Explorer 10 will be joining it. Finally.

      Internet Explorer 10 first appeared back in 2012 and in 2016 Microsoft made a concerted effort to kill the thing by focusing its support efforts on Internet Explorer 11. Anything not Edge-related or without “11″ after it would no longer be supported.

      However, not every operating system was capable of actually running Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft infamously restricted its Edge browser to Windows 10 (and later iOS and Android). Notable exceptions to the IE10 crackdown were Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Embedded.

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 72 Has Some Wayland Improvements, Eyes Deprecating FTP

        In addition to Mozilla releasing Firefox 65, the release calendars also aligned today with Google introducing the Chrome 72 web browser.

        Chrome 72 is a notable update in that it deprecates TLS 1.0/1.1 while eyeing FTP deprecation in the future, offers up some Wayland improvements, crash reports support within Chrome’s Reporting API, user activation API additions, and other changes.

      • Google Releases Chrome 72 for Linux, Windows, and Mac, Download Now

        After announcing the release of Chrome 72 for Android, Google promoted today the Chrome 72 web browser to the stable channel for Linux, Windows, and Mac computers too.

        Google is introducing the Chrome 72 web browser for desktop platforms, including Linux, Mac, and Windows, a release that promises to add yet another layer of stability and security improvements in an attempt to offer you a better and more secure browsing experience whenever you’re using Google Chrome.

    • Mozilla

      • Reps OKRs – First half of the year 2019
      • Firefox 65: WebP support, Flexbox Inspector, new tooling & platform updates

        Well now, there’s no better way to usher out the first month of the year than with a great new Firefox release. It’s winter for many of us, but that means more at-home time to install Firefox version 65, and check out some of the great new browser and web platform features we’ve included within. Unless you’d rather be donning your heavy coat and heading outside to grit the driveway, that is (or going to the beach, in the case of some of our Australian chums).

      • Mozilla Introduces Firefox 65 for Improved Privacy Controls, New Version Automatically Blocks Slow-Loading Website Trackers

        Mozilla has been working on updating its browser to give more control to its users. As a result of it, Mozilla Firefox 65 has been officially launched today for Windows, Linux, Mac, and Android platform. The new release of the browser will help with content blocking controls, WebP image support, AV1 support on Windows, and other bug fixes and improvement.

        Mozilla Firefox 65 is now available for download on Firefox.com for desktop users. People who are already using the Mozilla browser will be able to upgrade to the new version automatically. Firefox 65 rollout for Android users has started slowly and users will be able to download the app or update it once the complete rollout process takes place.

      • Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.0 Now Available for Download

        Mozilla Thunderbird 60.5.0 is now available for download with a series of major improvements, including support for WeTransfer file sharing service.

        In case you’re wondering why would anyone use a third-party file sharing service in Thunderbird, it’s all because this way you can send large attachments without worrying about storage space.

      • [Mozilla] Online content regulation in Europe: a paradigm for the future #1

        Lawmakers in the European Union are today focused on regulating online content, and compelling online services to make greater efforts to reduce the illegal and harmful activity on their services. As we’ve blogged previously, many of the present EU initiatives – while well-intentioned – are falling far short of what is required in this space, and pose real threats to users rights online and the decentralised open internet. Ahead of the May 2019 elections, we’ll be taking a close look at the current state of content regulation in the EU, and advancing a vision for a more sustainable paradigm that adequately addresses lawmakers’ concerns within a rights- and ecosystem-protective framework.

        Concerns about illegal and harmful content online, and the role of online services in tackling it, is a policy issue that is driving the day in jurisdictions around the world. Whether it’s in India, the United States, or the European Union itself, lawmakers are grappling with what is ultimately a really hard problem – removing ‘bad’ content at scale without impacting ‘good’ content, and in ways that work for different types of internet services and that don’t radically change the open character of the internet. Regrettably, despite the fact that many great minds in government, academia, and civil society are working on this hard problem, online content regulation remains stuck in a paradigm that undermines users’ rights and the health of the internet ecosystem, without really improving users’ internet experience.

      • Firefox 65 for Android Improves Security and Performance, Adds Faster Scrolling

        With the release of the Firefox 65 web browser today, Mozilla begin the rollout of its latest and most advanced web browser to all supported platforms, including Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows.

        We already talked about the new features available on the desktop (Linux, Mac, and Windows) here and here, so now it’s time to take a look at the enhancements implemented by Mozilla in Firefox for Android as the Firefox 65 release promises improved performance and web compatibility, as well as better security.

  • Databases

    • 3 Most Popular NoSQL Databases To Start In Cloud

      The path of the Cloud generally starts in migrations to infrastructure platforms as a Service (IaaS); where we make a virtual mirror of our physical structure on which we deploy our applications.
      The next step comes when we recognize that the true value and productivity of the Cloud is in the Platform as a Service (PaaS), and we face new challenges in the form of software transformation and reconstruction in the search for the optimal cost/benefit ratio.

      And one of the initial decisions that have more impact is to adopt the storage of our information in Databases as a Service by selecting which one to use in our software; being the NoSQL solutions, an affordable first step, of remarkable simplicity, powerful and of contained cost.

  • LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 6.2 Slated for Release on February 7, Will Introduce a New Tabbed UI

      So the big news we want to share with you today is the LibreOffice 6.2 office suite will be officially released in about a week from the moment of writing this article, on Thursday, February 7, 2019. It will be available for all supported platforms, including Linux, Mac, and Windows.

      As expected, we’ll have a detailed story prepared on the LibreOffice 6.2 launch day to tell you all about its new features and improves, but, as a sneak peek, we’d like to inform you now that the upcoming release brings a new tabbed UI called Notebookbar, which you can see in action in the video and screenshot gallery below.

    • The saga begins …

      As you might have seen, we have now run four C++ sessions to get started with C++ and LibreOffice development. The origin of this actually happened already at the last LibreOffice Hackfest in Munich where Izabela, Mike, Anxhelo and me conspired on the idea. We also started to recruit LibreOffice developers as mentors right there and Xisco joined us soon.

      As the lectures discuss the basics of data structures and C++ I started to create some patches against LibreOffice to show how to start with simple things in the LibreOffice build based on the examples from the lecture, but in the environment of LibreOffice and with some of its framework and conventions…

    • LibreOffice monthly recap: January 2019
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • How a fiscal sponsor can help your open source project grow

      The short explanation of fiscal sponsorship is “someone else manages the accounting, finances, and taxes,” but it’s much more than that. A fiscal sponsor is a registered nonprofit. Projects that sign on with a fiscal sponsor benefit from that nonprofit status. For instance, if the project wishes to start receiving monetary donations, depending upon the tax laws, those donations can be tax-deductible.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • OSI weighs in on open-source licensing conflict

      The problem these open-source businesses are finding is that technology giants and cloud providers are taking advantage of their work for monetary gain without contributing back to these projects. However, the issue with creating and applying new licenses or clauses to existing open-source licenses is that it the projects become technically no longer open source, unless the licenses are approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), an organization dedicated to promoting and protecting open-source software, projects and communities.

  • Programming/Development

    • The DSF Welcomes Mariusz Felisiak as its Newest Fellow

      On December 21, 2018, the DSF made a call for Django Fellow applicants. On behalf of the Django Software Foundation, the DSF Fellowship Committee is pleased to announce Mariusz Felisiak as the newest Django Fellow. Mariusz is replacing Tim Graham who recently announced his retirement as a Django Fellow after four years of service.

      Mariusz has been designing and implementing Python/Django applications for the past 11 years. He is an active Django Core Team Member, focusing on the ORM and Oracle back-end along with triaging tickets, reviewing pull requests and backporting changes. In addition, he has contributed to more than a dozen open-source projects and is a coach for Django Girls Heidelberg.

    • JavaScript Dethrones Java As Most Popular Programming Language

      A survey conducted by HackerRank, a popular competitive programming platform, found JavaScript to be the most popular programming language for 2018.

      The survey was taken by 71,000 developers across the world in which 73% claimed to be proficient in JavaScript. The scripting language has thus replaced Java which took the top spot last year.

    • Webs Assemble! | Coder Radio 342

      Apple wades into controversy after filing some Swift-related patents and we explore WebAssembly and its implications for the open web.

      Plus the latest on Mike’s road to Rust, some great feedback, and more!

    • Using Python to Connect Function Compute to SQL Server
    • Installing a Dependency Library for Function Compute
    • Python 201 and Python RegEx Bundle
    • wxPython Applications Book Table of Contents Update
    • More About Angle Brackets in Bash
    • Qt Virtual Tech Summit Registration is Open!

      Did you miss Qt World Summit 2018? Fear not. On 12-14 February, the Qt Virtual Tech Summit and Qt experts will be sharing insights in a free online event to equip you with the tools and skills you need to build connected devices, UIs, and applications in 2019 and beyond.

    • PyCoder’s Weekly: Issue #353 (Jan. 29, 2019)
    • This Week in Rust 271
    • Salsa: Incremental recompilation

      So for the last couple of months or so, I’ve been hacking in my spare time on this library named salsa, along with a number of awesome other folks. Salsa basically extracts the incremental recompilation techniques that we built for rustc into a general-purpose framework that can be used by other programs. Salsa is developing quickly: with the publishing of v0.10.0, we saw a big step up in the overall ergonomics, and I think the current interface is starting to feel very nice.

    • Python “for” Loops (Definite Iteration)

      This tutorial will show you how to perform definite iteration with a Python for loop.

    • Stationary Data Tests for Time Series Forecasting

      I wasn’t planning on making a ‘part 2’ to the Forecasting Time Series Data using Autoregression post from last week, but I really wanted to show how to use more advanced tests to check for stationary data. Additionally, I wanted to use a new dataset that I ran across on Kaggle for energy consumption at an hourly level (find the dataset here). For this example, I’m going to be using the DEOK_hourly dataset (i’ve added it to my git repo here). You can follow along with the jupyter notebook here.

      In this post, I’m going to follow the same approach that I took in the previous one – using autoregression to forecast time series data after checking to ensure the data is stationary.

    • Introduction to Machine Learning with Python and repl.it

      In this tutorial, we’re going to walk through how to set up a basic Python repl that can learn the difference between two categories of sentences, positive and negative. For example, if you had the sentence “I love it!”, we want to train a machine to know that this sentence is associated with happy and positive emotions. If we have a sentence like “it was really terrible”, we want the machine to label it as a negative or sad sentence.

      The maths, specifically calculus and linear algebra, behind machine learning gets a bit hairy. We’ll be abstracting this away with the Python library scikit-learn, which makes it possible to do advanced machine learning in a few lines of Python.

    • 5 Best Python Frameworks for WebView Testing

      Python has become one of the most widely used programming languages. The reason behind its popularity is that it is extremely easy to use and allows you to create platform independent programs.

      It is a high-level language and has all the important features that make a good programing language. It also supports OOPs, i.e. Object Oriented Programming concepts. The syntax of Python is very different from C or C++ and simpler too. This makes it easy to learn and understand.

    • Python network data visualization

      The Scapy packet manipulation program lets you analyze and manipulate packets to create incident response reports or examine network security.

      Most folks have pulled up Wireshark a time or two to troubleshoot an application or system problem. During forensics, packet captures (PCAPs) are essential. Often you are looking at things like top talkers, ports, bytes, DNS lookups, and so on. Why not automate this process with Python?

    • Return odd or even position from a list of numbers

      Hello and welcome back to one day one answer series. In this chapter, we will need to return the position of either an odd or even number from a list of numbers following the below condition.

      If there is only one odd number in a list of odd-even numbers then return the position of that odd number or else return the position of the even number. The solution for this question is very straight forward, after seeing the below solution do leave your own solution below this post.

    • VkRunner is integrated into VK-GL-CTS and piglit

      VkRunner is a tool written by Neil Roberts, which is very inspired on shader_runner. VkRunner was the result of the Igalia work to enable ARB_gl_spirv extension for Intel’s i965 driver on Mesa, where there was a need to test driver’s code against a good number of shaders to be sure that it was fine.

      VkRunner uses a script language to define the requirements needed to run the test, such as the needed extension and features, the shaders to be run and a series of commands to run it. It will then parse everything and execute the equivalent Vulkan commands to do so under the hood, like shader_runner did for OpenGL in piglit.

Leftovers

  • Article review: “The Hard Truth About Innovative Cultures”

    Psychologically safe but brutally candid. We all fall in love with our ideas, and therefore we all need the occasional round of “frank and open” feedback. If nothing else, we should design our experiments (or, in software, our validation suites) to provide that feedback.

    Collaboration but with individual accountability. Innovation often requires that individuals and teams buck the common wisdom, but common wisdom often carries the day. Therefore, those individuals and teams must remain open to feedback, and accountability is one good way to help them seek out feedback and take that feedback seriously.

    Flat but strong leadership. Most of my innovation has been carried out by very small teams, so this maxim has not been an issue for me. But people wishing to create large but highly innovative teams would do well to read this part of the article very carefully.

    In short, this is a great article, and to the best of my knowledge the first one presenting both the fun and hard-work sides of the process of innovation.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ‘Absolutely Unconscionable’: Trump EPA Refuses to Limit Toxic Chemicals That Contaminate Drinking Water of Millions

      Sources familiar with an unreleased draft plan approved last month by acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Politico that the chemicals PFOA and PFOS will remain unregulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, meaning that “utilities will face no federal requirements for testing for and removing the chemicals from drinking water supplies, although several states have pursued or are pursuing their own limits.”

      The chemicals “have been used for decades in products such as Teflon-coated cookware and military firefighting foam, and are present in the bloodstreams of an estimated 98 percent of Americans,” Politico pointed out. That means, given that they have “contaminated groundwater near hundreds of military bases and chemical plants,” any intensive regulation of them would force companies such as 3M as well as the Defense Department to spend billions of dollars on cleanup efforts.

      “If these sources are right, the EPA is essentially telling the more than 110 million Americans whose water is likely contaminated with PFAS: ‘Drink up, folks,’” warned Environmental Working Group senior scientist David Andrews, Ph.D. “The most efficient and equitable way to remove these chemicals from the nation’s drinking water supply is to use the agency’s authority to set legal limits… It’s a national problem, and it needs a national solution.”

    • Trump Failing to Protect Drinking Water by Ignoring Dangerous Chemicals PFOA and PFOS
    • Price-Gouging Drug Company CEOs Must Answer for Their Sky-High Pay

      It’s clear to everyone who cares to look that prescription drug price gouging is literally killing patients. Health care executives — at Big Pharma and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) alike — are moving an inelastic product their customers can’t live without. They know they can charge sick people as much as the government will let them get away with. Sometimes, they press their luck and impose what look very much like coordinated price hikes, practically daring Congress to try to do something about it.

      The drug companies’ wild ride may soon be coming to an end. On Tuesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold its first hearing of the new 116th Congress, which Chair Elijah Cummings is using to launch a comprehensive review of pricing practices.

      While Cummings has Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and AbbVie in the room, he might consider asking how they justify their exorbitant executive compensation packages. Shareholders would certainly like to know.

    • Illegal Abortions Exact a High Toll Among African Women

      Njuza called neighbors for help because Nontsikelo was suffering from piercing cramps and heavy bleeding. “I hired a van to take her to a clinic, and by the time we arrived, she was lying in a pool of blood,” Njuza says. Nontsikelo’s condition was so severe she had to be transferred to a hospital 30 miles away. She died during the trip there.

      Njuza knows exactly what killed her daughter. On the way to the clinic, Nontsikelo said she had taken an abortion pill from a man she found on Facebook.

      Nontsikelo was the victim of an unsafe abortion—one performed by an unskilled practitioner or in a substandard medical environment. Her story is a common one in Africa, where more than 4 million unsafe abortions are performed each year. One out of every 150 African women who have an unsafe abortion dies from complications, and countless others come away scarred physically or emotionally.

      As in many other southern African countries, abortion is illegal in Lesotho unless the woman’s health is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape. If a woman gets pregnant but can’t care for a child psychologically or financially, she has very little option but to undergo a clandestine abortion that might be life-threatening.

      Changing the law is essential but isn’t a cure-all, as the experience in South Africa shows. In that country (which encircles Lesotho), abortion is allowed by law, but many women can’t access a legal procedure. Several factors stand in the way, including cultural or religious beliefs as well as interference from halfway around the globe. A United States government policy reinstated by President Trump blocks federal funding worldwide to nongovernmental organizations that provide any kind of abortion service including advocacy, referral and counseling.

    • WHO Holds Discussions On Roadmap For Improving Access To Medicines

      Unaffordable prices, unavailable medicines, a rising need for accessible noncommunicable diseases treatments – these set the stage as the World Health Organization Executive Board started discussion today on one of the more contentious issues of the week. For the Board’s approval is in particular a roadmap and action plan including a dual strategy based on safety and efficacy of health products, and their affordability.

      [...]

      The draft roadmap for 2019-2023 also reflects the aims of the 13th WHO General Programme of Work, adopted last May, she said.

      Although progress has been made in access to medicines, it has been very uneven with the poor and vulnerable being “disproportionately affected,” Singh said.

      Health needs are changing and there is a rising need for affordable medicines for noncommunicable diseases. Medicines are often inaccessible, they are very expensive, and are the biggest driver of out-of-pocket expenses, she explained. In some regions, such as South East Asia, it almost accounts for 80 percent of those expenses, she added.

      According to Singh, medicines are also inaccessible because they are in short supply due to problems with production, and weaknesses in global and national supply chains,

      “We have to keep in mind that having better access to medicines and vaccines which are not of good quality is not helpful,” it can also be very harmful, she said, adding “This is why the roadmap being discussed today is extremely important.”

  • Security

    • Under the Magnifying Glass: Kali Linux is the complete toolbox for penetration testing

      Every IT infrastructure offers points of attack that hackers can use to steal and manipulate data. Only one thing can prevent these vulnerabilities from being exploited by unwelcome guests: You need to preempt the hackers and identify and close the gaps. Kali Linux can help.

      To maintain the security of a network, you need to check it continuously for vulnerabilities and other weak points through penetration testing. You have a clear advantage over attackers because you know the critical infrastructure components, the network topology, points of attack, the services and servers executed, and so on. Exploitation tests should look for vulnerabilities in a secure, real environment, so you can shut down any vulnerabilities found – and you need to do this over and over again.

      The variety of IT components dedicated to security does not make selecting a suitable tool any easier, because all possible attack vectors need to be subjected to continuous testing. Kali Linux [1] meets these requirements – and does much more.

    • GNOME Security Internship – Update 4

      After 4 long posts talking about USB devices, lock screen and keyboards are you a bit lost? Are you trying to find an answer to the question: “What will happen when I plug a USB device?”

    • Upgraded system on my server

      I started using that server during my work at Canonical. So it got Ubuntu installed. According to OVH panel it was 13.04 release. Then 13.10, 14.04 and finally 16.04 landed. In pain. Took me two days to get it working again (mail issues).

      At that time I decided that it will not get any Ubuntu update. The plan was to upgrade to proper Debian release. And Buster will get frozen soon…

      One day I took a list of installed packages and started “ubuntu:xenial” container. Test shown will it be big work to do such upgrade. Turned out that not that much.

      Today I saw a post saying that php 7.1 goes into “security fixes only” mode. And I had 7.0 in use… So decided that ok, this is the time.

      [...]

      Why Debian?

      Someone may ask why not Fedora or RHEL or CentOS? I work at Red Hat now, right?

      Yes, I do. But Debian is operating system I know most. It’s tools etc. Also upgrade was possible to do online. Otherwise I would have to start with reinstalation.

      Now I have only one machine running Ubuntu. My wife’s laptop. But it is “no way” zone. It works for her and we have an agreement that I do not touch it. Unless requested.

    • Identity with OpenPGP trust model

      Most of time, you won’t be able to directly verify the identity of everyone you’d like to communicate with. This creates a necessity of obtaining indirect proof of authenticity, and the model normally used for that purpose in OpenPGP is the Web of Trust. I won’t be getting into the fine details — you can find them e.g. in the GNU Privacy Handbook. For our purposes, it suffices to say that in WoT the authenticity of keys you haven’t verified may be assessed by people whose keys you trust already, or people they know, with a limited level of recursion.

      The more key holders you can trust, the more keys you can have verified indirectly and the more likely it is that your future recipient will be in that group. Or that you will be able to get someone from across the world into your WoT by meeting someone residing much closer to yourself. Therefore, you’d naturally want the WoT to grow fast and include more individuals. You’d want to preach OpenPGP onto non-crypto-aware people. However, this comes with inherent danger: can you really trust that they will properly verify the identity of the keys they sign?

      I believe this is the most fundamental issue with WoT model: for it to work outside of small specialized circles, it has to include more and more individuals across the world. But this growth inevitable makes it easier for a malicious third party to find people that can be tricked into certifying keys with forged identities.

    • FaceTime Bug Lets iPhone Users Spy On Others Before They Pick Up Call
    • Save the Dates! Linux Security Summit Events for 2019.
    • Can you trust the personal Internet of Things?
    • Pwn the LIFX Mini white

      In a very short limited amount of time, three vulnerabilities have been discovered:

      Wifi credentials of the user have been recovered (stored in plaintext into the flash memory).

      No security settings. The device is completely open (no secure boot, no debug interface disabled, no flash encryption).

      Root certificate and RSA private key have been extracted.

    • Anyone Can Spy on You With FaceTime, Here’s How to Turn It Off

      A new creepy flaw in Apple’s popular video and audio call app FaceTime allows the caller to listen in on the receiver’s iPhone, even if that person has not picked up the call, according to multiple news reports and users who claims they have experienced the bug.

    • Apple was slow to act on FaceTime bug report, which came from mother of 14 year old who found it
    • Apple Was Slow to Act on FaceTime Bug That Allows Spying on iPhones

      On Jan. 19, Grant Thompson, a 14-year-old in Arizona, made an unexpected discovery: Using FaceTime, Apple’s video chatting software, he could eavesdrop on his friend’s phone before his friend had even answered the call.

      His mother, Michele Thompson, sent a video of the hack to Apple the next day, warning the company of a “major security flaw” that exposed millions of iPhone users to eavesdropping. When she didn’t hear from Apple Support, she exhausted every other avenue she could, including emailing and faxing Apple’s security team, and posting to Twitter and Facebook. On Friday, Apple’s product security team encouraged Ms. Thompson, a lawyer, to set up a developer account to send a formal bug report.

      But it wasn’t until Monday, more than a week after Ms. Thompson first notified Apple of the problem, that Apple raced to disable Group FaceTime and said it was working on a fix. [...]

    • Major iPhone FaceTime bug lets you hear the audio of the person you are calling … before they pick up

      A significant bug has been discovered in FaceTime and is currently spreading virally over social media. The bug lets you call anyone with FaceTime, and immediately hear the audio coming from their phone — before the person on the other end has accepted or rejected the incoming call. Apple says the issue will be addressed in a software update “later this week”. (Update: Apple has taken Group FaceTime offline in an attempt to address the issue in the interim).

    • Exploiting systemd-journald Part 1

      Capsule8 developed a proof-of-concept exploit for the two vulnerabilities in systemd-journald, which were published by Qualys on January 9th.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The Threat That the US Can’t Ignore: Itself

      That report, the “National Intelligence Strategy,” usually has both a public and classified version. But this year, ODNI elected to create only one public document in an effort, Coats said in remarks announcing the report, to promote transparency about intelligence community activities and goals. While similar in many ways to the Worldwide Threat Assessment ODNI released alongside Tuesday’s Senate hearing, last week’s NIS took more direct aim at the abstract, yet fundamental threat of a shifting geopolitical order.

    • CNN Goes ‘Undercover’ To Manufacture Consent For Coup Attempt In Venezuela

      A CNN “exclusive” report from inside Venezuela aired multiple times on the network on January 28. It is a prime example of how influential media outlets in the U.S. effectively create propaganda for the opposition, which now is receiving funds from President Donald Trump’s administration.

      For the four-minute report, CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walsh went “undercover” amidst what the network described as the “deepening crisis in Venezuela” in order “to capture the desperation gripping the nation.”

      The segment highlighted hyperinflation at grocery chains, Venezuelans lined up in queues for fuel and food, particularly in Caracas, and opposition demonstrations on January 23, when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president of the country.

      “This was the day when change was meant to come,” Walsh stated.

      It suggested President Nicolas Maduro’s government has given “handouts” to Venezuelans for years to buy their loyalty, but now “handouts” are no longer enough. Opponents like to equate social programs to “handouts” because corporate elites favor de-nationalization and privatization of services.

    • Our Man From Boeing: Has the Arms Industry Captured Trump’s Pentagon?

      The way personnel spin through Washington’s infamous revolving door between the Pentagon and the arms industry is nothing new. That door, however, is moving ever faster with the appointment of Patrick Shanahan, who spent 30 years at Boeing, the Pentagon’s second largest contractor, as the Trump administration’s acting secretary of defense.

      Shanahan had previously been deputy secretary of defense, a typical position in recent years for someone with a significant arms industry background. William Lynn, President Obama’s first deputy secretary of defense, had been a Raytheon lobbyist. Ashton Carter, his successor, was a consultant for the same company. One of President George W. Bush’s deputies, Gordon England, had been president of the General Dynamics Fort Worth Aircraft Company (later sold to Lockheed Martin).

      But Shanahan is unique. No secretary of defense in recent memory has had such a long career in the arms industry and so little experience in government or the military. For most of that career, in fact, his main focus was winning defense contracts for Boeing, not crafting effective defense policies. While the Pentagon should be focused on protecting the country, the arms industry operates in the pursuit of profit, even when that means selling weapons systems to countries working against American national security interests.

      The closest analogues to Shanahan were Charlie Wilson, head of General Motors, whom President Dwight Eisenhower appointed to lead the Department of Defense (DoD) more than 60 years ago, and John F. Kennedy’s first defense secretary, Robert McNamara, who ran the Ford Motor Company before joining the administration. Eisenhower’s choice of Wilson, whose firm manufactured military vehicles, raised concerns at the time about conflicts of interest — but not in Wilson’s mind. He famously claimed that “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

      [...]

      And that’s just one of a slew of major contracts scooped up by Boeing in the past year. Others include a $9.2 billion program for a new training aircraft for the Air Force, an $805 million contract for an aerial refueling drone for the Navy, two new presidential Air Force One planes at a price tag of at least $3.9 billion, and significant new funding for the KC-46 refueling tanker, a troubled plane the Air Force has cleared for full production despite major defects still to be addressed. While there is as yet no evidence that Shanahan himself sought to tip the scales in Boeing’s favor on any of these systems, it doesn’t look good. As defense secretary, he’s bound to be called on to referee major problems that will arise with one or more of these programs, at which point the question of bias towards Boeing will come directly into play.

      Defenders of Shanahan’s appointment to run what is by far the largest department in the federal government suggest that key Boeing decisions won’t even reach his desk. That, however, is a deeply flawed argument for a number of reasons. To start, when making such decisions, lower-level managers will be aware of their boss’s lifetime connection to Boeing — especially since Shanahan has reportedly sung the praises of his former firm at the Pentagon. He has insisted, for example, that the massive F-35 program would have had none of the serious problems now plaguing it had it been run by Boeing.

    • Nuclear Threat Grows as US Prepares to Withdraw From INF Treaty

      With the US poised to begin its withdrawal from the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on February 2, there’s been an uptick in media focus on arms control and the nuclear weapons, even as the US public remains largely disengaged.

      The INF treaty, signed by the US and Soviet Union in 1987, led to the elimination of nuclear and non-nuclear ground-launched ballistic and cruises missiles with a range of roughly 310 to 3,410 miles (500 to 5,500 km). Since 2013, however, the US has accused Russia of violating the treaty at least 30 times, pointing to Russia’s SSC-8 ground-launched cruise missile as posing “significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security.” Meanwhile, Russia denies violating the INF.

      In December, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum: the US would “suspend [treaty] obligations” in 60 days if Russian compliance could not be verified.

      “Russia’s lawless conduct,” Pompeo warned, “will not be tolerated in the realm of arms control or anywhere else.”

    • Bolton’s Legal Pad Saying “5,000 Troops to Colombia” Intensifies Fears of US Attack on Venezuela

      Intensifying speculation that the Trump administration is serious about its repeated threats of military action against Venezuela if President Nicolas Maduro does not hand over power to a hand-picked member of the nation’s opposition coalition, scrawlings on a notebook held by US National Security Advisor John Bolton at a press conference Monday afternoon contained the words: “5,000 troops to Colombia.”

      The press conference was held to announce new sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, including the freezing of billions of dollars in assets, but also came with a fresh warning from Bolton that Trump is serious when he says that “all option are on the table” for the US to get its way in Venezuela.

      The first line of Bolton’s note reads: “Afghanistan->welcome the talks;” a reference to a new framework for peace talks between the US, the Afghan government, and the Taliban reported widely on Monday. While US troops withdrawals are assumed to be part of that, the obvious speculation included the idea that less troops in Afghanistan would allow for redeployment to Latin America. Colombia, a close US ally in the region that shares a large border with Venezuela, has also supported the call for Maduro’s ouster.

    • Your Complete Guide to the N.Y. Times’ Support of U.S.-Backed Coups in Latin America

      On Friday, The New York Times continued its long, predictable tradition of backing U.S. coups in Latin America by publishing an editorial praising Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This will be the 10th such coup the paper has backed since the creation of the CIA over 70 years ago.

      A survey of The New York Times archives shows the Times editorial board has supported 10 out of 12 American-backed coups in Latin America, with two editorials—those involving the 1983 Grenada invasion and the 2009 Honduras coup—ranging from ambiguous to reluctant opposition. The survey can be viewed here.

    • Cronyism and Corruption Gave Us Today’s CIA

      More than three years had passed since the attacks. Two national elections transpired in the interim, a congressional contest in 2002 and a presidential race in 2004. During these campaigns, the voting public were kept in the dark about a number of significant policy changes within the government. Still secret were the domestic electronic surveillance program, the international kidnappings, the secret prisons and torturous interrogations, and the assassinations program. Many significant details had also remained hidden about several agencies’ staggering failures in safeguarding the country before September 11, despite the terror wars dominating the political discussions.

      Eventually, a form of accountability began to take shape, though it was not quite what people like the vocal “Jersey Widows” had in mind. With many of the official avenues for righting the ship exhausted, concerned individuals in Washington began to leak like a sieve. The witch hunt that people like George Tenet had hoped to avoid did happen, but in an entirely cynical way. It would be those seeking to tell the truth who were brought to the stake.

      During this period, those who had been in the orbit of Alec Station began to receive promotions into true power positions. The agency became “The Rodriguez & Haspel Show,” with Jose making a quick leap from CTC director to take over the CIA’s spies division, taking his chief of staff Gina Haspel with him, who would continue her climb from there.1 This would not instill some people at the agency with much confidence.

      Longtime CIA employee Fulton Armstrong explains, “The constant complaint from professionals that are still on the inside is that an entire generation who accepted positions for which they were very generously paid in Afghanistan and Iraq, including do-nothing positions, later inherited the agency and now run the agency. There are a surprising number of graduates of the so-called war on terror, and the Iraq operation, in positions of influence without any background in that region. Institutions always reward these things, and it weakens the institutions.”

      After Alec Station, John Kiriakou had moved on to an assignment that saw him giving a daily 7 a.m. briefing inside the CIA’s seventh-floor executive conference room. One day he noticed Rodriguez’s new chief of staff, Gina Haspel,2 sitting at the side of the room as a note taker. Kiriakou knew of her. In the hallway, they called her “Bloody Gina.”

      During the briefing, he noticed something he felt was odd in her interchanges with her boss Rodriguez. “They had this almost unspoken understanding. She was his right hand. Nothing romantic, but this very strong mutual respect.” He was struck by it because he “never saw Jose show respect to anybody like that.”

      She forcefully took on the role of chief of staff, demanding that people go through her to get to him. Rodriguez’s other allies, including Alfreda Bikowsky, took top spots in the CounterTerrorist Center.3

      Bikowsky’s Alec Station was increasingly focused on the assassinations program and potential expanded use of drone technology. Her former boss, Rich Blee, took over Los Angeles station,4 known as the agency’s West Coast headquarters. Alec Station’s founder, Mike Scheuer, had released a book criticizing American foreign policy. When it became a bestseller, he retired to become a regular pundit on cable news. He was now shaping public opinion from the outside, while many of his own loyalists, once referred to as “the Manson Family,” were now running the larger CIA.

    • New Russian TV channel set to focus exclusively on World War II

      This spring, a new channel is scheduled to be added to Russian cable and satellite television packages. The “Pobeda” (“Victory”) channel will be distributed by the international branch of the state-owned Pervy Kanal (Channel One). Its purpose will be to display films and television shows related to the Second World War. That war is known in Russia by a term that translates roughly as “the Great Patriotic War”; simply saying “the war” in Russian without additional context refers to World War II as well.

      The channel will debut shortly before the 75th anniversary of the Soviet and Allied victory in the Second World War, which will take place in 2020.

    • New report claims to describe inception of private military company allegedly controlled by ‘Putin’s chef’

      The Bell has released an extensive report that aims to document the rise of the private military company (PMC) “Wagner,” in which the caterer and restauranteur Evgeny Prigozhin reportedly plays a leading role. Prigozhin’s ties with the Russian president have earned him the nickname “Putin’s Chef,” and multiple journalists have confirmed that the Wagner PMC has been involved in conflicts from southeast Ukraine to Syria.

      Unnamed sources told The Bell that the idea for a PMC gained steam among Russian military leaders following a private presentation for Russia’s Joint Staff at the 2010 St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Eeben Barlow, a retired officer of the South African Defense Force, allegedly gave the presentation; Barlow founded the South Africa-based PMC Executive Outcomes. The idea of employing veterans in Russia, where military service for men is avoidable but technically mandatory, to create a PMC evidently struck a chord with the Joint Staff. Its members had reportedly been discussing the idea for a year before Barlow’s presentation.

      Despite its popularity in the highest echelons of the Russian military, the idea of a Russian PMC took time to get off the ground, The Bell reported. An initial idea to create small undercover teams of mercenaries for special assignments seemed to reach a dead end due in part to major personnel changes in both the military and the government, including the brief presidency of current Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. However, the broader impetus to create a private military force under Russian control reportedly remained. According to The Bell, when Russia’s Joint Staff set about creating that company, Prigozhin had already made a name for himself as a major state catering contractor. The Joint Staff reportedly asked him to manage the new PMC. In 2013, Prigozhin allegedly began hiring staff for Wagner against his own wishes.

    • Why We Lost the Afghan War (Again)

      December 11, 2001: Three months after 9/11, two months after George W. Bush ordered bombs to begin raining on Kabul, the day The Village Voice published one of my war reports from the front in Afghanistan.

      “We’ve lost this war,” I wrote. To drive my point home, the headline was: “How We Lost Afghanistan.”

      I continued: “So how much will it cost?”

      Seventeen years later, the end of America’s longest war—since history suggests Afghans will keep killing each other long after our departure, it would be more precise to say the end of America’s involvement in Afghanistan—appears to be drawing near. Peace talks between the Trump Administration and the Taliban in Qatar have culminated with an “agreement on principle” whose main U.S. demand is easy for the Taliban to grant. Afghanistan, the Taliban must assure the U.S. and the Afghan puppet regime in Kabul, cannot again become a “platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.” Even according to estimates by the Obama-era CIA, Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan was more of a coincidence than a fearsome terrorist organization: “about 50 to 100 Qaeda operatives.”

      They could have fit on one bus. For this we fought a war?

      Now we know the price tag of the invasion and long occupation: 2,400-ish U.S. troops killed, 4,000-ish U.S. “civilian contractors” killed, 59,000-ish Afghan soldiers and police killed, 38,000-ish Afghan civilians killed, 42,000 “enemy” Afghan soldiers killed, 50-ish journalists killed, 400-ish NGO workers killed, 20,000-ish U.S. troops wounded. No one counts the other non-fatal casualties. Obviously the non-U.S. death counts are way lowball.

    • Trump’s Coup in Venezuela: The Full Story

      The US-sponsored coup in Venezuela, still ongoing as I write, is the latest chapter in the long and bloody history of US imperialism in Latin America. This basic fact, understood by most across the left of the political spectrum – including even the chattering liberal class which acknowledges this truth only with the passage of time and never in the moment – must undergird any analysis of the situation in Venezuela today. That is to say, the country is being targeted by the Yanqui Empire.

      This point is, or at least should be, indisputable irrespective of one’s opinions of Venezuelan President Maduro, the Socialist Party (PSUV), or the progress of the Bolivarian Revolution. Imperialism, and its neocolonial manifestation in the 21st Century, is there to pick clean the bones of the Bolivarian dream and return Venezuela to the role of subservient asset, an oil-soaked proxy state ruled by a right-wing satrap eager to please the colonial lords of capital.

      But in providing analysis of the situation, the Left must tread carefully with the knowledge that though it may be weak, disorganized, fragmented, and bitterly sectarian, the Left remains the principal vehicle for cogent analysis of imperialism and its machinations. This historic role that the Left has played, from Lenin and Mao to Hobsbawm and Chomsky, is of critical importance as analysis informs discourse which in turn ossifies into historical narrative.

      And with that weighty and historic responsibility, the Left is duty-bound to understand at a deep level what we’re witnessing in Venezuela. Moreover, the Left must beware the pitfalls of shallow, superficial analysis which can lead to poor understanding of material reality, and even poorer anti-imperialist politics.

    • Israeli General Mounts Challenge to Netanyahu by Flaunting Gaza Carnage

      With April’s elections looming, Benjamin Netanyahu has good reason to fear Benny Gantz, his former army chief. Gantz has launched a new party, named Israeli Resilience, just as the net of corruption indictments is closing around the prime minister.

      Already, at this early stage of campaigning, some 31 per cent of the Israeli public prefer Gantz to head the next government over Netanyahu, who is only months away from becoming the longest-serving leader in Israel’s history.

      Gantz is being feted as the new hope, a chance to change direction after a series of governments under Netanyahu’s leadership have over the past decade shifted Israel ever further to the right.

      Like Israel’s former politician generals, from Yitzhak Rabin to Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, Gantz is being portrayed – and portraying himself – as a battle-hardened warrior, able to make peace from a position of strength.

    • Federal agents arrest Russian senator in connection with 2010 murder investigation

      Federal agents arrested a Russian senator in the middle of the Federation Council’s assembly hall on Wednesday, January 30. Earlier, Rauf Arashukov’s colleagues voted in a closed session to strip him of his legal immunity and sanction his arrest in connection with two murders committed in 2010.

      According to reports in the Russian media, three witnesses have testified that the 32-year-old senator from Karachay-Cherkessia was involved in the killing of a youth activist named Aslan Zhukov and the death of Fral Shebzukhov, an adviser who worked for then Karachay-Cherkessia President Boris Ebzeyev.

    • Trump’s Crusade in Latin America

      What we are witnessing in Venezuela is a Latin America policy that draws from the Cold War and the era of US interventions, when regard for democracy and international law mattered little and anticommunism was the dominant motif. With John Bolton and Mike Pompeo leading the way, the targeting of Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, has become an ideological struggle.

      “A sordid cradle of communism,” Bolton calls those countries. Very much in the spirit of George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil,” Bolton contends that “we are also confronted once again with the destructive forces of oppression, socialism and totalitarianism. Under this administration, we will no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores in this hemisphere. We will not reward firing squads, torturers, and murderers … The troika of tyranny in this hemisphere—Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua—has finally met its match.”

      Nicolás Maduro’s government is first on Trump’s hit list.

      For several months in 2017 the administration reportedly held discussions with dissident members of the Venezuelan military and security forces about supporting a coup or even an invasion (Julian Borger in The Guardian, July 5, 2018). In this instance Trump’s advisers consulted US diplomats, and they apparently urged the military not to act against Maduro.

    • Democracy in the Americas: the U.S. Pot and the Venezuelan Kettle

      Venezuela has as much right to call itself a democracy as does the United States. Until that is understood by enough people, the Trump administration will continue to devastate Venezuela’s economy with illegal sanctions and push it towards civil war. People can oppose President Donald Trump’s economic sanctions and incitement of a military coup without acknowledging President Nicolas Maduro’s democratic legitimacy, but by not acknowledging his legitimacy they needlessly weaken their position.

      Millions around the world opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the many years of sanctions that came before that invasion, while also accepting, in that case appropriately, that Saddam Hussein was a monstrous dictator. However, massive global opposition to U.S. aggression in Iraq failed to prevent the war that killed hundreds of thousands of people. The most horrifying thing about Venezuela’s case is that it shows (for at least the third time in this century alone) that democratic legitimacy provides very little defense for a government when the U.S. and its allies decide that it “must go.”

      On May 20 of last year, Maduro received the votes of 6.2 million people, about 31 percent of the eligible voters, about the same percentage that U.S. presidents generally receive (Obama received 31 percent in 2008 and 28 percent in 2012, while Trump received 26 percent in 2016). Four different groups of international observers (reports here, here, here and here) concluded that Maduro’s electoral victory was clean. If you look beyond vague appeals to the authority of establishment groupthink — statements that typically say the election was “widely dismissed as fraudulent” — you’ll find the arguments to support that claim appallingly thin.

    • The War That Didn’t End All Wars

      I reach out to touch the portrait of his youthful face, scarcely wrinkled and smiling. Why did you have to die so young? Tears form—it is almost too much to bear. Almost, no, it is too much to bear. I look down at the floor. A map painted on the floor points me to Amiens. For a moment, I am thrown back one hundred years to the first of the hundred last days of World War I, August 1918. It is uncanny. I am in the Ottawa War Museum exhibition “Victory 1918—the last hundred days.”

      I can hear the ear-crushing roar of guns. I can almost see the muddy, rat-infested trenches and barbwire twisted and gangly. Yes, rats because the troops have no way of getting rid of rotting food. It is taking me into a place of the imagination that I don’t really want to travel. I am afraid of what I might meet. I am afraid I will fall into the darkness of hell where neither God nor hope exists.

      The exhibition has set out a journey through the last hundred days of a war some supposed would end all wars. The narrative of the accomplishments of the four divisions of the battle-hardened Canadian Corps frames the exhibit. That’s the big story, but there are many other stories woven into the larger narrative. For one hundred days, beginning at 5:20 a.m. on August 8th, the Corps battled from Amiens, to the Drocourt-Queant Line, the Canal du Nord, Cambrai and finally Valenciennes. And victory. Most Canadians have not even heard of these names. And perhaps have forgotten that 45,000 soldiers from Canada were killed in these hundred days.

      The “Victory 1918” exhibit is both brilliant and disturbing. It is designed as a kind of maze that hems you in. There is not much room between the walls. It feels claustrophobic. In fact, one can look skyward and see models of bombs filling the ceiling. The sounds of explosions and battlefield screams are constant. One turns a corner and a large screen shows an NFB film of a Canadian tank that appears suddenly out of the smoke and mist as it crushes a German bunker. You are there, and, astonishingly, see a German soldier reach over to see if his comrade is alive. He isn’t. War historians tell us that these oddly shaped World War I tanks often broke down. Armour-piercing rounds of high explosives could penetrate the machine’s steel hull. Tanka crews could be “splashed” by flying metal fragments. Even wearing a leather helmet that looked like a Jacques Plante goalie mask didn’t help much.

    • Does the Super Bowl Feel Too Political? Thank Militarism

      Super Bowl season is like the holidays — a celebration shared by people more accustomed to arguing than sitting down together. As one of the few transpartisan, mass media events left to our tribal culture, the biggest TV night of the year can’t help but channel the political tensions most of us endure all year long.

      This year, pop superstar Rihanna turned town the Super Bowl halftime show, citing the NFL’s crackdown on protests against racial discrimination. For the same reason, comedian Amy Schumer publicly swore off doing any commercials.

      Meanwhile, advertisers fret that running any ads at all could be read as a statement one way or the other. (Last year, Budweiser faced boycott calls for an ad merely mentioning that one of its founders was an immigrant.)

      It’s a normal thing to want a break from arguing. But in a politicized environment, even shutting up is a political act.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Elon Musk’s private jet appears to make frivolous flights, per Washington Post

      Flight data obtained by The Washington Post shows that Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has a private jet that logged about 150,000 miles in 2018. While many billionaires have private jets, Musk’s jet stands out in the number of trips it made and miles it logged, the Post reports.

      Perhaps most egregious, the plane logged a number of 20-mile trips, repositioning from the south side of Los Angeles to the north side. “Tesla said Musk never used the plane to fly between different spots in Los Angeles,” the Post reports. Instead, the jet would make the 20-mile repositioning flights to meet the CEO at a closer airport.

    • Trump Such a Fool on Climate Internet Forced to Ask: How Can ‘Global Waming’ Tweet Not Be a Troll?

      The Midwestern United States is currently enduring life-threatening cold temperatures—which these days all but ensures, as so many climate reporters and experts anticipated, an ignorant and even infuriating tweet from President Donald Trump conflating weather and climate.

      Late Monday, Trump tweeted about the brutal and dangerous wind chills hitting the middle of the country, and even asked global “waming” (sic) to “please come back fast.”

    • New Green Deal and Nuclear Doomsday Clock

      This past week witnessed two significant and connected events. We remembered and celebrated the visionary champion of civil rights, social and economic justice and nuclear disarmament, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr at the outset and finished the week with the unveiling of the Nuclear Doomsday Clock. Dr. King realized the interconnectedness of these issues and that you could not have one without each of the others.

      This week our government is reopening as our Progressive Caucus prepares to do the people’s work proposing a “Green New Deal”, building a carbon free economy while providing social and economic justice to workers in this new economy. Yet, as Dr. King acknowledged in 1959, “What will be the ultimate value of having established social justice in a context where all people, Negro and white, are merely free to face destruction by strontium 90 or atomic war?“ There is no racial, social, economic or environmental justice as long as this threat exists.

    • The Fracking Industry’s Flaring Problem May Be Worse Than We Thought

      In 2018, the oil and gas industry operating in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale burned off record amounts of natural gas, largely obtained via hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This process, known as flaring, costs the industry money — it literally burns one of the products being pumped out of the ground — but more importantly, the resulting release of globe-warming emissions of carbon dioxide and methane spells disaster for the climate.

      And a new analysis of satellite evidence indicates the industry is likely underreporting how much gas it is actually flaring in the Permian Shale, with implications for other oil fields.

    • Found But Lost: Newly Discovered Shark May Be Extinct

      Over the past two decades more than 260 new species of shark have been discovered by researchers around the world, increasing the number of known species by more than 20 percent.

      Now we can add one more to the list. A paper published Jan. 2 in the journal PLOS ONE describes a striking new shark species from the waters off the coasts of Borneo, Thailand and Vietnam. It looks like some similar “whaler shark” species — a genus that also includes the well-known bull shark and blacktip shark — but its teeth, snout, fins and vertebrae are distinctive enough that scientists have declared it to be its own species.

      There’s just one problem: The shark was identified from decades-old museum samples and hasn’t been seen in the wild since the 1930s.

      That’s why the researchers have named the species “lost shark.”

      More formally they’ve dubbed it Carcharhinus obsolerus — the second word in the taxonomic name is Latin for “extinct.”

      [...]

      Meanwhile there’s hope that by formally identifying and naming this species, even decades after its last sighting, it may be “lost” no more.

      That’s happened in the past. “A close relative, the Borneo shark, was once thought to be lost, with no records since 1937,” Kyne points out. “It was rediscovered in 2004 during fish-market surveys. We hope that the lost shark can be re-found in the future, and so we don’t formally consider it to be extinct.”

    • Ignore the Moron: We’re All Gonna Die

      Another helpful antidote to our “virus of stupidity” was this week-end’s first American action by the U.K.-based Extinction Rebellion – “Rebel For Life” – which uses protests and civil disobedience to urge world leaders to address climate change; to date, it has reportedly spawned over 200 global satellite groups. After five weeks of organizing, Extinction Rebellion NYC marked its American debut with a rowdy march down Fifth Avenue that stopped at Trump Tower and featured now-extinct golden toad head gear and the Rev. Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir singing, “There are only so many beautiful days left!” The march culminated in a die-in at Rockefeller Center’s skating rink, with bodies forming the group’s hour-glass logo – a reminder that time is running out.

      Organizers saw the event, dubbed “Rebellion Day 1,” as part of the build-up to an international week of action in April, a sort of American launch for what they hope will be chapters across the country. Ultimately, they hope to “provoke an uprising on a scale that’s never been seen before in the U.S., a national coordinated economic and government disruption” that will continue until leaders address the climate change emergency. “This is not a one-off march,” they say. “We will keep going for as long as we have to.” From one Oregon organizer, “We are all going to die, and we need to shout it from the rooftops.”

    • Pyrenees pipeline veto is setback for gas

      The Pyrenees pipeline veto announced by regulators in France and Spain, rejecting plans to complete a €3 billion (£2.6 bn) gas link between both countries, is being hailed as a major victory by climate change protestors.

      The pipeline, which would have doubled the capacity for transporting natural gas through the mountains on the Franco-Spanish border, was supported by the European Union as a way to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, but the project now appears doomed.

      Campaigners in both countries said it was a defeat for the fossil fuel industry and a major step in preventing the EU from continuing to rely on gas instead of renewables.

      “MidCat”, as the proposed Midi-Catalunya pipeline was known, would have allowed the flow of gas in both directions across the Pyrenees. Significantly, it would have allowed liquefied gas from terminals in Spain to be pumped north to France to replace an estimated 10% of the gas coming south from Russia.

    • Bolsonaro government reveals plan to develop the ‘Unproductive Amazon’

      With Brazil’s Bolsonaro administration not even a month old, the new president’s Chief of Strategic Affairs last week announced plans to build a bridge over the Amazon River in Pará state in order to begin developing what he called an “unproductive, desertlike” region ­– a reference to the Amazon rainforest.

      Maynard Santa Rosa, a retired army general and one of seven military ministers in the new government, said the administration plans major construction projects centered on the Trombetas River, which flows into the Amazon from the north, so as to integrate the region into the “national productive system.”

      The projects to be built include a hydroelectric dam on the Trombetas River, a 1.5 kilometer (0.9 mile) bridge over the Amazon at the small town of Obidos, and an extension of the BR-163 highway from Santarem north to Brazil’s frontier with Surinam, a distance of roughly 480 kilometers (300 miles).

  • Finance

    • Arizona Lawmakers Want to Make It Harder for Teachers to Strike

      An inspiring wave of teacher strikes swept the nation in 2018, including in states where teachers are not technically allowed to engage in labor actions. It looks like #RedForEd is continuing into 2019, with Los Angeles teachers back on the job after hammering out a deal and Denver teachers contemplating a strike of their own.

      But in Arizona, the backlash has arrived — and it could be a warning sign for other organizing teachers in the U.S.

      As public employees, teachers face certain restrictions in some states designed to make it harder to strike. And that has triggered much semantic debate about what constitutes a strike.

      Is it still a strike if it’s a walkout? What about if the protest action targets lawmakers, not their employers and supervisors? In West Virginia, a misleadingly-termed “right to work” state, such actions are unlawful — but that didn’t stop a teacher uprising in early 2018.

    • Women Still Earn a Lot Less Than Men

      A decade ago, on Jan. 29, 2009, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama signed his first bill into law: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

      It was the latest legislative effort to close the persistently stubborn gap between how much women and men earn. At the time, women made just 77 cents of every dollar men earned – a level that hadn’t improved all that much since the 1990s, according to Census data.

      While existing laws already prohibited gender-based wage discrimination, the Ledbetter Act gave workers more time to sue employers over the issue. And the hope was that it would make a big difference.

    • ‘Greed Has No Limit for GOP’: McConnell Estate Tax Repeal Would Hand Tens of Billions to Walton and Koch Families

      The deeply unpopular Republican tax law already significantly weakened the estate tax by doubling the exemption, allowing couples with up to $22 million to pass on their fortunes tax-free.

      If it passes Congress, the plan introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-S.D.), and McConnell—and co-sponsored by dozens of Senate Republicans—would accomplish the longstanding GOP goal of completely eliminating the estate tax.

      “Ending the estate tax would give a tax break of up to $63 billion to the Walton family and $39 billion to the Kochs—but $0 to 99.8% of Americans,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) noted in a tweet on Tuesday. “At a time of record inequality, the very last thing we should do is line the pockets of the rich.”

    • Fact check: Is Russia’s Justice Ministry really legalizing bribes as long as bureaucrats find them ‘unavoidable’? Spoiler: No.

      This is how Russian- and English-language headlines have been covering a new proposal from the Russian Justice Ministry that would regulate when citizens would be held responsible for corruption-related violations. News reports have paid particular attention to a line in the bill that says it may be impossible to avoid certain instances of corruption “due to circumstances of insurmountable force.”

    • After the Shutdown, the Lowest Paid Workers Still Won’t Get Back Pay

      President Trump and Congress reached a deal to open the government until Feb. 15 and to give 800,000 federal workers 35 days of missed wages. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that while payroll won’t happen all at once, “We hope that by the end of this week, all of the back pay will be made up and, of course, the next payroll will go out on time.”

      Over half a million federal contractors however—those whose employers have contracts with the federal government but are not directly employed by it—have no such relief.

      As Danielle Paquette reports in The Washington Post, “Unlike the 800,000 career public servants who are slated to receive full back pay over the next week or so, the contractors who clean, guard, cook and shoulder other jobs at federal workplaces aren’t legally guaranteed a single penny.”

    • Historian’s Advice to Davos Elite Worried About Pitchforks: ‘Stop Talking About Philanthropy’ and Start Paying Higher Taxes

      If the world’s richest and most powerful are worried about a so-called popular “backlash” in response to the global economic system they defend—and largely control—Rutger Berman, a Dutch historian and author of the book Utopia for Realists, during a panel last week titled “The Cost of Inequality,” said the pathway is not complicated. “The answer,” he said, “is very simple: Just stop talking about philanthropy, and start talking about taxes.”

      “I mean we can talk for a very long time about all these stupid philanthropy schemes,” Bregman added. “We can invite [U2 frontman] Bono once more. But, come on, we’ve got to be talking about taxes. That’s it. Taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is bullshit in my opinion.”

    • Extreme Wealth Threatens Our Very Planet

      That’s the conclusion of another new blockbuster study on climate change, this one from the National Academy of Sciences. Our fossil-fuel industrial economy, the study details, has made for the fastest climate changes our Earth has ever seen.
      “If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” notes the study’s lead author, Kevin Burke from the University of Wisconsin.

      “In the roughly 20 to 25 years I have been working in the field,” adds his colleague John Williams, “we have gone from expecting climate change to happen, to detecting the effects, and now we are seeing that it’s causing harm” — as measured in property damage and deaths, in intensified flooding and fires.

      The last time climate on Earth saw nearly as drastic and rapid a climate shift, relates another new study, came some 252 million years ago, and that shift unfolded over the span of a few thousand years. That span of time saw the extinction of 96 percent of the Earth’s ocean species and almost as devastating a loss to terrestrial creatures.
      Other scientific studies over this past year have made similarly alarming observations, and together all these analyses provided an apt backdrop for this past December’s United Nations climate change talks in Poland.

    • How SEIU’s Self-Inflicted Loss Became Labor’s Gain

      SEIU then spent tens of millions of dollars trying to prevent thousands of angry nursing home, hospital, and home care workers from joining the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a rival union formed by pre-trusteeship UHW activists. More than $10 million was squandered on a single federal court lawsuit that sought $25 million in damages from 28 NUHW founders.

      Stern’s military style take-over of UHW greatly tarnished SEIU’s reputation for being “progressive.” It generated bad press for the entire labor movement because the trusteeship lent credence to anti-union propaganda about “union bosses” running roughshod over the rank-and-file and misusing their dues money.

    • Now That’s What I Call Crypto: 10 Years of The Best of Bitcoin

      On January 3rd, 2009, the Genesis Block was created. This was the first entry on the Bitcoin blockchain. Because of the nature of Bitcoin, all transactions lead back to this block. This is where Bitcoin began, almost exactly ten years ago.

      The Genesis Block was created by Satoshi, a person or persons we know nothing about. In the decade since, we’ve seen the astonishing rise and meteoric descent of Bitcoin, and then it happened again after the bubble was re-inflated.

      Due to the nature of Bitcoins, blockchains, and ledgers, the entire history of Bitcoin has been recorded. Every coin spent and every satoshi scrupled has been recorded for all to see. It’s time for a retrospective, and not just because I wanted to see some art based on the covers of Now That’s What I Call Music albums. No, ten years is a lot of stories to tell.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Episode 13: The History of Government Shutdowns

      This episode of Along the Line analyzes the history and impact of government shutdowns. Starting with their 1980 origin, Nicholas “Dr Dredlocks” Baham and Dr. Nolan Higdon breakdown the destructive past of government shutdowns. ATL’s editor and sound Engineer is Janice Domingo.

    • Trump Says 58,000 Texans Voted Illegally. Here’s What Actually Happened.

      Voter fraud is extremely rare. States using unreliable data to justify purges of eligible voters, unfortunately, is not.
      The president of the United States is once again spreading unsubstantiated claims about rampant voter fraud and undermining faith in the integrity of our democracy. This time, he’s claiming that 95,000 noncitizens were registered to vote in Texas and more than half have actually voted. These numbers, he concluded, are “just the tip of the iceberg.”

      Unsurprisingly, Trump’s tweets are in need of a serious fact-check. Here’s what is actually happening in Texas.

      On Friday, the Texas secretary of state announced that he was sending local election officials a list of registered voters who had been flagged because, at some point, they purportedly had provided a document indicating they were a noncitizen — like a green card or work visa — while obtaining a driver’s license or ID card from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Among the people on the list, about 58,000 people may have cast a ballot in one or more elections from 1996-2018, according to the secretary of state.

    • Episode 14: The Wall and 2019 Government Shutdown

      Nicholas “Dr Dredlocks” Baham and Dr. Nolan Higdon explain the politics of the 2019 government shutdown as well as the racial and political history of the wall. ATL’s editor and sound Engineer is Janice Domingo.

    • The One Wall Trump Doesn’t Like

      The Trump administration continues to push laws and policies that breach the wall separating religion and the government.

      President Trump may be the world’s most renowned fan of building walls, but there’s at least one wall he loathes: the wall of separation between church and state. From the Muslim ban to his so-called “religious freedom” executive order, Trump and his theocratic supporters have pushed laws and policies aimed at demolishing the First Amendment’s protections against government promotion of religion and favoritism of particular faiths. And now, he’s targeting church-state separation in our public schools.

      After Fox News aired a segment on “[b]ringing the Bible back to the classroom” on Monday morning, President Trump tweeted, “Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!”

      But there’s nothing “great” about legislation proposing Bible-study classes in our public schools. Public schools are for education, not religious indoctrination. More often than not, public school Bible classes resemble Sunday school lessons and violate students’ and parents’ First Amendment rights.

    • Episode 15: Nick’s Flix: The Manchurian Candidate

      This episode is a Nick’s Flix, which is where we use film to help us understand contemporaneous issues, examining the 1967 film The Manchurian Candidate. Nicholas “Dr Dredlocks” Baham and Dr. Nolan Higdon use the film to analyze Trump’s behavior in office. ATL’s editor and sound Engineer is Janice Domingo.

    • Bernie’s Likely 2020 Bid Could Transform the Political Landscape

      The likely Bernie Sanders campaign for president offers a boost and a challenge to progressives. From the outset, the campaign’s strength would largely depend on how much synergy develops with social movements on the ground. Much more than the presidency is at stake. A powerful mix of grassroots activism and electoral work could transform the country’s political landscape.

      A 2020 Sanders campaign would mostly pick up where it left off in 2016. Contrary to widespread media spin, the fact that Bernie would be facing dozens of contenders for the Democratic nomination this time doesn’t change the reality of his unique approach to economic power relations. Whether it’s called democratic socialism, progressive populism or something else, that approach sets him apart from the other candidates, even including Elizabeth Warren.

      Sanders has been willing and able to use a national stage for public education and agitation about inherently anti-democratic and destructive aspects of corporate capitalism. That explains why, in political and media realms, so many knives are again being sharpened against him.

      Attacks on Sanders have come from many directions, but they largely spring from his detractors’ zeal to defend corporate power as a driving force that propels and steers the US government as well as the Democratic Party. Efforts to undermine the Sanders 2020 primary campaign would span from mainstream media to liberal and centrist forces aligned with competitors for the Democratic nomination.

    • The Second Implosion of Central America

      Some three decades after the wars of revolution and counterinsurgency came to an end in Central America, the region is once again on the brink of implosion. The Isthmus has been gripped by renewed mass struggle and state repression, the cracking of fragile political systems, unprecedented corruption, drug violence, and the displacement and forced migration of millions of workers and peasants. The backdrop to this second implosion of Central America, reflecting the spiraling crisis of global capitalism itself, is the exhaustion of a new round of capitalist development in recent years to the same drumbeat as the globalization that took place in the wake of the 1980s upheavals.

      Lost in the headlines on Central American refugees fleeing to the United States is both the historical context that has sparked the exodus and the structural transformations through capitalist globalization that has brought the region to where it is today. The mass revolutionary movements of the 1970s and 1980s did manage to dislodge entrenched military-civilian dictatorships and open up political systems to electoral competition, but they were unable to achieve any substantial social justice or democratization of the socioeconomic order.

      Capitalist globalization in the Isthmus in the wake of pacification unleashed a new cycle of modernization and accumulation. It transformed the old oligarchic class structures, generated new transnationally oriented elites and capitalists and high-consumption middle classes even as it displaced millions, aggravated poverty, inequality, and social exclusion, and wreaked havoc on the environment, triggering waves of outmigration and new rounds of mass mobilization among those who stayed behind. Hence the very conditions that gave rise to the conflict in the first place were aggravated by capitalist globalization.

    • GOP Leaders Signal No Taste for Renewing Shutdown Over Wall

      Wary of reigniting a clash that proved damaging to Republicans, congressional GOP leaders signaled Tuesday that they want to de-escalate the battle over President Donald Trump’s border wall and suggested they could be flexible as bargainers seek a bipartisan agreement.

      In what seemed a message aimed at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the two confrontational tactics that Trump has threatened to employ if negotiators can’t craft a border security accord to his liking. The president has said he’d trigger a fresh shutdown or declare a national emergency on the Southwest boundary, a disputed move that could let him redirect budget funds to building segments of the wall.

      The remarks by McConnell, R-Ky., were noteworthy because the guarded lawmaker seldom volunteers his opinions and reporters had not specifically asked him about a shutdown or a possible emergency declaration. The comments underscored his party’s eagerness to put the 35-day partial federal shutdown behind them and avoid additional jarring clashes, and suggested possible divisions between GOP lawmakers and the White House.

    • Public Workers’ Trump Card

      Air traffic controllers hold the trump card (pardon the expression) in upcoming negotiations between Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over border security.

      That’s because the president and the Republicans know that another shutdown would likely cause a repeat of what happened last Friday, when so many of the nation’s air traffic controllers called in sick that America’s air traffic came to a near standstill. Hours later, Trump agreed to reopen the government without funding for his wall.

      Never underestimate the power of airport delays to arouse the nation. Nancy Pelosi deserves credit for sticking to her guns, but the controllers brought the country to its knees.

    • This Is No Time for Howard Schultz’s Foolishness

      Just what we need, another ego-crazed billionaire with zero experience in government who thinks he is destined to be president. What could go wrong?

      Howard Schultz, the man who put a Starbucks on every corner, said in a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday that he is mulling a run for the White House as an independent. Schultz admits he’s “not the smartest person in the room,” but he must be smart enough to know he can’t possibly win.

      He is quite capable of reelecting President Trump, though.

      At present, the specter of a second Trump term looks comfortably remote. The blue wave in the midterm elections and Trump’s cellar-dwelling approval numbers show what the country thinks of him and his corrupt, chaotic, kooky administration. A recent poll shows him trailing any of his likely Democratic opponents. If the election were held next week, I’m pretty confident that Trump would lose to a ham sandwich.

    • Sunrise Movement Vows to Make Sure Kamala Harris’ Green New Deal Support Goes Beyond Embrace of ‘Buzzword’

      A day after the Sunrise Movement displayed a prominent banner at the launch of Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) presidential campaign, urging the senator to back a Green New Deal to shift the U.S. to a 100 percent renewable energy system, Harris announced at a town hall event that she supported the ambitious proposal.

      At the CNN-hosted town hall in Iowa, Harris told the audience, “I support a Green New Deal” to help combat the climate crisis, which she called “an existential threat to our country.”

      “All children need to be able to breathe clean air and drink clean water, and we’ve got to have a commitment to a policy that will allow that to happen for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren,” Harris said. “And right now we don’t.”

      Sunrise Movement founder Varshini Prakash applauded Harris for becoming the fourth Democrat in the 2020 campaign to announce support for the Green New Deal. But as the group did when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) backed the plan, the Sunrise Movement said it will hold Harris’s feet to the fire on the policy details, including the level of urgency, embodied in the kind of Green New Deal its members are demanding.

      “The Green New Deal would be an unprecedented federal government-led mobilization—on the scale of World War II and the original New Deal—that aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 2030,” Prakash said in a statement. “We’ll continue to push the senator to make sure that the Green New Deal, for her, is more than just a buzzword.”

    • There Are Only Two Democratic Hopefuls Wall Street Fears

      What do Democratic officials as diverse as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Joe Biden have in common? Each has signaled a desire to run for president in 2020, if not formally announced a decision to do so. And less than two years from their party’s primary, none appear to pose any kind of meaningful threat to Wall Street, even as its wealth and influence have grown in the protracted aftermath of the Great Recession.

      According to new report from Politico, there are only two prospective candidates that the nation’s bankers genuinely fear. “It can’t be Warren, and it can’t be Sanders,” claims one anonymous CEO of a major bank. “It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.”

      To the surprise of absolutely no one, the report reveals, Wall Street’s ideal candidate is Mike Bloomberg—a former Republican with deep ties to the financial sector and no discernible base. (According to the most recent Morning Consult/Politico data, he’s currently polling at 2 percent among Democratic voters.)

      The industry would likely also be amenable to somebody like former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who made headlines this week when he called Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax on the ultra-rich “ridiculous.” Schultz’s ongoing flirtation with a third-party bid has already ignited calls for a Starbucks boycott, and he recently found himself brutally heckled during a promotional event at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. (Editor’s note: Schultz has postponed any announcement until at least the summer, and claims he will “only run if he sees a viable path” to victory.)

    • A crowded 2020 presidential primary field calls for ranked choice voting

      With dozens of Democrats lining up to run for President in 2020, now is the time to adopt ranked choice voting in early states to guarantee that primary winners have clear majority support. Greater choices for voters is welcome, but crowded primaries can produce “winners” with less than 25 percent of the vote. Meantime, millions of Democratic voters could fail to elect any delegates at all because their candidate falls below the 15 percent qualifying threshold. Someone could easily win the nomination over the expressed opposition of most primary voters.

      Consider the 2016 Republican primaries, which featured more than a dozen credible candidates. With provocative rhetoric making him the favorite of a passionate minority, Donald Trump captured the nomination despite falling short of a majority in the first 40 primaries and caucuses and polls indicating he would have lost in most early contests in head-to-head races against opponents like Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

    • With Trump Seen as ‘Symptom Not a Cause,’ US Rank Plummets on Global Corruption Index

      The United States earned a score of 71 out of 100 on the watchdog’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), knocking it out of the top 20 countries for the first time since 2011.

      Zoe Reiter, Transparency International’s acting representative to the U.S., said in a statement that “a four-point drop in the CPI score is a red flag and comes at a time when the U.S. is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances, as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power.”

      “This is a red flag because it’s really part of a pattern that we’ve seen since the 2008 global financial crisis of a loss of trust…in our public institutions,” Reiter told Reuters. “People don’t see us as having adequate mechanisms in place to fight corruption and ensure the accountability of our elected officials.”

    • As Harris Says ‘Eliminate’ For-Profit Insurance, Bloomberg Offers Fact-Free Medicare for All Fearmongering

      At a town hall event Monday night, Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) unequivocal statement of support for a Medicare for All system which would do away with the for-profit health insurance industry won applause from the audience and universal healthcare advocates around the country, as the senator and 2020 presidential candidate backed the plan that 70 percent of Americans now support.

      “We need to have Medicare for All, that’s just the bottom line,” Harris told an audience member who asked about the issue, adding that healthcare “should be understood to be something that all people are entitled to so that they can live a productive life, so that they can have dignity.”

    • ‘We Believe in Primaries’: Ocasio-Cortez’s Team Welcomes Any Democrat Who Wants to Challenge Her in 2020

      “We believe in primaries as an idea. We’re not upset by the idea of being primaried. We are not going to go out there being anti-primary—they are good for [the] party,” said Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent. “If voters in the district feel that they can be better represented, that will be their choice on primary day. In the meantime, we’re going to be doing our dead-level best to make sure we are representing the needs and the will of our constituents.”

      Speaking to The Hill after the outlet granted anonymity to levy the criticisms, one House Democrat claimed to have already begun recruiting potential primary challengers to run against Ocasio-Cortez.

      “What I have recommended to the New York delegation is that you find her a primary opponent and make her a one-term congressperson,” the Democrat said.

      The unnamed lawmaker went on to proclaim that “numerous council people and state legislators” have “been waiting 20 years for that seat”—referring to the district Ocasio-Cortez won by upsetting powerful Wall Street Democrat Joe Crowley last year.

    • What’s ‘Ridiculous,’ Says Warren, Is Not Tax on Wealth But Billionaires Like Schultz ‘Who Think They Can Buy the Presidency’

      “What’s ‘ridiculous’ is billionaires who think they can buy the presidency to keep the system rigged for themselves while opportunity slips away for everyone else.”

      That is how Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday responded to Howard Schultz, the billionaire and former Starbucks CEO considering a 2020 presidential run, after he characterized her proposed wealth tax on the nation’s ultra-rich as “ridiculous” earlier in the day.

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday swiftly rejected criticism of her plan to tax the wealthiest Americans from Howard Schultz, the billionaire and former Starbucks CEO who announced this week that he is exploring a potential presidential run in 2020.

      On NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Schultz called Warren’s Ultra-Millionaire Tax “ridiculous,” and suggested that the plan—which would levy an annual two percent tax on households with more than $50 million and a three percent tax on those with more than $1 billion in assets—is unfair to the .1 percent of Americans whose vast wealth would be targeted.

    • A Theology of Power: Mike Pence and the Dominionists

      Those involved in what’s become a major component of the evangelical right in the United States call themselves “dominionists.” They follow “dominion theology.” Pointing to the Bible, they emphasize that in it God gave humans “dominion” over the natural world and life in it. This, they believe, gives them license to exploit the earth. Further, the “dominionists” have expanded this to justify theocratic rule of society.

      It is an evangelical segment that Donald Trump has sought to attract. They constitute a significant portion of his so-called “base.”

      And, as the just-published book, The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence, by award-winning journalists and authors Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner, states: “For most of his life Pence had believed he was guided by God’s plan. He believed that the Lord intended for him to halt the erosion of religious conviction in the United States. And though he avoided stating it himself, many of his evangelical friends vbelieved Pence’s ultimate purpose was to establish a government based on biblical law. That was what they called Christian Dominionism.”

      Thus arises a big wrinkle in the Trump situation. If Trump resigns. is impeached or otherwise is no longer president and Pence replaces him, it could not only be a change of who is on top but a likely push for a different form of United States government.

    • Trump and the Feckless Chairman: Will Congress Hold the Administration Accountable?

      The executive branch has been overrun by individuals who have consistently been allowed to treat the world as their personal playground without any consequences. It is, therefore, unsurprising that last week, two Treasury Department officials declined to make themselves available to speak with the House Committee on Ways and Means.

      It is Chairman Richard Neal’s (D-Mass.) responsibility to ensure that they appear before the committee and address the mounting concerns surrounding the Treasury Department’s involvement in legally questionable maneuvers to lessen costly political backlash to the ongoing shutdown.

      Charles Rettig, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner, is claiming to be too busy running his unfunded and somewhat dormant agency to show up Jan. 16 to a scheduled meeting with the House Committee on Ways and Means where he was to brief members on the shutdown’s impacts on taxpayers. There is no word yet if Rettig has agreed to a new meeting date.

      Following this cancellation, Chairman Neal, to his credit, did not fold. Instead, he escalated the complaint and announced that the committee would hold a hearing next week on the same topic, this time inviting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to testify. Mnuchin declined, offering to send deputies instead.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • How Facebook Trains Content Moderators to Put Out ‘PR Fires’ During Elections

      But internal Facebook documents obtained by Motherboard show that beyond protecting democracy, there’s a second, clearly stated reason that Facebook is interested in hardening its platform: protecting its public image. Facebook specifically instructs its content moderators to look out for posts that could cause “PR fires” around “hi-risk events” in the lead-up to elections.

    • Human Rights Groups Plead With The EU Not To Pass Its Awful ‘Terrorist Content’ Regulation

      While so many people have been focused on the disastrous potential of the EU’s Copyright Directive, we’ve been mentioning lately that another EU regulation, coming up right behind it, may be much more dangerous for the internet as we know it. The EU’s Terrorist Content Regulation is shaping up to be a true horror story, as we discussed in a recent podcast on the topic. As covered in that podcast, the EU is barreling forward on that regulation with little concern for the damage it will do (indeed, with little concern for showing any evidence that it’s needed).

      The basic idea behind the regulation is that, apparently, the internet is full of horrible “terrorist content” that is doing real damage (citation needed, but none given), and therefore, any online platform (including small ones) will be required to remove content based on the demands of basically anyone insisting they represent a government or law enforcement authority, within one hour of the report being sent, or the site will face crippling liability. On top of that, the regulation will create incentives for internet platforms to monitor all speech and proactively block lots of speech with little to no recourse. It’s a really, really bad idea, and everyone is so focused elsewhere that there hasn’t been that much public outcry about it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Hearing Thursday: EFF Tells Court That Clicking on a URL Isn’t Enough Evidence to Justify A Search Warrant

      On Thursday, January 31, at 8:30 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will ask a federal appeals court to find that the act of clicking on a URL or weblink isn’t sufficient evidence for law enforcement to get a warrant to search someone’s home.

      The hearing involves a child pornography prosecution in which law enforcement obtained a warrant to search a defendant’s home based on the attempted connection to a URL (or weblink) by an IP address that was mapped to his computer. The URL led to a password-protected file-sharing service portal that the government maintains contained child pornography. The warrant application’s only connection to the defendant’s home was based solely on the attempted URL link, but included no information on how or why the defendant encountered the weblink, if he had any knowledge of what it linked to, or whether he ever accessed or downloaded the password-protected files.

    • A Surveillance Wall Is Not a Good Alternative to a Concrete Wall

      Since even before he took office, President Trump has called for a physical wall along the southern border of the United States. Many different organizations have argued this isn’t a great idea. In response, some Congressional Democrats have suggested turning to surveillance technology to monitor the border instead of a physical barrier.

      Without specific legislative proposals, it’s hard to know what these suggestions actually mean. However, any bill Congress considers related to border security should avoid–at minimum–invasive surveillance technologies like biometric screening and collection, DNA collection, social media snooping, unregulated drones along the border, and automatic license plate readers aimed at interior traffic.

    • Major vulnerability in 5G means that anyone with $500 worth of gear can spy on a wide area’s mobile activity

      IMSI catchers are so easy to build and operate that they have leapt from police agencies to criminals, and foreign and corporate spies, exposing us all to potential surveillance from all quarters.

    • Facebook has been paying teens $20 a month for total access to their phone activity

      The Research app requires that users install a custom root certificate, which gives Facebook the ability to see users’ private messages, emails, web searches, and browsing activity. It also asks users to take screenshots of their Amazon order history and send it back to Facebook.

    • Facebook’s “Research” Tool Pays Users To Get Complete Access To Their Data

      Last year in March, it was reported that Facebook pushed its Onavo Protect VPN app to the iOS users. While VPNs are usually used as an extra privacy layer, this tool did the exact opposite — it tracked the users’ activity and collected their data. Later, Apple kicked off the app from App Store as it was violating the company’s terms and conditions.

      Fast forward to 2019. Facebook has been caught using one more desperate tactic to grab as much data as possible. The company has been paying users to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that performs its job similar to Onavo Protect. The company pays the users of ages 13 to 35 up to $20 to install the app.

    • Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them

      Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms.

      Facebook admitted to TechCrunch it was running the Research program to gather data on usage habits, and it has no plans to stop.

    • Senators ask Facebook why it tricked kids into spending parents’ money

      “A new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting shows that your company had a policy of willful blindness toward credit card charges by children—internally referred to as ‘friendly fraud’—in order to boost revenue at the expense of parents,” US Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg today. “Notably, Facebook appears to have rejected a plan that would have effectively mitigated this risk and instead doubled down on maximizing revenue.”

      Because parents didn’t know that children would be able to make purchases without additional verification, “many young users incurred several thousands of dollars in charges while playing games like Angry Birds, Petville, Wild Ones, and Barn Buddy,” the senators’ letter said.

    • EU promises it’s watching closely as Facebook’s merger plans emerge

      “The Irish DPC will be very closely scrutinising Facebook’s plans as they develop, particularly in so far as they involve the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies,” the watchdog said.

    • Encryption law: developer lists economic, practical and ideological concerns

      An Australian software engineer, who works at a health tech start-up that uses encryption to protect patient data, has suggested several changes to the Federal Government’s encryption legislation which was passed in December.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • British Jews Apply for German Nationality as Brexit Looms

      Simon Wallfisch grew up in London as the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor, who had sworn to never return to the country that murdered her parents and 6 million other Jews.

      But more than 70 years after the Holocaust, Brexit has prompted Wallfisch and thousands of other Jews in Britain to apply for German citizenship, which was stripped from their ancestors by the Nazis during the Third Reich.

      “This disaster that we call Brexit has led to me just finding a way to secure my future and my children’s future,” said Wallfisch, 36, a well-known classical singer and cellist who received his German passport in October. “In order to remain European I’ve taken the European citizenship.”

      Britons holding dual citizenship from an EU country like Germany will retain the privilege of free movement and work across the soon-to-be 27-nation bloc.

    • California Cops Continue To Pretend New Public Records Law Allows Them To Erase Years Of Past Misconduct From The Record

      On January 1st, a California law went into effect turning long-shielded police misconduct records into public records. Prior to its enactment, at least one law enforcement agency executed a mass purge of older records, preemptively stunting the law’s effectiveness.

      The law has also faced legal challenges from California police unions and law enforcement agencies seeking a declaration that the law is not retroactive and PDs should only have to release misconduct records created past the date of the law’s effectiveness. The state Supreme Court declined an invitation to review the law, but three police unions in Contra Costa County have managed to secure a temporary restraining order while this aspect of the law is sorted out.

      The law doesn’t contain any language suggesting it does not apply retroactively. But it also doesn’t contain any language specifically stating it applies retroactively and that’s the wedge law enforcement agencies are trying to drive between themselves and their new obligations to the public. But the lawsuits aren’t just coming from the law enforcement side. Agencies are now being sued for failing to turn over documents the new law says the public can obtain.

    • Exclusive: Ex-Harvey Weinstein Employee Breaks Silence on Her Memo That Helped Take Down Movie Mogul

      In her first television interview, we speak with a woman who helped topple Harvey Weinstein and expose his rampant sexual abuse but has remained largely behind the scenes until now. Lauren O’Connor was a literary scout at the Weinstein Company who worked closely with Weinstein. In 2015, she penned an internal memo about her boss that would later become famous. In it, she wrote, “I am a 28 year old woman trying to make a living and a career. Harvey Weinstein is a 64 year old, world famous man and this is his company. The balance of power is me: 0, Harvey Weinstein: 10.” This memo was later leaked and would eventually become the bedrock of the 2017 New York Times investigation that first exposed Weinstein’s decades of abuse. Lauren O’Connor tells her own story for the first time in “Untouchable,” a damning documentary about Weinstein’s abuse of power through the eyes of the women he targeted, that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday.

    • “Untouchable”: Women Testify to Harvey Weinstein’s Decades of Sexual Abuse in Powerful New Film

      As we broadcast from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, we look at a new film that is forcing the movie industry to look closely at itself. It’s about the rise and fall of a movie titan who once used Sundance as a hunting ground: movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of rape, sexual assault or misconduct by more than 75 women. The film “Untouchable” takes on Harvey Weinstein’s decades of predatory behavior and the system that allowed it to happen, through the stories of survivors of his abuse, from his time as a young music promoter in Buffalo in the 1970s all the way until a series of investigations toppled Weinstein in 2017. The stories of accusers, from Gwyneth Paltrow to Salma Hayek to Angelina Jolie, rocked Hollywood, sparking the Me Too movement. More than a year after this public reckoning, Weinstein now faces five charges that could land him in prison for life, including rape and predatory sexual assault. Weinstein has just hired the former lawyers of one of his most public accusers, actor Rose McGowan, who says Weinstein raped her here at Sundance in 1997. His trial is expected to begin in May. Just two years after Harvey Weinstein joined the Women’s March in Park City, “Untouchable” premiered here on Friday. We sat down with the film’s director, Ursula Macfarlane, the day after the premiere.

    • How My High School Destroyed An Immigrant Kid’s Life Because He Drew The School’s Mascot

      Late last year, Pro Publica and the NY Times published an incredible, long and infuriating article, mostly about how a high school in NY destroyed an immigrant student’s life, due to a mixture of moral panics about “MS-13″ gang activity (whipped up by the federal government), over-aggressive policing within schools, and deeply troubling decisions by ICE. The story touches on a number of things that we normally write about — and I’ve been stewing over writing a post for weeks. The topics herein are most frequently covered on this site by Tim Cushing, rather than me. But I took this article, because the high school at the center of the article, Huntington High School in Suffolk County, New York is the high school I attended. It’s the high school I went to for 4 years, and it’s the high school where I gave a speech at graduation on the same football field you can see in one of the photos used to illustrate the story.

      Everything about the article is infuriating in so many ways, that it’s been difficult to figure out where to even start, but if we have to start someplace, let’s start with this: the rise of embedding police into schools — so-called School Resource Officers (SROs), who are employed by the local police, but whose “beat” is a school. Those officers report to the local police department and not the school, and can, and frequently do, have different priorities. We’ve long raised concerns about the increased policing of schools. Traditionally, schools handled their own disciplinary matters directly, within the school, with a focus on what was best for the learning environment of the students. They were not always good at this, but adding in an element where the end result could be criminal charges has always seemed misguided, and none more so than in this particular story and the case of “Alex” in the news story.

    • Russian LGBT Network formally requests federal investigation on Chechnya amid death threats to director

      The Russian LGBT Network has requested that Russia’s federal Investigative Committee look into reports of renewed arrests, torture, and killings of those suspected of being LGBTQ in Chechnya, Mediazona reports. The Network has led efforts to help victims of anti-LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya escape the region for multiple years.

      LGBT Network activists also named one of those arrested in the current crisis. Bekkhan Yusupov reportedly received asylum in France but returned to Chechnya to visit his family. In addition to making Yusupov’s arrest public, the Network made materials available to the Investigative Committee that testified to the killing of a Russian citizen between January 1 and 20 at the hands of law enforcement officers.

    • U.S. Launches Plan for Asylum Seekers to Wait in Mexico

      The Trump administration on Tuesday quietly launched an effort to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. immigration courts, despite clear reservations and conflicting messages from the Mexican government.

      The U.S. returned one asylum seeker to Mexico — a 55-year-old Honduran man — on the first day of what would be one of the most dramatic changes to the U.S. immigration system in Donald Trump’s presidency, if the policy survives an anticipated legal challenge. Rodulfo Figueroa, head of Mexico’s immigration agency in Baja California state, said the man requested a ride to a migrant shelter in Tijuana.

      Mexican officials sent mixed signals on the crucial point of whether Mexico would impose limits on accepting families. Tonatiuh Guillen, commissioner of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, said Mexico would only accept people 18 to 60 years old, which rules out families with young children.

    • Is Anyone Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf of Pennsylvania Avenue Anymore?

      It’s safe to say Washington, D.C., is badly broken. Congress is supposed to be writing, debating and passing federal laws, policies and taxes. The president has the option to veto congressional measures or sign them into law and implement them as written. Instead, we have the absolute spectacle of an out-of-control president stomping around issuing threats and trying to bully congressional leaders over funding for his widely opposed border wall. But unlike his success with those tactics in his first two years with a Republican-dominated Congress, as we just saw when President Trump folded on his wall-funding demand, almost no one is now afraid of the big, bad wolf in the White House.

      Apparently unaware of the meaning of “separate but equal” in regard to our nation’s government, Trump decided to threaten Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi with giving his State of the Union address in the House chambers with or without her permission. Speaker Pelosi — not “Nancy,” as Trump disrespectfully addresses her — had cancelled the president’s speech to Congress while the government remained shuttered.

      Pelosi said she was concerned about security due to the shutdown, which Trump initiated to try and force Congress to give him $5.7 billion for a wall on the southern border.

      Considering the president, virtually all of Congress, the Supreme Court justices, and other high-ranking government officials would all be in one place at one time, her concerns for their security certainly had merit.

    • The United States Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

      The United States fell 6 places to a ranking of only 22 in Transparency International’s‘s list of countries by corruption. Under Trump, America is not in the top 20 for fair dealing.

      But as I have argued before, the United States is the most corrupt country in the world, and should be ranked 194, not 22. What follows is a much revised version of my popular list.

    • Incompetence Plus Malice Add Up to Trump’s Losing Formula on Immigration

      From the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the immigration issue has defined his political profile. More than anything else, it has opened a window on his authoritarian mind, his disdain for the truth and for democratic institutions. Such contempt has revealed the dangers of Trumpism to much of a nation governed, often imperfectly, by the law. The way immigrants are locked up in detention centers without trial warns us of the possibility of a police state.

      Last week, the president’s braggadocio crumbled in the face of facts and the strategic opposition of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She clearly saw beyond the façade as she took the measure of her opponent.

      Trump’s signature combination of untruthfulness, ignorance and arrogance became evident to the country on Friday when maps appeared on cable television showing planes stacking up at airports, sending passengers into a state of exasperation that transcends partisan politics. Those deficiencies were further exposed when he, while putting an end to the protracted government shutdown, used his concession speech in the White House Rose Garden on Friday to rehash his lying attacks on immigrants.

      Trump repeated his call for a wall, arguing that only a wall would stop the drug dealers and other criminals from coming across the southern border. But he pulled back from the “Build the Wall” promises that stirred nationalistic crowds at his rallies. “We do not need 2,000 miles of concrete wall from sea to shiny [sic] sea—we never did,” he said, insisting that he had never proposed one.

    • Attack on ‘Empire’ Actor Investigated as Possible Hate Crime

      A cast member on the hit television show “Empire” alleged he was physically attacked by men in Chicago who shouted racial and homophobic slurs, police said Tuesday.

      Police did not release the actor’s name but a statement from Fox, which airs “Empire,” identified him as Jussie Smollett, 36. Authorities said they are investigating the alleged attack as a hate crime. Smollett is black and openly gay.

      According to a police statement, the actor was walking near the Chicago River downtown around 2 a.m. Tuesday when he was approached by two men who shouted at him, struck him in the face and poured an “unknown substance” on him before one of them wrapped a rope around his neck.

    • After dramatic closed session, federal agents arrest Russian senator on Senate floor

      On Wednesday, Rauf Arashukov was arrested on the Senate floor of the Federation Council. On the morning of January 30, the parliament’s upper chamber was unexpectedly closed to the public, and Federal Protective Service officers sealed the assembly hall’s entrances and exits. Attorney General Yuri Chaika then addressed the senators. Federal Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin and his deputy director were also in the audience, a source told Interfax. During Chaika’s speech, Arashukov tried to leave the room, but Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko insisted that he stay, according to the news agency TASS. Arashukov’s colleagues then voted to strip him of his legal immunity as a senator and sanctioned his arrest by federal agents. Afterwards, the ruling political party United Russia suspended his membership, pending the results of an investigation.

    • Chesa Boudin: A Radical Child of the Criminal Justice System Seeks to Reform the San Francisco DA’s Office

      The name, Chesa Boudin, may not mean much to San Francisco voters, at least not yet. After all, his campaign for DA has just begun. But to American radicals of at least two generations, his last name rings a lot of bells. His grandfather, Leonard Boudin, a criminal defense lawyer, represented Dashiell Hammett, Paul Robeson, the Cuban government of Fidel Castro, as well as Dr. Spock and Daniel Ellsberg.

      Chesa’s parents, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were members of Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground. They were both arrested in the wake of a botched attempt to rob a Brinks armored vehicle in 1981. His mother served time until 2003, when she was released. His father is still in prison.

      In many ways, Chesa is a child of the criminal justice system. Given his background it seems inevitable that he became a lawyer.

      Bernardine Dohrn and Billy Ayres helped raise him in Chicago, along with`their two sons. He calls them his brothers; their parents are also his parents. After college, Chesa worked for the Chavez government in Venezuela, though he was also a critic of Chavez and his government. “Chavez devoted a lot of time and energy to reforming the Constitution so he could stay in office longer, legally,” he told me. “I thought he should have spent more time developing new leadership.”

    • Duke of Hazard: Crashing Ukania

      The song alludes clearly to the bouts of inanity which have plagued Ukania’s aristocracy since times lost in the mists of history.

      Ukania, along with Trumplandia, is one of the world’s major-league laughing stocks— for reasons which don’t need recounting.

      A metaphor for Ukania’s car-crash Brexit history was provided by the queen’s husband, the 97-year-old Duke of Edinburgh (aka Prince Philip), who still drives unaccompanied, this time on the public roads near the royal family’s estate in Sandringham, Norfolk.

      A few days ago, driving his Range Rover outside the royal estate, the long-time racist and anti-immigrant Philip (though he himself is in essence a Greek immigrant) rammed a car carrying two adults and a 9-month-old baby.

    • DA Challenges New Mumia Court Appeal

      When Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s new purportedly progressive district attorney, took office last January, he vowed to unflinchingly make the office’s goal “seeking justice,” instead of just seeking convictions, as a string of DAs going back to at least Ed Rendell had done.

      Last week, faced with a decision calling for real courage, Krasner flinched.

      In the wake of a Dec. 27 decision by Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker ordering new hearings by the state’s supreme court on four appeals by Pennsylvania’s most famous prison inmate, journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, Krasner had two options. He could let Judge Tucker’s finding stand that the denial of those appeals had been corrupted by the refusal of a former DA, Ron Castille, who had later become a supreme court judge and who refused to recuse himself. Alternatively, he could challenge Judge Tucker’s decision, and argue that it should be overturned.

      Krasner, after discussions with his top aids, decided to appeal, meaning no automatic rearguing of Abu-Jamal’s four denied Supreme Court appeals.

      Krasner’s decision itself was corrupted by the his own closeness to Castille, who as DA from 1986-91 oversaw that office’s legal battles against Abu-Jamal’s appeals of his conviction in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Krasner had brought invited Castille, who retired from the state’s supreme court in 2014, to help with transitioning the DA’s office when he first came in, advising the him on staff changes, including which hold-over assistant DAs to fire.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Huawei says US spurned efforts to discuss charges

      Chinese telecommunications equipment provider Huawei Technologies says it sought to discuss the sanctions busting charges brought against it by the US Government, after its chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on 1 December, but was rejected.

    • Google Takes Its First Steps Toward Killing the URL

      Stark emphasizes that Google isn’t trying to induce chaos by eliminating URLs. Rather, it wants to make it harder for hackers to capitalize on user confusion about the identity of a website. Currently, the endless haze of complicated URLs gives attackers cover for effective scams. They can create a malicious link that seems to lead to a legitimate site, but actually automatically redirects victims to a phishing page. Or they can design malicious pages with URLs that look similar to real ones, hoping victims won’t notice that they’re on G00gle rather than Google. With so many URL shenanigans to combat, the Chrome team is already at work on two projects aimed at bringing users some clarity.

    • These Wireless Location Data Scandals Are Going To Be A Very Big Problem For Ajit Pai

      It took the press the better part of a decade to finally realize that cellular carriers have been routinely hoovering up and selling your daily location data to every nitwit on the planet with zero meaningful ethical guidelines or oversight. And while this stuff is certainly nothing new, the recent Motherboard report showing how cavalierly your private data is bought and sold along a massive chain of shady operators seems to have finally woken everybody up on the subject.

      Whether we actually do something about it is another issue entirely.

      Pressure has started to mount on FCC boss Ajit Pai in particular. Why? While people rightfully obsessed on Pai’s attacks on net neutrality, the repeal itself effectively involved neutering most FCC oversight of ISPs and wireless carriers, then shoveling any remaining authority to an FTC that lacks the authority or resources to really police telecom. This neutering of already tepid oversight was always the telecom lobby’s plan, and unless you’ve got a severe case of denial, it’s obvious the Pai FCC acted as a mindless rubber stamp in helping the industry’s biggest players achieve this goal.

      Of course the GOP helped as well, by quickly kowtowing to telecom sector lobbyists and, in March of 2017, voting to kill some fairly modest FCC privacy rules before they could take effect. Those rules, in addition to some other requirements, would have given consumers far more power over how their location data is shared and sold among what, in some instances, has been proven to be a chain that in at least one case was some 70 companies long.

    • Anna Eshoo, Other Lawmakers Offer Gushing, Facts-Optional Support For T-Mobile Sprint Merger

      We’ve repeatedly explained how T-Mobile and Sprint’s latest attempt to merge will be terrible for both jobs and competition. Despite what T-Mobile and Sprint executives have claimed, history suggests the reduction of total wireless carriers from four to three will likely result in less incentive than ever to seriously compete on price. Similarly, while T-Mobile and Sprint have told regulators that the deal will somehow create an explosion in new jobs, Wall Street analysts have predicted that the deal could kill off tens of thousands of US jobs as the new company inevitably eliminates redundant positions.

      This was the same Sprint, T-Mobile merger that had been blocked previously by lawmakers. And it’s not a far cry from AT&T’s attempted takeover of T-Mobile, which was also blocked back in 2011. Generally speaking, people have recognized that reducing overall competitors in a telecom market never quite works out well for anybody other than executives and investors. Yet here we are, once again, with folks oddly not quite understanding that reality.

      Case in point, Anna Eshoo and numerous other House lawmakers fired off a letter (pdf) this week to both the DOJ and FCC urging both agencies to approve the merger post-haste. One of the cornerstones of the letter is that the merger is essential for the US quest to deploy 5G networks, something the carriers themselves at various points have admitted is not actually true. It also repeats the claim that eliminating one of just four competitors will somehow increase competition, something disproven by any economics 101 textbook (and 50 years of telecom history, including Canada’s).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • New PatentlyO Law Journal article: Colleen Chien, Deferring Patentable Subject Matter

      Responding to frustration with the Supreme Court’s patentable subject matter (PSM) decisions, the Federal Circuit has issued clarifying decisions, the USPTO has released new guidance regarding applying Section 101 (and 112), and Senators Coons and Tillis have holding roundtables. 101 appeals and rejections, including pre-abandonment rejections, have risen following Alice and Mayo, particularly within impacted technology areas. (Figs 1A and 1B, details here and here). To support tracking the impact of its own guidance and related developments, the USPTO should release updated versions of office action data (the last release was in 2017).

      [...]

      If successful, the treatment would result in the diminished presence of 101 subject matter issues within ex parte appeals and pre abandonment rejections and, potentially, resolution time, e.g. closer to pre-Mayo or Alice levels. Applicant and prosecutor satisfaction with the process, changes made to what gets filed, timelines, and such factors would also be worth tracking.

    • U.S. ITC: A Powerful Forum for Biologics Patent Owners

      For manufacturers of biologics and biosimilars facing potential patent litigation in the U.S., the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) imposes a complex statutory scheme that restricts the timing and control of disputes in federal district court. Biosimilar applicants who find themselves on the receiving end of a potential patent infringement complaint in district court have the advantage of (and have utilised) patent challenges at the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

      However, another option also exists for biologics patent owners—one that proceeds at a fast pace using specialised rules and judges and that eschews stays pending PTAB challenges: the International Trade Commission (ITC).

    • Inherency: Same Enzyme => Same Enzymatic Activity

      Ikeda is attempting to patent a glucose sensor using a particular enzyme (“a soluble flavin compound-binding glucose dehydrogenase”) that promotes glucose oxidizing. U.S. Application No. 12/851,668. One U.S. patent is already issued in the family as well as Japanese , Chinese, and European patents. In this case, however, the examiner rejected the claims as obvious and the PTAB affirmed. The Federal Circuit has now also affirmed that finding.

      The case is most interesting for its inherency finding. Here, the claims at issue particularly require low-maltose activity (“enzymatic activity to maltose in the enzymatic reaction layer is 5% or less relative to the enzymatic activity to glucose.”) The prior art did not expressly teach that limitation, but the PTAB found it inherently disclosed. In particular, the cited prior art used the same enzyme preparation as the patentee, and the PTAB concluded that it would inherently exhibit the same low-level maltose activity.

      Teachings that are inherent to a disclosure work as prior art — both for anticipation and obviousness. However, the court applies fairly strict requirements before it will assume the existence of unstated elements. “[T]he limitation at issue necessarily must be present[] or the natural result of the combination of elements explicitly disclosed by the prior art.” PAR Pharm., Inc. v. TWI Pharm., Inc., 773 F.3d 1186 (Fed. Cir. 2014).

    • It’s Hard Out There for a Commons

      I just finished reading a fascinating draft article about the Eco-Patent Commons, a commons where about 13 companies put in a little fewer than 100 patents that could be used by any third party. A commons differs from cross-licensing or other pools in a couple of important ways. First, the owner must still maintain the patent (OK, that’s common to licensing, but different from the public domain). Second, anyone, not just members of the commons, can use the patents (which is common to the public domain, but different from licensing).

      [...]

      The findings were pretty bleak. In short, the patents were cited less than a set of matching patents, and many of them were allowed to lapse (which implies lack of value). Their survey-type data also showed a lack of importance/diffusion.

      What I really love about this paper, though, is that there’s an interpretation for everybody in it. For the “we need strong rights” group, this failure is evidence of the tragedy of the commons. If nobody has the right to fully profit on the inventions, then nobody will do so, and the commons will go fallow.

    • Copyrights

      • Developer DMCAs Steam For Hosting Its Own Game To Wrest Control Back From Rogue Publisher

        We’ve seen plenty of ways in which the DMCA process has been used, and often abused, for purposes not intended by the lawmakers who crafted it. With everything from pure attempts to censor damning information to oblique fuckery heaped upon a competing business, folks have used the DMCA as a blunt tool. Given the context in which this is done, it is nearly always the case that you can’t root for anyone issuing those sorts of DMCA takedowns

        But perhaps we’ve found the exception that proves the rule. TorrentFreak has a fascinating story about a game developer that issued a DMCA notice to Steam… for its own game. Why? Well, because apparently that was the only way to wrestle back control over the game’s distribution from a publisher the developer says skipped out on the publishing contract.

      • Study Shows Piracy Can Sometimes Be Beneficial To Markets & Consumers Alike

        If you’ve been around Techdirt for more than a few weeks, you probably know that one of our core arguments is that piracy should be seen as a competitor, not as some kind of mad demon whose antics can only be thwarted by equally demonic countermeasures. As such the solution for piracy isn’t engaging in idiotic, harmful behavior (like copyright troll lawsuits or kicking people off the internet), it’s to compete with piracy by offering better, cheaper products that make piracy less appealing. And no, just because you think “competing with free” isn’t fair, doesn’t mean this entire paragraph isn’t true.

      • Stream-Ripping Site Acted Illegally, German Court Rules

        ZeeZee, a site that extracted music tracks from online radio streams and offered them to users upon request, has been declared illegal by a German court. Citing a 2017 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union and an earlier case featuring a similar service called MusicMonster, the court found that no private copying exception is available so ZeeZee was unlicensed.

      • Bell Asked Canadian Government to Ban Certain VPNs

        Newly revealed documents show that media giant Bell previously urged the Canadian Government to ban ‘copyright infringing’ VPNs. The request was made in a 2017 submission regarding the NAFTA trade deal negotiations. This call didn’t lead anywhere but with site-blocking still on the agenda, VPNs remain a topic of interest.

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